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These pencils are made by Staedtler, a well-known German Stationery brand and they were kindly sent to me to review by Cult Pens and subsequently Staedtler. These pencils are endorsed by Johanna Basford (colouring queen) so I was very excited to see what all the fuss is about and if they’d live up to expectations. The pencils are wax-based which I normally don’t get on well with but these pencils are definitely the exception to that rule of mine now. They have triangular barrels which are entirely coated in the exact colour of the pencil lead so they’re very easy to identify with little need for a colour chart. Each side of the pencil carries printed information: Staedtler ergosoft, space to write your name (ideal for kids or those going to art classes who want to identify their own supplies easily), and the colour number. The pencils arrive pre-sharpened and are very easy to sharpen in a normal sharpener, despite the triangular shape and they sharpen to a really nice point. The pencils are currently available in 24 different colours and I was sent the 24 set to review which come in a blue stand-up box (ideal for having out whilst colouring and not losing your pencils). Other sets available are the 12 set in a blue stand-up box, the 12 set in a cardboard box, and the 24 set in a Johanna Basford themed cardboard box which is lovely, but nothing like as useful as the blue stand-up box, the pencils are also available as open stock meaning you can order one or two to trial before buying a full set if you’re unsure. The ergosoft pencils are also available in watercolour so do check what you’re ordering, I will be reviewing the watercolour ergosoft pencils at a later date (the major visible difference between the two is that the watercolour pencils have a blue barrel and a coloured tip – see photo below).
The pencils themselves are smooth to touch and the ergonomic triangular design makes it very comfortable to hold which is ideal for those of us with joint problems, issues with grip strength or easily dented fingers, I have lots of problems with the shape of pens and pencils, especially when colouring for long periods of time for reviewing, and these are one of the comfiest sets I’ve come across. The pencil leads have a white coating which adheres the leads to the wooden pencil sheath and this protective coating helps to reinforce the lead core in order to prevent breakage. I tried out almost all of the pencils whilst colouring images for reviews and had to sharpen most during this and didn’t experience any breakage at all. The leads are quite hard but they have a good vibrant pigment meaning you get a bright colour without needing a lot of pressure. However, because the leads are quite hard, you do need to use quite a bit of pressure when colouring toothier paper so I’d advise these for smoother paper if you have joint problems or you’re going to have to press quite hard to get a bold, full colour with no white gaps. I also noticed that while the pigment is very vibrant, you do get a wax bloom when using the hardest pressure and this makes blending more difficult than with oil-based pencils because you can’t get many layers before the wax bloom builds up so much that it interferes with colour lay down.
The pencils do blend fairly well together but you will need to be careful with your layering because the wax builds up quickly. Because the pigment is so bright, it’s quite difficult to get a pale even coverage with a thin layer on toothy paper so these pencils are much better for vibrant, burnished colouring, rather than pale, thin layers. They erase very well, even when coloured and burnished, obviously some pigment is left but a surprising amount is removed with very little effort so these pencils would be ideal for those who regularly colour over the lines, or who want to create highlights in their work. These pencils are in the mid-range price category and vary hugely in price. They’re quite expensive when full-price but when on sale they’re much more affordable and better value for money and if you can get a set on sale then I’d highly recommend them. These are definitely the best wax-based pencils I’ve used so far and I will be using them in my future colouring.
Update: Hugely exciting news! Staedtler have added an extra 12 colours to the ergosoft range and these will be arriving soon. I will be getting a set to review so as soon as I have them I’ll be posting about them and giving you the scoop on what new colours have been added so do click “follow” on my blog so that you’re updated as soon as my blog post is live!