I’ve come across this question several times during the recent years. When I started coloring, I asked it myself and later, when I posted my first step by step videos or tutorials, people started to ask me which pencils I’d use for that – and some were kinda disappointed when I said I’m using Prismacolor or Polychromos, which are definitely some of the most expensive ones you can get. So there was always this question popping up: will I be able to receive the same result with cheaper stuff?
The bad news is: you will most likely be not.
But this is not simply because the stuff is expensive and expensive is always better (because that’s not true).
I’ve joined the coloring community in April 2016. A lot of time has passed since then and I learned and bought a lot of stuff (some of which I re-sold already) and I’ve seen what’s working and what’s not. I’ve gotten to know different people on Instagram, all colorists themselves, and I’ve read and watched hundreds of tutorials and guides. And with all this, I came to the conclusion that if you’re saving on art supplies, you’re saving on quality.
There are many things out there where the cheap version is just as good as the expensive (or even better). Let’s say.. chocolate? We all like chocolate, so let’s say chocolate 🙂 Some of the cheaper stuff you can get at discount stores is even produced by another company that usually sells its chocolate for a much higher price. But that is definitely not the case when we’re talking about art supplies.
Now go ask yourself – what are you gonna do with the chocolate you buy? Eat it all by yourself in front of the TV, just for fun? Bake a cake and put it in? Store it somewhere, for those bad times that might occur once in three months? I guess we can all agree that for those purposes, we don’t really need the expensive stuff.
Now let’s take this back to coloring equipment. Let’s say you don’t care that much about your results being insta-worthy, you only do this whole thing for fun or to relax after a long day of work and that’s it. You’re not into art, you’re not into reproducing artsy tutorials you see on YouTube. You’re only trying to fill spaces with color. Then the pencils from your local stationery store will definitely do the job.
But what I’ve you’re watching those tutorials by Chris Cheng, Colour with Claire or Alwayscoloring – and you just long to be only nearly as good as they are? Well, that’s where the bad news come in: your kids’ school pencils won’t work for that.
What I’m trying to tell you is: there are times when you can (and should!) save money, and there are times when you cannot. Wanting to produce art definitely falls under the second option. There are some good reasons why Prismacolors are expensive and why Polychromos are even more expensive: they can do stuff that other pencils can’t.
But I have even more bad news for you: Pencils are not everything. Actually they’re only making up a small part of your result – because the rest is paper.
I live in Germany, and adult coloring has grown quite popular here in the recent years. There were times when you could buy coloring books everywhere, even at grocery stores. They didn’t cost much, they didn’t have cool illustrations either, and sometimes there even was a pack of pencils included.
When I started coloring, I also fell into that trap – but I quickly came to realise that in most of those books, the paper was only slightly better than toilet paper.. 🙂 I could maybe have figured that out beforehand, but hey, at that time I wasn’t thinking about such things 🙂
And the thing is: if the paper is bad, your pencils might be as expensive as they want, they’re useless in that combination. And now imagine combining bad paper with bad pencils. That’s where dreams scramble.. 🙂 Because you’ll only make things harder for yourself. With bad equipment, I don’t see where to develop a love for coloring.
This is also why I don’t own many coloring books. Actually, there are less than 20 books in my shelf and I’m not planning on buying a new one all too soon. But I can say that nearly all of them are high-quality and make it easy for me to love them all equally 🙂
To cut a long story short…
Before you buy, think carefully what kind of results you want to achieve. Filling spaces with color, just for fun? Then go for whatever you like.
Do you have higher expectations on your work? Want to produce art, maybe? Then think carefully what to buy and what not. And consider that, in the art sector, there are good reasons for high prices.
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