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ALL ART MEDIA ARE AFFECTED BY ULTRA VIOLET LIGHT TO GREATER OR LESSER AMOUNTS.
BEFORE LOOKING AT PENCILS, LET ME FIRST LOOK AT OTHER MEDIA AND HOW THEY REACT WITH LIGHT
The thinner the layer of colour on the surface, the more liable is the pigment to fade or change in bright sunlight.
For this reason completed watercolours are carefully stored out of bright light and displayed with caution.
Oil paintings have some protection with the thick layers and the oils they are bound with, but still you will note how many ‘Old Masters’ have reverted from bright colours to browns over the years of being hung in galleries ( Unless they have been lucky enough to be restored )
In many cases the loss of colour is partly dirt and failure of varnishes, but even the thickness of Oil paint is not proof against fading.
Acrylics are similarly protected by the thickness of paint and the Polymer binding -
Inks are usually based on more stable pigments, and can be among the most permanent of the water based products
but Watercolours are the most fragile of all as the layer of paint on the paper is the most delicate and the thinnest.
In common with other art media, Pencil paintings react with light in much the same way, and need as much care as Watercolours
Some pigments are more liable to fade and the older reds, purples pinks and some blues are more unstable than the natural browns yellows and greens. With modern chemistry and the organic colours produced from the oil industry, have come colours that are more stable in strong light. For this reason, many old stocks of pencils contain a high proportion of unstable pigments, and newly produced stock tends to have better stability as Pencil manufacturers are now more conscious of the need for colours that will last.
Take Care, though. Most manufacturers produce a wide range of pencil lines and not all will be made using the more expensive light resisting pigments. School and student lines will often be made with cheaper ingredients, and low price ‘own brand’ coloured pencils sold by stores who do not specialise in art materials, may well be more subject to fading in many colours.
Those manufacturers who produce lines specially made for Artists and meet high lightfast requirements often have the highest priced products, and this is for a reason -
Speaking to the manufacturers, I find the common factor is that they make the highest profits on the lower cost items sold for schools and children. The highest quality art materials made for artists are often those sold with the smallest margin. They are manufactured and sold to gain the quality name that sells the other stock.
WHY DO WATERCOLOUR PENCILS OF THE SAME COLOUR AND BRAND AS WAX PENCILS, CARRY DIFFERENT RATINGS ?
A pigment used in a wax based (Dry Point) pencil will usually have a higher lightfastness rating than the same pigment in an Aquarelle (Watercolour Pencil), as the eventual thickness of pigment once it is brushed in with water will be less than when it simply laid on the surface with a wax binder. The pigment is the same (usually), it is just that the thinner layer of colour in the aquarelle is more delicate and liable to fade.
In July 2013 -
ARE THERE COLOURS TO AVOID ?
Because the amount of pigment in pale colours is lower than in the amount in stronger shades (due to the mixing of more filler with the pigments), paler colours -
Many older brands of pencil have lower ratings. But some newly formulated pencils can have low light ratings too.
IF YOU WANT YOUR ARTWORK TO LAST IN DISPLAY, YOU NEED TO CHECK THE STANDARD OF THE COLOURS YOU USE Refer to the manufacturers websites and literature.
You will usually find some reference to the lightfastness (UV rating) where you find the colours listed
If a ‘Blue Wool Scale’ rating is shown, the highest rating is 8 -
and anything of 6 and above is considered acceptably lightfast.
Personally I try to avoid colours rated 4 and below and consider 5 as just about acceptable.
Some pencils carry a star rating and I try to avoid any with a 1 star mark and use the 2 and 3 star pencils.
Try to check out the rating either from the pencils ( Faber Castell and Caran d’Ache )
or from the manufacturers website ( Derwent ). If you can’t get hold of a rating, treat pinks, purples and reds with caution -
especially the pale colours which, as noted above, very often have low pigment levels.
Strong light can encourage the little pigment that is there to fade.
Some brands conform to ASTMS 6901 and carry reference to LF1 and LF2 gradings. This is tested on the actual pencils and as such is the highest test rating. LF 1 and 2 are excellent -
One or two brands show testing to ASTMS 4303. This is testing on the actual colourants used in the pencils and whilst it is not a test of the pencils, it is a good indication that the colours you lay down will last.
YOU DON’T WANT TO SPEND MANY HOURS ON YOUR ARTWORK TO SEE IT ALL LOST AS THE COLOUR DISAPPEARS
LINKS TO MANUFACTURERS WEB PAGES GIVING LIGHTFASTNESS SETTINGS FOR THEIR PRODUCTS
NOTE : You will need to copy the Internet address where given below, removing the initial brand title,
and then paste it into your internet browser
I am indebted to a correspondent in Slovenia who has taken some time in researching web sources for pencil lightfast ratings
The list he has provided is included in the revised list below ( March 2011)
DERWENT ( Use the blue wool scale -
Derwent Coloursoft: http://www.pencils.co.uk/files/productchart/Coloursoft%20Colour%20Chart__j5zjn4i0.pdf
Derwent Inktense: http://www.pencils.co.uk/files/productchart/Inktense%20Colour%20Chart__nzrfmgu0.pdf
Derwent Artists: http://www.pencils.co.uk/files/productchart/Artists%20Colour%20Chart__p1dk1gz5.pdf
Derwent Studio: http://www.pencils.co.uk/files/productchart/Studio%20Colour%20Chart__sjfv2kvn.pdf
Derwent Drawing: http://www.pencils.co.uk/files/productchart/Drawing%20Colour%20Chart__ftzxjveb.pdf
Derwent Metallic: http://www.pencils.co.uk/files/productchart/Metallic%20Colour%20Chart__m5kwe50u.pdf
Derwent Graphitint: http://www.pencils.co.uk/files/productchart/Graphitint%20Colour%20Chart__qaxffxe0.pdf
Derwent Watercolour: http://www.pencils.co.uk/files/productchart/Watercolour%20Colour%20Chart__zynx3axe.pdf
Derwent Aquatone: http://www.pencils.co.uk/files/productchart/Aquatone%20Colour%20Chart__frzmhc5c.pdf
FABER CASTELL ( use a star system -
Their definition of their lightfastness ratings is at
Faber Castell star system Link ( the original Faber Castell site link has disappeared -
Details of the pencil colours is to be found at
CARAN D’ACHE ( also use a star system for brands other than Luminance and Museum)
The information on lightfastness of the different brands is available by downloading PDF files from these links :
Caran d'Ache Pablos: http://www.carandache.ch/m/la-
Caran d'Ache Luminance 6901: http://www.carandache.ch/m/la-
Caran d'Ache Supracolor: http://www.carandache.ch/m/la-
Caran d'Ache Prismalo: http://www.carandache.ch/m/la-
Like Faber Castell, use anything with a single star with caution.
Luminance ratings are given as LF1 and LF2 -
LF1 is 100% lightfast and LF2 is 80% lightfast -
I would regard all Luminance colours as fine for CP work.
Sanford have been very coy in the past about publishing the data.
However they have now published an official Prismacolor Premier Chart showing the colour card
and the official ASTMS 6901 ratings for their main 132 colours ( and blender )
They show the range with the 5 grades listed from excellent ( 1 ) to poor ( 5 )
On this scale, the serious CP artist would normally be aiming to use those in grades 1 and 2
and there are 72 colours match this aim, with quite a few of the ‘good’ colours, shades of grey or white.
For the PDF file of the Official ASTMS Prismacolor chart see:
Staedtler and Lyra do not publish data -
but UV star ratings for Lyra are shown against each colour inside the lid of the box.
TALENS ( VAN GOGH )
Talens Van Gogh pencils meet the standards of ASTMS 6901
though not to the level of Caran d’Ache Luminance, there is a chart of Van Gogh colours and ratings ( by stars ) here :
Van Gogh pencils: http://www.talens.com/english/downloads/colour_charts/VGCP_GBR.pdf
There are also technical papers on lightfastness, ASTMS and Blue Wool standards here :
And a chart showing the conversion of Van Gogh star ratings to ASTMS here:
From which you will see that the Van Gogh 2 star verges into LF 3
I also understand the Dutch made Bruynzeel FullColor pencils are lightfast, but I have no data and they are not available in the UK
Made in Austria by the successors to the Hardmuth pencil business.
Colours of the 36 Karmina ( dry point ) and Marino ( watercolour ) pencils meet the ASTMS 4303 standard
with all colours either LF1 or LF2
Karmina can be very difficult to find, but Marino are on sale in the UK and I have tested them as very good ( and not highly priced )
ASTMS 6901 relates specifically to coloured pencils and is product based i.e testing is done on the actual pencils
ASTMS 4303 relates to lightfastness of pigments and artists colours in general and relates to the ingredients.
ASTMS 4303 Testing is not done on the product, it is done on the ingredients
ASTMS 6901 -
To quote from AMIEN.Org web site
ASTM D 6901, “Standard Specification for Artists’ Colored Pencils”
This standard is a departure from ASTM D 4302, and applies only to colored pencils.
The difference here is that artists’ colored pencils are mixed-
This standard is a significant departure from ASTM D01.57’s traditional testing scheme, and therefore will be used in the development and writing of other, future, standards that require product-
ASTM D 4303, “Standard Test Methods for Lightfastness of Colorants Used in Artists’ Coloring Materials”
This is the technical method that describes the ways in which colorants (pigments, dyes, lakes, and so on) used in most single-
Two theories can be simply explained here. 1.) Many artists use at least some white paint in their mixtures – or paint thinly on white surfaces. This is an assumption based on observation of artists at work in their studios and the observation of works of art in display collections. ASTM D01.57 therefore specified that single-
Coloring materials tested with this method receive a “Lightfastness Rating” of I, II, III, IV, or V, depending on the results. Only Lightfastness Ratings of I and II are good enough for artists’ materials.
It should by now be clear that this kind of reporting of results is not predictive – ASTM D01.57 does not predict the “service life” of materials.
Latest revision Sepember 2015
If you wish to preserve the quality of the colour in a Coloured Pencil Picture, you can take further steps to protect the image.
You can spray the finished work with a fixative that also adds a protective Ultra Violet light filter and will therefore add a layer of protection.
You can also have the picture mounted and framed up behind a special protective glass or plastic which will also provide more UV protection.
An alert for anyone interested in the lightfastness of Coloured Pencils
An excellent article published on the web site of the Coloured Pencil Society of Canada.
Manon Leclerc has researched a very comprehensive survey on the Topic which is well worth reading.
Entries are logged in date order -
IF ANYONE HAS ANY FURTHER LINKS TO SUITABLE DATA TO SHARE WITH READERS,
PLEASE CONTACT ME
PLEASE BEAR IN MIND that any links to other web sites quoted here are only good for as long as the web site at the other end of the link remains unchanged. Web sites are updated and page contents change. Some information moves elsewhere on a site and the link then shows up as failing. If you spot a link that is no longer valid and can trace the new address for the same information, please let me know.
Judith Crown has been carrying out extensive testing of pencils and papers using the regular bright sunlight found in Israel.
Some of her results have been summarised on the site here,
and the full data will be published on the website of the UK Coloured Pencil Society
The CPSA also undertakes technical lightfastness testing and publishes the results in a book
which is available ( at cost ) to their members only.
If you have a need to have full independent test data for lightfastness, it may pay you to consider CPSA membership
THIS TOPIC IS IN TWO SECTIONS
Lightfastness 1 deals with the theory and provides links to sources which give ratings for individual brands. It also gives details of how the International standards are framed.
Lightfastness 2 deals with some actual tests carried out on brands of pencils.
These were done under severe light conditions and are not scientific tests, they are merely illustrations of how strong sunlight can affect colours.
DOES IT MATTER?
In a word
INDIVIDUAL BRANDS & PENCIL INFORMATION
|Glossary of CP Terms|
|Introducing step by steps|
|sbs basic shapes|
|sbs fruit bowl|
|sbs polperro B|
|sbs rectory garden|
|The Bowerman Stone|
|sbs to come|
|Price and Content|
|Papers for Wax type pencils|
|Papers for Watercolour pencils|
|Papers for Pastel pencils|
|Papers for mixed media with CP|
|Black Paper Fade|
|Non standard papers for wax pencils|
|Application of colour|
|Density of Colour|
|Results on Different Papers|
|Ways of using Aquarelles|
|Why Underpainting ?|
|Backgrounds with Aquarelles 1|
|Backgrounds with Aquarelles 2|
|A Brush with W/C Pencils|
|Foliage in W/C Pencil|
|Step by Step - Coventry Canal|
|Cottage Garden - Step by Step PDF|
| Italian Street step by step 1|
|Italian Street step by step 2|
|Brokken Bridge Step By Step PDF|
|Coventry Canal 2|
|CP & Pastel|
|CP & W/c Pencils|
|CP & Other media|
|Archway - Mixed Media sbs|
|Cottage Entrance Mixed Media sbs|
|Annecy Reflections 1|
|Annecy Reflections 2|
|working on coloured paper|
|Still Life Points|
|BURNISHING, Blenders and Burnishers|
|Landscape Tutorial- Grand Union|
|clouds & skies|
|Brick, Stone & Tile|
|Brick stone and tile 2|
|Colour and complementaries|
|Boats & Water|
|Form & Space|
|Drawing from Life - introduction|
|using a camera|
|transfering an image|
|keeping a record|
|printing 2 - layout|
|Life Drawing 1 - the basics|
|November 2011 Landscape SBS|
|July 2012 - Kitten Step by Step|
|Old Blog Posts as at Dec 2014|
|Aix En Provence series|
|New input ( from Dec 2014)|