Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Prismacolor Scholar Line Colored Pencils, Review and Small Rant about Reviewers

amazon pic of Prismacolor Scholar Colored Pencils
pic from Amazon.com listing

Back in June of this year I was browsing Amazon.com for some art supplies and found they had a set of  Prismacolor Scholar series colored pencils for a really good price. Then I made the mistake of reading the reviews. I swear people will complain about anything, and when I read reviews I expect to learn about the product performance and stuff like that, not about personal pet peeves.  

While I understand that certain points made in a review are purely subjective,  what got to me on this occasion was that some reviewers said they were dissatisfied with the plastic packaging, and one person actually returned the package of pencils. Just for that. Didn't try them out, no broken pencils or anything like that. They misread the description and thought the pencils would come in a wooden box. (If you don't want to read my wordy review I will just restate here that these are quality pencils that have been packaged cheaply to save "starving artists" some cash, and "wood casing" in the description describes the pencil's construction not the packaging.) 

My original review is here, but I have included it in this post as well with just a few edits for clarity. I don't work for the company or anything- I just have a fondness for the products, and I use them in commission work as well as my personal and portfolio pieces.

Prismacolor “Scholar” Colored Pencil, 24 Colors Review:

I noticed so many people complaining about the packaging, and I felt the need to write my own review because I have extensive experience with the product. I have been using Prismacolor pencils for more than 20 years, and the quality of these colored pencils cannot be beat, in my opinion. I have used expensive Derwent, Faber Castle, and many others. They are not as good, and I always end up reaching for my Prismacolors.

Most important note: The company packages the "scholar" line of pencils cheaply so that they can offer them at a lower price to art students who typically cannot afford high quality art supplies. The scholar pencils are just as nice as the professional "artist" line, which comes in metal tins or wooden boxes.

Another note: "wood casing" in the description refers to the pencil itself. The pigment lead is "encased" in a wooden barrel. As you see by the picture, these are in a clear plastic case (this would be the perfect spot for an epic Picard face palm meme, but I will spare you that cliché, though I find them quite funny to this day- I digress).

A set of 24 Prismas will usually cost at least $24-25 in the cardboard or tin cases. Larger sets in those fancy wooden boxes can cost hundreds. Here you have a set of 24 in a plastic envelope thing, and this has caused people to give poor reviews and return the items. You bought some of the best pencils around for half price, people- the packaging is irrelevant! I noticed that these reviewers mentioned nothing about the pencils themselves. Are you kidding?

I am an artist by profession, so I have plastic containers and drawers for all of my supplies. When I buy pencils they are going to go in the appropriate bin, so the packaging is not an issue- I prefer to pay for the contents. Other artists I know also store pencils in their own bins and boxes.

I have to replace my colored pencils fairly often since I use them to the nub, and buying 24 for $12-13 is certainly a great thing. If you have to replace a single pencil you will pay at least a dollar per pencil at most craft stores, so no doubt this is an economical alternative. Most likely, you will use up these standard colors first.

BTW- I see a picture of pencils in the plastic case up there (again, the pic at Amazon.com) for this item, so I don't know which product these other people are even looking at. Regardless, this set of 24 Prismacolor pencils is a steal. They are described as "student" quality, but do not let that fool you. These are not Crayolas by a long shot. I use them along with Prismacolor Artist pencils (the professional ones) and I really can't tell one from the other.

I just wanted to stick up for these amazing pencils since people have made the rating low for stupid reasons. Review the actual product- it is not helpful to others to complain about the case when most artists keep their supplies in other containers anyway.

Okay, so I will step off my high horse now and add this useful tidbit that I have also used in a reply to another customer:

The pencils in the Scholar line are named differently than Premier line , with numbers only versus the "Premiere" color names that have a descriptive name (i.e "Crimson Red") along with an alphanumeric code like "PC 924", which is the Crimson Red designation. The corresponding Scholar pencil is numbered "324". Simply put, the last two numbers will match. This works for the core colors up to at least the 48 range, but I do know that some of the more “designer” colors (like the metallics and muted pastels) with numbers over 999 are not part of the Scholar line. The Art Stix are numbered like the Premier line with the corresponding “PC” labels as well.

I should also add that when I use the same colors for the scholar and premier lines side-by-side I cannot tell the difference.


  1. cheers man, you have told me exactly what I wanted to know, I was hoping they were the same as the premier, open stock are V hard to get hold of here in the UK, and I don't want to pay for a full set, although I have about 120 that I have bought over time from the 1 place that does do open stock. They don't sell scholar here at all, but I just manged to hook 48 for around £25 of the US Amazon site, would have got the full 60 which was only $5 more but for some god forsaken reason they wouldn't ship the 60 to the UK, I am guessing they aren't supposed to send the 48 either but they have accepted my order so fingers crossed I get them. I don't think I am going to end up with any colours I don't have already but it will be great to grab this many for about half the normal price, and at least i'll have a second set I can keep at work or some such.

  2. Dear pumibel,
    Just wanted to know the difference between the prismacolor premier and scholar set, and I.ve found the answer. My main wonder was the hard tip of the scholar, I am looking for this special feature of smooth, soft core,- but if you say you can't tell the difference, I'll go for the 60 scholar set and enjoy them.
    I keep looking for a picture side by side review, but found none. It would have been of great help.
    Thank you for this long, well-structured review.

  3. Prismacolor Scholar 24 pencils for sale here $16 :


  4. Thanks for the helpful information. Have been looking everywhere for a decent review that would answer all of my questions -- glad I found it here!

  5. Are these similar to the Prismacolor Premiers but just a bit of a harder core? I have the Premiers, but I feel they're too soft for me. My Faber Castell Eco Pencils are too hard lol. I need an in between...

    1. Yes, the Scholar line is nearly identical to Premiere except that the Scholars are a little harder. You still want to watch out sharpening them to a needle point because the tips could still break off. You want to sharpen just short of the "needle" sharp tip. I am not familiar with the FC Eco pencils, but the Faber Castell Polychromos are rather nice, IMO. They cost a lot more than Prisma, though.

    2. Hello, how about those prisma colors who dont have a name and its only 11usd for 24set?http://www.ebay.com/itm/222032278938?_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

    3. I will look into these, but I cannot say right now if they are the same pencils. They could be knockoffs or counterfeit goods, lol. I see that they are made in a different country than genuine PCs, so it makes me suspicious. Again, I will check into these more and get back to you. Thanks for letting me know about them!

  6. My tiny little beef.

    I am new to colouring. I love it. I bought the scholars because I wasn't sure this was the "hobby" for me. It is. My problem is this:

    I like to learn via youtube video tutorials made by people who really do a gorgeous job of colouring. I love the colours they select. Invariably they are using Prisma Premium. I try to copy and my huge problem is ... though the teacher "sometimes" gives a quick shot of the colours she is using ... none of the numbers match my scholar pencils. Drives me nuts!

    So, I bought a very expensive set of Faber Castell Polychromos. Again, the names and numbers don't match up and it frustrates the heck out of me! I am a"copier" and I want to use whatever the teacher is using because those are the colours I like!

    Last night I had a difficult time with my scholar pencils leaving little bright blobs of pencil lead on my work. I found my scholars were not blending well at all. Today I switched to my FC and found they were blending so much nicer. I was about to order a set of Prisma Premium tonight ... until I tripped over your good article. Thanks for taking the time. Personally I appreciate it.

    I will look for the number thing you mentioned above. I will be very happy if it works!

    Thanks for your honesty.

  7. Hi and thank you for your review. I have some of the Prismacolor Premiums and I love, love, love them! My set is 20 and I've added some individual colors that I really like. I want to get a bigger set but just can't justify spending alot more money. I stumbled across a set of Prismacolor Scholar-set of 60 for $22 on Amazon with free shipping today and so I bought them. Can I expect them to blend as well as the Premiums? You said you can't tell a difference...are you serious about that? Thanks so much.

  8. Thank you so much for your review. I am new to adult coloring and bought a Prismacolor boxed set that had 20 Prismacolor premium pencils, the sharpener, eraser, blendar pencil,black fineliner marker and a tiny coloring book-all for $14.99 free shipping. I love the Premium colored pencils but 20 was just not enough so I added about 6 more individual colors that I really love. Now after coloring every day I am hooked! Still, I feel the need for more colors. I don't really want to pay the high price for the Prismacolor Premiums, even though I love them so much. I thought I would try the Prismacolor Scholars. I found a set of 60 for $22 with free shipping. That more in my budget! How do you think they compare to the Premiums with shading and blending? Did you really mean it when you said you can hardly tell a difference between the two? Thanks for your input.