Organization of Prismacolor Coloured Pencils

This is a great blank chart for 150 Prismacolor coloured pencils by Lauren Nash at Transient Art:

This has a slightly different set-up and is a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. The woman who designed it is Carole Parsons, and I liked the simplicity of this one and the extra space left for colours I have that are not on the chart. Because it’s in a different order than the first one, I found it useful for grouping colour families, and also the rectangular spaces suit a colour gradation treatment to show more variation in each colour. I used light, medium, and heavy pressure to indicate shading.

I originally bought the full (at the time) set of 120 Prismacolors back around 1994 with money from my Mom’s estate. It was one of the most expensive things I had bought myself for years at about $150 CAD. They seem to be less expensive today, but back then they were the first professional grade art supplies I purchased.

It took me years to sharpen them all by hand, but I started using them in earnest after 2005 when I lost my job. Every project got me a bit further in colour familiarity and layering. I am trying to get these reorganized so I know if I have any colour gaps. Ann Swan’s book Botanical Portraits with Colored Pencils uses Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils but she also uses a select few colours that can only be found in the Prismacolor colour range so I needed to see exactly what I had.

These are the ones she recommends in the Prismacolor range. I was surprised she said White, but I guess it’s slightly different to other whites. The ones with the bold asterisks are the ones I’m missing and will purchase.

938 White
*1084 Ginger Root
1032 Pumpkin Orange
922 Poppy Red
923 Scarlet Lake
924 Crimson Red
925 Crimson Lake
994 Process Red
*1095 Black Raspberry
1078 Black Cherry
996 Black Grape
931 Dark Purple
1009 Dahlia Purple
1005 Limepeel
*1089 Pale Sage

When I pulled out my trays they were all mixed up, some were badly broken, and I seemed to have some extra ones. Prismacolors are notorious for being off-centre so that when you try to sharpen them they just get chewed up. They also tend to crumble and break at the tips because of their softness. I like to nurse mine along with hand sharpeners, so I might not have the stiletto-like tips that some artists use, but they are pointy and sharp. I don’t have an electric sharpener so I need to replace some of the hand sharpeners with ones with new blades.


I printed off the two colour charts and filled them in concurrently, organizing the pencils in the trays according to the round colour chart which is numerical, as I went. It took me 4.5 hours and I ached all over. Whew, it was worth it.


Here they are at the end of my reorganization, with colours I have that are missing from the charts added at the bottom. I am missing three recommended colours for botanicals, and one recommended colour I do have, Pumpkin Orange, has never sharpened properly so I’d like to replace it. I own six colours that were discontinued, four of them are useful. I put all Neon colours and Black away as I don’t use them, which leaves me with eight spaces in the trays to put newer colours I don’t have but would find useful. I have listed all the colours I don’t have and put an asterisk beside those I definitely need. The rest I will choose in the store, according to their usefulness.


I don’t want to duplicate anything I’m getting in the Polychromos line so I’ll leave it for a bit.

Back in the box with a shot of the Excel sheet filled in with gradations. These charts are just so handy, I wonder why I never did this years ago? Oooh, pretty, pretty.


Pretty nice, pretty lucky to have such a selection, pretty much fun on a Sunday.



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4 Responses to Organization of Prismacolor Coloured Pencils

  1. I would love to have a completed chart

    • JJ ColourArt says:

      There are colour charts for the various Prismacolor pencils you can find online. Do a Google search on “prismacolor colour chart” and you will find lots of charts to print. They may or may not be accurate depending on your printer but they give you an idea.

      They aren’t the same as making your own chart. What I liked about filling in my own chart was doing the gradations for each colour which is what really gives you a true look at what colour to use.

  2. Chirp Ria says:

    I would love to have the Excel spreadsheet, but the download link from seems to be broken. Could someone upload it again please?
    It looks more helpful than the ones i could find via google.

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