I ordered a set of 72 colored pencils from Castle Art Supplies. In addition to this, I ordered a pencil sharpener and a carrying case. The pencils arrived well packaged in a metal tin with plastic trays for the pencils. There was also foam inside the box for extra protection. There is a color chart on the back of the tin box in the order of the pencils in the trays. It wasn’t that practical for me. Apparently the company plans to release a set of 120 pencils soon.
The order of the pencils in the trays made no sense to me. I removed them all and put them in ROYGBIV order. As always, I made color charts of the pencils. I made a set for my color chart book (this holds the charts for all my media) and a smaller one for my pencil case. Here’s what I know so far:
The colors on the ends of the pencils represent the color of the lead, for the most part. There are a few that are off, which is why I recommend you make swatches. There are no names or numbers on the pencils, which is a bit of a bummer, but I’ll be adding my own numbers to them.
The pencils are sturdy, a nice weight in my hand and easy to use. I had one lead break, but it was a very pale yellow and I was probably pressing far harder than necessary.
There are plenty of colors for all skin tones, in case you do portraits. The set includes lots of greens, blues and purples as well. I don’t find any of the main colors to be lacking, which is often the case in a set of pencils. The earth colors are also well represented. Some of the colors are very close to each other, but I find that works for blending, highlights and shadows. There are two grays, a black and a white. Since I have several grays from my Prismacolor set that are not used up yet, I don’t have a problem with so few in this one. There are no metallics in the set.
I’ve been coloring with them and the Castle Art pencils have much harder leads than the Prismacolor pencils. They work very well in some of my coloring books, less well in others. I think it’s the paper used in the books. One book has a more glossy finish to the paper and on that the pencils don’t blend well. The other ones I’ve been coloring in don’t have that finish and the blending goes much better. By that I mean I use pencils that are slightly different in color for shading and highlights. I haven’t found these pencils to blend well with my Prismacolor blending pencil or with the white pencil included in the set. But just blending with the pencils alone works quite well. I haven’t tried other blending options yet.
After coloring for several hours and completing quite a few pages, I have not had to sharpen any of the pencils yet. They don’t wear down quickly at all, which happens with my Prismacolor pencils. This will save you a lot in product, as it’s the sharpening that eats up your pencils. There is a bit of pencil dust from coloring, but it’s minor.
All in all, these are a great set for the price. The colors are quite vibrant, the color lays down easily and quickly, the leads are sturdy and I haven’t had any problem with breakage-except for that one pale yellow. But after sharpening that one-which sharpened easily to a nice point-there wasn’t any further problem. While these are not as creamy as Prismacolors they do work well.
Whether you choose this set as your main colored pencil option, as a travel set, as a beginners set to get started in colored pencil art, or as a good quality option for your children’s art projects-Castle Art Colored Pencils are an affordable colored pencil set which will give you nice results. I received an email from the company following my order, it was friendly and wanted to assure me if there was any problem with my order to contact them immediately so they could take care of it for me. They are very eager to please their customers, provide outstanding customer service and seem genuinely interested in providing you with a high quality product. I am very impressed with both the company and the pencils.
Edited to add:
After coloring with the pencils for awhile, they needed to be sharpened. Immediately I realized the cores were broken in the pencils. I contacted the company, asking if I could return this set for a new one. They said “no, we’ll send you a new set for your inconvience.” Which they did immediately. It arrived in visually good condition.
After using these new pencils, I needed to sharpen them too. The same thing happened. The cores are broken within the wood casing.
With both of these sets, I laid them out on a heating pad, covered with thick towels, and let them warm for a couple hours. I did this with both sets of 72. It took me two days to heat each group for two to three hours each. Unfortunately this didn’t work. They continue to break with each sharpening.
So my final review is the pencils lay down nice vibrant color, the company is dedicated to customer service and really want you to be pleased with their products. But unless they can figure out how to ship their products without breaking the core of their pencils, they will not have any customers. Because the utter frustration I’ve been feeling trying to work with these pencils has left a bad taste in my mouth. Even though they’re inexpensive, I am unhappy I’ve spent 20 odd bucks on pencils I’ll be throwing out because I can’t make them work.
Again, the quality of the pencils is good. The customer service is excellent. The damage done during shipping is unacceptable. And until this issue is addressed, I won’t be purchasing anything else from this wonderful company.