Stay Sharp

Mar 23

Stay Sharp

We get countless questions asking for tips on the BEST way to sharpen Prismacolor Colored Pencils, so although this video has been available for some time now,  I thought it was time it made its debut here!

Diana Garrett, our trusty Fine Art Specialist, shot a video with the help of Blick to help explain the art of sharpening colored pencils without damaging your favorite Prismacolors!


NOTE:  Prismacolor Pencils are now available in 150 colors!

What other questions would you like answered? We want to know!


  1. I love my Prismacolor pencils, but I have constant breakage problems with them. Perhaps it’s because of all the travel the pencils have to do to get to me in Australia. I can’t possibly know if they’ve been dropped or treated roughly along the way.

    I’ve found that I have fewer problems if I can sharpen my pencils to a short point. So far I’ve only found a sharpener that allows a 30 degree point, which is great, but I’d LOVE to be able to get a point like the factory does. Can someone please advise what the sharpening angle is in the factory? And if there are any sharpeners out there that would do the job? I have seen a T’Gaal one around, but the postage to Australia is ridiculous!

    Thanks so much! And I do LOVE my Prismacolor pencils. :-)

    • Germany /

      I am also frustrated by the amount of breakage in theses “superior” pencils. I have a Prismacolor sharpener but that does not help either. I don’t think I would buy more. I have the set of 72

  2. Terry Balke /

    Twenty-three years ago I fell in love with Berol Prismacolor pencils. I teach colored pencil classes at the Du Page Art League in Wheaton,Il, and have always recommended them to my students. Not so much, now. The breakage began when Sanford bought the company( are you listening Newell-Rubbermaid?) and is becoming worse now that the products are made in Mexico,i.e. crooked leads, crumbling that indicates poor mixing of pigments and other ingredients, breakage,etc. I love the color range and the soft laydown, but I can’t afford pencils that I lose half of to breakage. I use a good sharpener and change blades frequently. I’m also careful to choose leads that are centered properly. Derwent Coloursoft is a great pencil that poses none of the above problems, but the range of colors is somewhat limited. Are you folks ever going to address the problems that have been going on for years, or is the great name of Prismacolor doomed to fade into artistic oblivion?
    Thanks for your consideration,
    Theresa Balke

    • jennifer z /

      I agree with Theresa. I’ve been using Prismacolors for nearly 30 years but the quality has certainly decreased. I’ve just ordered a set of Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils recommended by other colored pencil artists. I do need an electric sharpener but I can’t seem to find one that nearly everyone likes and doesn’t cost a fortune. Once I’m able to move back to DuPage County I’d love take your class, Theresa. Perhaps by then Prismacolor will have corrected the long-standing breakage problem.

    • I am also frustrated with Prismacolor pencils due to lead breakage! This became much worse at some point, and has been bad for several years now. They arrive broken through all too often. My local art supply store has replaced some, but I don’t always take them back. They break so easily. Sometimes the wood is bad too, and the best sharpener with a new blade will tear and the leads break. The quality is not as good. So sad, I loved these for years, and the color selection is so much better, especially light colors!

  3. I’d love to see some answers to the previous comments in this post.

    • Caitlin /

      Hey Danielle, Terry, Jennifer and John-

      Our mission and passion are to ensure the highest quality art tools for our consumers and we greatly appreciate the feedback! Thank you for taking the time to reach out and share your concerns and your questions with us. I can assure you that we are listening and are aggressively working on and looking into the issues that you have described and are currently testing a variety of solutions and we hope to have a resolution soon. Thank you for your patience, your candid feedback and your continued support!

  4. Thomas /

    I get interested in coloured pencil on and off through the years, and I’ve usually used Prismacolor pencils. I have 25 year-old Berol Prismacolor coloured pencils that still sharpen effortlessly with no cracking. Replacement Sanford Prismacolor pencils bought recently are cracking almost non-stop in a fresh pencil sharpener. A new pencil gets reduced to half before I get a decent point.
    One black Prismacolor I bought a couple of weeks ago is almost as bowed as a parenrthesis mark.
    Markedly poorer quality now. Easy to tell us that the company cares, but I won’t start believing that’s more than empty damage control noise ’til I see some better performance.
    very unimpressed. I’m going to start trying other brands now. If I find one that behaves all right, it’s Goodbye Brand Loyalty…

  5. Linda /

    I just bought and received the 132 count tin and immediately saw that the pencils were marked “Mexico” and I thought “oh no”. I compared the to my older Prismas and there is a substantial difference in quality. I’m seriously considering returning them. I had no idea they were being made outside the U.S. I had been vacillating between the Prismas and the FCC Polychromos. I’ve heard on another blog that FCC is now produced in Indonesia and Brazil instead of Germany so thei quality has declined also. Bigger profit share for the board members due to lower production costs does NOT make for happy consumers. Seems clear they don’t really care.

    • Caitlin /

      Hi Linda- Our colored pencils are manufactured in Mexico at our state of the art facility and we use the exact same recipes/formulations that we did when we produced in our US facility. We recently moved “offices” so you may see some older sets that still say made in the U.S.A. but our commitment to quality and our consumers is still the same! If you are having an issue with your pencils ( or any product), all of our products are guaranteed and we would be more than happy to help you with that! Please send me a message here or via our Facebook page using the “Message” feature on the page and we would be happy to talk to you further about your experience.

  6. Frustrated beyond words! I tried so many sharpeners and everything else. Nothing works! I purchased some Derwent colored pencils which do not break and will give up my Prismacolor until they figure out they need to address the issue.

  7. Judi Rosenthal /

    As the previous artists have written, I have been using Prismacolor pencils for over 20 years and prefer your wax based pencil to many of the other wonderful brands and ingredients available in the marketplace. However, I too, have seen the steady and rapid decline in product durability and quality control. I teach classes in colored pencil and watercolor pencil and have always touted your products over others. I now feel very let down when student complaints are comparable to what I am reading and experiencing myself. Your prices have risen and the quality has deteriorated. Perhaps you might listen to your loyal customers and make improvements. Many of the pencils truly look and act like “rejects” that should never have made it to the stores. Surely you must care about the hours we put into this delicate medium and we would like to respect the tools we use to make this beautiful art.

  8. I have been using Prismacolor colored pencils for almost 20 years, both as an artist & as an art instructor, & I’m very disappointed in the decline in quality. I’m constantly replacing pencils because of the inability to sharpen them correctly. Nothing should be this difficult!!! But here is the important part: This difficulty never existed ten years ago! I would be happy to pay more for your pencils if they were still a quality product. Please! Bring back the old pencils & charge us more, if that is what it takes.

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