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Review: are the Holbein colored pencils worth their money?

Do you already know the Japanese brand Holbein? I heard their name popping up frequently since about 2 years ago, especially in vlogs by illustrators using Holbein’s Acryla Gouache. And then my favourite Dutch webshop Splendith shared the good news she was able to import this high quality brand to Europe. Trouble in paradise, because these colored pencils are amazing. Let me talk you trough the how, what and why in this review!


Pros and cons: the biggest con

Let’s start with the biggest drawback of these pencils. Holbein colored pencils are not cheap. Better said: they are the most expensive pencils I know, with a price of 4,75 euro per individual pencil. Getting a set is always cheaper, but still the biggest set of 150 pencils costs 450 euro here. In comparison: the Faber Castell Polychromos 120 set costs around 190 euros.


Are the Holbein pencils worth the money?

I probably don’t even need to explain that for this price you can expect a GREAT color pencil. Layering, blending, color application; whatever you want, Holbein’s got your back, no doubt about it.

These pencils have a unique mix of high quality oil, wax and fat. I feel they’re pretty close to the Polychromos in terms of hard/softness, although the Holbein are a bit softer. Even though I love that creamy touch, this might be the other downside. If you like a sharp tip (like I do), you have to sharpen them more often. Every time you do, it hurts a bit when you take the costs of these pencils into account.


And then you have the colors…ooh la la!

I only have the 12 pastel set and a few individual colors in my collection. I wasn’t planning on buying these pencils, until I was helping out Splendith at my favorite event Creative Life. For 3 days these candy boxes of pastel tones were lying there in front of me, being all seductive and stuff. 5 minutes before the event closed I just couldn’t resist them anymore and got my hands on these beauties.


You won’t find many brands that have so much pastels in their collection. Tombow does have pastel colors in all of their Irojiten sets, but they do have a much lighter color application than the Holbein pencils.

Besides pastel colors Holbein absolutely has all other ‘regular’ colors available in their product range too. You can buy a set of 12 basic tones, but also bigger sets with 25, 36, 50 or 100 pencils. The ultimate set is the 150 set in a beautiful wooden box.


Topping their competitors

So why the high price? Because Holbein uses top quality materials and pigments. The biggest difference with other brands comes to show when you start using toned paper. Especially on black paper the Holbein pencils show their strength. Where a lot of other colored pencils will fall flat, Holbein colors still pop off the page! The only other colored pencils that I know so far matching this performance on black paper, are the Caran d’Ache Luminance.

Something to really spoil yourself with.

If it weren’t for the price these pencils could be my favourite. So if you wanna spoil yourself with top quality, Holbein colored pencils are definitely the way to go. So that 50 pastel color set? Although I already know what my family will say, it might be going on my birthday wishlist next year ;-).


Which brand of colored pencils is still on your wishlist?

Let me know in the comments!


PS The Acryla Gouache I mentioned in the intro? Writing a review about those tubes filled with yumminess is on my to-do list!

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