11 Tips To Organize Colored Pencils For Long-Term Storage

Colored pencils in a plastic cup

Organizing colored pencils for long-term storage is important to prevent breakage and unnecessary damage. Proper organizing also facilitates easy access and identification of colors.

Taking a few minutes every time you use your colored pencils is the key to keeping them organized. No matter how many organizers you have, your supplies will eventually be topsy-turvy if you don't stick to your system. 

This blog post will discuss 10 excellent ways to organize your colored pencils. By taking these simple steps, you can ensure that your colored pencils will be ready for action whenever inspiration strikes. We also included easy-to-make DIY organizers for your convenience.

How to Store Colored Pencils

Colored pencil cubbies

Colored pencil cubbies - Image by Pencil Stash

Here are some artist-tried tips for organizing your colored pencils for easy access so you don't waste money on drawing supplies.

1. Keep them away from direct heat and sunlight

As an artist, you know that the quality of your colored pencils can have a big impact on your work. Hence, it is important to take care of your pencils and prevent them from being damaged by heat or sunlight. 

Colored pencils have wax or oil in their composition, which means they can fade or dry out if exposed to direct heat or sunlight. Some colors are more lightfast than others, so they may be more likely to fade if exposed to the sun. 

Keeping your colored pencils in a cool, dark place can help them last longer and maintain quality.

2. Avoid extreme humidity and temperature changes

Artist-grade colored pencils come with sealed containers blocking outside light and humidity fluctuations. Artists observed that colored pencils left in temperatures higher than 130 °F for a long period affect the quality of the core. 

Also, a sudden temperature change can cause them to become brittle, thus, making them hard to sharpen.

3. Prevent dropping your colored pencils

This tip is self-explanatory because dropping your colored pencils can cause lead breakage or even the pencil itself. To avoid accidentally dropping them or rolling them off the table, return your colored pencils to your pencil organizer.

4. Wrap them up, but keep them in a ventilated area

If you have more than one set you don't use, use a length of saran wrap and store it in a cool but ventilated area. You may use a shoebox or wooden box to corral your extra colored pencils while in storage.

5. Label individual pencils

Labeling colored pencils

Labeling colored pencils - Image by Pam Proctor

Some colored pencils don't have individual labels. However, you can easily label pencils individually with a strip of stickers or paper with their color names. Use a clear adhesive tape to stick the strip of paper to the pencil and protect the paper from sweat.

Aside from the name, you may also use a strip of colored paper to indicate the color family to which the colored pencils belong.

6. Establish an organization system

Though colored pencils (especially sets with more than 24 colors) have their organizing scheme, you don't have to stick with them. Instead, you can develop a system that works best for you. 

Some artists organize by brand since they normally use more than 1 make. Others organize by type. For example, artists designate separate containers for oil-based, wax-based, watercolor pencils, and metallic colored pencils.

7. Group by lightfastness and temperature

Divide your colored pencils according to lightfast and non-lightfast colors. You must know which pencils are lightfast, especially when working on a commissioned work. 

Even if the pencils belong to a single set or if they are artist-grade, not all pencils have the same lightfastness. The lightfastness rating is dependent on various factors - quality and amount of pigments, binders, and other ingredients. 

Another way to organize colored pencils is to separate cool colors from warm colors. For example, oranges, reds, and yellow hues are warm, while blues and greens are cool.

8. Use the color grid to organize colors

Color swatch for colored pencils

Color swatch for colored pencils - Image by Faber-Castell

One way to store colored pencils better is to organize them using the color grid. If your colored pencil set comes with a swatch, you can cut each color and arrange it by family.

Another method is to use the number names for easier reference when working. Use a loose-leaf binder ring to organize your color swatches according to the colored pencil brand. 

9. Designate a place for oddballs

Even oddballs deserve a place when organizing your colored pencils. You'll accumulate several of them over the years, but don't throw them away, especially if they belong to an expensive, artist-grade set. A covered container you can easily distinguish at a glance is good storage for them.

10. Organize a traveling colored pencil set

If you like to draw even when traveling, you don't need to bring your extensive range of colored pencils. Instead, organize a set that you can carry during traveling. A set of 24-36 is good enough, rolled in a roll-up organizer or a pencil case. Make two sets of this traveling set, one for artist-grade colored pencils and another for cheaper wax-based colored pencils.

11. Use the right pencil organizers

Don't skimp on organizers, especially if you have a huge collection of several brands totaling more than a hundred colored pencils. 

A sturdy cubby hole with organizer bins is an excellent investment if you have hundreds of colored pencils. Label each bin or get translucent ones to see what's inside easily. 

You may also try shallow drawers. Arrange your colored pencils in single layers to minimize handling. This setup is best for artist-grade colored pencils you don't use daily. A tabletop carousel is also a good choice for colored pencils that you use regularly.

DIY Colored Pencil Organizers

When we say do not skimp on organizers, we don't mean you can't use a pencil caddy. Here are easy-to-make colored pencil organizers from things you no longer use around the house.

Tin Can Organizer

Tin can organizers for pencils

Tin can organizers for pencils - Image by Frishta DIY Crafts

Tin can organizers are a great way to keep your pencils organized and easily accessible. You can cover them with scrapbooking or decoupage paper and decorate them with paper flowers and pom pom ribbons.

Tin can organizers are also a great way to add a little personality to your desk. Choose a design that matches your style and decor, or go for a more whimsical look.

Woodblock Pencil Organizer

Woodblock pencil organizer

Woodblock pencil organizer - Image by Karen Kavett DIY

Make a DIY pencil organizer with a scrap 2x2x8-inch woodblock and paint it with rainbow colors. It is a fun and easy way to add color to your desk or work area while organizing your colored pencils.

You'll need a drill with a 1 1/2-inch hole saw to cut the cavity for the pencil organizer. You can also use a gouge chisel. Sand the holes and the outer part of the woodblock. Then finish the organizer with 2 coats of acrylic paint in rainbow colors.

DIY Pencil Organizer

DIY pencil organizer

DIY pencil organizer - Image by The Little Crafties

You can turn a cereal or toothpaste cardboard box into a personalized and decorative colored pencil storage box with just a few supplies. 

Depending on the available cardboard box, you can make your organizer in whatever size. But for a bigger cardboard box, you can stiffen it with corrugated cardboard from your grocery boxes. Shape and glue the boxes together.

Cover the inside with construction paper and the outside with scrapbooking paper. Once the outside is covered, decorate with flower lace trim or printed ribbon around the edges. This added touch will give the box a finished look.

Cube Pencil Holders

Cube pencil holders

Cube pencil holders - Image by Home Built Workshop

This DIY cube pencil holder is easy to make from scrap wood. You can make individual cubes or make them a series of cubes on a longer piece of wood. 

Plywood is also a good alternative but uses a more generous amount of wood glue before nailing the parts together. Use sandpaper to smoothen the inner and outer parts, then paint or apply varnish to finish the pencil holder.

DIY Popsicle Organizer

Colorful DIY popsicle pencil organizer

Colorful DIY popsicle pencil organizer - Image by Crafty Prapty

Crafty individuals looking for a fun and colorful project will love making these cube pencil holders out of popsicle sticks.

For added pops of color, you can use acrylics on regular popsicle sticks. Consider using a separate color for each cube to designate the different color families more easily. 

This project is perfect for those who want to add a personal touch to their desk or workspace. Not to mention, it's a great way to use up any extra popsicle sticks you may have lying around!

Tiered DIY Pencil Carousel

Tiered DIY pencil carousel

Tiered DIY pencil carousel - Image by Meghan on Twitch

Pencil carousels are an excellent addition to your art supplies to keep your colored pencils separated for easy access. Unlike PVC pipes, couplers are easier for this project as you don't have to use a saw to assemble the carousel. Several of these carousels can keep all the pencils by color.

You need a Lazy Susan, foam boards, a craft knife, and craft glue for this tiered pencil carousel. Too bland? Add a pop of color and spray some paint after finishing the setup.

This design is beneficial for two reasons: the tiered carousel design offers more options for color organization; the PVC couplers provide a sturdy and reliable means of attaching the tiers to the Lazy Susan.

Jute Rope Pencil Organizer

Jute rope pencil organizer

Jute rope pencil organizer - Image by Serenity Space

Toilet paper rolls were never out of service when you used toilet paper. For this DIY, wrap a jute rope around the toilet paper roll and secure the ends with a spot of glue. Decorate with a jute ribbon and applique flowers to keep up with the rustic look of the organizer.

For the base of this DIY colored pencil organizer, wrap jute rope around a piece of cardboard. Glue the decorated toilet paper roll to finish the setup.

Mason Jar Pencil Organizers

Mason jar pencil organizers

Mason jar pencil organizers - Image by Michaels Stores

For this project, use glass painting enamels to paint your glass masons. Use a different enamel color to make your mason jars look more colorful. But don't go overboard; keep the colors simple yet fun in addition to your desk.

Depending on your inspiration, you can also use mason jars to create a rustic or classy desk caddy.

Roll-up Pencil Organizer

Roll-up pencil organizer

Roll-up pencil organizer - Image by Erica Arndt

For organizing a travel set for your colored pencils, this roll-up pencil organizer is easy to make with a few long pieces of fabric and elastics to hold the pencils in shape. You can try several designs, but the best thing about roll-up pencil organizers is the control over how many pencils can fit into one organizer.

You may use a clasp, a cord, or sew a long piece of fabric fashioned into a string to prevent the colored pencils from spilling out when you travel with them. Pair it with a sketchbook for colored pencils, and you're good to go.

Don't forget an extra slot for a colorless blender or pencil extension. These two are essential for blending or when your pencils are too short to hold.

Zippered Pencil Case

Zippered pencil case

Zippered pencil case - Image by Sewing Times

Zippered pencil cases allow you to store and transport your art supplies, keeping them organized and protected. Opt for a single zip for easy access when choosing a pencil case design. You can add compartments if you want a separate compartment for other supplies.

Use coordinated fabric for a pleasant look, but we recommend denim for the inner part to give the case a sturdier construction while protecting the inside from getting too messy.


So, there you have it! Eleven effective tips to organize your colored pencils for long-term storage. In the comments below, let us know your best practices for organizing your colored pencils. 

Also, don't forget to check out our DIY organizers – they are a great way to customize your storage without spending much.

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