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.