Disclosure: Links on Simply Shoeboxes may be affiliate partners or referrals.

Colored Pencil Brands Comparison Test for Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Packing

Colored Pencil Reviews for packing in Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.

After we saw the results of our crayon coloring and heat tests, we decided to compare colored pencils this year, as sometimes name brand can cost twice as much, and as a child and teen, I don't really remember noticing that much difference in brands.  We want to include good quality items in our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes and that includes colored pencils.  The three brands we got to test were Crayola, CraZArt, and iMagine (Dollar General Brand).

I grew up with various brands of colored pencils, then as a teenager I received Prismacolor pencils because I was interested in art.  My mom and sister have
enjoyed doing some sketching and coloring over the years.  We all tried all the brands a little, and thought they were all fine, something of a surprise as we'd always sent Crayola assuming they were much better.  Now that we've tried them all for ourselves, and discovered we'd be happy to use/receive as a gift any of the three brands, we'll just do what is most cost effective, between that and the crayon test results we may be able to send both crayons and colored pencils in OCC shoeboxes, or even pack a few more.

My sister volunteered to color the test sheets, and really try them out.  Here's a sample of how they look once colored:

Colored pencil coloring test.

And here's what my sister thought about each kind:

  • To be frank, I was expecting more from the Crayola name.  The texture of the lead was wonderfully creamy and went onto the page smoothly, but that was really the only thing I liked about them more than the others.  The colors were nice, but they did not seem to cover the large spaces well, and all my pencil strokes really showed which I have never liked.  I also found they were harder to control, more likely to slide to where I did not want it to go, which I think would be more of a problem for children, too.  Overall, these are good, high-quality pencils, but there was nothing that would justify preferring them to any others.  

  • These had a very heavy and waxy color.  Very easy to fill in areas quickly and get bright colors, but extremely difficult to shade or blend two colors together.  These felt more more like coloring with crayons than with pencils.  These did give nice bright colors which can be hard to get with pencils.  Overall, these are fine and certainly color well, but do not seem to give the control and options I would expect to find as a benefit of using pencils over crayons.

  • These were definitely my favorite.  I like the pastel look of the colors, which is what I associate with colored pencils.  The lead was also a bit rougher than the others which I really liked because I have a small lack of coordination in my right hand and the slight roughness made the pencil not slip across the paper enabling me to have much greater control and precision.  I would imagine that greater control would be good for little fingers still learning coordination as well as beginning artists.  There was really nothing to dislike about these.  Overall, they are wonderful, quality pencils that give a lot of control in shading and precision.  These are definitely the ones I would purchase for myself!
We tested to see how sturdy they were.  We applied firm, steady pressure and found that none broke under normal coloring pressure, but we kept pushing harder.  The Crayola was the easiest to break, but still left some above the wood.  The CraZArt was also hard to break, but broke back under the edge of the wood.  The iMagine was the hardest to break, and didn't break off much.

Colored pencil tests.

Another consideration is they have different color selection.  11 of the colors are very similar...slight differences, but same idea, the 12th color is different.  Crayola has a white one, CraZArt has pink, and iMagine has a different brown.  Also, as you can see, the Crayola and CraZArt have gold printing with the brand and color name, while iMagine is plain, but that doesn't really matter to me.

So, that's what we've found out with our tests, hope this helps someone! Please note, this is just our personal test/experience with these brands of pencils we tested for our personal information and decided to share in hopes it could help others who didn't have the chance to do it for themselves.  I realize others will have different opinions, experiences, preferences, and considerations, this is just what we found and are sharing to try to help others.  Obviously from year to year and batch to batch they may be different, especially with off-brands that may have less stringent/tight controls.

Okay, based on a couple questions/comments, I'm editing to add the following:

Colored pencils sharpening test.
I took the pencils from the break test and re-sharpened them in a hand sharpener.  They're in the same order as above Crayola-CraZArt-iMagine (Dollar General Brand).  When I tried to sharpen the Crayola it broke off below the wood line-possibly due to using it in the break test, and I had to re-sharpen at an odd angle to get it to work.  The CraZArt sharpened fine, but as you can see a good amount of the "lead" is sticking out above the wood, which makes me worried it will break.  The iMagine seemed to sharpen just fine.  My mom sharpened a few more that we used for testing, and they all seemed to sharpen fine and the same, except that iMagine was a little easier/softer which might be nice for a child with less muscles.

To see how well they lay down colors, I had my mom do a "blind test" handing her the pencils, so she didn't know which brand she was trying.  I chose black, so that any slight differences in shade would not impact the result.  She drew a line with heavy pressure, colored with medium pressure, and then colored with heavy pressure.  On the left you have Crayola, in the middle CraZArt, and at the right iMagine.

You can find other school supply product reviews for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes in these other Simply Shoeboxes posts:
Thanks to Yulia Znayduk on supercoloring.com for sharing the image we used in the coloring text, you can print it for yourself here:  Super Coloring.


auntiek said...

Thank you for testing the pencils. Looks like I'll be looking to buy the iMagine brand now.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for doing these tests. We have in the past used target brand colored pencils. Both my more artistic children preferred those (until prisma) to the other brands. They usually run 89 cent regular price but are on back to school price of 52 cents. Just an alternative idea for others.

Sarah said...

auntiek - You're welcome! Glad to help!

Anonymous - good to know, thanks for the info! I don't have a Target handy, so couldn't test them, so it's great to be able to have that info, too!

Anonymous said...

Excellent work! I appreciate your willingness to test these products. I will go directly to your crayon comparison now. I pack shoebox gifts and want to get the best combination of quality and price.

Sarah said...

Thank you for your kind words! Glad to be of help!

Unknown said...

I'm getting so much into the what will last the longest. I had not even thought about the pencils. I want to have last longer than some more of lower cost. Thanks again

Disclosure: Links on Simply Shoeboxes may be affiliate partners or referrals.