Wax-based Pencils

Staedtler Ergosoft Pencils: 36 Set Click through to see the 12 new shades and read my review!

Staedtler Ergosoft Triangular Coloured Pencils: 36 Colours – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Staedtler Ergosoft Triangular Coloured Pencils: 36 Set are made and kindly sent to me to review by Staedtler, a well-known German Stationery brand. 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, I usually prefer oil-based but these (and Prismacolor Premiers) are definitely changing my mind. 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 now available in 36 different colours and I was sent the 36 set to review which come in a single layer tin (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, the 24 set in a Johanna Basford themed cardboard box and 24 set in a 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 them 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 have used these pencils for a long time and have had no issues with breakage or problems with sharpening so these are very well-made. 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 a great wax-based pencil.

The pencils used to only be available in 24 colours and there have been lots of questions in the colouring community about what shades are now included in the new 36 set. A really good range of colours have been added across the spectrum and pretty much one of each colour has been added in to help fill in the gaps that were there before so there is now a better range of greens, we have a lilac, a beautiful turquoise and two new browns amongst others. You can see the added colours in the photos below as well as the mandala page which I coloured exclusively with the 12 new colours, they look a little strange on their own because none of them are core colours, they’re all in-between shades to fill in the gaps but in conjunction with the other 24 pencils they look beautiful and the set covers a really good selection of colours with very few shades now missing that you can’t ‘mix’ by combining a couple of the pre-existing colours. For those who already have the 24 set, who are wondering whether it’s worth investing in this new set (sadly the 12 new colours aren’t available as a set on their own though you can buy all of them open stock), I would suggest that yes, it’s definitely worth getting them, the new shades are really useful, the tin is a great way of storing them and having extra colours is always a huge bonus, I think we’re all hoping that Staedtler will add further colours at a later point though this hasn’t been announced but there are 60 colours in their watercolour set so we can dream!

If you’d like to purchase a set, they’re available here:
Amazon UK:
Set of 24 in blue stand up box
Set of 12 in blue stand up box
Set of 36 colours in tin

Sudee Stile 120 Coloured Pencils: The New Marco Raffines? – A Review and Comparison

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.

EDIT: Since writing this post a set of 150 individual colours has been released in the UK and US. I don’t have this set yet and at the time of writing and photographing the maximum set size was 120. If and when I get the full 150 set I will update the whole review but in the meantime I have just added this edit and a purchase link here and at the bottom for the full 150 set.

These pencils were kindly sent to me free in exchange for an honest review, I jumped at the chance as I’ve been hearing about these pencils increasingly often in the Facebook colouring groups and I wanted to see what they were like. The biggest and most common claim I’ve seen made about them is that they’re the new Marco Raffines and on a par with their quality, but with a whopping 48 extra colours is this true? Read on to find out what I think.

One thing worth mentioning before I continue is that I’ve extensively read the reviews of these pencils on both the UK and US Amazon sites and it appears that while the majority of people love them, a few hate them due to there being some significant production issues with some sets having shattered leads, arriving dirty or used, with the incorrect packaging etc. I can only review the one set that I’ve got and the only real issue I’ve had is that I received a duplicate pencil and was missing one. Please do bear in mind that this review is just my opinion of my set and obviously isn’t representative of those sets that have arrived broken or badly damaged.

Availability, Cost and Set Sizes
The pencils are not available in stores and are currently only available on Amazon. They are not available in open stock, neither are the Marco Raffines, so you will sadly have to buy a new set when you start running low on some colours, however, the price of these pencils is brilliant, at 30p a pencil, they’re a bargain and while they’re not the cheapest option of pencils, this is by far the best quality, largest range of colours for the least amount of money that’s available. They’re currently £35 for the full 120 set and have been as low as £27 though that listing has been unavailable for a while, do hunt around for the best price! The pencils are available in 120 colours and in sets of 24, 48, 72, 96 and the full 120 set.

Colour Range and Presentation
On first inspection these pencils are identical to the Marco Raffiines apart from the writing on them which obviously says Sudee Stile rather than Marco Raffine. I assumed, like many others, that these were just Marco Raffine pencils re-branded with a different name printed on them but they’re definitely not. Marco Raffines have an oil-based lead whereas the Sudee Stiles are almost certainly wax, it doesn’t say anywhere on them or the Amazon listings what the lead is made of and I originally thought they were oil-based because they behave so similarly to the Marco Raffines, however, I noticed a few days after colouring that a slight wax bloom had built up on my heavily burnished coloured areas and this has never happened with my finished Marco Raffine pages. This wax bloom isn’t a problem and is very common with any wax-based coloured pencils, it can usually be avoided by spraying your finished work with a fixative spray, many people use hairspray as a cheap option, please avoid doing this as it can yellow over time and ruin all of your hard work! The pencils themselves are hexagonal with a silver barrel and a colour-dipped end which is relatively true to the colour of the lead, but not so in all cases so do make a colour chart! Each pencil has black text on it stating Sudee Stile Color and a unique identifying number but these are not done in any sensible colour order so you’ll need to try and create your own or copy my order on the photo of the colour chart I created below. The pencils are available in 120 unique and individual colours, sadly my set arrived with one missing and a duplicate of the number 39 pencil but the colours cover a great range of shades and hues and are a really good selection with no specific colour being over-represented like in some sets. A lot of the colours are pretty similar to the Marco Raffines but you get so many more colours that even if you already have those, these are absolutely worth having too and I would highly recommend getting the full set as you’ll only wish for more if you get the smaller sets. There is another set of Sudee Stile pencils which is externally different but the colours and leads are reportedly exactly the same (information taken from the seller in the questions section on the pencil listing). This other set has a full colour barrel with a gold-dipped end and the writing on the pencils is written in gold rather than black. The Amazon listings have altered over time so sometimes both sets are available, often for different prices from each other, and currently only the silver set I have is available, don’t be alarmed, they’re both the same so just go for the cheapest version of the set size you wish to purchase unless you have a particular preference for the external look of the pencils. There is no mention of lightfastness and due to it being Winter here in the UK I can’t test this currently, the Marco Raffines aren’t very lightfast, especially the light shades so I would expect these to be the same due to the price point so I’d avoid using these to colour pictures that you’re wanting to display rather than keeping in the book.

Packaging
Originally, these were all packaged in a plastic screw-lid tub and they are pretty wedged in against some bubblewrap, this tub will surely last a while but is likely to break with a lot of use and it’s very difficult to identify the pencil or even pick one out, especially once you’ve started sharpening them and they become shorter so I’d strongly advise investing in a pencil case or pencil wrap for ease of use. The 120 set is now available in a thick cardboard box with three trays of pencils and two pencil sharpeners inside. There are reports of them occasionally arriving with no packaging in just a plastic bag, in this case always contact the seller or Amazon and I’m sure they’ll get it resolved.

Sharpening
The pencils arrive pre-sharpened with a blunted point. One thing to note is that they really need sharpening before use, for some reason there seems to be some sort of coating on them which makes them a bit scratchy to start with but this pretty much goes as soon as you sharpen them so don’t lose hope, they’re completely different once sharpened! None of my pencils arrived with broken leads. They have strong leads and sharpen well. I use a T’Gaal adjustable pencil sharpener which is known to be very good for not breaking leads but these are well-made pencils with nice smooth wooden barrels so there shouldn’t be any sharpening issues, regardless of what you use, I’ve had absolutely no breakages so far. The pencils can be used to colour very intricate images because they sharpen to such a good point which is really handy for some of the more detailed adult colouring books out there! They work well on lots of different types of paper and I really haven’t had any issues with them, a few of them feel a little gritty and scratchy at points but that’s something you expect when buying pencils for these kinds of prices and usually it’s a fragment of grit which will sharpen out and then the pencil is fine again (I have also found this to be the case with Marco Raffines).

Blending
The leads aren’t super soft but they’re not hard either, they’re most similar to Faber Castell Polychromos in terms of hardness, and they’re almost identical in feel to the Marco Raffines. They provide very vibrant and even coverage with no need to press hard, they are really easy to blend and shade with, very comparable to Marco Raffines, and they keep a good point so you don’t have to sharpen too regularly. Do check out the comparison blending photos below, the only visible differences are due to my changes in technique rather than the pencils.

Erasing and Smudging
The pigment does erase pretty well (see photo below), especially with a battery-operated eraser so these are ideal for those of you who frequently colour over the lines and want to clean up the edges, as well as for creating highlights that aren’t that uncoloured white type! Obviously, you’ll never be able to completely remove all of the pigment, especially when burnished, but a surprising amount does come off. I haven’t noticed these pencils crumbling at all so you’re unlikely to get any pencil dust, if you rub hard on the pigment it does smudge but this is always the case with a pencil that blends well.

Overall, I fully expected to use these pencils once and then never again because I have full sets of Faber Castell Polychromos, Prismacolor Premier, and Holbein Artists’ Colored Pencils, however, I’ve already used these to colour images in 3 different book reviews because I love them so much! The pencils are really versatile and if used properly you can get the palest hint of colour all the way up to a completely filled vibrant colour, they can be used to blend and shade or for block colouring and it’s easy to colour without streaks if you’re careful. They are really pigmented so even light colouring gives a good level of colour without hurting your hands, I have very problematic joints in my hands and end up in a lot of pain if I have to grip or press too hard whilst colouring, I’m also currently suffering from repetitive strain injury in my right thumb, however, these pencils really haven’t exacerbated any of this because they’re soft enough and give a good vibrant coverage without having to force the lead into the paper, this is great for books with thinner paper that you don’t want to create identation on. These pencils would be ideal for beginner colourists all the way up to experts and artists. The colours are a fantastic range, there’s a really good mix of light, bright, pale, and dark shades within each colour group and none are over-represented. The leads are hard enough to keep a good point and not need sharpening too often, but soft enough that they’ll be suitable for the elderly, those with weak grip, and those suffering from arthritis, sore joints, and any other hand complaints (they can be made even more comfortable and chunky by adding pencil grips when colouring). Marco Raffines are the go-to budget pencil option for most people and the Sudee Stile pencils give them a really good run for their money and with the addition of 48 more colours what’s stopping you? These pencils are easy to use, great value for money, and honestly, they’re just a joy to colour with, I love them, they’re a bit more expensive than the Marcos for a 72 set but most of us have been craving more colours in Marcos and now you have the option of 48+ extras in the Sudee Stiles!

If you’d like to purchase a set then they’re available here:
Sudee Stile 24 (Silver) 3 Pack
Sudee Stile 24 (Colour) 3 Pack
Sudee Stile 48 (Silver)
Sudee Stile 48 (Colour)
Sudee Stile 72 (Silver)
Sudee Stile 72 (Colour)
Sudee Stile 96
Sudee Stile 120 Set
Sudee Stile 150 Full Set

The images below were all coloured using Sudee Stile Coloured Pencils.

Staedtler Noris Colour 24 Pencils – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Staedtler are a hugely well-known brand worldwide and they produce a large range of stationery products ranging from kids’ products all the way up to artist grade products, with a huge selection in between. The Staedtler Noris Colour pencils (not to be confused with the Staedtler Noris Club Pencils) are a budget option at around £4/5 for the full 24 colour set. These are some of the cheapest pencils around so how do they stack up against some of the slightly pricier options like the Staedtler Ergosoft pencils (reviewed here) and the Marco Raffine pencils (reviewed here)?

The Noris Colour pencils are available in up to 24 individual colours and come in sets of 6, 12, and 24 and come in standard Staedtler packaging, or Johanna Basford themed packaging (do hunt around as prices for the packaging can vary and the contents is exactly the same). The pencils themselves have a hexagonal barrel with two black sides, black-lined corners, and 4 coloured sides that are the same colour as the pencil lead. They arrive pre-sharpened and have flattened ends which show the perfectly centred cores which are a standard thickness. The barrels have a soft feel to them and they’re not slippery. The colours cover a good range of shades in the 24 pack and include white, black, grey, a flesh tone, 3 browns, 3 greens, a true red, one purple and plenty of pinks and blues, and two each of yellow and orange. The pencils are wax-based. Sadly, I’m really not a fan of these pencils. The leads are extremely hard, the hardest I’ve come across and they’re very waxy with very little pigment. I found it really difficult to get an even coverage that didn’t have streaks through it and I just couldn’t get any vibrancy. Even when creating my colour chart I struggled to not have huge lines through the fully burnished sections and I pressed so hard whilst colouring with them that I ended up with a blister and nearly went through the page. The pencils do blend ok if you use very light layers, but again, there’s no vibrancy from them. The pigment does erase well, especially when using a battery-operated eraser so these would be useful for those of you who go over the lines a fair bit, and for those wanting to create highlights. Sadly, any of you who suffer from joint pain, have weak grip, or are elderly, will really struggle to use these pencils unless you’re wanting to just do light block colouring and no blending or shading. The sheer amount of pressure needed to get any level of pigment on the page is higher than I’d ever want for a pencil and I ended up with dents and blisters on my fingers after colouring one full page.

The pencils do sharpen well and don’t crumble at all or create dust. The hardness of the lead means it keeps a good point which lasts for ages, mostly because so little of the pigment goes onto the paper when colouring. I haven’t had any issues with breakages or splintering so the lead and pencil barrel seem to be well-made. For the price, you can’t expect a lot but for me, even at this price, I wouldn’t buy them unless they were literally all I could afford. These pencils would be ideal for school children but I can’t recommend them for anyone else, the colours are so pale, the leads are so hard, and they’re so difficult to get colour onto the page how and where you want it. While the Staedtler Ergosofts and Marco Raffines are both a fair bit more expensive, I’d strongly advise opting for those pencils because they’re both highly pigmented, easy to blend and you don’t get an achy blistered hand just by looking at them. I really don’t like writing negative reviews but honestly, I can’t really find anything positive to say about these pencils, they made colouring really stressful for me and the only reason I finished the picture was to show a fully coloured page for this review.

If you’d still like to purchase a set of these pencils they’re available below:
Amazon UK: Staedtler Noris Colour 24 Pencil Set

Kutsuwa Stad T’Gaal Adjustable Pencil Sharpener – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
This is my first ever review of a pencil sharpener and potentially my last too because this one is so fantastic. I’ve never had issues with sharpeners and have always just used cheap, standard ones, including my favourite which is a Lego sharpener from a kids’ stationery set, but I didn’t realise what I was missing out on, until now! The T’Gaal sharpener has incredible reviews within the colouring community and I can vouch for these because it’s amazing, easy to use, and adjustable for all of your sharpening needs. I was very kindly supplied with this sharpener by Cult Pens, in exchange for an honest review.

The sharpener is available in a number of colours including: black, pink, blue, orange and green. It is small, but larger than a regular sharpener and has a dial on the front with numbers to adjust the length of the point. It has a small plastic shutter which goes over the pencil opening to keep it closed (mine is very loose and when tipped it moves and allows small pencil shavings out so do be careful if transporting it). The dial is numbered from 1 to 5 and this indicates the length of the point you’ll get, from 1 which is a short point that doesn’t cause you to lose lots of the wood of the pencil, all the way up to 5 which is a much longer point with more of the wood coating sharpened away.

The T’Gaal sharpener is by far the smoothest and easiest to use sharpener I’ve come across. There’s no dragging or catching which means it’ll be ideal for your tricky pencils that are prone to breakage. It’s almost silent to use because there’s so little friction and my only slight criticism is that it doesn’t have a clear viewing window so you can’t see when to stop sharpening but this isn’t a major problem and with practice you do work out when it’s roughly ready. Unfortunately you can’t replace the blade when it eventually blunts but the sharpener is a very reasonable price and it’s so fabulous that you truly won’t mind purchasing a new one when you eventually have to. One tip I’ve read online that’s meant to help prolong the life of sharpener blades is to regularly sharpen a normal graphite pencil which will help keep the blade sharp. I’ve no idea if this works but have been reliably informed it does so grab yourself some cheap graphite pencils and sharpen them after every few coloured pencils to keep your T’Gaal in the best shape possible!

Another great feature of this sharpener is that it contains a compartment to hold sharpenings, it’s not very big so won’t last more than a few pencils at a time but it is much more convenient than having to hunt down a bin every time you want some pointy pencils. The compartment has a slide cover which closes firmly which is a welcome change from most sharpeners which have a pull off lid (we’ve all experienced the heartbreak of throwing sharpenings all over the floor when the lid has been too stiff to easily pull off). If you’re still not convinced, check out the pictures below of the silver pencils – the first was sharpened with a cheap Derwent sharpener (yes that’s as sharp as it got), the middle one was sharpened with my favourite Lego sharpener, and the final one was sharpened with the T’Gaal (soon to be known as King of Sharpeners). The points this sharpener creates are almost painfully sharp and are absolutely ideal for using in even the most intricate colouring books. The picture below showing 5/6 pencils shows before and after shots of some blunt pencils that I’ve then sharpened using the 5 different settings of point length so you can really see the difference between setting 1 and setting 5. You can also see the difference in amounts of wood casing that are lost which is worth noting and bearing in mind when choosing what setting to sharpen your pencils with. This sharpener is a great size to hold because it’s not tiny or difficult to grip if you have joint problems. The smoothness and ease of sharpening also means that it’ll be ideal for those of you who struggle with standard pencil sharpeners because this is just so easy to use and needs barely any strength at all!

All in all, this is genuinely the best pencil sharpener I’ve used by a country mile, and judging by other reports and reviews, it’s the best on the market. If you have pencils that you’re struggling to sharpen without breakage, or you’re wanting needle-sharp points, or the ability to adjust the length of your points then this is absolutely the sharpener for you. I can’t rave about it enough, I now love sharpening my pencils and it’s so satisfying getting a perfect point on your beautiful pencils.

If you would like to purchase the only pencil sharpener you’ll ever need, it’s available here from Amazon.

Staedtler Ergosoft Triangular Coloured Pencils – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
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!

The pencils are available to buy here :
Amazon UK:
Set of 24 in blue stand up box
Set of 12 in blue stand up box
Set of 36 colours in brand new tin