Wondering how to transition smoothly from drawing to watercolor painting? Watercolor crayons are an excellent intermediary.
They are also a go-to for the watercolorist who likes painting conveniently on the go or doing quick designs minus the hassle of paint tubes and a palette.
What are watercolor crayons, you ask? Watercolor crayons are like the ordinary wax crayons except that the pigments and binders dissolve in water. As a result, a drawing can be brushed wet to obtain a transparent watercolor effect by softening and blending defined lines and edges.
Therefore, watercolor crayons are a practical introduction to watercolor techniques for kid artists, students, and beginner adults. They can gradually advance their skills without the frustration of mixing colors and trying to create images using a brush.
So when it comes to watercolor crayons, which are best? The best watercolor crayons are easy to use, maintain a bold, saturated color when dry and which are properly soluble in water (like “normal” watercolors), and hold up a long time.
If you stick around longer, you’ll learn more about selecting the best watercolor crayons that are safe, effective, durable, and easy to use.
And, to help you get started, we’ve put together a list of parent, teacher, and artist-approved watercolor crayons. But first things first:
7 Things To Look For In Watercolor Crayons
If you’ve never had an encounter with watercolor crayons before, we are here to help. For the best results, there are a couple of things to consider before making a purchase. Let’s look at some of them.
Ease of Use – Go for crayons that glide smoothly on paper and don’t need too much pressure applied to draw, especially for kids. You do not want to strain those little growing hands. With soft crayons, you can enjoy practicing for long hours or take big projects without tiring quickly.
Pigment Saturation – Once the drawing is washed out, it loses some of its color brilliance and becomes somewhat transparent. To maintain the right amount of contrast, select crayons that are loaded with pigment from the start.
Safety – As with any other product made for children or use at home, it is vital that the crayons conform to safety standards and are harmless. Look out for non-toxic certification marks or symbols.
Solubility – The effectiveness of the watercolor crayons depends on the solubility of the pigment. For the perfect watercolor effect, the crayons should readily break down in water. This way, the original outlines are less noticeable, creating a softer effect.
Shape – Crayons are formed differently, the most familiar shapes being rounded, triangular, and hexagonal. Find a body shape that sits cozy in your grip and is less troublesome with regards to rolling away. Also, check that they are a comfortable breadth and length.
Color Spectrum – Every set of watercolor crayons has a specific number of colors. You may enjoy using fewer colors if you are skilled in blending. But if you’re a hobbyist or new to color blending, go for a broader selection of colors for more hues and special tones like metallics.
Durability – The worst thing about crayons is breaking with each stroke until the stick becomes too short to be usable. Therefore, consider good quality brands whose watercolor crayons are stable. Which ones are they? Read on to find out.
The 5 Best Watercolor Crayons
We searched high and low to handpick only the best watercolors crayons that will give you beautiful washes and a marvelous time while at it.
|Caran d’Ache Water-Soluble Crayons
|Quality pastels, rich color, high solubility
|LYRA Aquacolor Water-Soluble Crayons
|Rich pigments, good solubility, non-toxic
|Faber Castell Watercolor Crayons
|Made for kids, non-toxic, vivid color
|Sargent Artist-Quality Watercolor Crayons
|Super-soluble, artist-grade, many colors
|Staedtler Karat Aquarell Watercolor Crayons
|Watercolor look, glide smoothly, saturated
There’s something for every age, budget, and skill level. Have a closer look:
1. Caran d’Ache Neocolor II Water-Soluble Pastel Crayons
There is no denying that the Caran d’Ache water-soluble pastels are the best watercolor crayons anyone can get. That may have something to do with the fact that they seem to be high-quality pastels in crayon form.
What makes these swiss-made crayons such a joy to work with is that they are sturdy yet creamy-textured and blend effortlessly.
The pigments are super dense and yield colors with a lovely luminous intensity.
The high solubility gives the crayons great versatility. You can opt to use them dry, then wet the drawing, or do it the reverse way by wetting the paper first then drawing wet. They are so creamy; you can even pick color from the crayon with a wet brush for a lighter washed out effect.
These are premium quality crayons that are lightfast and loved by professionals and commercial crafters who prioritize preserving their masterpieces for several years.
Even children can enjoy working with these water-soluble wax pastels because they are non-toxic and made as per the EN (CE) and ASTM D4236 safety standards.
This 15 piece set has a range of fabulous colors, but if you’d like to go all in, they have 30, 40, and 84 color sets. Still, they come in a higher price tag than other brands, so it’s best for older children or students who are genuinely passionate about art and have a flair for painting.
These are the best watercolor crayons overall for artists of all ages and skill levels. The quality is unrivaled, and you get your money’s worth.
2. LYRA Aquacolor Water-Soluble Wax Crayons
We have nothing but good things to say about this set of water-soluble crayons from LYRA. And so do users, making this set our first runner-up.
The 24 color pack offers a fabulous selection of both bold colors and pastels. But if you’d really like to explore more colors, they have a 48 color pack too.
Each crayon is heavily packed with pigment and looks brilliant on paper even after being wet and moved.
The crayons have excellent solubility. Its pigments dissolve and blend really well for a fantastic wash.
LYRA is an AP non-toxic certified brand, so you can rest easy even when kids want to join in on the fun. The tin box provided offers sturdy packaging and storage of the crayons, so there’s another bonus. It will be far more durable than simple boxed brands.
It may not be your cheapest choice, but it does come with truly high-quality crayons. If you do invest in these, you won’t be sorry with the value you get in return. And who can put a price on art?
3. Faber Castell Watercolor Crayons
If you are looking for the best watercolor crayons for your little one, this pack by Faber Castell is specially designed for kids and is many parents’ favorite.
You get an assortment of 15 vividly colored crayons and a size 10 brush to get things rolling.
Unlike other kiddie crayons that will roll and fall to the floor, breaking into pieces, these are built ergonomically. Each crayon is triangular shaped for enhanced grip and as an anti-rolling feature.
The brand is certified non-toxic and manufactured per ASTM D-4236 safety standards. Also, the pigments are free of acid, making these absolutely safe for use by anyone aged 3+.
The pigments activate nicely with a touch of wet brushing. Some colors however, dissolve much better than others.
You might have to purchase a separate jar or if you have an extra one at home for the storage of the crayons. The box and inner plastic tray they come in may not last long with rough handling.
It is, however, a nice and simple set that gets the job done – a perfect choice for anyone who wants to delight a child and who doesn’t need artist-quality goods (yet!).
4. Sargent Artist-Quality Watercolor Crayons
For an array of luminous and muted tones, Sargent Art watercolor crayons have all that – and more – to offer. The set has 24 shades in total with no repeat colors.
The quality of the crayons is artist-grade. They write smoothly and efficiently without pressing too hard.
Although they may appear dry at first, the crayons warm up and soften quite fast once you begin working with them.
The pigments perform impressively with water and can be lifted and moved around with a wet brush without much difficulty. They are so soluble: you can dip the crayon in water and draw wet.
For a new entrant in the watercolor crayon market, Sargent performs above and beyond expectations.
5. Staedtler Karat Aquarell Watercolor Crayons
If you’ve ever owned Staedtler products, you can be sure that these watercolor crayons’ quality will rise up to the brand’s lofty reputation.
The German-made crayons are easy to work with. They glide smoothly, giving artists better control when laying down colors.
The pigment is formulated to mix homogeneously with water for the most authentic watercolor look.
Although the 12-color selection is kind of limiting, the pigments are saturated and blend nicely with water for endless possibilities. Experienced artists and hobbyists will have no trouble getting more shades and effects out of this set.
From a pencil, crayons, and stationery-making master, you can expect this Staedtler watercolor crayon set to be a cut above the rest.
Watercolor Crayons – Summary
Watercolor crayons can make a whole different experience for kids trying to get into watercolors. They will marvel at the amazing transformation making it such an exciting and fun learning activity. Plus, you will also appreciate the minimal post paint clean-up.
That’s not to say it’s all child’s play. Amateurs and professional watercolorists alike enjoy the convenience of creating art pieces anytime, anywhere with this portable option.
It opens up possibilities for endless creative crafts and is a favorite for art journaling, handmade cards, adult coloring etc.
Just be sure to get the best watercolor crayons because your project’s success depends as much on quality as it does on technique or skill level. The pigments need to be vivid, easily laid down, and soluble enough to move and blend in.
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