Van Gogh Coloured Pencils By Royal Talens — The Art Gear Guide (2024)

Throughout the past two years, I have spent as much time as I can researching coloured pencils, Pastel Pencils, Watercolour pencils, paints and so much more relating to art. Throughout my time, I have only occasionally come across or been told about Van Gogh Coloured Pencils by Royal Talens, however, on every occasion, I had heard remarkable reports about them.

Royal Talens of course are the very same people who have brought to us the excellent Bruynzeel Design range which I reviewed a while ago, you can find that review by following the link. Royal Talens are from Holland and have acquired quite a formidable name in the world of art.

I purchased a set of the Van Gogh Coloured Pencils a week or so ago and to be honest with you, although I had read and heard a lot of really excellent things about the pencils, I really wasn’t expecting them to be anywhere near the reports I had read, boy was I wrong, but not only was I wrong, I was almost annoyed with myself for not taking a look at these illusive hidden gems much sooner.

Van Gogh Characteristics

The Van Gogh pencils, whilst being nice and thick, sporting an 8mm barrel in which is housed an extraordinarily luscious 3.8mm core, they are also very light in the hand. I personally prefer slightly thicker barrelled pencils, I am not sure if it is to do with having slightly bigger hands being a man, I personally think they feel more comfortable to draw with.

The actual barrels are painted the color of the individual pigments, making color selection fast and easy, the end of the pencil displays a three quarter inch deep blue flash, giving the pencils a somewhat combined uniformity.

One thing that I found very refreshing was, when I opened the tin for the first time, I was presented with a thin strip of paper depicting all the colors within the set, a color swatch. I know that for most artists, when creating a color swatch it is best to do so on the same or similar type paper to what you ordinarily use. Never the less, I thought this was a pleasant surprise.

Along the barrel of each pencil is printed the following information, first is the brand of pencil, “Van Gogh” followed by the word “Colour”, simply indicating that the pencil you are using is a coloured pencil. This may seem unnecessary, however, Royal Talens produce Van Gogh Water Colour Pencil and Pastel Pencil, of which they all look quite similar.

Further along the barrel is the pigment name and finally the Lightfast rating of the individual pencil along with the open stock number. The Lightfast ratings of the Van Gogh pencils, have always been the main talking point that I had come across prior to my review. The ratings follow the ASTM Standard and each pencil is rated with either, three star, two star or one star, however Van Gogh use the + symbol rather than stars.

Van Gogh Lightfast

I actually spoke to Royal Talens about the lightfast rating, asking if the highest rating is the three stars or the one star. I know this may sound ridiculous, however, you would be surprised how many pencil companies revers the rating with one star representing the highest rating or a completely obscure rating system altogether. With that being said I never take things for granted and always check with the company directly.

Within the set of 60 Van Gogh Coloured Pencils, 26 of the pencils are rated three stars and 34 are are rated two star, there are no one star pencils at all. This means that all 60 pencils, in accordance with the ASTM Lightfast standard are good enough to be used on commissions or art work destined for a gallery.

On the opposite side of the barrel is printed the company name “Royal Talens” and the location of their head office or at least their origins, “Holland”. It is worth mentioning that Royal Talens merged with Sakura Group, a very famous Japanese company, so there is a chance that some pencils may be outsourced to manufacturing in Japan.

Van Gogh Coloured Pencils Performance

As I briefly alluded to at the beginning of this review, I had my own expectations of how the Van Gogh pencil was going to perform and monumentally got it wrong. After a very short while of testing and using the pencils, I actually started developing mixed feelings about them, but not in a negative way. I absolutely loved them, but take a look at my YouTube video review of the Van Gogh pencils to see them in action.

The Van Gogh core is a generous 3.8mm of mainly Wax, but more importantly the lay down of the pigment is incredibly smooth. At first, they seemed really soft, but after testing them against some other soft cored pencils, I concluded that the Van Gogh are of a medium softness.

They sharpen really well and when laying down pigment, there is a little bit of crumbling from the core. The strange thing however was that some pencils were more crumbly than others, but it was quite random. It wasn’t like all the reds crumbled and all the greens didn’t, there was no real pattern. The blending of the Van Gogh pencil is simply effortless, both dry and using odourless mineral spirits “Zest-It”.

I tested the Van Gogh pencils on a few different papers, however, for me personally I found the best results came from the 140lb Hot Pressed Watercolor Paper, I also tried them on 100% cotton paper, Strathmore 500 Series Bristol Plate of which they also performed beautifully. Also as you can see below I have swatched the Van Gogh pencils on some black paper.

The actual layer of the Van Gogh range was quite good, if you have watched or read my reviews in the past, you will know that I always try five layers as this is approximately the amount of layers to be applied before blending with odourless mineral spirits. Taking into consideration the waxy consistency of the Van Gogh core, I was able to apply 5 layers, however, by the fifth layer the was a little bit of resistance in the form of a slight stickiness. Anything over and above five layers and you would be labouring slightly, however as soon as odourless mineral spirits was applied to the five layers, more layers could be easily applied.

Van Gogh Available Sets.

I have to say, as much as I love the Van Gogh Coloured Pencils, they are not the easiest pencils to source here in the UK, I am sure in other parts of the world, they are easier; in fact I would love to hear from you in the comments section if you live outside the UK and Van Gogh pencils are readily available.

The sets currently available in the Van Gogh range is a set of 12, 24, 36 and 60. I purchased the 60 set and given how much I enjoyed using them, I would love to see a larger set, but I am sure a larger set of colors would mean a compromise on lightfast ratings, after all, as far as I have been told and researched, not all pigments can achieve the highest lightfast ratings.

The Van Gogh range can also be sold open stock, a few places offer this service such as Amazon, of which I will provide links to and also The Coloured Pencil Shop run by Emma Kerridge of Elkie Wild Art offer Van Gogh coloured pencils in open stock format.

Van Gogh Pricing

The Van Gogh range are by no means the cheapest set of pencils about, however that is to be expected given their quality and especially lightfast ratings.

Here in the uk the set of 12 will cost £19 the 24 and 36 set at the time of writing this review were not available on Amazon UK, however, as with all the reviews and links I add, I will constantly look out for the product and link to the very best price I can find. The 60 set however was available for £146, I have seen cheaper than this for the 60 set so allow for a few more days so I can add a cheaper link as soon as one becomes available.

In the US, again on I was unable to find prices for the 12, 24 and 60 sets, however for the 36 set in the US you can expect to pay $49.11. As you can see, the lack of available sets on Amazon plays into my earlier statement in that they are a difficult pencil to source, they would appear to be sold as a more specialist pencil, hence the elusive nature of them.

On Amazon Europe however, I was able to locate all sets as opposed to the UK and US. For the 12 set you can expect to pay €18.95, the 24 set would cost €36.60, the 36 set would cost €45.54 and the 60 set would cost €55.78. I suspect this may have to be more to do with the fact Royal Talens are a Dutch company.

Van Gogh Conclusion

Despite the fact I had heard many good things about the Van Gogh Coloured Pencil range and from really well respected colored pencil artists, I just didn’t expect them to live up to the hype. I think my reasoning behind this was their lack of availability both here in the UK and US Amazon sites. I obviously can’t account for franchise or independent art stores regarding availability.

However, as usual, I was wrong, I honestly can’t tell you how many times I have predicted the outcome of an art product before testing it and got the prediction so wrong. It is the only thing I have done in my life were I am quite happy to say I was wrong with my predictions and it is only because I throughly test, demonstrate and review the products so the information readers and viewers receive is always as accurate as one can be describing a product.

The Van Gogh coloured pencil range from Royal Talens tick so many boxes, with regards to the check list a colored pencil artist may look for in a pencil. My only issue lays in availability, I would love to see them more wide spread than they currently are, there is of course better news with regards the open stock availability thanks to Emma Kerridge’s The Coloured Pencil Shop, once you purchase your set, replacements are easy.

Don’t forget you can see my YouTube video review of the Van Gogh Coloured Pencils by simply following the link. The speed drawing / artwork I have completed with the Van Gogh colored pencils is not my finest work, however it does help to demonstrate the pencils, to see the YouTube Speed Drawing click the link. Also, if you would like to follow The Art Gear Guide on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube, links are also just below, click the one you want and always be kept up to date on new reviews.

Van Gogh Coloured Pencils By Royal Talens — The Art Gear Guide (2024)
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