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  • Writer's pictureJason Morgan

Pastel Pencil Lightfastness + Caran D'Ache colours I use

Over the years I've tested the complete set of PITT, Carbothello, Giaconda, Conte, and  quite a number of Caran D’Ache pastel pencils as well. I did my own testing because I noticed a couple of my colours fade after I had my colour swatch on my drawing board for a long time – when I checked the companies’ data, these colours were supposed to be lightfast, with excellent ratings. This made me wonder if my own testing would differ from the manufacturers ratings.

The vast majority of pencils on my colour Swatch showed no or very little colour or tonal change after over six months on my drawing board with a window light right above them so that they were in direct sunlight or daylight every day. Now, as you can imagine, that is an extreme test under those conditions. And we would certainly not recommend anybody display or frame their work and put it in direct or bright sunlight EVER.

Now most of the pastel pencil companies do various in house / lab testing and rather than do what I've done under daylight and sunlight, they use bulbs instead. And there can be a lot of confusion as many use different ways of testing and also give different types of ratings. It is not all standardized as it should be.

The way I did my test is really what matters to me. I think it simulates the real world much more than lab tests.

There is something you should keep in mind? Some of these companies say their whole range is very light fast or extremely lightfast. And when I tested them, they were not. Also sometimes some companies say they have a full range, that's highly Lightfast  For 100 years etc and all they've done is completely remove the colours that are more prone to colour changes with sunlight. These are mainly the very bright /super vibrant colours like purple's  and Maroons etc. They do that for marketing purposes.

Now this can give you a problem. Because what you will find is that those colours, the ones that change most are probably missing from all of the “highly light fast” ranges or they have low ratings. So, you have to make the decision if you need that exact colour and there's nothing else similar to it, but you want to stick to 100% lightfast pencil's, you need to make the decision if you're going to just completely lose that colour and not be able to get near it on your artwork or use one with a lower rating.  And that decision is up to you.

Personally, I expect a customer to have the work framed (maybe behind UV glass)  And then display it out of direct sunlight, which will very much minimise any change. Below is a chart I made showing the colours that changed most and alternatives in other manufacturers ranges – an X means there is nothing similar as an alternative.

Caran D'Ache colours I use Now most people know I am not a fan of the Caran D’Ache pastel pencil range, for me they have too many negatives – they are very difficult to sharpen in a crank handle sharpener (my preferred way to sharpen pencils) they also don’t fit well in many of them. Plus, I find them too soft for details and over the years I have found MANY have hard bits in them, like tiny pieces of grit that can scratch the paper surface (I have a youtube video on that). Oh.. and they are by far the most expensive. BUT there are a few colours in the range that I use SOMETIMES, not often and these are -

064, 631, 093, 662, 741, 746, 719, 748, 008 If you found this useful please let me know in the comments below :)

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KR Smith
KR Smith
Jun 01

Hi Jason

Thanks for the testing these and also thank you for the list of Caran D'ache pencils that might be worth getting. Every time I consider buying the whole set of Caran D'ache pastel pencils I am reminded of the gritty bits and look at the price and change my mind. I have wanted to figure out which ones in the line I might try because I already have complete sets of Pitts, Carborthellos, Derwents and Bruynzeel ( read they work well on Velour). But there are some value colors in the Caran D'ache that are very unique.


Jason Morgan
Jason Morgan
Jun 03
Replying to

I agree - thanks for the comment

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