Keys to a dream

Pick carefully, only one is the correct key, you get one try…
Done with Sennelier pastels, some W&N watercolors for texture on the background and keys with Faber-Castell Polychromos, just five of them for added challenge.

From Sommarnatt by Hanna Karlzon. Time spent was about 2,5 hours, a quickie.

I started with the background this time, went in with Sennelier pastels in dust form. Then after working that in, did a bit of splattering with watercolors to add some interest to the pastels. It’s subtle but adds an interesting touch I think. The paper is too thin to properly take water so take caution if using water media in this book. And then pencils for the keys themselves.

It would be easier if you have a workable fixative, I don’t. They don’t sell it where I live so I can’t fix pastels down before going in with pencils. Which can lead to a lot of frustration and stress. So I don’t attempt this on bigger and more intricate pieces.

The Grasshopper

Hop hop grasshopper! Bad joke, sorry, couldn’t resist. Anyway next up from Sommarnatt by Hanna Karlzon, the Grasshopper boy. It’s a boy to me. His name is Roger. Done with Derwent Coloursoft.


Such a fellow.

Next I’ll have a review of Caran D’Ache Luminance for you in a day or two 🙂

Caran D’Ache Pablo review

So, next up, Caran D’Ache Pablo. You can read the previous Faber-Castell Polychromos review HERE.

Caran D’Ache was born in 1915, so it’s a very old company (101, yay!), it’s located in Switzerland and they also produce their pencils there in what they call a workshop, not a factory. As a bit of a geek factor, Caran D’Ache has quite a few firsts, most interestingly for us, the first water soluble colored pencils ever, Prismalos, first produced in 1931. But today we won’t go into water solubles, today is all about mister Pablo and the awesome 120 friends in a tin box.pablo1

Pablo comes in a variety of counts, 12, 18, 30, 40, 80 and 120. They are wax based (however they don’t feel like regular wax, they’re much more similar to oil in performance) and have a cedar casing. The casing is hexagonal and colored according to the lead color.pablo2

The pencil has the name of the color, color number and lightfastness rating on it. Most come with a pretty good lightfastness rating, some fall short. In general, it’s not bad.pablo3

Anyway. These pencils are awesome, lets just start with that. But lets get straight to business as to why.


  • Strong, durable lead and casing, I don’t have a single broken pencil in my case
  • Vibrant colors, good selection, wide range
  • Blend extremely well
  • Lightfastness rating on the pencils
  • Hexagonal barrel is good on an angled table, doesn’t slide off
  • Excellent choice for nature scenes, being strong in cooler hues and natural tones, specially nice choice of blues
  • Nice thick 3,8mm lead
  • Will fit in standard sharpeners
  • Premium cedar casing
  • Available open stock in some art stores and Amazon


  • Well, price for one. But then again, they are really worth it, plus it could be worse (yes, looking at you, Luminance)
  • The naming convention is not fun. They don’t use pigment names too much for some odd reason so among other things you get pencils named “Blue” and “Yellow”. Most people wouldn’t mind though, I think.
  • Hexagonal thinner barrel can be uncomfortable to hold for long drawing/coloring stretches
  • I’d like a few more peachy tones for skin

I really don’t want to compare these to wax pencils (not even Caran D’Ache Luminance) since to me the performance and use of oil and wax is so different that they’re really hard to compare. Now I stand corrected by the kind miss Lipner that these, despite the whole of internet saying they’re oil, really aren’t, they’re wax still but produced in a much different way which leads to them feeling pretty much identical to oil, except that they do produce a more sort of liquid look. So comparing this to Faber-Castell Polychromos since that’s all I have regarding oil pencils for now. I do intend to someday get my hands on Lyra Rembrandt Polycolors but that’s far in the future for now.
As for Faber-Castells and Pablos, I’d be hard pressed to tell you which ones I’d prefer. Both if I could. They’re quite similar in performance with Pablos being a tiny bit softer and they blend with each other beautifully so they are nice complements. Pablos are strong in blues, greens and cool tones in general while Polychromos loves its warm hues, specially the yellow-orange-red spectrum. In any case, I’d say it’s really hard to compare them and it does boil down to personal preference, they’re both excellent pencils.

Color chart:
You can find better ones online, where people have a handwriting that you can actually read 😀 But well, to give you an idea:

Official color chart:
kleurenkaart pablo
coloring piece using Pablos:_DSC3438
Picture: Sommarnatt by Hanna Karlzon

If anything should ever happen to my Pablos (knock wood), I’d get them again. And again. And then once more. Because they’re fabulous, it’s as simple as that. Get a few open stock if you can or the 12 count tin and try them, you’ll know what I mean. Pablos are also great multitaskers like Polychromos, doing large areas and tiny details equally well (see above, the big bold brown background and yet the tiny intricate details of the door lock). So if you ask me which ones to get, both! 😀 Did I mention I’m a real bad enabler?

Next in reviews I’ll be looking at wax pencils. Of those I have three for now, Caran D’Ache Luminance, Prismacolor Premier and Derwent Coloursoft. And then we’ll move to water solubles so stay tuned!

Disclaimer: all of the above opinions are mine, you might have a different experience with these pencils

The Door

Next up in Sommarnatt, the door.
Done with Caran D’Ache Pablos only this time._DSC3438Man, I need a scanner… 😀

I’ll be doing a review on these pencils next, tomorrow to be exact. So stay tuned 🙂 Also working on some sample pieces for reviews so missing Sommarnatt already. But just for a change, I did one of the bookmarks that Bookdepository sends out at the moment:_DSC3446Was a fun little project 🙂 This apparently is a detail from Animorphia by Kirby Rosanes. I like that the bookmark is thick so it can take water, experimented with that.

Faber-Castell Polychromos review

Today, pencil day! Faber-Castell Polychromos are one of the most popular pencils out there. Lets take a closer look, shall we?
As always, you can find all pencil reviews under the Product Reviews tab or click HERE.

poly1.jpgFaber-Castell is a German brand, an ancient one at that. Polychromos is their artist range for colored pencils. Or coloured pencils, depends on which side of the ocean you reside. Or have learned English from, in my case, I tend to go the “wrong” route for a European person, as you might have noticed. Old habit, that’s all.

These are oil based pencils with a round cedar casing, which by the way have the EcoPencil label, always a plus in my eyes. The lead is 3,8mm in diameter. The whole range is 120 pencils but there are several counts available (12, 24, 36, 60 and 120 in both tin and wood case). The pencil casings are colored according to their color:poly2.jpgThe side of the pencil has loads of information, the name of the color, number and a lightfastness rating (sorry for the blurry picture):poly3.jpg
Now to me, oil and wax pencils seem quite different from each other, even though both do contain wax, oil pencils just have more oil in them but that does affect performance as well. Oil is generally drier and more fragile in a way, not in the sense that they’re more breakable but the result is generally somehow softer. Oil is very good for fine details since they keep a point well. Polychromos is no exception to this. I find they don’t break easily. I have ONE from this entire set that has a broken core and that one I dropped on concrete from a bit of a height. They can take a bit of beating, though you really shouldn’t try it. They sharpen to a very good point and keep it pretty well.


  • Intense colors
  • Good color selection, wide range
  • Durable, don’t break easily
  • Blend exceptionally well (without a blender)
  • Lightfastness rating on the pencils is always a good thing
  • Good naming convention, a lot of pencils named after the pigments used (sienna, ochre etc). This is relevant when trying to match up with some other brand or other media altogether, makes for easier finding of the necessary colors when standardized. Also more material-savvy artists can get other useful information out of it, like staining, lightfastness (though this is marked as well) and knowledge for color mixing
  • Good greyscale choices, systematic choice of cool and warm greys
  • Nice thick 3,8mm lead (the barrel itself is 8mm, will fit in all standard sharpeners)
  • Available open stock in some art stores and Amazon
  • Heavier on warm tones like reds and yellows, also a very good selection of grey tones. Not so many greens and blues but a good choice of tones for both, very nice natural greens. I haven’t found this set to be lacking in any area when it comes to colors


  • Round barrel is comfortable to hold BUT not too cool if you’re working on an angled drafting table, they will slide off
  • They’re not wax so if you’re planning to use soft pastels to do a background after you’ve finished the piece, these will not work for that, unlike with wax pencils, pastels will stick to colored bits over these pencils

Today lets see how FC Polychromos vs Caran D’Ache Pablos fare. Polys have a round barrel, Pablos hexagonal. Pablos are thinner (though the lead is roughly the same width). Polys are more comfortable to hold for long periods of time. Polychromos is strong in the warm spectrum, reds, oranges, browns and yellows, Pablo has a wider range of cooler tones, blues and greens. Performance is relatively similar with Pablos being just a smidgeon softer and they also blend well with each other so if 120 Polychromos (or Pablos) is not enough of a color choice, they don’t overlap too much, rather compliment each other. If you want to choose one, I’d suggest thinking about the color range, whether you need more cool or warm tones. Also whether you work on an angled surface or flat and if pencils sliding around is an issue. If you have issues with hands, like carpal tunnel or such, Polychromos might be a better choice due to its more comfortable barrel. Other than that, it really is a personal preference.

Color chart: I use these all the time, one thing is the barrel color, another the real color, it will improve your art ten times if you bother to go through the trouble to chart your colors out once and keep it close for reference, even if you make them as wonky and crazy as mine are:

Official color chart with lightfastness ratings:
POLYCHROMOS Artist Color Pencils
coloring piece I’ve done with these:_DSC3290
Picture: Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford

I definitely suggest these. I’d say that if you want ONE set of amazing pencils for coloring or art in general, this is a strong contender for being that one. They’re a good choice for multitaskers as they can do fine detail and fuzzy stuff as well and have a good range of vibrant hues and muted ones. The price is also nice for what you get for it. So yes, thumbs up!

Disclaimer: all of the above opinions are mine, you might have a different experience with these pencils

Dream Time

Next up in Sommarnatt, Dream Time. This turned out to be a lot more detailed then I anticipated at first glance. Which is really a good thing. Had to give up the rowan berry theme for pearls here, it wouldn’t have fit here but I think it came out okay.

Had some black accidents from the last page which refused to erase, Prisma doesn’t really like to be erased much. But that’s okay, it’s not that bad.

_DSC3417 (1).jpg

What is pretty bad though is that I noticed that all my pages have transfers from the opposite pages. At first I thought it’s cause I’ve colored too hard, even though I keep several sheets of copy paper and sometimes even cardboard between the pages. But no, even the ones I haven’t been close to have transferred a little. So I’m guessing the ink was still moist when the book was printed and closed. It will prove to be a bit of a challenge at places but luckily it’s not too bad. I just hope the next book won’t have this issue.

Dream watch was done with Caran D’Ache Luminance and gave the background just a little hint of color with Sennelier soft pastels.

As for the pencil reviews, I’m still debating on whether to do single reviews on every pencil and then a summary and comparison or do one HUGE post about all of them all at once, which might get too messy. So I’m swaying towards a whole series of overview/review/comparison posts.

But now back to coloring, the door awaits 🙂

Midsummer night’s dream

Since I love Sommarnatt so much, I decided to just color the thing. So back to the beginning and starting with this, a midsummer night’s dream in technicolor 😀

Done with Prismas.


Must say it’s not my favorite picture in the book but I think it turned out rather interesting, despite looking a bit uninspiring at first.