Watercolor Pencils from China - Color Chart and Review [part 2]

This is part 2 of the post Watercolor pencils from China, for part 1, follow the arrow below!

This post is about watercolor pencils, specifically, three brands which I ordered from China. The brands I tested are:

  • Marco Raffiné Watercolor pencils (set of 24)  ~€10
  • Corot watercolor pencils (set of 72) ~€17
  • HERO watercolor pencils (set of 72) ~€18

And as a comparison, the Caran d'Ache Prismalo set of 40. 

All pencils were tested on 200g/m2 (or 90lbs) Watercolor paper from Fabriano, specifically the Watercolour studio block (Cold pressed, fine grain)

Acquarello paper
Fabriano Watercolor Studio block

I drew a grid of 24 by 9, with each box measuring half by 1 inch.
Then I colored each box as follows; the first third was colored with fair pressure, the second third with light pressure, and the last third remained white.

After coloring all boxes, I only wetted and mixed the lower half of each box, leaving the upper half dry.
This way, you can still compare the dry to the wet color.

Marco Raffiné vs Corot vs HERO vs Caran dÁche Prismalo
The Complete Color Chart

One using the pencils;

The softest pencils are the Marco Raffinés. They are on par, if not softer than the Prismalos. They lay down very smoothly, and I kind of regret not having bought the 72 set of this one. Wetted they give lovely colors, which match quite well with the dry color. I only find the black a bit harder to blend/pick up.

The Corots are the hardest of all sets, but not unpleasant to use. They feel quite sturdy, and I think they would benefit artists/hobbyists who use a lot of detail in their work. 
On all Chinese sets, the yellows and pinks do quite well, the dark blues end up a bit lighter, as well as the dark greens. I find the Caran d'Ache Prismalos do a better job here. One of the dark blue Corots is more purple than blue once wetted. (4th column, 9th row) Something to pay attention to if you plan on using it in a project. As long as I know beforehand, it is not a problem for me. :)

the HEROs are in-between of the Marcos and the Corots; they're not hard, but not as soft as the Marcos. The colors are very close to the Corots, and I wouldn't be surprised if the pigment mixes are near identical for some of these pencils.

A close up of the color chart
A close up of the color chart

I think these pencils are a good buy for the price.

The largest set of Marco Raffiné watercolor pencils I have seen is 48 (in a tin), while the Corots and HEROs are available as 72 sets. I personally like to use rolls, so I don't mind if the pencils are in cardboard boxes.

Overall, I would give the HERO pencils the highest rating, since they look and feel very nice with their round, partly natural wood, casing, and are cheaper than the Marcos. 
The Marcos come in second, because they lay down very smooth and softly. The Corots get third place, because they are fairly hard, but they have their uses in detail work, and I do like the colors. These would do well dry on coloring pages with small details as well.
I am happy with my purchases, since all three sets together cost less than the Prismalo set (of 40) at retail, and are thus an affordable option for artists and crafters with a smaller budget.


If you plan on ordering any of these set: be aware that they mostly ship from China, and that shipping may take a while depending on the country you're living in. 
Be sure to check reviews if you buy from aliexpress, so you buy from a seller that packs the items well. Mine came quite fast, and I only had one broken tip, because the pencils could move inside their respective cardboard box, not due to the lack of protective bubble-wrap around it! ;) 
Also note that custom/import taxes may apply when ordering abroad! Please check regulations that apply in your country before ordering!

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below!
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