View Full Version : The MOST important CP issue...colorfastness

08-30-2005, 09:43 AM
Today I happened to meet and discuss cps with an executive in a small chain art store. They do not carry the lightfast Prismacolors because they are taking a wait and see approach before investing in the stock.

They are not convinced there are enough cp artists out there who care enough about lightfastness to invest an extra 40 cents a pencil. In fact, he said that Prismacolor itself is "testing the market" with their limited palette of lightfast pencils.

IMO, lightfastness is Number One through One Hundred of issues the colored pencil artist needs to worry about. It is the ONLY reason I've ever seriously considered abandoning the medium.

I hope lightfastness is important enough to everyone here to buy them, despite the extra cost. Dick Blick carries them, and there are some yummy new colors, as well as old ones, and enough primaries to mix up anything.

For those in the Phila area, Merion Art and Repro in Ardmore has them. Today I'll be using them for the first time, and will do an "official" review of them.

08-30-2005, 09:46 AM
I won a small set of the lightfast colors and used a bunch of them deliberately in my last drawing of the carnival.

One question - are any of the lightfast pencils the same as you can get in openstock? Some of the color names are the same. I just go through too many pencils with the colourfix paper to buy sets every time I need a red pencil.

08-30-2005, 09:53 AM
Yes, there is open stock, not sure about the sets, since I never buy sets, always buy open stock. Dick Blick carries it open stock and the ones I bought at Merion Art and Repro were open stock, also.

08-30-2005, 09:55 AM
Yes, there is open stock, not sure about the sets, since I never buy sets, always buy open stock. Dick Blick carries it open stock and the ones I bought at Merion Art and Repro were open stock, also.

Shew - then I will buy them...

08-30-2005, 10:15 AM
Any diff you noticed between the "regular" prismas and the lightfast ones, Nicole? I mean in laying, blending, etc.?

08-30-2005, 10:17 AM
Nope, no difference at all.

08-30-2005, 10:36 AM
Hello Robin, Too bad I'm now out of Delaware County and can't get to all my favorite art stores - sounds like the Lightfastness Prismas can be bought right off the shelf at some places. I only have one art store here in Northern Berks County, in Kutztown, and they do cary a large selection of Prismacolors, but not the lightfastness.

I'm sure our local stores rely on the local arts community when it comes to what products to stock on the shelves, so I think we need communicate our needs to them.


08-30-2005, 02:09 PM
does anyone have a rundown of prismas' lightfast ratings? or a link to one who does? the issue is important to me - to the point where i only buy 2+ rating or above now...


08-30-2005, 03:59 PM
so can we mixed lighfast with regular ones? Olga

08-30-2005, 04:20 PM
i think that because of their transparency olga, the ones that are non-lightfast would change their colour over time.... currently each manufacturer has their own system - what's really needed is a standardized test.


08-30-2005, 05:05 PM
Gord - if you are a cpsa member you can buy a lightfastness workbook with all the info in it... I'm not sure why only members can buy it & I don't know of any other way to get the info.

You can mix any of them. It is just that the lightfast ones are more likely to last...

08-30-2005, 05:31 PM
or, if you know someone with a copy who could photocopy it ;)


Katherine T
08-30-2005, 05:48 PM
I have always regarded lightfastness as being of critical importance to the CP artist. I quizzed Derwent representatives about the subject when I went to the Artist and Illustrators Fair in London. I came away with a different perspective on the topic.

Firstly - who uses coloured pencils? There are two main markets (by a very long way) - children and illustrators - neither require lightfastness in CP pencils. The numbers of CP artists are tiny compared to these two markets. The products produced for children have never been of artist quality. The work produced by illustrators is typically produced for a specific reason and is generally photographed / scanned for reproduction after which there is no reason to preserve the original artwork. So while there may be requirements as to the range and quality of colour produced by artist's pencils Derwent indicated that they considered it is unlikely that the illustration market will ever provide the driving force behind developing lightfast pencils.

Secondly - who pays the prices for generating lightfast pencils? I understand that the process that Derwent went through in developing the Signature range was very long-winded. I got the impression that this was complicated by the fact that the standard had not been agreed. However I gathered that the experience and a cost-benefit analysis has not made them enthusiastic about doing it again. They didn't appear convinced that people will pay the extra for a lightfast pencil.

Bottom line - I don't think it is at all likely that lightfast pencils - to the defined standard - will ever be developed across the colour range for all brands. Why? Well take a look at other more popular media and note how long it has taken to get some progress in developing lightfast materials in the colour ranges where it really matters (ie those that fade at present). For example, it wasn't that long ago that top brands were selling so-called 'artist quality' watercolours which put simply were made up of fugitive pigments.

So I agree we might all think it is top priority - but the critical question which must be answered is will there ever be enough volume/market demand to persuade the manufacturers that it is an economic proposition. It seems unlikely.

08-30-2005, 06:25 PM
or, if you know someone with a copy who could photocopy it ;)


Hmmm maybe I should order that. ;)

08-30-2005, 07:49 PM
thanks for the helpful info, katherine - i think the answer lies in developing a fixative that preserves colourfastness without affecting the colour of the pencils - almost like a varathane-type product - that also wouldn't fade over the years... is that asking too much? would anyone care to float me some capital to get started on this brilliant idea??!


08-31-2005, 03:41 PM
There are lightfast Prismas in the set already .. I asked Straford for a copy of their lightfast list .. if there is interest I will list the excellent, very good and good colors for all ....

08-31-2005, 03:52 PM
I would love to see the list when you receive it.

It appears that Sanford is marketing colorfast pencils in two ways. Dick Blick has a 24 pencil set of the
reglular Prismas that are colorfast (http://www.dickblick.com/zz205/08c/) as well as the new Prismacolor Premier line (http://www.dickblick.com/zz220/35/) . I would love to know which colors are in the regular lightfast pencils since I have a full set of colors.


08-31-2005, 03:57 PM
I'd love to hear what the lightfast ones are in the regular line.

The ones I bought were the Premier line.

Interesting that they are testing the market, wonder if color stix will also be offered if enough of us buy the lightfast ones, only!

08-31-2005, 04:20 PM
i'd love to know the lightfastness results!


08-31-2005, 04:59 PM
In the Excellent catergory

Scarlet Lake
Crimson Red
Light Peach
Terra Cotta
Sienna Brown
Light Umber
Dark Umber
Dark Brown
Burnt Ochre
Pumkin Orange
Parrot Green
True Green
Spring Green
Yellow Chartreuse
Lemon Yellow
Yellow Ochre
Dark Green
Jade Green
Deco Aqua
all French greys
all Cool Greys
all Warm Greys
Black Cherry
and the metallics as well

Rated Very Good

Crimson Lake
Rosy Beige
Clay Rose
Mineral Orange
Grass Green
Marine Green
Olive Green
Light Green
Canary Yellow
Peacock Green
Indigo Blue
Copenhagen Blue
Peacock Blue
True Blue
Mediterranian Blue
Non-Photo Blue
Light Aqua
Deco Blue
Cloud Blue
Slate Grey
Black Grape

and Good ratings

Pink Rose
Mahogany Red
Tuscan Red
Greyed lavender
Deco Yellow
Blue Violet Lake
Electric Blue
Dahlia Purple
Dark Purple

ok so the rest are poor..


08-31-2005, 06:31 PM

i've rated this thread, just for that little tidbit of infomation alone - has everyone bookmarked this thread yet? and wow, look at those "staples" that are only rated "good" - anyone here ever use tuscan red, greyed lavender or peach?! :(

08-31-2005, 08:43 PM
Thanks Jenifer!! I hate to be a pain, but what do the catergories really mean? Lasts 50 years, 20, 10? Anyone know?

I can't live without tuscan red - well I can, but I just don't want to!

Gord - there are uv sprays out there... let me see if I can find one...

08-31-2005, 08:43 PM
Thanks Jennifer. I have rated this thread as well.

I must admit that I would have liked to see tuscan red, greyed lavender and peach in the "Excellent" category but it is better to know. I am going to look for new good "dark" combinations.


08-31-2005, 08:57 PM
I'm afraid that it does not say number of years per rating.. I imagine that its comparable to most of the artists colored pencils...

08-31-2005, 09:08 PM
Thanks again Jenifer.

Here's the Krylon uv spray... it probably will change the colors some - even workable fixative does that though. Has anyone tried it?


09-01-2005, 09:01 AM
I finish with the UV spray every time. AND I tell my customers about UV glass.

WOW, thanks for the list! I can SURELY do anything between their premier line and this list!!

09-01-2005, 11:08 AM
I looked at the colors printed on the back of the Dick Blick catalog to see if there were any colors there that might be used in place of some of the fugitive colors in their regular line. These look like possible substitutions, they aren't exact matches but might do the same job.

Replace Blue Violet Lake with Prussian blue.
Replace Carmine Red with Carmine Red.
Replace Imperial Violet with Cobalt blue Hue.
Replace Lime Peel with Phlth Yellow Green.
Replace Magenta with Tio Violet.
Replace Parma Violet with Diox Purple Hue.
Replace Sunburst Yellow with Gamboge.
Replace Ultramarine with Cerulean blue.
Replace Violet with Indanth Blue.


09-01-2005, 11:26 AM
No Tuscan Red??? You may as well tell me I can't eat garlic again! Not worth living like that! Oh gosh, I'm depressed.

09-01-2005, 11:32 AM
Tuscan red gets a "good", Weezy.

09-01-2005, 11:59 AM
Robin, if it were possible, I would be kissing your feet right now.

How does one order the CPSA lightfast article? I am a member, since May, but have never received anthing from national, have no way to contact anyone and cannot seem to get any response other than an "I'm sorry" from the people here at local. It is not giving me a warm fuzzy at all. Any thoughts, anyone?

09-01-2005, 12:11 PM
ME??? Ugh, let me quick get a pedicure!

09-02-2005, 08:21 AM
that doesn't seem very responsible of your local cpsa, weezy - are they being uncooperative, or they just don't know?

i'm intrigued by this uv spray - robin, how have you found the finish on it? does it affect the colour very much? sure is a cheaper alternative to museum glass....

if i recall the ratings for the van goghs correctly, excellent cf rating is 100+ years, very good is 25+ years and good is 10+ years.... anyone reading, please correct me if i'm wrong here...


09-02-2005, 08:45 AM
You know - I was just looking at the cpsa site - & the booklet does not include prismas... I thought it did. :(

Gord - are you feeling better? Thanks for the van gogh info.

bearded bob
09-02-2005, 03:09 PM
OK here we go again on lightfast.

First off this is a chemistry problem. Some things are possible with chemicals. Some things are not. Nobody has yet invented certain coloured pigments that are lightfast. You cannot just make some colours lightfast - they are inherently unstable as currently formulated. It will probably be impossible to get every colour that you would like to be lightfast.

Second, who's tests are those Jennifer? Sandfords. And who wants to sell their pencils? Sandford. Did they do testing to the now internationally agreed standard? Not in the standard Prismacolours, but yes in the Lightfast ones. So what does "Good" mean?

Nobody except Sanford knows. They are not telling us. We may assume it means better than poor. If you compare the CPSA test results on Prisma pencils to the Sandford test results, there are some very prominent mismatches, and Prisma does come out worse overall than other manufacturers on the tests I have seen.

It is very simple to do your own lightfast tests - stick some swatches in a window, half of each swatch covered in black paper. Look at those colours go. Try Prisma Orange for instance. It lasts less than a month in full English sunlight.

Katherine is dead right about the costs and potential markets. Derwent, who I applaud highly for trying this, got it wrong with their Signature line, they were unusable. This is why sales have been so disappointing, not because of a lack of demand for lightfast pencils, but anyway it puts people off spending more money on them.

And look at the response here - how many people would actually do without Blush, Tuscan red, Orange, and so on?

09-03-2005, 07:46 AM
of course you're right, bob - test results from any company of their own products should be questioned (ever tested the gas mileage on your vehicle and compared it to the manufacturer's claims?) .... i'm convinced now that i'll try my own testing; once i find the krylon uv spray, i'll test different swatches and post the results in this thread...

ps. feeling much better now, nicole - only wish i could shake this artists' block

09-03-2005, 08:45 AM
So...to get back to my original plea....let's do our best to make sure Sanford's test market on lightfast cps is that there ARE lots of us who prefer...and will pay more...for lightfast ones.

I think we buy more pencils than the company realizes. I don't think parents are ponying up to buy prismas for school children (unless they are artists, themselves...) and they certainly don't need replenishing as often as we do.

So let's hope that lightfast awareness will drive more of us to seek them out...

09-03-2005, 05:58 PM
Just to let you guys know, I have printed out the list that Jennifer so kindly typed into this thread, and I have filled in all the little circles with the Prismacolor colored pencils. I have to go the art store tomorrow to buy orange and green (what does that say about me?), but then I will spray one set of circles with the UV spray, cover another, and mount them on a south-facing wall. Okay? I'll share the results here if you like. I had been planning to do this for quite a while because I have been struggling mightily with the high cost of conservation glass and I wanted to see with my own eyes if the UV spray really worked.

I figure that a month in the sun should be an adequate test. Granted I am in the Northern part of North America, but sun is sun, right?

If anyone is interested in the results, I am happy to scan and digiphoto the end results and add them to this thread.

PS The only colors I am testing are the ones on the list that Jennifer typed in, even though I do own others.

Karen Cardinal
09-03-2005, 06:08 PM
Hey Kathy that would be great!
Be prepared for a scare with your experiment!

I know Bob had done some extensive lightfast testing of his own, but I'm so braindead I can't find where the threads are. Bob... a little help here!

btw: I don't care how fugitive they are... you'll have to pry the tuscan red and black grape out of my cold dead hands. ;)

09-03-2005, 06:12 PM
Yup, definitely cold dead fingers holding onto indigo blue, tuscan red, black grape, the french grays....okay, cold dead corpse surrounded by colored pencils! :D

I'll get back to you all in a month or so. Please be patient, and if you can resurrect any threads that have already covered this, that would be swell.

Karen Cardinal
09-03-2005, 06:20 PM
Yup, definitely cold dead fingers holding onto indigo blue, tuscan red, black grape, the french grays....okay, cold dead corpse surrounded by colored pencils! :D

I'll get back to you all in a month or so. Please be patient, and if you can resurrect any threads that have already covered this, that would be swell.
LOL! I may have to borrow some from Judy, since I've whittled my pallet down so much. Sadly I don't keep 2,000 pencils around anymore. ;)

I'll see if I can find the threads where Bob (and others) give the results of thier tests. I gotta start writing these things down. ;)

09-03-2005, 07:16 PM
ok cool, thanks kathy - if you're doing the prismas, it would be redundant of me to do them too, so i'll do the van goghs, since i have a full set - just have to get hold of that uv spray first - are you using the krylon brand?


09-03-2005, 07:51 PM
Love It!!

09-03-2005, 08:56 PM
I entered Bob's results in a spreadsheet I had of all the Prisma colors and their numbers. Here the colors he felt were fugitive with Sanford's ratings where they were assigned. "V" is Very Good, "G" is Good. Not the same results!

Edit: Think "tab" each place you see a *. That's how they came through when the message was posted.

Number Name Sanford Lightfast Rating
PC 1024* Blue Slate*
PC 928* Blush Pink*
PC 1023* Cloud Blue* V
PC 1009* Dahlia Purple* G
PC 1010* Deco Orange*
PC 1014* Deco Pink*
PC 993* Hot Pink*
PC 956* Lilac*
PC 1029* Mahogany Red* G
PC 995* Mulberry*
PC 918* Orange*
PC 921* Pale Vermilion*
PC 1025* Periwinkle*
PC 1018* Pink Rose* G
PC 929* Pink*
PC 1002* Yellowed Orange*

Kathy, I'm interested in the results as well.


09-04-2005, 08:19 AM
Anne, that's troubling. I really depend on cloud blue and pale vermilion. We'll have to see what the UV spray does! Yes, Gord, it's Krylon. That will be terrific to have results for the Van Gogh's. Has anyone done anything with the FC Polychromos?

09-05-2005, 07:14 AM
Kathy and Gord: I found an article on the Bet Borgeson site that tells how to do pencil testing. I thought you might find it interesting.



09-05-2005, 08:11 AM
very useful, anne - thanks,


09-05-2005, 08:20 AM
Anne, I don't think I can follow the instructions....it says to start with a CLEAN window! :eek: :D

09-06-2005, 01:23 PM
Anne, I don't think I can follow the instructions....it says to start with a CLEAN window! :eek: :D

hmm, good point, kathy - and i suppose that would mean clean air as well?!


09-06-2005, 01:49 PM
I am anxious to see the results!!!!

Please do post your results..

09-06-2005, 04:56 PM
Will do. Sprayed the appropriate columns with 2 coats of UV fixative. It was a sticky mess. Unless that stuff really protects the colors from fading, I remain deeply unimpressed.

Hung up the samples in the sun yesterday. Unless the dogs get to it, I'll report back here in one month.

Gord, how you doin' with your samples?

Anyone in Florida or the southern hemisphere who'd like to do this so we could compare sunshine strength? :D

09-06-2005, 09:08 PM
Gord, how you doin' with your samples?

kathy - just started colouring the swatches in today - will let you know when i've got them up.


09-07-2005, 04:35 AM
I have a swatche with 32 colors I did more than one year ago and it is under 2
Fluorescent lamps (distant only 14 inches ) and another fluorescent lamp at the ceiling .I have also some indirect sun light over the swatche (tropical sun :) )
and there is no difference between those colors and the new ones am using in my most recent works (even the pink ,the granite rose and the orange).
And I did not use any kind of protection over them ( Uv fixative or a special glass.)
I am more afraid about humidity than about the light because even the best paper of the world with a good fixative will not resist a wall with that kind of problem ( I know canvas also has the same problem).
BTW, the CPs I used in that swatche are Polychromos,Pablos and Stabilos.

09-07-2005, 04:42 AM
Anyone in Florida or the southern hemisphere who'd like to do this so we could compare sunshine strength?


I would love to help but I need to use the same colors and the same brand you are using over there .
Perhaps someone can send me some Prismacolors ( just a small piece with one inch of each color is enough ).