How Many Coloured Pencils do you Need

How Many Coloured Pencils do you Need?

When it comes to starting out with colouring, one of the first questions people ask is “how many coloured pencils do you need?” It’s a valid question; after all, you don’t want to invest in a whole set of pencils only to find out that you don’t like colouring or that you’re not enjoying it. But at the same time, you don’t want to skimp on supplies and end up with a limited colour palette that makes your project look amateurish. So what’s the answer? Read on to find out.

How many Coloured Pencils do you Need?

This will depend on your individual needs and preferences. You’ll need at least 3 primary colours to get started, but it’s always useful to have a few more options. A good set has around 12-24 colours. This will give you enough range to create different shades and hues without running out of colour options. If you’re just starting out and struggling to decide whether to buy a full set of pencils or stick to a smaller selection, read on for a few tips.

Getting the Balance Right

The first thing to consider is what you’re going to be using your coloured pencils for. If you’re just colouring for fun, then you don’t need to go out and buy the biggest set of pencils you can find. A smaller set of 12-24 pencils will suffice. However, if you’re serious about your colouring, or if you plan on doing a lot of blending and shading, then you’ll probably want a larger set in the long run.

Once you’ve decided how many pencils you need, the next step is to choose your colours. For beginners, it’s best to stick with a smaller number of colours; this will force you to be more creative and learn how to blend different colours together to create new shades. A basic set of 12 colours is a good place to start; once you’ve mastered those, you can add more colours as needed. If you’re stuck for ideas, try using a colour wheel; this will help you choose colours that complement each other well.

Don’t Let Cost Stop You From Trying

One common mistake people make is assuming that they need to buy an expensive set of pencils in order to get started. This simply isn’t true! You can find decent quality coloured pencils at any arts and crafts store, and they don’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, it’s often better to start with a cheaper set of pencils until you’re sure that you’re going to stick with colouring. That way, if you find that it’s not for you, you’re not out a lot of money. Colouring has a number of benefits and it would be a shame to miss out on them because you’re worried about the cost.

Making the Most of Your Pencils

One advantage of having fewer colours is that it forces you to be more creative with what you have. For example, did you know that from the 3 primary colours you can make at least 12 different hues? By adding white or black to your palette, you can also create tints and tones within these 12 colours.

If you want to try professional pencils, it’s a good idea to purchase just the primary colours first. With these colours, you can experiment and create a wide variety of hues by mixing the pencils together. Red, blue, and yellow, along with black and white, will give you a wide range of hues, tints, and tones to work with. This is a great way to try different brands without breaking the bank.

Recommended Primary Colours for Popular Brands of Coloured Pencil

Prismacolour – True Blue, Canary Yellow, Crimson Red

Polychromos – Phthalo Blue, Cadmium Yellow, Deep Scarlet Red

Caran D’Ache Luminance – Phthalocyanine Blue, Lemon Yellow, Permanent Red

Are 12 Colour Pencils Enough?

Yes, 12 colour pencils will be enough for basic drawing and colouring. A set should ideally have at least three primary colours (red, yellow, blue), with the rest of the colours made up from various combinations of these three. This gives you a good range of colours to work with.

A small set of colour pencils is perfect for traveling or when you don’t need a lot of variety. But if you’re looking to do more detailed work or want a wider range of colours, then you may want to consider a larger set with 24, 36, or more colours.

How Important are Different Coloured Pencils?

While it’s great to have a wide range of colours at your disposal, having too many can actually be detrimental to your project. This is because it can be tempting to use as many colours as possible, which can lead to your work looking cluttered and busy. It’s important to find a balance between having enough colours to work with, without going overboard.

One way to achieve this is by using a limited palette. This involves choosing a small number of colours (usually 3-5) and sticking to those throughout your project. This forces you to be more creative with how you use colour and can actually lead to more interesting and cohesive results.

A Smaller Number of Colours can be more Versatile

One advantage of having a smaller number of colours is that it makes you more creative. With fewer options available, you’re forced to experiment with blending and mixing to get the results you want. This can actually lead to some interesting and unique colour combinations that you might not have thought of otherwise. So if you’re feeling stuck, try limiting yourself to 6-8 colours and see what happens.

You Can Make a lot of Different Colours from just a Few

Another thing to keep in mind is that you can get a lot of mileage out of just a few coloured pencils. By carefully choosing your colours, you can mix and match to create a wide range of different shades. For example, a good set of basics would be a light yellow, a dark green, a light blue, and a dark purple. From there, you can add in additional colours as needed to expand your palette.

If you’re stuck for ideas, try using a colour wheel; this will help you choose colours that complement each other well.

How Long Should Coloured Pencils Last?

The answer to this question is a little like how long is a piece of string & depends very much on how often you use your pencils and your favourite colours. It has been claimed that a HB pencil will draw a line 35 miles long but this claim seems a little dubious when scrutinised.

A set of good quality colour pencils should last you several years if they are properly cared for. Store them in a cool, dry place and keep them sharpened so that they will be ready to use when you need them. With proper care, your coloured pencils should give you years of enjoyment.

Experimenting to Find What Works Best for You

Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to colouring; there’s no right or wrong way to do it. So take some time to experiment and find what works best for you. Do you prefer working with a smaller number of colours, or do you like having lots of options? Do you like mixing and matching different brands of pencils, or do visit feel more comfortable sticking with one brand? Answering these questions will help narrow down your choices and make shopping for coloured pencils a lot easier.

Ultimately, the best way to figure out how many coloured pencils you need is to experiment and find what works best for you. There’s no magic number that will work for everyone; it all depends on your individual needs and preferences. So start with a small set of pencils and see how you go. You can always add more colours later on if you find that you need them.

Of course you might find you prefer colouring with fineliner pens or felt tips instead of coloured pencils! Ultimately, the most important thing is to find a medium that you enjoy working with and that produces the results you’re looking for.


Asking ‘how many coloured pencils do I need?’ is a valid question for anyone who wants to dip their toe into colouring without breaking the bank. The size of set and the number of colours will depend on the person’s level of experience and desired useage – generally speaking between 12 to 48 is recommended.

A good balance between too many and too few teaches user important techniques such as blending & creating new colourful hues from just a few chosen colours. Ultimately it is up to you to experiment with what you have available to discover what works best. Thanks for reading!

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