Koh-I-Nor Tricolor Pencil Sets

November 27, 2012

See the post for full details.

121029YoungManTritonePencilLeft: Sketch using Koh-I-Nor Tricolor pencil. All of the colors in this sketch came out of one pencil with a multi-color lead.

There have been kid's colored pencils with multi-colored leads for years. Now Koh-I-Nor has brought out Tricolor Pencils—their version of a multi-colored lead with what they refer to as top quality pigments. You can buy these pencils in open stock or in sets. (Note: these are NOT the jumbo pencils that are triangularly shaped. I'm describing regular pencils with round barrels.)

(Of course I bought mine at Wet Paint in St. Paul, where they have both sets and open stock. You can order from them or look on the internet. I am not connected to Wet Paint, I'm just a happy customer—who spends a lot of time there.)

The leads in the pencils I purchased in open stock were what I define as hard. They keep a nice point, they are a little brittle, but not overly so. They lay down a smooth line, but unlike many brands of "soft" colored pencils with wax or oil binders the color line is a bit wimpy. 

What is fun, however, is that each lead is made up of three colors of lead and at any given moment you'll wear the lead down to expose another fleck of color and that transition will show up in your drawings

I found that the lighter value pencils (ones with mixes of yellow and other high-key colors) were disappointing in trial because there wasn't a lot of variation in the color line. The same was true with some of the analogous color leads when those colors were all roughly the same value. I had the most fun working with pencils that had disparate colors in the leads.

While I find getting dark values with these pencils requires more pressure than I care to use (hence one of the reasons I prefer other lines of pencils) I do think these pencils are great for quick sketches like the one shown in today's post. I have three of these pencils in my life-drawing sketch kit.

    • November 27, 2012

    I am SUPER in love with mine! I was only going to pick three, but broke down and got the 24 set!

  1. Reply

    Liz, I’m glad you love them all, I just couldn’t get any happy feelings from more than half the pencils—the contrast in the mix wasn’t strong enough for me as I explained in the post. But I also haven’t tried doing a really built of drawing with them like I might do with regular colored pencils. That might make the effect of the high-key pencil combinations more interesting. And there’s something about the leads I just can’t warm to for more involved drawings. But for sketching a life drawing they are great fun. I used one the other day at Altered Esthetics for my final sketch of the evening (which I haven’t posted, I’m using it in a project to be posted later) and I just loved the effect. People can definitely have some fun exploring with these pencils! I look forward to seeing what you do with them.

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