Faber-Castell Polychromos Colored Pencil Review

(Sarah Read is an author, editor, yarn artist, and pen/paper/ink addict. You can find more about her at her website and on Twitter.)

Colored pencils are my favorite coloring tool, though I'm more of a casual colorer than an artist. While I have a few sets of Derwent and Prismacolor pencils, this was my first time working with Faber-Castell Polychromos. This set of 12 pencils comes in a nice tin. They're constructed of sustainable California cedar that smells amazing. The cores are bonded to the wood to prevent breaking, so these pencils tend to last a lot longer than other brands. The round barrels are comfortable to hold, though there is nothing to stop them from rolling off the desk.

The cores are oil-based, water-resistant, and acid-free. They have a thick 3.8mm diameter that helps with their break-resistance. They feel buttery soft when coloring, but hold their points well. I didn't have to sharpen them at all during the coloring session I did with my oldest son, and he insisted on covering every inch of his page. I did experience some crumbling when heavier pressure was applied, but it was minimal, and I was being a little hard on them on purpose. There was some smudging if I rested my hand on the work, but this trait also works well for blending and shading. The pigment is even somewhat erasable, though it does leave some color behind. The coverage of the soft lead is pretty amazing. With medium pressure, it only takes two layers to fully cover the paper, and because the lead is oil-based instead of wax-based, the color won't become cloudy. The colors are all incredibly vibrant.

One of the unique traits of these pencils is their lightfastness. The level varies by pigment and each pencil is marked by its degree of lightfastness so artists can be sure their work will last.

These are definitely top-quality artist's pencils, and you can tell when you use them. I can easily say these are the nicest pencils I've played with. They're also the most expensive pencils I've played with. The sets are a good deal when compared to the open stock colors, but the set of 12 is missing a few key colors. There's no grey, and no shade of purple. But these are nice enough to invest in a few supplemental open stock pieces.

And while these may be fancy artist pencils, they're still great for coloring books. My nine-year-old also granted them his seal of coloring approval. I might say that I wouldn't invest in this high of a price-point just for coloring books and doodles--but that would be a lie because I totally would. Because these are so pleasant to use that they amplify the joy of the experience. And when you think about how they're engineered to prevent lead breakage, you do get your money's worth out of them for sure. I'm looking forward to many rainy-day coloring afternoons with these.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

Posted on June 15, 2017 and filed under Faber-Castell, Pencil Reviews.

The Pen Addict Podcast: Episode #261 - Prolonged Writing Comfort

Myke and I buckle back in after trips to California and North Carolina, respectively. I recap my Triangle Pen Show experience, talk about the Kickstarter backing spree I went on, and discuss about my current EDC pens.

Show Notes & Download Links

This episode of The Pen Addict is sponsored by:

Harry’s: Get $5 off any Harry’s Shave Set, including the Limited Edition Father’s Day Set.

Squarespace: Make your next move. Enter offer code INK at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase.

Posted on June 14, 2017 and filed under Podcast.

Pentel EnerGel Philography Pen Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

The Pentel EnerGel has been around for quite a while, and it's also really accessible since you can find it at most big box retailers. If you're lucky, you might even find them in your office supply closet. Like the side of the regular pen says, the refill is a type of liquid gel ink that lays a really nice line. How do you improve on a pen that works great already? Well, you put a sleek metal body around it.

If you've never tried an EnerGel before, let's cover the basics. It's similar to other gel pens on the market, and the writing experience is incredibly smooth. They are either retractable or capped, depending on the model and price. The ink is the star with these refills because it's a deep, dark black with clean edges and plenty of flow. They're some of my favorite gel cartridges, but they also aren't interchangeable with a wide range of pen bodies. That being said, the regular EnerGel bodies aren't bad, but they also don't fit in an executive or dressy setting. The refills come in a conical tip with several sizes and colors, and you can also get a 0.5mm needle tip (which is what comes with the Philography) that makes precise writing a bit easier.

In short, the EnerGel refills are stellar. Now, the Philography body is the star of this show. It's a bit slimmer than the regular plastic retractable pen, but it's still very balanced in the hand. In my experience, it's been really comfortable to use.

The grip area does not have any texture, which may be a negative for some people that enjoy a bit of additional grip. The anodization process for the metal adds a bit of texture to the entire body, though. I've not had any issues with the pen slipping or feeling unstable while I write.

Another major difference with the Philography compared to the standard body is the retracting mechanism. The Philography features a smooth twist mechanism to extend or retract the refill from the tip. It feels great, doesn't require much of a turn, and also doesn't unscrew too easily. In order to access the refill, you turn the grip counter-clockwise until the tip is fully retracted, and it eventually starts to unscrew.

There's minimal branding on the pen — just a "Pentel" and "EnerGel" located above the band that separates the top and bottom sections. There's also a peculiar pair of swooshes at the top of the pen that are supposed to add some visual interest, but I think they detract from the overall aesthetic. The top of the pen is a shiny chrome material that, sadly, loves to collect fingerprints. The clip is strong and sturdy without being difficult to operate.

As an added bonus, you can also use a few other refills with this pen, such as the Zebra Sarasa and Uni-ball Signo retractable lines. This opens up the possibilities for several more colors and tip sizes.

Overall, this metal version of the classic EnerGel is a big hit in my book. I love metal-bodies pens in general, and I was pleased to find that the execution on this model was done well.

The model I have is the Turquoise Blue, but you can also pick this up in Black, Silver, Dark Blue, and White. You pay a bit of a premium for the nicer material and build, but it's worth it in my opinion. At $23 a piece, you can significantly improve the writing experience and presentation of the EnerGel line.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

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Posted on June 14, 2017 and filed under Pentel, Energel, Pen Reviews.