History of Colour Pencils For November 2018

Pencils have been in production since ages. Today, let’s delve into the story of colour pencils. Colour pencils are those that are made of wax, pigments, additives and binding agents. Some colour pencils are wax, oil-based or water-soluble.

Wax: Pigments are bound together with wax to create hard or soft pencil cores (the coloured part of a colour pencil). Wax-based pencils provide excellent coverage but are prone to breakage, quick wear and debris. They also produce bloom, a coating of powdery film that appears after the colour has been applied.

Oil: The binder (substance that holds the pigment together) consists of vegetable oil, which does not produce bloom. Oil-based pencils are slightly harder than wax-based.

Water-soluble: These pencils can be either wax or oil based, either hard or soft. An emulsifier is added, allowing the pigment to be liquefied with water.


It is known that ancient Greeks used wax-based crayons and even the Romans used coloured crayons based on wax. First coloured pencils appeared in the 19th century and were used for “checking and marking” in documents.

In 1834, Staedtler, a German company owned by Johann Sebastian Staedtler invented coloured oil pastel pencil. In the early 20th century, production of coloured pencils for art purposes commenced. The first art colour pencils were invented and produced in 1924 by Faber-Castell and Caran d’Ache. Berol made its colour pencils in 1938. Other manufacturers that also made colour pencils were Lyra Rembrandt, Blick Studio, Derwent and Progresso. Some manufacturers even claim that they were the first ones to invent the first art watercolour pencil.

Colour pencils are used in two techniques - layering and burnishing. Layering is a technique that is usually used at the beginning of drawing. Its idea is to use primary colours in layers and with that to get different tones. Burnishing is done on layers. The outcome is a shiny surface of blended colours.

Colour pencils are used in animation because they are easier to erase than standard graphite pencils and they don't smudge easily.

Now that you have read about colour pencils, won’t you agree that they are not any less fascinating than historical objects and as an art medium?

Hope you found this article interesting and learnt how colour pencils were born. If you are a budding artist, colour pencils are a great way to unleash your creativity and paint your imagination!

Rate This

Get the lowdown on the nuances of painting with these useful tips, tricks and hacks.

Read More

Colours Tips

Gems and colours are intricately related; find out more about their association here.

Read More

Colours &

Vaastu takes advantage of the inherent energy present in nature by following certain dos and don'ts in a way...

Read More