I probably have too many colored pencils, but when I heard that Blackwing was making a colored pencil set, I knew I was going to have to try them. I can tell you right now that I'm going to use these until they're wee pencil nubs that I can't even grip anymore. That may not take long, however--these pencils are butter soft.
The core is made from Japanese wax. It glides over paper and can lay down a nice smooth line or create very soft shaded areas. They blend and shade well, but do not hold a fine point for long. Any fine detail work may require frequent sharpening or a different pencil. I did not have any issues with tip breakage, even after sharpening. These are sturdy, but pleasantly lightweight, little gems.
The packaging is very nice and fancy. The box is smooth-coated cardboard with a clear plastic window for peeking at the pretty pencils inside. The box opens like a book and the front flap is held closed by a hidden magnet. It's a neat design, but I probably wouldn't trust the strength of the magnet to hold up against the tumult inside a daypack. I'd suggest removing the pencils to a more secure case for on-the-go coloring. Inside the case, the pencils are nestled in a foam bed, held in place by a plastic shield. I found the shield annoying and set it aside, only to then dump the pencils in my lap the next time I opened the box. So maybe hold on to that bit.
The bodies are a nice rounded hexagon with a glossy coating that matches the core color. The finial is a chrome-colored piece that is separate from, but attached to, the wood body--it's not a painted or applied color. I expect it will be a handy grip-piece when you come to the end of the pencil. "Blackwing colors" is stamped in silver at the rear end of the pencil, but there are--annoyingly--no color names. I wouldn't mind too much, but the purple, brown, and black are a little difficult to distinguish, even in decent light. The two greens are also quite similar at first glance, though their core colors are very different. Even basic color names would have done a lot for ease of use, here, though I don't know how anyone could pass up an opportunity to come up with crazy color names. Haven't we all daydreamed about having that job? Perhaps we will all have to name our own sets.
And speaking of colors, that's my only other criticism of the set. These are artist-quality pencils (and are priced as such), but with a primary school palette. I understand the logic to beginning with the basics, but unless Blackwing plans to release more colors, this set isn't as self-sufficient as their target audience might want. And anyone whose needs don't exceed a basic ROYGBIV probably aren't going to be looking in this price range. They are high quality and fun to use, and I will happily apply them to my sketches and coloring books, but I'm going to need to bring in some outside help in the form of other pencil brands in order to get the job done. But they're a happy addition to my collection, just the same, and I really hope Blackwing does have a plan for more colors.
(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)
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