14 Best Oil-Based Colored Pencils For Easy Painterly Effect In 2022

Portrait of a woman with wild lilies in the background

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If you're an artist, you know the importance of having the right tools for the job. And when it comes to colored pencils, there's no better option than oil-based ones. They produce intense color saturation that blends easily to create various hues and tones.

Using oil-based colored pencils with the right type of solvent and blending technique can produce a painterly finish on your projects without using a brush or waiting for the paint to dry. This blog post will discuss the best oil-based colored pencils on the market and why you should consider using them!

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Art-n-Fly Oil-based Colored Pencils

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Runner-Up: Scriptract Oil-Based Colored Pencils
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Best Gift Set: Castle Art Gold Standard Colored Pencils
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Best Professional-Grade: Faber-Castell Polychromos Colored Pencil Set
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Best Budget: Magicfly Oil-Based Colored Pencils
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Best Set: Shuttle Art Colored Pencil Drawing Kit
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Best for Sketching & Doodling: Goodyism Professional Colored Pencils
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Best for Portraits: Quianshan Skin-tone Colored Pencils
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Best for Newbie Artists: Southsun Oil-Based Colored Pencils
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Best Lightfast Rating: Derwent Lightfast Colored Pencils
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Most Durable Barrel: Cyber Top Oil-Based Colored Pencils
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Best Comfortable Grip: JS Oil-Based Colored Pencils
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Best for Design: Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor Art Pencils
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Best Value: Brutfuner Oil-Based Colored Pencils
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1. Best Overall: Art-n-Fly Oil-Based Colored Pencils

Artwork done with Art-n-Fly oil-based colored pencils

Why We Think It's Great

  • INCLUDES SKIN TONE PENCILS: These oil based colored pencils are perfect for artists who want to work on portraits.
  • DURABLE CORE: A harder core is easier to sharpen and holds a point longer.  
  • LIGHTFAST: Colors remain vibrant even when exposed to direct sunlight. 
  • PREVENTS WAX BLOOM: Less likely to bloom because the pigments are suspended in an oil binder.
  • VALUE FOR MONEY: Excellent 48-pencil set at an affordable price. 

What We Don't Like

  • The core is too hard.
  • Some sets have duplicate colors.

What Our Editors Say

“Art-n-Fly Oil-Based Colored Pencils are the perfect choice for artists who want the best of both worlds - the smoothness of oil-based pencils and the vibrant colors of wax-based pencils. 

Best of all, these colored pencils are very affordable, so you can stock up on all your favorite colors without breaking the bank. We also think the company did a great job naming the colors because they are easier to distinguish, such as Chili, Brownie Red, Cinnamon, and Pumpkin.”

Country of Origin: USA | Product Options: Set of 48, 72, 120 | Safety: Non-Toxic 

Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Drawing with Colored Pencils

2. Runner-Up: Scriptract Oil-Based Colored Pencils

Colored pencil artwork done with Scriptract Oil-based Colored Pencils

Why We Think It's Great

  • ELEGANT BLACK WOOD: These pencils have a classic look with black wood barrels and a silver belt on the packaging.
  • VIBRANT COLORS: Uses high-quality pigments and binders to produce bright colors. 
  • RESISTS BREAKAGE AND SMUDGING: Ideal for artists who want to achieve precise lines and details in their drawings.
  • AFFORDABLE: Inexpensive and a good choice for children's art projects.
  • MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE: If you're not completely satisfied with your purchase, send it back within 30 days for a refund.

What We Don't Like

  • There are no markings on the pencil barrels.
  • The container can get really dirty easily.

What Our Editors Say

“Scriptract Oil-Based Colored Pencils are versatile for doodling, drawing, shading, and sketching and are easy to blend. One of its selling points is the elegant wood casing; however, we found it difficult to distinguish some darker colors since all the pencil barrels are black.”

Country of Origin: USA | Product Options: Set of 24 and 36 | Safety: AP-Certified

3. Best Gift Set: Castle Art Gold Standard Colored Pencils

Drawings using Castle Art Supplies Gold Standard Coloring Pencil Set

Why We Think It's Great

  • FINE-GRAIN BASSWOOD BARREL: The wood used for each pencil is strong and won't easily break when sharpening.
  • TIPS AND TECHNIQUES HANDBOOK: Provides helpful information and demos ideal for newbies.
  • PERFECT FOR LAYERING AND BLENDING: High-quality pigments with exceptional color coverage.
  • ARCHIVAL QUALITY: The colors will not fade over time.
  • GIFTABLE BOX: The metal tin is beautiful and will keep your colored pencils safe from breakage. 

What We Don't Like

  • The pencils break fairly easily.
  • There are duplicate colors in the set.

What Our Editors Say

“We love the silky smooth velvety soft leads of the Castle Art Gold Standard Colored Pencils. The great thing about them is that they come with a lot of literature, so it’s easy for people to start working on their first colored pencil art. With a stunning container box, this set makes a great gift for any sketch artist you know.”

Country of Origin: China | Product Options: Set of 72 and 120 | Safety: AP-Certified 

Related: The Best Gifts for Sketch Artists

4. Best Professional-Grade: Faber-Castell Polychromos Colored Pencil Set

Colored pencil artwork done with oil-based colored pencils

Why We Think It's Great

  • ACID-FREE PIGMENTS: Produce archival-quality artwork free from discoloration and crumbling.
  • EXTRA DURABLE CORE: The pencils have bonded core making them highly resistant to breakage. 
  • EASY TO BLEND: Perfect for artists who want to create smooth, seamless transitions in their work.
  • LIGHTFAST: The colors have an excellent lightfast rating, so they will not fade over time. 
  • STURDY METAL CONTAINER: Protects your colored pencils from breakage.

What We Don't Like

  • This set is expensive.
  • It’s an odd mix of colors.

What Our Experts Say

According to Emily Rummings of Fine Art Tutorials, “There are a lot of great oil-based colored pencils on the market, but my top choice would have to be the Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils. These pencils are incredibly pigmented and blend beautifully.”

“The great thing about these pencils is the large range of colors that are available. Artists can buy Polychromos pencils in a set of 120, which includes a full chromatic and tonal range, brilliant for mixing colors and drawing just about any subject. An advantage of these pencils is that the cores are resistant to breakage, so you can apply a fair amount of pressure whilst shading in the final layers of a drawing without worrying about damaging the pencil,” she adds.

Country of Origin: Germany | Product Options: Set of 12, 24, 36, 60, 120 | Safety: Non-Toxic

Related: How to Blend Colored Pencils

5. Best Budget: Magicfly Oil-Based Colored Pencils 

Colorful oil-based colored pencil art

Why We Think It's Great

  • VIBRANT HUES: Colors are translucent but visible over dark paper. 
  • INDIVIDUALLY-LABELED: Easy-to-identify pencils stamped in silver, indicating the color name, number, and lightfastness rating. 
  • VERSATILE: Use it for coloring, drawing, sketching, and shading.
  • NON-TOXIC: These oil based colored pencils conform to strict safety standards. 
  • PROTECTIVE ORGANIZER: Includes a sturdy metal container with three pencil trays. 

What We Don't Like

  • The pencils break easier than most brands.
  • They don’t blend smoothly.

What Our Editors Say

“These budget-friendly colored pencils are the best choice for practice projects, comparable to more expensive brands. We like this set because it’s affordable and has great reviews. They're also lightfast and vibrant, which is important for artists.”

Country of Origin: China | Product Options: Set of 72 | Safety: ASTM D-4236 Standards

Related: The Best Colored Pencil Drawing Ideas

6. Best Set: Shuttle Art Colored Pencil Drawing Kit

A flower artwork made with Shuttle Art drawing kit

Why We Think It's Great

  • COMPLETE ART SET: Includes other art supplies like sharpeners, sandpaper, erasers, blending stumps, and a pencil extender.
  • PIGMENTED LEAD: The colors are concentrated and intense, making them perfect for artists who want to create bold and vibrant drawings.
  • ACID-FREE: You don't have to worry about the color yellowing over time.
  • BUDGET-FRIENDLY: Create beautiful artwork without breaking the bank. 

What We Don't Like

  • These oil-colored pencils are smelly.
  • A carrying case is not included.

What Our Editors Say

“If you're looking for an oil-based colored pencil set that won't break the bank, the Shuttle Art Drawing Kit is a great option. Although this set is not all oil-based colored pencils, it includes other types of pencils and art supplies to help you create more detailed drawings.

The 36 oil-based colored pencils cover a wide range, from light pastels to deep, rich hues, and they're easy to blend.”

Country of Origin: USA | Product Options: Pack of 123 | Safety: ASTM-D4236, Acid-Free, Non-Toxic

7. Best for Sketching & Doodling: Goodyism Professional Colored Pencils

Whimsical artwork using Goodyism Professional Colored Pencils

Why We Think It's Great

  • RICH SATURATED COLORS: Colors remain vivid and easy to blend to create an infinite number of hues.
  • INDIVIDUALLY-LABELED: Provides a reference when doing hyper-realistic portraits and drawings.
  • PROFESSIONAL QUALITY: High-quality pigments are intense and vibrant, perfect for artists and students looking to improve their skills.
  • NON-TOXIC CORE: Safe to use even for younger artists
  • ROBUST CONTAINER: Strong plastic trays keep the colored pencils intact and organized. 

What We Don't Like

  • The colored pencils are too brittle.
  • They are difficult to erase.

What Our Editors Say

“We love this set of premium colored pencils because they layer and blend beautifully, especially when applied with colored pencil solvents. The core uses high-quality pigments comparable to more expensive brands.

The colored pencils also smell nice and don’t cause headaches. Each pencil is labeled with the color name and a lightfast rating for easier reference. We wish the set had more pastel colors, but it has a good selection of skin tone colors to make up for it.”

Country of Origin: China | Product Options: Set of 72 | Safety: Non-Toxic 

Related: How to Organize Colored Pencils

8. Best for Portraits: Quianshan Skin-Tone Colored Pencils

Portrait of a woman and woman using skin-tone oil-based colored pencils

Why We Think It's Great

  • SKIN-TONE COLORED PENCILS: Excellent selection of colors for light and dark-skinned portraits.
  • BLENDS EASILY: The oil-based lead in these pencils are soft and creamy, making them easy to blend.
  • SMUDGE RESISTANT: Layer and blend without worrying about your work becoming a muddy mess.
  • LONG-LASTING: The core is strong and durable that resists breakage.
  • SAFE TO USE: Non-toxic, premium-quality pigments for every artist.

What We Don't Like

  • There are not enough light tones.

What Our Editors Say

“Although this set of oil-based colored pencils does not have enough light skin tones, we still think it is a good collection. The soft core is smooth to apply, blendable, and perfect for hyper-realistic portraits.”

Country of Origin: China | Product Options: Set of 12 | Safety: AP-Certified 

9. Best for Newbie Artists: Southsun Oil-Based Colored Pencils

Artwork using Southsun oil-based colored pencils

Why We Think It's Great

  • EXTENSIVE COLLECTION: Includes 160 oil-based colored pencils with 12 metallic and skin-tone colors.
  • INCLUDES CARRY CASE: Sturdy PET case protects the pencils from unnecessary breakage.
  • RESISTANT TO CRUMBLING: The core is soft, yet the pencils don’t break easily when applied.
  • NON-TOXIC AND ODORLESS: No headache-inducing smells.
  • USES REFORESTED WOOD: The pencil casing is made of poplar wood harvested in reforested areas.

What We Don't Like

  • It needs constant sharpening to stay on point.
  • This set only works for practice pieces.

What Our Editors Say

“These oil-based colored pencils are surprisingly good, given their price point. We were expecting a more inferior quality, but this brand surprised us with its quality core that is soft to apply and easy to blend.
Although lightfastness is not the best feature of these colored pencils, they work well for practice pieces and adult coloring projects. Best of all, they don't smudge, so you don't have to worry about accidentally ruining your artwork.”

Country of Origin: China | Product Options: Set of 120 and 160 | Safety: CE-Certified (EU Standards) | Other: Uses PET for packaging and reforested wood for casing
Related: The Best Metallic Colored Pencils

10. Best Lightfast Rating: Derwent Lightfast Colored Pencils

Artwork using Derwent Lightfast oil-based colored pencils

Why We Think It's Great

  • SMOOTH APPLICATION: The pencils go on evenly without any streaking or dragging.
  • DEEP COLOR SATURATION: Colors stay vibrant for many years, especially when kept in museum conditions.
  • RESISTANT TO SMUDGING: Less likely to make a mess than water-based colored pencils.
  • PAINTERLY FINISH: The colors respond well to solvents and colorless alcohol markers.
  • STURDY TIN CASE: Protects the colored pencils from breakage.

What We Don't Like

  • There are a few bluish tones in the set. 
  • The price tag is a bit steep.

What Our Editors Say

“Derwent Lightfast Colored Pencils is on our top picks for the best oil-based colored pencils because they are lightfast and have great pigmentation. They also blend well and have a nice creamy texture that is perfect for coloring detailed illustrations. Overall, these pencils are a joy to use and we highly recommend them.”

Country of Origin: UK | Product Options: Set of 12, 24, 36, 48, 72 | Safety: ASTM D-6901 and Blue Wool Scale ISO 105 Certification
Related: What are Colored Pencils Made of?

11. Most Durable Barrel: Cyber Top Oil-Based Colored Pencils

Coloring done with Cyber Top Oil-Based Colored Pencils

Why We Think It's Great

  • HIGHLY PIGMENTED: Accurate colors on high-quality soft cores for easy application. 
  • VERSATILE: Blend, shade, and layer with ease. Best for artists who want to produce a wide variety of results.
  • HIGH-QUALITY BASSWOOD: Robust pencil barrels harvested from reforested wood. 
  • STRONG METAL TIN: Keeps your colored pencils protected from unnecessary breakage. 
  • EXCELLENT AFTER-SALES: Get a full refund if you’re unsatisfied with your purchase.  

What We Don't Like

  • The core breaks easily.
  • They don’t sharpen to a point.

What Our Editors Say

“We recommend these oil based colored pencils because they are high-quality and affordable. You can use them for blending, shading, and layering, giving immense flexibility when creating artwork. This set also comes organized in a two-layer tin case for easy transport.”

Country of Origin: USA | Product Options: Set of 72 | Safety: AP-Certified | Other: Uses reforested basswood

12. Best Comfortable Grip: JS Oil-Based Colored Pencils

A set of JS Oil-Based Colored Pencils

Why We Think It's Great

  • RICH PIGMENTS: Great color saturation that lays well on various paper types. 
  • STRONG CORE: Less breakage for many hours of drawing and coloring.
  • ERGONOMIC BARREL: Hexagonal barrels with a smooth finish for a more comfy grip. 
  • LIGHTFAST: Good lightfast rating for long-lasting artwork. 
  • NON-TOXIC: Safe to use for artists of all ages.

What We Don't Like

  • There are duplicate colors.
  • The pencils have no labels.

What Our Editors Say

“We love the lightweight wood used in these oil-based colored pencils because they're easy on the hands but durable enough to withstand sharpening. Additionally, the pencils don't warp or break even after multiple uses. These oil-based colored pencils are unbelievably cheap but blend nicely and beautifully.”
Country of Origin: China | Product Options: Set of 48 | Safety: AP-Certified | Other: Uses reforested wood
Related: The Best Paper Types for Art Projects

13. Best for Design: Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor Art Pencils

Lyra Rembrandt oil-based colored pencil artwork

Why We Think It's Great

  • APPLIES ON MOST SURFACES: These oil based colored pencils work well on paper, cardboard, textile, or wood. 
  • LIGHTFAST AND WATER-RESISTANT: Colors won’t fade over time and are unsusceptible to water but respond well with solvents.
  • BLENDABLE: Layers and blends easily with other colors, giving you a greater range of hues.
  • METAL BOX CONTAINER: The perfect way to keep your oil-based colored pencils safe and organized.

What We Don't Like

  • They are not as smooth as other brands.
  • Several colors are identical.

What Our Editors Say

“We like these oil-based colored pencils because they are great for artists who want the best of both worlds: the precision of a fine point and the broad coverage of a thick lead. 
The leads are also very color-fast, meaning they won't fade over time. And if you're looking for an oil-based colored pencil that can stand up to liquids, Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor Art Pencils are a good choice.”

Country of Origin: Germany | Product Options: Set of 12, 24, 36 | Safety: California Proposition 65 

14. Best Value: Brutfuner Oil-Based Colored Pencils

Beautiful artwork with oil-based colored pencils

Why We Think It's Great

  • EXTENSIVE COLOR SELECTION: A good assortment of 180 oil-based colored pencils for sketching, drawing, and coloring.
  • ELEGANT PENCIL DESIGN: Black enamel-coated barrels with silver belts and ends indicating color. 
  • SOFT CORE: Creamy texture glides smoothly on the paper, making them perfect for blending and shading.
  • SHARPENS TO A POINT: Provides more control and precision when drawing or sketching.
  • ORGANIZED CONTAINER: Compact tin container with pencils arranged in 6 plastic trays.

What We Don't Like

  • These pencils emit strong odors.
  • They need brand-specific sharpeners.

What Our Editors Say

“We love that the oil-based formula of these colored pencils is good for shading. They apply and blend well, and each pencil is nice to hold. However, they have a smell, and some colors in the largest set are too similar to each other.”

Country of Origin: Germany | Product Options: Set of 120 and 180 | Safety: AP-Certified 
Related: The Best Colored Pencils for Shading

Final Verdict

So, there you have it! We've compiled this list of the best oil-based colored pencils for artists based on quality, price, expert advice, and customer reviews.
Our best overall spot goes to Art-n-Fly Oil-Based Colored Pencils. Ideal for professionals or newbies, this oil-based colored pencil set features a durable core and lightfast colors. It also includes skin-tone pencils for portraits, so you don’t have to buy them separately.

Tips on Using Oil-Based Colored Pencils

Master Control

Using oil-based pencils requires much practice, so we recommend them for more advanced users. Professional artists know that patience is key to colored pencil art, and mastering control over this medium is vital.
Every artist has their style. Don't be afraid to experiment to find out which techniques work best for you and master them to improve your skills.

Be Flexible

Colored pencils don't have hard rules, so while it is necessary to make a plan when working with colored pencils, it is also important to be flexible. Work on your details after applying the colors to refine them without being too rigid.

Understand Oil Paint

You must comprehend oil paints to know how to work with oil-based colored pencils. Oil pencils don't work the same way as oil paint, but with the right technique, you can get an excellent oil painting effect.
Simply apply the oil-colored pencil thickly, which isn’t difficult since they normally spread in chunks. And unlike wax-colored pencils, they don’t leave wax blooms when layered heavily.

Learn to Mix Colors

Layering colors using oil-based colored pencils gives your artwork a more natural look. It also improves the value and intensity of a color. However, be careful when layering oil-based colored pencils because of their harder core.
Don't apply too hard, especially in the first layers. Adding too much pressure to the colored pencils will result in a shiny finish or burnishing. Burnishing is best for final layers since it gives the drawing a glossy look, but note that burnished surfaces won't accept more colors.

Master Blending Techniques

Don't underestimate the power of blending when working with oil-based colored pencils. Use the right solvent to blend these pencils to get a professional finish on your project.

Best Oil Based Colored Pencils Buying Guide

Colored pencils with coloring template

When it comes to choosing the best oil based colored pencils, there are a few things you need to take into account.

  • Quality

High-quality oil-based colored pencils can make all the difference in your artwork. They provide great color saturation and are excellent for blending. As a result, your paintings will have a smoother, more polished look.
Because oil-based colored pencils are more durable than water and wax-based ones, they'll last longer. Check the pigment type, binder, and extenders used in the pencils to determine their quality.
  • Lightfastness

Lightfastness refers to a color's ability to resist fading over time. If you plan to hang your artwork on the wall or display it in a bright spot, choosing lightfast oil-based colored pencils is crucial.
  • Color Selection

Some brands offer a wide variety of colors, while others may be more limited in their selection. Consider what types of projects you'll be working on and what colors you'll need before making your purchase.
When it comes to oil-based colored pencils, you can choose from at least 12 basic colors. You can layer them to create new shades and hues, giving you much freedom for your art.

  • Painterly Finish

Oil-based colored pencils leave a painterly effect when you blend them with solvents. However, not all brands have the same result, so read online reviews or ask other artists which brands they recommend most.
  • Budget

If you're looking for the best oil-based colored pencils, you don't have to spend much money. There are plenty of great options available for less than $20. However, if you want the absolute best quality, you'll need to be prepared to spend closer to $50. 
If you're working on a limited budget, you can start with a few colors in one set, then build your collection later.

Oil Colored Pencils FAQ

1. Do oil-based colored pencils smear?

Yes, but not in a bad way. The smear factor of oil-based colored pencils means you can blend and layer them without issues. Because these colored pencils contain wax and oil for binders, they have a unique ability to get into the paper fibers for a painterly effect when blended with solvents.

2. What is the difference between oil-based colored pencils and regular colored pencils?

Here are several differences between oil-based colored pencils and regular colored pencils.

Price point. Oil-based colored pencils are more expensive than regular colored pencils because of their composition. Manufacturers find it easier to make wax-based than oil-based colored pencils, so it takes a shorter time to produce them.

Durability. Though oil-based colored pencils have soft cores, they are still harder and sturdier than wax-based colored pencils. Oil-based colored pencils are generally more expensive than most colored ones, but they don't break easily, giving you more value.

However, it's important to remember that oil-based colored pencils require special care. You'll need to store them in a cool, dry place and ensure that the lids are tightly sealed so they won't break easily, even if you accidentally drop them.

Ease of use. Oil-based colored pencils are harder to use than conventional colored pencils because they smear easily. They also apply thickly and in chunks if you push them hard on the paper and have a steep learning curve for newbies.

3. Why use oil-based pencils?

Oil-based colored pencils don't have issues like wax bloom, which when left unchecked, can ruin your whole artwork. They're also more durable because of their composition, thus, giving you more value for money.

4. Can you mix wax and oil-colored pencils?

Yes, wax and oil-based colored pencils can work together. However, it is best to use them on separate areas of the paper to take advantage of each type's strengths and avoid the risk of ruining your project.
We also recommend practicing this technique before working on your pet projects. The book Colored Pencil Step by Step is an excellent guide for beginners in colored pencil art.

Why Trust Glytterati?

Our team of editors is passionate about art and craft projects, so we only recommend products that we genuinely believe in. We provide honest, unbiased reviews of the best art supplies, and we often consult with industry experts to make our content professional and friendly, even for beginners. So if you're looking for new ways to improve your creativity, we can help!
Read Next: The Best Pastel Pencils

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