Marco Raffine review

So to continue with Marcos, today lets look at the crazy popular and affordable Marco Raffine pencils.

All reviews, including Marco Renoir can be found HERE.

Marco is a Chinese brand and other than that, not much is known about the company as far as I can tell. You can easily find both Raffine and Renoir varieties online, Ebay for instance. These pencils are oil based.
Marco Raffine comes in a cardboard box in sets of 24, 36, 48 and 72. The cardboard box has three layers of pencils and at least for me, the box itself is unusable as a way to keep and use the pencils so I suggest you also get a pencil wrap or something of that nature.
As you can see, mine are in a wrap. You can get this wrap from Ebay. Marco Raffines have a hexagonal barrel (whereas Renoir has round) with a color coded capped end.
The pencil has the name of the product and company, plus a color code. These pencils do not have names, just codes.


  • Very very affordable, around 22-25$ for a set of 72
  • Very easy to find online
  • Surprisingly good quality for the price
  • Hexagonal barrel is good for angled tables particularly, they don’t roll off the table
  • Blend reasonably well
  • Layer also reasonably well
  • The lead looks to be around 3mm diameter, maybe a tad more
  • Will fit in all standard sharpeners
  • A crapton of warm shades to choose from
  • Erase well
  • Has a great shadow color, 567 plus some other interesting pretty unique colors


  • Barrel quality is not the greatest, to be expected for the price
  • No tin, you might need to spend some extra for storage
  • A bit tricky to work with at times
  • Break quite easily (though not as easily as Renoir)
  • I’d prefer names for colors as well
  • The reds are a little too similar, also some of the greens
  • Not available open stock

I’ll compare these to their brothers, Marco Renoir pencils.
Raffine is definitely of a harder variety then Renoir. While that makes them a tad less breakable, they’re also not quite as nice to handle as Renoirs are in terms of blending.
Renoirs are almost double the price as Raffines but come with a tin instead of the cardboard box Raffines are housed in.
Both erase well and layer just fine. Neither is available open stock. Raffines have a hexagonal barrel, Renoirs round but both casings are a bit shoddy, prone to splintering here and there.
Colors aren’t the same for both but there are similar shades. Renoir feels a little brighter but they’re both stronger in the warm range. Renoir has more greys and doesn’t have the cool shadow tone 567 that I grew to love. 568 is also a favorite which is not represented in the Renoir range.
Renoir is certainly more breakable but also noticeably easier to use so if you can spare the 40$, I’d suggest getting those if choosing between the two sets. But the Raffines are not bad by any means, I’d say they’re easily on par with Staedtler Ergosoft pencils but you get a ton more pencils for around the same price. So if your budget can afford Raffines and not Renoir, don’t worry, Raffines are really surprisingly good, better then most student grade pencils you could get for this money. So I do recommend these.

Color chart:
There is no official color chart as far as I could find so you’ll have to Google for more images, here are my crooked swatches:

Example image done with Marco Raffines:
Picture: Sommarnatt by Hanna Karlzon

I do recommend these with the caveat that if you can, try the Renoir as well, you will probably like those even better. But if you can’t, these will get you places for sure, no worries.

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

In other news, tomorrow a new color with me will be up so stay tuned! We’ll color another girl this time 🙂

Marco Renoir review

Since I haven’t done a pencil review in a while, it’s high time to look at something and why not check out some budget friendly pencils, namely Marco Raffine and Marco Renoir pencils, starting with Renoir.

All previous pencil reviews can be found HERE.

Marco is a Chinese brand and both Raffine and Renoir varieties are oil pencils that you can easily find on Ebay and other online sources. Aside from that, I really don’t know much about the company, digged around in the interwebs but didn’t find anything of significance. So lets stick to made in China and cheap for now.

mrenoir1Marco Renoir pencils come in a tin of 24, 48, 72 and 100. There’s also a special greyscale tin of 12. I have the box of 72. The tin is made of a quite thin material and will get banged up easily but still better then a cardboard box for sure. Inside there are two layers of pencils in thin plastic trays.
mrenoir2After testing, I gave these to my daughter and she moved them to a pencil roll so I’ll show you how they look in a roll. Before you ask, you can find this pencil roll on Ebay. Anyway so these have a round barrel with a long colored strip at the end.
The pencil has the number for the color and the other side also has Marco Raffine printed on it. These pencils don’t have names for colors, just codes.


  • Very affordable, around 35-40$ for a set of 72
  • Easy to find online
  • Very soft and nice
  • Blend very well
  • Layer quite well with a light hand
  • The lead looks like it’s a bit over 3mm diameter but not quite sure, in any case, it is a good amount of lead
  • Will fit in all standard sharpeners
  • A lot of yellow, orange, red and green pencils, also a ton of greys
  • Round barrel is very comfortable and nice
  • Erase well


  • Highly breakable, they break if you look at them wrong. Honestly, my set is even worse then Prismas. But for the price, I don’t mind
  • I’d prefer names with colors as well, not just numbers
  • The casing is a bit shoddy, splinters easily when sharpening
  • Not available open stock
  • The reds are a little too similar, could use a wider variety
  • Too many greys for a set of 72, could use fewer greys and instead maybe a few more peaches and browns

I feel these totally compare to Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor pencils (review HERE) so comparing them with those. Now while Lyras are wax and Renoir is oil, they do perform in a similar way I think. To open the score, Renoir takes the first point for being way more affordable then Lyra for this kind of quality.
Renoir pencil casing is worse then Lyra, which by the way also doesn’t excel in that regard. The leads are a lot more breakable then Lyra. The tin is also not nearly as high quality. Lyra pencils have a wider lead which means you get a bit more for your money.
However when it comes to performance, I find they are quite equal. Both erase well, blend nicely and can layer with a light hand. They do feel quite similar to me when it comes to performance.
As for color selections, browns aren’t strong in either set though Renoir has it better with more choices. They’re both quite strong in the yellow to red department, Renoir has a bit more then Lyra, whereas Lyra is stronger in the blue and green area.
If I were to choose between them, I’d probably go with Renoir, it’s not better then Lyra but close enough for the price difference to decide it for me.
I will also compare these to Marco Raffines in the Raffine review next time and will link to it from this review as well.

Color chart:
There is no official chart that I could find but Google for images to get more charts in addition to my crooked charts here

Example image done with Marco Renoir:
Picture: Equinox by Stephen Barnwell.

I do highly recommend these pencils if you’re in a search for something affordable and maybe new for you. I definitely think that for budget pencils, these are the bomb. Seriously, they’re very nice. Even if you have fancier artist grade pencils, I suggest you try these out, they might be a fun addition to your collection.

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

Frog prince, Sommarnatt

Once upon a time in a country far far away, there lived a golden blessed frog prince. He was smart and just and loved by all his subjects, near and far. When he came of age, the king sent out messengers to kingdoms near and far, searching for the perfect princess for his beloved son. Princesses arrived day after day, beautiful and wise, small and big, in all the colors of the rainbow. The king saw them all and pondered for a long time. Finally, his choice was narrowed down to two princesses, one the smartest and the other the prettiest. The king decided to let his son choose. Little did he know, the prince had already talked to both girls in secret and fallen in love with the smartest, a tiny little dusky purple princess with eyes like stars. Sure, she didn’t have much of a dowry and her kingdom was small and poor but she was wise and love made her the most beautiful to the princes eyes.

Everyone gathered in the grand hall to hear the declaration of the engagement and learn who their future queen will be. The frog prince greeted his subjects and the two princesses curtly and declared his truest and deepest feelings towards the smartest princess from a kingdom far far away. To everyones amazement, the prettiest princess, her skin the color of morning dew, rose and with great anger cursed the prince to a life of worry, confusion, cruelty and fear, a life without stars in the water, glass mushroom forests and his love from far far away. The prince was struck by her words and his lifeless body fell to the ground. He woke again in a foreign place, cold and dark, his heart filled with fear and pain. The prince walked the night in the forest in a strange body, no longer golden, no longer happy for the princess had cursed her to a life of a human.

Years passed and the prince could not find solace and comfort, he longed for home and his love, the human world was strange to him and he could not learn to love all that was cruel and unkind in this world, all that was so foreign to him. One day, he met a young woman, smart and quite plain but beautiful to his eyes for she was kind and good with stars in her eyes. The prince found peace and happiness again. He slept at ease now, with his love at his side and their children close by, happily ever after. But still, every now and again, he dreamt of stars in the water, glass mushroom forests and his mother and father, friends and home.

So that’s my story about this frog from Sommarnatt by Hanna Karlzon 🙂
Colored with Marco Raffine pencils and a little Posca. It was a test page for the Raffines, I’ll tell you all about what I thought quite soon so stay tuned for that review. I’m not 100% happy with how it turned out, I think I’m not liking the color choices much. But well, it did inspire a fairy tale!

Book review – Equinox by Stephen Barnwell

If I were to talk of things that get me excited, indie-anything is sure one of them. Indie coloring books are no exception. I was really happy to find Equinox by Stephen Barnwell, it’s everything I hope for in a coloring book and more.

Details: Paperback, Antarctica Arts Publishing, 2016
Pages: 8.5 x 11″, 124 pages, 70 pound paper, single-sided
ISBN: 9780991321636
Where to get: US version, International version, Antarctica Arts page

This is a really cool book by Stephen Barnwell, it’s his first coloring book but he’s no beginner at art, you can read his impressive resume on the Antarctica Arts website. This book has an awesome style and the images caught my eye immediately. Also check out the colored pages on their website, there are some seriously amazing ways to color these. And there’s also a section there for tips and tricks for coloring.
The book has 52 images, all printed on just one side so you can use markers with confidence (though do put a sheet of paper under the picture you’re working with to protect the next page).
The paper quality depends on the version. The US version is printed on 70 pound paper, which is roughly 105 gsm, it’s not the thickest paper in the world but better then your average copy paper. The international version is printed by Amazon and thus is on copy paper. So I do recommend getting the US version from either the link above or their website. The paper will not take water well since it’s on the thinner side, it will buckle so stick to pencils and you’ll be fine.
The book is divided into four sections by seasons and has the most fantastical imagery ever, everything from flying pigs to Arthurian legends. They’re all so cool that I had a really hard time picking my first image and I will certainly revisit this book later to do more. I also love how the author himself has colored the images, they’re very dreamlike in a way.
The images range in difficulty from very easy to a bit more challenging but there’s something for everyone which is always awesome.

For example, the one I had such a hard time choosing but I am partial to anything with antlers (even though I really suck at coloring animals):
Colored with Marco Renoir pencils and a wee bit of white Posca.

Overall, I love this book! I definitely recommend getting it. The paper could be thicker so it could take water as well but that is really the only thing I can think to pick on. The images are seriously enchanting and crazy enough to offer fun for days. I do hope Stephen Barnwell will do more books in the future, I’ll surely be lining up for the next as well.

Disclosure: A review copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher. All of the above opinions are my own.
Disclaimer: all of the above opinions are mine, you might have a different experience and opinions