Let me tell you about my favorite pencil… now that it’s almost too late for you to get one of your own.
Prismacolor Col-Erase pencils are an awesome halfway point between traditional colored pencils and good old No.2 graphite pencils. I use them in just about every stage of my process — they’re my absolute favorite for sketching, and carry most of the lineart in my finished work.
They have a hard, smooth lead that’s great for precise detail work and the soft shading you’d normally only get with graphite. They come (came?) in a limited but workable range of colors, and don’t have the waxy feel of most colored pencils, which means they layer nicely with other media and blend seamlessly with ink, watercolor, and gouache.
Naturally, a pencil this good can’t be allowed to exist. I recently got the tragic news that Prismacolor isn’t going to be selling these pencils individually anymore. Apparently they’ll still be sold in sets — though I’m pretty sure that having to buy 23 colors you don’t need in order to get your hands on the one that you do is how they torture minimalists in Hell. If there’s a good dupe out there, I haven’t found it yet. (Verithin, probably the next best thing to Col-Erase, is also on Prismacolor’s chopping block.)
I know a lot of artists who rely heavily on Col-Erase and/or Verithin pencils in their processes; if you’re one of them, consider this advance warning to stock up, re-learn how to art with a substitute, or consider a career change (I’m going to be a lobster fisherman!)
While this certainly ranks low among the recent blows to our collective freedoms, I’m sure going to miss these pencils. If you’re in the mood to rage against the machine, Prismacolor can be reached via their contact form — presumably they will dismiss your concerns with the same bland corporate indifference with which they addressed my own… but hey, you never know.
Prismacolor can go straight to hell (well, actually rubbermade because they bought them out)! They discontinued Artstix two years ago. Almost every professional caricature artist I know uses Artstix to color and shade their caricatures. Now I have to barter my internal organs on the black market just to get an NFT of an Artstix.
I just closed down my business pencilthings.com sold all those quickly but I still have palomino graphite pencils and fine tec colored pencils if interested email me email@example.com
My warm Tuscan Red
Indigo Bue, I love too
The order has been placed
Those two are my favorites too. 🙁 They just FEEL better to sketch with than regular pencils. I may or may not have an apocalypse-level hoard of them now.
Is there any pencil that feels like Prismacolor?
There’s a workaround. We had this exact issue in a UK studio where I spent almost a decade pencil drawing the same character! 😱😁 We found if you change the way you use ordinary pencils, you can achieve the same results. The boss was adamant only Prisma’s would do, could it spell the end of the franchise?! Then one of us just started using ordinary pencils without telling him. It was almost six months before he found out 😂 In a business where every detail was examined under a magnifying glass this was just the revelation required to move the company forward. Using pencils to achieve the same look precisely is very hard on your hands though, in my experience. After almost two years of research in my spare time, I developed a digital equivalent to the Prismas. It’ll never feel the same as natural media work but at least it’s a solution, of sorts.
I am super disappointed to hear this news! Thank you for letting us know! Thankfully, I have some extra but… I don’t know what I’ll do when I run out. If you find an alternative pencil that doesn’t only come in a set, I’d be very interested to hear about it! The light gray col-erase especially is my go-to.
Given your description, if you’re unaware of Derwent Graphitint check them out.
Farewell best brown sketching pencil you were a pleasure to work with.
Yessss rally an army of minions and storm Prismcolor HQ!
But also, drat, I am sorry.
I’ve got my balaclava ready.
This sort of thing just makes me wonder how consolidated the colored pencil market is. As far as I’m aware, Prismacolor is THE colored pencil brand and thus can probably discontinue popular product lines without worrying about losing market share.
After they got rid of Karisma here in the UK (a slightly harder version of Prisma colour) I’m no longer surprised, but irked that verithin are on the chopping block too as they’re one of the better quality hard lead colour pencils that are great for the smaller, high detail work I do.
NOOOOOO. There are like the only pencils I know how to draw with. I guess I’m becoming a lobster fisherman too 🙁
I think we’ve got enough disenfranchised artists to man a fine fleet of boats now.😭
As an avid Col-Erase fan, Prismacolor has dropped severely in quality over the years (look down at any unsharpened pencil to see how off-center all the leads are.)
I started looking for a replacement years ago and have grown to love Caran D’Ache Pablo pencils: they have solid colors, maintain a point and behave well with water media.
Best of luck!
Thank you for making this Public Service Announcement! I was heartbroken when I read the opening lines and didn’t actually finish reading the article until I had placed an order for the Tuscan Red ones, which it seems most people prefer. I don’t use the pencil (wood) bit though, I cut the cores out and use them in a 3mm lead holder.
I actually wrote to Prismacolor about 4 years ago when I became hooked on Tuscan Red about the possibility of selling the cores without the wood as a way of making them cheaper and perhaps more accessible, but I guess my plea went unheard and the total opposite happened.
One can hope that resellers will buy boxes of 24 assorted colours and sell singles separately (perhaps in bulk), but they will like take advantage of us because of it. /sigh
Also, the contact form doesn’t allow Canadian addresses, since the fields for Province and Postal Code aren’t implemented properly and they are required for a comment. There is a field for Country, but it doesn’t update the formats and provide selection for those fields.
Their contact form is pretty dreadful. It requires a phone number, but the phone field can only be accessed by clicking the “enter address manually” link, which tripped me up.
You could try just entering a random US address (for example, Prismacolor’s own, which is 6655 Peachtree Dunwoody Rd Atlanta, GA 30328) to get an international comment through!
the thing about those pablo pencils, though..they cost 2$ more a piece than the col-erase. so, over 3$ a pencil. at least, thats what it costs in stores, and online where i live. that is too much.
Crud, that is pricy! Are they at least erase-able?
Spent yesterday scouring my local art stores for every Indigo, Tuscan Red, and Green pencil I could find after reading this post….
I’ve always liked lobster.
Nooo!!! I JUST started using these last year when I found how easily they layer with graphite unlike waxier colored pencils. So hard to find color mediums that blend well with or can be used to tint graphite (though if anyone has any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!!). Brb while I add more to my stash….
Have you tried Derwent? Would those work for you?
I haven’t tried these yet, but I’ll add them to the list to test out – thanks for the suggestion!
I was sorely disappointed when they discontinued Artstix. It was a long time before I gave coloured pencils a go again after Spectracolor rode off into the art supply sunset.
Personally never tried col-erase, but they WERE on my list to try. Have to stick to graphtint and inktense now.
That’s it! I had it with corporate and their money making schemes. I’m gonna go digital and use blender and Krita/Medipaint to be free from such cruelty. On the Plus side , tabs have become cheaper…. Just gotta learn the traits of drawing without looking at my hands while my eyes are on the screen.
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Have you found a comparable alternative? I’m still searching 🙁
I just finished off the last of my black Col-erase, can’t find the extra one anywhere in the house, go to purchase another and find out they’re gone as open stock. My first thought was, “Hey, a lot of artists use these for their work, maybe we can raise a stink. Like Wylie Beckert, who’s processes I’ve seen for Magic commissioned art”
I see the stink has already been raised.
I’ve tried out Faber Castell’s Erasable set of pencils and they aren’t quite the same as Col-Erases. The black is much more graphite-y in feel (has a bit of a sheen that makes me think graphite as well). I don’t think they come as open stock either.
The closest colored pencil in feel to the Col-Erase that I’ve tried is Derwent’s Procolour. They have that same dry, waxy light touch feeling that col-erases have. They erase similarly or slightly worse than actual col-erases. Open stock is available. They also have lightfastness ratings which is something that Col-Erase lacked. I’d recommend a sample purchase of black 56, burnt umber 55 (darker and slightly less red leaning than Col-Erase brown) and sepia 54. The sepia in particular is a lovely, warm leaning grey. They are thicker than Col-Erases which I think is my only gripe. I liked the thinner, everyday pencil size of the Col-Erase. Procolours are more expensive than Col-Erases but definitely cheaper than having to buy a large set.
Hopefully this helps someone!