Whether you are an artist, a serious hobbyist, or a parent of a budding art student, water-soluble crayons are a great, compact way to create a watercolor painting with less mess and tools. Watercolor pieces are beautiful, and can often be messy due to the runny paint and water, but these crayons help to unleash your creativity in an easier and cleaner method. With a concentrated rod of watercolor pigment, you are able to get a vivid color or more opaque color depending on how much water you add. The watercolor crayon market can be quite confusing due to all the options on the market, but we have tried out all a large range of options to help you find the best ones for you.
What are Watercolor Crayons?
Watercolor crayons are similar to watercolor pencils and watercolor paint, but come in a different form. They are solid crayons made of wax, charcoal, or chalk in a wide array of colors for any art project. They are similar to ordinary wax crayons in shape; however, they differ greatly in the pigment that makes up the sold rod. The crayons are packed with watercolor pigment that can be diluted with water to create different tones. There are specialized crayons that are made for specific uses, so no matter what your project is, you are sure to find one that works for you. There are options for everyone from basic pastels in crayon form for toddlers to play with to artist-approved watercolor crayons for more professional use. With these small concentrated sticks, you are able to simply put your crayon in water and unleash your masterpiece on paper in seconds.
What to Look For in Watercolor Crayons
With all the options on the market, it can be difficult to know what to look for. After all, they are just sticks of pigment. Most of the time, you won’t know the quality of the crayons until you try them. Here we give you some tips on what to look for when buying watercolor crayons. Some things to look for include:
- Pigmented Color- Since these pastels are meant to be mixed with water, a pigmented crayon helps to make sure you still get an intense color and it won’t get washed out. With a pigmented crayon you also use less product, which makes your product last longer. For the most part, premium quality crayons will be more pigmented whereas colored gel crayons for toddlers are less pigmented to create less mess.
- Solubility- This refers to how well the pigment breaks down when it comes in contact with water. Since these crayons are solid and create strokes, solubility helps the blending of colors as well as create a smooth, blended look that most watercolor paintings have.
- Shape- This may not seem like an important factor, since the crayons are just compacted pigment, but actually greatly affect the way your painting will turn out. The crayons do come in different shapes to fit different grips. The most common crayon shapes include the traditional rounded shape, hexagonal and triangular. Depending on the use, some people will prefer one over the other. The flat sides can sometimes give a more stable grip for more detailed work. There are also different widths and lengths. If you are doing more detailed work, look for a thinner crayon so you do not need to carry an additional detail brush.
- Variety of Colors- You want to make sure your set comes with an adequate color spectrum. Even though you are able to mix the colors together, it is much easier and requires less room and cleanup if you have a good array to choose from. Depending on your use, there are sets that come with as little as 4 colors and go up to over 100 different shades.
- Functionality- Even if you are using these just for fun, you want to make sure that they work well without too much effort. You want to look for ones that draw smoothly on the paper and does not require too much elbow grease to create a rich color. You also want to look for ones with minimal post paint clean-up since these paints in crayon form are made to be an easier way to do watercolor painting. If it has the same hassle of paint clean up and use, there is essentially no use of these crayons.
- Ingredients- No matter if you are getting these for a kiddo, or for professional use, the safety of the ingredients are extremely important. For the little hands, you want to make sure that they meet safety standards and do not contain any toxic ingredients since children are extra sensitive. Even if you are a professional or avid painter, this is important. You are likely to be handling these pastels for long periods of time, and harmful chemicals can be damaging to your body over time.
- Durability- Last but not least, you want to find tools that can last you a while. Since most people use the crayon directly on the paper, ones that dull quickly and get too short can become useless quickly. Low- quality crayons can break easily and become a hassle when creating your art pieces. Ones that last longer help you save money and time.
5 Best Watercolor Crayons to Buy
While it can be hard to tell which watercolor crayons are high-quality without testing them, we have done the work for you. We tested a wide array of the top options on the market and bring you thorough reviews of the top five picks to help you choose the best one for you.
1. Staedtler Karat Aquarell Premium Watercolor Crayons
The Staedtler Karat Aquarell water crayons come in a pack of 24 colors to create a number of different shades for your artwork. It includes primary colors such as red, blue, and yellow; as well as more unique shades such as sand, ochre, burnt sienna, and light magenta. The high-saturation pigment achieves a dramatic, bold look even on darker paper colors. These crayons are professional-quality and deliver strong colors without too much effort. These crayons are versatile and are able to be used dipped into water, applied with a brush, or colored then blended with water. The individual crayons measure 4 inches long and have a width of 1/4 inches. They are small and compact with a flat tip to easily color in bigger spaces. If you need a more detailed line, you can easily sharpen the flat tip. This is a great set for maximum versatility on different mediums since it works with other watercolor pencils or ink. If you are looking for a high-quality set with a great variety of colors, this is the one for you!
– Large variety of colors
– Flat tip can be sharpened
– High-saturation pigment provides bold colors
– Higher price tag
– Sharpening can waste product
– May need a better storage case
2. Faber-Castell Watercolor Crayons with Brush, 15 Colors
The Faber-Castell Watercolor crayons come in 15 different colors and are a great set for your budding artist. This set comes in bright colors, which is also great for kids. Your child can use these worry-free since they are non-toxic, acid-free, and follows the ASTM standards for safety. Another reason this is a great set for kids is the shape of the crayon. They come in a triangle shape that won’t roll off the table like a traditional wax crayon. This complete set also comes with a paintbrush for blending and more precise use. The crayon itself mixes well with water and has a strong color pigment without any waxy buildup. This creates a smoother, watercolor look that even professionals can use. Even though there is slightly less color variety, the colors are easy to mix. If you are looking for a great complete set for children and professionals alike, look no further!
– Complete set comes with a brush
– Safe ingredients
– High pigment color for effortless painting
– Slightly less color variety
– Packaging is a bit flimsy
– Brush may not be adequate for more advanced use
3. LYRA Aquacolor Water-Soluble Wax Crayons
The LYRA Aquacolor set comes in a set of 24 crayons of high quality that can be great for all levels of use. The sharpened tip works for more detailed work as well as filling in bigger spaces. This is a professional-quality set with an intense pigmentation. The colors are vibrant and easily mixed for an unlimited range of shades. The formula of these crayons is also extremely water-soluble which creates a desirable blended look without any strokes. A great feature of this set is the metal case that the crayons come in. It is unlike the flimsy paper packaging lower-quality sets include. With this set, you are able to store your crayons safely and take them wherever you need to go. If you are looking for a professional-quality set that packs a strong pigmentation, this is the product for you!
– Sturdy metal packaging
– Large assortment of colors
– Water-soluble for a more blended look
– Some colors lightened a bit
– Some crayons may break during shipping
– On the higher end of watercolor crayons
4. Caran D’Ache Neocolor II Water-Soluble Pastel Crayons
These Caran d’Ache Classic Pastels come in a set of 15 colors, but they do have sets with more or less colors to fit your needs. These swiss-made crayons are of professional quality and work on an incredible array of materials including paper, cardboard, and even glass or illuminated signs. The crayons come in a slim metal case for easy portability, yet protecting the crayons from breaking. The crayons themselves are extremely versatile and can be used dry or wet. This set may be a slightly larger investment, but the quality of these crayons will not disappoint.! While your 5-year old may not make maximized use of these highly-pigmented crayons, this set is great for more advanced users.
– Versatile use
– Able to draw on many different mediums
– Easy mixing and strong pigment
– Larger investment
– Shipping can break the crayons
– Made more for advanced use
5. Sargent Art 12-Count Water Color-Crayons with Brush
The Sargent Watercolor crayons come in a set of 12 that is suitable for kids, or more advanced users. It comes with all the primary colors as well as white and black so you can mix the colors for unlimited shades. This is a great all-in-one kit since it comes with a brush and art tips on the back of the package. These crayons are versatile and are able to be used wet and dry. The pigment is strong, yet leaves no streaks when blended with water. You can use these crayons without having to worry since they are AP certified and meets safety standards. While the brush may not be suitable for more advanced users, this is a great complete set for growing artists that need an affordable set to practice with.
– Comes with a brush for convenience
– Versatile application
– Strong pigments that are easily mixed
– Comes in paper sleeve packaging
– Not as pigmented as other sets
– The brush is not professional-quality
If you are looking for a great alternative to watercolor paint, watercolor crayons are compact and easy to use. They come in a great selection of colors and gives you the same smooth blended look of watercolors. With all the different products on the water-soluble crayon market, making a choice can be overwhelming. Hopefully, this guide and in-depth reviews can help you make a more informed choice in finding the best watercolor crayons for you. Happy crafting!