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Faber-Castell was established in  the Nuremburg area of Germany in 1761, and the business is still family owned.

The two main product lines as far as we are concerned, are the Oil based Dry point Coloured Pencil  - POLYCHROMOS -

and the Water Soluble (Aquarelle) pencils branded as ‘ALBRECHT DURER’

Products are manufactured in 14 factories worldwide and the two pencil lines have a long established 120 colour range which is shared by both types of pencil.

Faber Castell also produce a leading Pastel pencil branded ‘PITT’ pastel.

This is sold in both wood cased pastel pencil form and as a solid stick of hard pastel  See the Pastel Pencil section for more information.

I would regard Faber-Castell Polychromos as one of the three strongest brands among Coloured Pencil manufacturers

and I have used these pencils as one of my first choices for several years

POLYCHROMOS are a medium soft pencil with a very smooth take up which layer well

The colour range is very strong on the reds and yellows and there are a low level of poor lightfast colours.  

Users of  Polychromos tend to be strong fans of the brand. The colour range tends to favour those who do botanical work as the flower colours are well represented.

There are a good range of greys and darks in the set.

As  Polychromos is an oil based product, pictures completed with Polychromos will not suffer from Wax bloom.

ALBRECHT DURER The original line of these watercolour pencils  (Aquarelles) have a drier feel to them than Polychromos as they lack the oil content.  

The aquarelles tend to mimic watercolours closely and the colours you would expect to behave like watercolours do so.

For example, non staining earth colours in watercolours are non staining in the Albrecht Durer range, and mixtures which granulate in watercolours do so in washes of these pigments  The Original Albrecht Durer come in sets of up to 120 colours and are a reliable buy.

In 2017 Faber Castell have introduced a new Watercolour pencil line in the ALBRECHT DURER MAGNUS pencils.  A chunky 5.3mm pencil currently offered in sets of 24 and single replacements.  Recommended UK retail is shown as £45 the set but they are easily found at around £25 a set.   Benefits - they are all fully lightfast, very smooth to lay down colour, and the thick colour core enables a lot of ground to be covered quickly. They layer as dry pencils and burnish, and work as watercolour pencils with no excessive colour gain when moist.

I worked a small test picture to try them out ( 5 inches x 2.5 inches ) and the result is below. Detailed work is quite possible on HP Botanical watercolour paper.  The only disadvantage I can see is the relatively small full set ( 24 ), but bearing in mind the mixability of the colours this should not be a major difficulty if used as watercolour pencil rather than a dry one.

Faber Castell Distribution in the UK is wide and efficient and larger retailers and mail order outlets will stock single colours as well as sets. www.saa.co.uk  ( Society for All Artists) is a good source - especially if you are eligible for a member discount and get the P & P free.

Another good source for pencil stock is Studio Arts of Lancaster, who are one of the select few independent art materials retailers left in the UK and stock all the Faber-Castell range both in boxes and single pencils and sell over the Internet.

For more background information, there are several Faber-Castell websites

but I find the USA one the most useful as it contains extra data on lightfastness not found elsewhere

The USA site is at     http://www.fabercastell.com/14786/Welcome/index_ebene2.aspx

The Home site in Germany is at      www.faber-castell.com/    

This link provides access to the home sites in a range of European languages

The Faber Castell ranges use a star system to indicate the light stability of the pigment in each pencil with 1 star being the lowest

rating. Whilst Faber Castell rate that as ‘good’ I would suggest that you avoid the one star colours and use mainly the 2 and 3 star colours if you can

For sight of the colour range, see the Penciltopics standard charts completed from the actual pencils

Faber Castell Polychromos Chart.

The Albrecht Durer colour range is the same and a separate chart will be posted in due course showing the dry and moistened colours in the Aquarelle range

Latest revision August 2017








                              Right                                         after water

No appreciable change in colour or strength