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Lyra Rembrandt pencils are by far the best colored pencils I've ever used. They are oil-based, whereas Prismacolor and many other common brands are wax-based. IMHO, oil-based pencils have an extra depth and richness, and are smoother and nicer to use.  :001_wub:


They also don't break like wax-based pencils — IME dropping a Prismacolor even once can cause multiple breaks in the "lead," inside the wood casing, so when you go to sharpen them, the lead just falls out in short sections. I've never had that problem with Lyra Rembrandts, even if they get dropped.

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To clarify...is it the Lyra Rembrandt that are getting praised or the Lyra Groove or both? Is there a difference between the two? I called their office, but the employee wasn't very helpful in answering that question, so I thought I'd come here and ask those with experience. :) She did say that the Prang was a cheaper, lower quality pencil.

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This year I stumbled upon Crayola Twist-Up Colored Pencils.  They. Are. Amazing!  It's glorious not to have to worry about where the pencil sharpener is, will the monkeys leave shavings everywhere, why does the #&@^#@ light blue keep breaking!  You just twist to bottom and it spirals up.  I'm planning on getting each of the kids a set this year since they plowed through the shared one last year.



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To clarify...is it the Lyra Rembrandt that are getting praised or the Lyra Groove or both? Is there a difference between the two? I called their office, but the employee wasn't very helpful in answering that question, so I thought I'd come here and ask those with experience. :) She did say that the Prang was a cheaper, lower quality pencil.


The Lyra Grooves are wax-based and are considered "scholastic grade," which is below "student grade" and "artist grade." Lyra Rembrandts are oil-based artist grade. The "grade" actually makes more of a difference in terms of quality than the brand. Here's a summary of the different grades: 


Artist grade

Artist-grade pencils are filled with higher concentrations of high-quality pigments than student-grade colored pencils. Their lightfastness – resistance to UV rays in sunlight – is also measured and documented. Core durability, break and water resistance, and brand popularity are also notable features of artist-grade colored pencils.


Student and scholastic grade

Many of the same companies that produce artist-grade colored pencils also offer student-grade materials and scholastic-level colored pencils. Lightfastness rating is usually not included in student- and scholastic-grade colored pencils. Core composition and pigment-binder ratio vary among artist- and student-grade colored pencils even when the same company produces them. As they are intended for different users, student- and scholastic-grade colored pencils lack the high quality pigments and lightfastness standards that hold artist-grade products true to their name.

Using lower grade colored pencils does have its advantages, however. Some companies offer erasable colored pencils for beginning artists to experiment with. Also, due to their significantly lower prices, student-grade colored pencils are ideal for elementary and middle school students. Colored pencil manufactures tailor their products — and prices — to different age and skill groups.


There are plenty of artist grade wax-based pencils, too. For example, Prismacolor Premier pencils are artist grade, while Prismacolor Scholar are student grade. The regular Premier have fairly soft wax-based cores, while the Premier Verithin have thin hard cores. The hard cores are more likely to break, but also give a sharper point for detail work.


AFAIK, all oil-based pencils are considered artist grade.  Besides Rembrandts, other oil-based pencils that I know of (but haven't used) are Faber-Castell Polychrome and Koh-i-Noor Polycolor. I think Hobby Lobby sells sets of the Koh-i-Noor Polycolor, and they used to sell Rembrandts (I got my 72-pencil set there for 50% off several years ago), but I've only seen the Faber-Castell Polychrome at specialty art stores like Blicks. 

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Growing up we were inseparable from Lyra colored pencils. I had purchased a huge set of Prismacolors, but it frustrated me that their leads kept breaking.


But eventually I tried a new set of Prismacolors and now that is our current preferred, although just the other day I tested the Prismas with the Lyras and they seemed to both easily lay down smooth rich color. I'm sure if I'm was a true artist I'd have more to compare, but to me they seemed the same. :)  Lyra is oil based, break less. Retains their points longer so less sharpening. Prismacolors are easier to find a wide color selection set. We'll stick with Prismacolors going forward since with a selection of 150, it is by far more vast a color selection than our set of 18 Lyras. We also have expensive Derwent colored pencils, but in comparison, they always seem dry and rough when coloring.


If I could find a huge set of Lyras easily, maybe they would become our favorites. But it's my opinion that both are very awesome.


I like to keep the Crayola Twistable (and erasable, they erase so well) colored pencils near the desk for fun colorful homework use. But compared to the above high quality pencils, they are a bit more frustrating to use, as trying to color with them is nowhere near the rich, smooth, consistent vibrant experience with the first two. But hey, you never have to sharpen them and they erase very well!


We also like watercolor pencils, just like colored pencils, but brush on them with water and they turn into watercolor works of art!





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After reading Corraleno's post, I'm eager to try the Lyra Rembrandts. If we've been so happy with the Lyra Color Giants and Grooves, I can only imagine what they'd be like! Is the highest set 72 pencils, plus the 12 skin tone and 12 metallics? 

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Thank you for the specifying the differences between the different grades of pencils! And thanks for the comparisons - very helpful!!  :001_smile:  You answered my question, which is much better then when I called Lyra...maybe the Lyra company is looking for some new employees  :001_huh:

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Angela, yes the 72 pencil set is the largest. Here's an excellent review, which covers the fundamental differences between wax-based pencils and the Rembrandt Polycolor:



Despite, or maybe because of, my experience with Prismacolor, when I needed to update my colored pencils recently I decided to go out on a limb and get the slightly more expensive Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor Pencils.



For all of you Prismacolor fans out there, please don’t get me wrong, the Prismacolors are perfectly nice colored pencils and I wouldn’t want to dissuade anyone from using and loving them.  They are a particularly good choice for those just starting out with professional grade colored pencils and as a first set they served me well for quite a long time.


In fact, it’s precisely because I had used them for so long that most of them were little more than stubs that I needed a new set!  It’s just that I have a complex love-hate relationship with my Prismacolors that I was hoping to avoid this time around.




Basic Features

The Lyra Rembrandt Polycolors are premium (artist grade) colored pencils with excellent lightfastness across the entire range of colors, beyond that it’s difficult to compare them to other colored pencils because they are quite unique.


For starters, they are oil-based, which means they are creamier and smoother than most other colored pencils and they lay down rich, nearly opaque color with very little effort and no waxy build-up or blooming so you get nice clean lines. The depth and vibrancy that can be achieved with the Polycolors is closer to that of ink than colored pencil.


Like most artist grade colored pencils, the Polycolors are available in sets or as open stock.  The boxed sets come in four “flavors†of 12, 24, 36 or 72 colors, or you can get a set of 12 grays.


  A Note on Usage

The Polycolors can take a little time and practice to get use to, especially if you are coming from using wax-based pencils.  I don’t recommend jumping right into a project with them, give yourself some time to play with them before committing to something you’re going to want to share.


As I mentioned above, the colors are pretty opaque.  They’re also highly saturated.  These two aspects alone mean that you must use a light hand, especially if you’re going to be layering several colors.   If you’re coming from using wax-based pencils, these are going to be a lot more vibrant upon first laydown than you're use to.  Trust me on this, you don’t need very many layers and I can’t stress this enough… USE A LIGHT HAND!


  The Pros
  • There is no feathering or blooming.
  • They keep a nice sharp point even with intense use so you don’t have to sharpen them as often.
  • They laydown smooth with no dead or abrasive zones.
  • They play well with most other mediums including other colored pencils, ink and paint that I’ve tested so far.
  • They work well on a wide range of material, including wood and stone.  In fact, I’m especially fond of using them on sandstone.
  • They have a high degree of colorfastness in the entire set.
  • They’re come in sets and every color is available as open stock.
  • Both color and stock number are clearly printed on the pencil.
  • Colors match the endcap color perfectly so you never have to guess at the actual color.
  • They are quite lovely to look at!
  The Cons
  • They’re in the higher price range.  On average they are about $12.oo more for a comparable size set of Prismacolors.
  • Being oil-based they don’t mix well with water.  Of course, depending on what you’re doing this could just as easily be a “Proâ€.
  • There are only 78 colors to choose from, if you count the three hardness levels of black as individual colors.


  Overall Opinion

If I had to pick one thing that I love most about the Polycolors it would have to be their richness and vibrancy.  They are, quite simply, beautiful.

I can actually give you a whole list of reasons to love them, but I’ll limit myself to just a few highlights.  They are smooth, fluid, and soft.  They lay down easily and give even coverage on just about any surface…  and speaking of surfaces, I have a piece of sandstone sitting out in the yard that I used them on that is as vibrant as the day I finished it despite going through the intense sunshine of an Arizona summer and a heavy winter monsoon.  Because the colors won’t bleed or flow with the application of water you can put a watercolor or ink was right over the top of them.


Additional high marks go to these beauties for their ability to keep a nice sharp point, even under the fairly intense pressure I tend to put them under.  Just as important, especially for those of use who are aesthetically minded, nobody is going to see these and think you’re using a set of Crayolas!


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Berol Prismacolor. I use them professionally for scientific illustration. I like Mister Art.com as well as using the 40% off coupon at Michaels for purchasing them.


I do feel and see a difference. we just did a comparison between, prismacolor, Rose Art, Crayola, and Dollar Store color pencils. Even my 7 yr old DD liked the Prismacolor best: smoothness, richness of color and coverage, held up best for sharpening. Crayola came in second. Dollar Store (LiquiMark think) were just awful and went into the trash.


I prefer Staedtler Water Color pencils for that particular medium and Staedtler pencils for sketching and black and white illustration.

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Well, I just did a little 'test' before ordering some from amazon or making a bigger type purchase. I went to Hobby Lobby and bought one Prismacolor pencil ($1.99) and the Lyra Groove Slim box of 12 ($5.49). I definitely thought the prismacolor was richer and smoother. Unfortunately, I couldn't try the Lyra that are recommended here, such as the Ferby and Rembrandt because they didn't have those.

I'd still love to hear about Stabilo if anyone has tried them!

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