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Before I start reviewing let me first state that I am NOT an artist, I have no art training, not even an art GCSE and only started using coloured pencils again 2 months ago. This review is from a beginner’s perspective and the colouring I’ve done has been based on learning techniques from YouTube tutorials which are linked below. These pencils are from my personal collection and I’ll tell you right now, I LOVE THEM! I bought a pack of Crayolas and despite others managing to get truly beautiful effects from them I managed a vague bit of shading, no blending and just got blisters because I found them so hard and almost impossible to get a deep and vibrant colour from. I scoured the internet and found all of the artist grade pencils were over a £1 a pencil which I couldn’t possibly afford at the time and I thought all was lost and that I’d never be able to use pencils unless I won the lottery. However, I persevered and happened upon the Marco pencils on Ebay and was shocked at how cheap they were for oil-based pencils which sounded like the type I needed. I looked for reviews and found a measly two on Amazon both of which said they were amazing so I went for it and began my long wait for them to arrive from China.
So after nearly 3 weeks they arrived and I’m so glad I found them and ordered the largest set they make. They come in sets of 24,36,48 and 72 and personally I’d recommend just going all out and getting the set of 72 because they’re under £20 including postage and that’s just a bargain! The pencils are soft, not scratchy and lay down colour easily and smoothly on all of the paper types I’ve come across so far in my colouring books. They are great for layering, shading, blending or just giving smooth, vibrant colour without hurting your hand from pressing too hard. Each pencil gives a huge range of hues from the palest hint of colour to a bright, bold, dense pigment depending on layering and pressure. The colours in the box of 72 cover a great range with a lot of emphasis on greens (11 in total) and browns (6 in total) which is ideal for all of those nature colouring books like Secret Garden, Enchanted Forest, Animal Kingdom and Tropical Wonderland. There are a few too many greys for my liking (7 seems excessive) and not enough shades of pink (6 – not including the 3 flesh tones but these 6 include some purple colours). However, all in all, it’s a great range that is really versatile because of the ability to shade and blend thus creating more effects and colours and making the possibilities pretty much endless!
The box they come in isn’t a great storage solution because as soon as you’ve sharpened the pencils a few times they become too short to dig out with your fingers and if you tip the box up you either get stabbed with a whole load of sharpened pencils or accidentally tip half of the contents on the floor (not advised!). I would definitely suggest getting jars, a pencil case or a pencil carrier to store them in so that you can avoid the above! Since writing this review originally, I have been sent a set to review which come with a pencil roll to store the pencils in and this is a much better solution (more info at the bottom of the review). I would also strongly advise creating a colour chart with the number of each pencil and a shaded section from light to dark so that you have it to hand (see mine below). As with many coloured pencils, the end of the pencil is coloured but this isn’t always an accurate portrayal of the colour you’ll lay down and this often leads to some very strange colour combinations due to “accidents”. It’s also difficult to replicate colours without this if you’re half way through a project and don’t remember what colour you used. Making and colouring the chart can be time consuming but it’s absolutely worth it and will save you getting frustrated in the future or constantly having to scribble on scrap paper and wasting your precious leads!
As for using these pencils, they’re a dream! I’ve had various friends try them out, all of whom are novices like me and all of them have loved them and commented on how smooth they are to use and how vibrant the colours are and just how different they are from the pencils we all used at school. They sharpen beautifully without the need for an expensive sharpener (I currently use a Lego one from a kids’ stationery set) and have had very few problems with breakages or not being able to get a proper point. They last ages and honestly I’ve had absolutely no problems with them! They behave in exactly the same way as premium oil-based pencils so you can use blender pencils, burnishers, baby oil and other products to give you a more professional look but all of the images below have been completed with just the Marco pencils, without any other products.
I would highly recommend these pencils to anybody. Those of you who are just starting out and learning to use pencils, these are great because they’re soft, versatile, behave in much the same way as premium products but because of the miniscule price tag you won’t be afraid of getting stuck in and using them and learning how they work together and what effects you can get. For those of you with more experience, these are great for a travel set and for creating beautiful images with and the range of colours is ideal for almost any project if you get the largest set of 72 pencils. I am now lucky enough to own a set of 120 Faber Castell Polychromos pencils which I love but I have to say I like the Marco Raffines almost as much. The range of colours of Polychromos is much better, obviously because there are almost double the number of shades, but the Marco pencils really are up there for ease of use and ability to create amazing effects and I just can’t get over the price! If you’ve been umming and ahhing over whether you should click buy then my recommendation would be DO IT! They’re super cheap and as yet, I’ve not found anyone that regretted buying them or didn’t like them. Happy Colouring!
Pencil Wrap/Roll – The wrap contains 72 elasticated slots for the pencils (and these are a perfect fit, not too tight or too loose) as well as 2 extra pencil slots, perfect for blending or burnishing pencils, and 4 larger elasticated slots that could be used to store erasers or pencil sharpeners. There is a leather flap at the top and bottom to cover up the leads of the pencils to prevent them being broken when transported and the case folds over to half the size and can then be rolled up and safely kept closed with a leather strip and a secure popper (press stud). The pencils aren’t pre-added to the wrap so it’s easy to put them into it in whatever order suits you, I went for number order as that’s easiest to match up with my colour chart.
If you’d like to purchase these pencils then you can purchase sets through the links below.
72 set in cardboard box:
Amazon UK – Marco Raffine 72 Set
Amazon UK – Erofa 72 Color Art Colour Pencils Drawing Pencils for Secret Garden Pencil Pouch colored pencil Artist Sketch Set
Amazon UK – Wiysond Set of 72 Color Pencil Colour Marco Fine Art Drawing Oil Base Non-toxic Pencils Set For Artist Sketch
These are the links to the videos I used to learn to blend and shade. Happy Colouring!