Best Colored Pencils | Difference of Wax vs Oil

Wax and Oil Colored Pencils – The Difference

BEST COLORED PENCILS – Coloring Art Enthusiasts know there are two primary (and popular) colored pencil cores. These are wax-based and oil-based coloring pencils found in the market.

The important features to look out in a “good colored pencils set” include

  • ease to layer and blend,
  • color brilliance,
  • fade-resistance,
  • durability and softness of the lead core.

You would be interested to hear that wax and oil based colored pencils are up in the charts for the mentioned features. But what should you and I consider in making the choice for the best colored pencils – Oil or Wax?


Fact – the differences between wax and oil colored pencils are not that distinct. Many are not aware that both wax and oil based colored pencils contain wax within them. It’s just that oil-based cores have a higher oil content.

Regardless of wax cores or oil cores, the colored pencils generally have many common characteristics and their uniqueness differ in areas of coloring, texture and handling.


Best Colored Pencils | Color Pencil Art & Drawing
Color Pencil Art & Drawing


Wax-based Coloring Pencil | Best Colored Pencils for you ?

Best Colored Pencils | Difference of Wax vs Oil based Coloring Pencil

Wax-based pencils are the most popular and commonly used in the market. If you were to buy a random set of colored pencils from the store, you will find that it is most likely wax-based.  Wax pencils are generally cheaper and they are being merchandised at many stores.

Do note that wax-based pencils are not necessarily better than oil-based pencils. They are slightly less specialized and way more affordable.



Range. There are a wide range of grades for wax-based colored pencils, from those hard lead coloring sticks you used back in high school to the more specialised soft core pencils of your first year in art school.

Variety. There will also be more color selections, shapes, and sizes when it comes to wax-based colored pencils. Because the wax core is so versatile, it is adaptable to many styles and types of casing. In addition they can be easier to erase and lighten than oil-based cores.

Durability. Wax-based colors can also be very durable given their (generally) harder cores. Softer-cored versions are less durable. Do note though, in practical sense, this observation of durability is also very dependent on the application pressure, production quality and the type of material used to manufacture the pencils.


Best Colored Pencils – Wax-based ?

Still wondering what all these mean…. here’s a quick benefit analysis comparison of a wax-based colored pencil :

  • Practical choice in terms of cost and durability (when compared with an oil-based colored pencil)
  • Noticeably lighter color output. While this is a disadvantage, certain techniques can be used to overcome this (such as skilled layering or the application of a fixative substance). You need to have patience when working with wax-based pencils to achieve the same level of blending and intense finish when compared with with an oil-based pencil.
Color Pencil Drawing
Color Pencil Drawing

Bottom Line A wax-coloring pencil that is used with the right technique can produce art that is just as visually brilliant as one colored with an oil-coloring pencil.


Oil-Based Colored Pencil | Best Coloring Pencils for you ?

Oil based Coloring Pencils
Oil Based Color Pencils

Oil-based colored pencils are more specialized and may be harder to find at your local art store. They are somewhat more costlly for the casual user. It can also be intimidating to the beginner (as they should be). This is because using oil-based coloring pencils require skill on your side to produce a masterpiece.

The core of oil-based colored pencils are a bit harder than wax-based pencils, making them less susceptible to breakage. For this same reason, the pencil keeps a sharper point for a longer period of time.

Color application with an oil-based pencil can be quite unique and has a fun feel to it although tricky. While the core is going to feel hard upon application, you’ll notice that the color is easy to blend (and also easy to smear).

The ease with which an oil-based pencil dispenses color and cover means that it does not require multiple rounds of layering or a fixative substance.  It also means that one stroke dispenses a lot of that color, making them far less durable than a wax-based colored pencil.


Best Colored Pencils – Oil-based ?

Here’s how an oil-based coloring pencil is going to perform in terms of preference :

  • More expensive and less accessible than wax-based colored pencils
  • Blending will be a smooth and easy
  • Nice and bright finish
  • An oil-based colored pencil will also give your work a more sophisticated look- think of the cohesiveness of an oil painting. Do note that your experience with an oil-based colored pencil will depend on your skillfulness. Such pencils are a specialized tool made for artists who know how to work with them.

Bottom Line Oil-based colored pencils are truly a delight to work with. They can be layered with ease and produce a soft, yet intense finish. Do note that skills, patience and budget are required if you opt for oil-based colored pencils.

Otherwise, you may be better off practicing your technique with wax-based colored pencils.


Comparison – Professional Colored Pencils vs Lower-Cost Alternatives

Buying Recommendations

Amazrock Water Soluble Colored Pencil Set for Artists | Soft Core Special Edition

Premier Woodless Colored Pencils

Best Colored Pencils for Adult Coloring Books


See more : Ideas for Art & Craft

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