are POSCA PENCILS as good as POSCA PENS?! swatch and test with me.

Are Posca Pencils* as good as Posca Pens? Here’s my comprehensive review of the full 36-colour Posca Pencils set.

You can also watch on and subscribe to my YouTube channel. There are subtitles available, and the transcript is below if you need to read as well as watch. I’d love to hear what you think, so leave a comment here or on youtube, or email me.

00:00 Introduction
00:54 Swatching Posca Pencils*
03:17 Testing Posca Pencils over Gouache* – On Top of Light Colours
05:34 Testing Posca Pencils over Gouache – On Top of Dark Colours
08:21 Testing Posca Pencils on Other Materials
10:46 Testing Posca Pencils on Paper (Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook*)
13:42 Experimenting with Posca Pencils and Other Media
18:53 Using Posca Pencils with Posca Pens*
18:52 Coming Up Next Time!

Some of my links are marked with an asterisk (*) as I’m in the affiliate programme for Jackson’s Art*, Great Art* (indie art stores),* (for indie bookshops) and other retailers, so may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. It costs you nothing extra. Some may even give you a discount on your first order, especially referral links (marked with an º).

Things I mention in this video:

Seawhite of Brighton clothbound sketchbook*

Gouache paints*

Acrylic paints*

Liquitex Matte Medium*

Caran D’Ache Neocolor II*

Posca Pencils*

I am not sponsored by any brands and nothing has been gifted by brands either (some may be presents from friends and family).

Some of my links are marked with an asterisk (*) as I’m in the affiliate programme for Jackson’s Art*, Great Art* (indie art stores),* (for indie bookshops) and other retailers, so may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. It costs you nothing extra. Some may even give you a discount on your first order, especially referral links (marked with an º).

Just ask any questions you might have in the comments! I’ll do my best to help you out.


Hi! I’m Arati, and these are the Posca pencils*. It is a set of 36 colours by Posca, the makers of the Posca pens*, which are far more famous than these pencils. The box includes this rubber band that you can put around the set if you were travelling, for example, so that it doesn’t fall apart, because it doesn’t click together like most things do. The box itself has three layers of pencils with all 36 laid out according to colour. They look very similar to Posca pens with a black body and a coloured tip to show the colour of the pencils. It’s also got the logo on the front. The pencil lead itself looks pretty nice and thick. It looks solid and in usage it hasn’t really broken like many other pencils do. There is no pencil name or colour name on the pencils but they do have a number on the end so if you wanted to purchase them individually* and replace colours, you could. 

As I began to Swatch I did neglect to film #1 White #46 Ivory and #28 Lemon Yellow, but here is #2 Yellow, a nice vibrant chrome yellow, followed by #s 3 and 4 both Orange. Then there’s #16 Vermillion – just looks like a deeper orange really, followed by #15 Red then #14 Dark Red and #66 Coral Pink. Then, #51 Light Pink. And then I moved on to #34 Lilac and #35 Mauve. #11 is Fuchsia. #9 Navy Blue – a really lovely blue. #10 the essential Prussian Blue, followed by a regular #33 Blue. #8 is a Light Blue followed by #39 which is a lovely Blue Green. Moving over from blues to greens, we start with #31 Emerald Green followed by #52 Fresh Green and then #6 Green. #76 is Green Tea and #7 is Khaki Green. #18 is Dark Olive and #77 is the beautiful Pine Green. Continuing in the order of the pencils the next colour is actually #54 Salmon Pink followed by #78 Light Ochre and then #19 Ochre, #29 which is Ash Brown, #21 which is just a regular Brown and #22 Dark Brown. Then we move into Light Grey #23,  #37 Grey, #61 Dark Grey and #24 Black. 

I wrote all the numbers out underneath each colour as I do for everything in my swatch book – the colour numbers are a bit confusing and out of order (Posca hasn’t numbered them in order for some reason) but oh, well! And I’ll show you the range of colours over here quickly just so you can get an idea of the variation that the set does provide. I think you could do some really good pictures with just this set of colours because it just provides you everything you need, really. 

The main way in which I use colour pencils is as an overlay to gouache* or sometimes acrylic so the main thing was to test them over a gouache painting. Now, this is one that I had in my sketchbook* and [it] had dried quite some time ago. So it works really well over this. The pencils are very soft. They create a nice texture and they work really, really well over the dried gouache. I was super thrilled at the opacity of the white pencil – if you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I use a lot of white in my work and I’m always in search of a good white pencil, and this one delivered. It really shows some nice opaque whites over the gouache and I can see myself using this quite often. The pencils showed themselves capable of not only some nice texture but also some detailed marks and strokes. I tend to use little dots and dashes everywhere and fine lines and it worked. The colours are really vibrant and they work well even over the gouache and were quite opaque, I found. They’re supposed to be bright and water resistant according to the Posca website and apparently they use ‘heat-pliable natural pigments’. I’m not quite sure what that means and what the lightfastness of this is, but since I probably will not be doing complete colour pencil drawings with this – since I already have my Luminance colour pencils, I’m not too worried about that. I would be using these more for small details like I am in this painting. After finishing up with the pencils and adding a little bit of darkness in there, I wanted to test the water resistance of these pencils, because I do like to layer gouache. And oddly enough gouache did work over these pencils, perhaps because it doesn’t have a lot of water in it, and it’s more of a dry paint medium. It did cover the pencil quite well. You can also see here that the pencils are not very shiny, which is a pet hate of mine, and when I swiped my hand over them they didn’t really let off any pigment either. So it would be really good to use in my sketchbook not requiring, necessarily, a fixative to keep them from smudging on other pages. It also doesn’t have too much of a texture rising up from the page, which also I do like.

Having tested them on a light-coloured gouache painting, I also wanted to test it over a dark colour. This is an acrylic background with gouache over the top. It is also freshly painted and dried as opposed to the previous drawing, which had been dry gouache for quite a long time in my sketchbook. I really wanted to make sure that I could do all the details on darker paints with these pencils and as you can see they are performing really, really well. I’m able to get a painterly effect with the pencils like I normally do. This is my style and it’s absolutely brilliant to see that I can use these pencils in exactly the way that I want. I don’t find any bar to the way I want to use them. They’re not annoying me. They didn’t stick. They didn’t scratch. They did not leave any residue. They didn’t – actually, you know those little flakes that happen when you use colour pencils sometimes? That really didn’t happen with these. Apparently they’re a mix of both oil and wax and that might have something to do with it. They almost feel like the Natraj glass-marking pencils that I use sometimes. In fact, I would probably say the only thing that I really don’t like about these pencils up to now is the fact that – well, I have the same problem I have with the Luminance pencils really – is that the entire body of the pencil is black, so it’s a little bit hard to decide what colour you’re picking up without actually looking at the end of the pencil to see what colour it is. That’s one of the reasons I like the Polychromos so much, because the entire body of the pencil is the same colour, so while you’re working, you’re quick and fast and you can pick up the correct colour almost immediately without having to, like, pay attention to what you’re picking up. I suppose branding and sales and marketing kind of won out here because they do look very much like the Posca pens with the black body and the coloured tip and, you know, the logo on it and everything. Apart from that, which actually is just a minor irritation, because loads of pencils just have the tips coloured – these work really, really well and I did find – I think I mentioned this before – that when I sharpened them they did not break, and this in spite of the fact that I have dropped these pencils multiple times. I’m a little bit [of a] butterfingers so while I’m picking them up and putting them down they do sometimes drop and then roll off the table and onto the floor. They are pretty soft pencils, so I did find myself sharpening them quite a lot when I needed a point to work with, but overall really, really happy with these pencils, and as you can see they perform really, really well on the dark paint. And you can see how vibrant they are even on the acrylic background, not just on the gouache mushrooms. Without actually being neon, they’ve given that neon effect which I wanted in this piece to those mushrooms, and have performed absolutely beautifully.Very, very happy. 

Like Posca pens, these pencils are supposed to be used on all surfaces, according to the website. So obviously, I had to try it on a few different surfaces even though I’m never really going to use them in this way. This is my cloth bound sketchbook from Seawhite of Brighton. It has a canvas cloth cover. So you can see that the pencils work really, really well on this. Even the lighter colours seem to work quite well and the white really stands out. They are able to be layered as well, so if you work on cloth this might be a good thing. They also don’t smudge off – again, a good thing! 

I tried it next on plastic. This is just like a random bottle that I had lying around the house. I guess I should have probably tried it of something flat, but I really couldn’t find anything that was appropriate to colour on and that wouldn’t matter. It performs okay, I guess. The darker colours were a little bit better and maybe if I had found something flat I might have been able to do something a little bit nicer. I did try to draw with thinner lines – that really didn’t work so well I had to go over the same line multiple times in order to get even somewhat of a dark line. I – well, I really won’t be using this method at all. I don’t draw on plastic, but you know never say never. It’s well worth a try and maybe a layer of Posca pens and then overlaid by pencils might work better on this surface. 

Glass didn’t really work very much better even though I made sure to wash this glass and make sure it was clean and free of any oils or anything underneath. It just really didn’t work well. I suppose I’ll have to do like an underlay of Posca pen and then use the pencils on top for this as well because I know that Posca pens work really well on glass, as you can see here. 

The next thing to try it on was metal and I tried a few different metals but this was the only one that it had any effect on, whatsoever. This is just the lid of one of my water bottles and, again, as you can see, it really doesn’t have much effect. I didn’t bother to try the Posca pen on this. I assume it would work just as well. 

The surface that did work surprisingly well was ceramic. The top section is unglazed and the bottom section is glazed and it works pretty well on both. Obviously, the unglazed section was far better because it had more tooth to it – it gripped the pencil colours more and the glazed section was a bit more slick and obviously did not. At this point I kind of just got tired of things not working and then moved on from other surfaces because I would much rather work on paper than pretty much anything else. 

When I was younger I did a lot more pure colour pencil work than I have done in recent years but there is a Domestika class that I did purchase where it is sketchbooking with coloured pencils and for that I may not necessarily want to use my expensive Luminance colour pencils or the Polychromos, so I thought if these work well just as pure colour pencil, then I could just use these, because – there is a range of colours; there’s a variety of them; if they mix well then I could make more colours with them and pretty much use these for sketchbooking. I set out to draw a teapot but then it ended up having mushrooms on it because as you can probably tell from the previous picture I was a little bit obsessed with ’shrooms and have been drawing them quite a lot lately, especially in the winter season. It’s just a seasonal thing I guess, so yeah, well it’s a teapot covered in mushrooms. Getting back to the actual performance of these pencils, though, they layer really well. They cover a space really quickly, surprisingly, and I think because they’re soft they blend well into the paper. This is cartridge paper, again in my Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook. It’s my favorite sketchbook, my favorite paper to sketch on and pretty much a standard base for all the colours that I use. I did notice that the white pencil works just as well as a blender pencil – [of] which the Luminance set has a specific blender pencil – but this one doesn’t. And then I layered some of the colours over each other – just made them richer, more vibrant. I was able to get line detail on top of the colours really easily. The best part was, as I rested my hand the colours did not come off onto the side of my hand as does happen in very many other materials. As you can see here I was able to sharpen the pencils to a fine point and get fine detail as well on top of all that layering of colour which is a really excellent result to me. Unlike some other colour pencils I didn’t find any difficulty in continuing to layer on top of these colour pencils. It just kept going and going. At no point did I feel that I had reached the limit of the number of layers that I could do on top of these pencils. I just kept going. The one thing I did find though is that lighter colours on top of darker colours tend to blend rather than stand out so they are not opaque on top of that. So at this point I should have probably left white space in the middle for the steam but I ended up using a variety of white pencils and trying them on top of this Posca pencil, but they really did not stand out at all. So basically white just works as a blender and you can’t use it as opaque on top of the Posca pencils. In the end I did have to give up on the white pencils and ended up just using a darker colour for the steam which was – well it wasn’t really what I wanted for the piece, but it worked. I mean, it did the job. It was okay. 

To further test these pencils on paper I tried to add a little bit of solvent. I did multiple layers of the pencil and solvent. It did go through the paper and I forgot that there were nice illustrations on the other side but oh, well, it’s just a sketchbook. So what I did was I added basic Winsor and Newton solvent to it and it didn’t make much of a difference. It doesn’t blend like other colour pencils do. Maybe the wax has something to do with that. But the pencils work well over themselves even with the solvent on them and I feel like adding solvent – as you can see I’m doing here – doesn’t really do much. I mean, I suppose it would on other pencils but with the Poscas it just blends it a little bit, but really you can’t extend it or anything. What these pencils seem to do really well and what I would primarily use them for is layering either on top of themselves or on top of other media. Here I’m scrubbing a red pencil really, really hard to see the maximum amount of coverage that I can get – which is quite a lot. And then I did a separate section and then ran the white pencil over it as a blender, and as you can see it creates a kind of pinky shade which can be useful to create different tones if you are using them in that way. But then I put the red back over that and it created a really vibrant, really smooth, really flat surface on top of which other Posca colours still work. The lighter colours less so, and the darker colour is obviously better, but it does work. Another technique I use in my work is to overlay with pen. So obviously I had to test that with these pencils. This is a Sharpie pen which is waterproof and it did work well on top of the Poscas. I mean I thought that the wax might not work so well and clearly it didn’t work as well over the solvent bits, but it worked perfectly well on the main Posca pencil and so, surprisingly, did my fountain pen. I did not expect that to work as well. Graphite pencil, as expected, did well on the pencil. It created a bit of an indentation so if I wanted to do some detail work I really could. It worked just as well on the solvent but then graphite pencil tends to work pretty well over all these surfaces. I continued to experiment with overlaying the Posca pencils with white and then layering different colours on top to see what the effect would be. This would be a really interesting way to work, again, like I said, if you’re mixing colours, trying to get a different colour from the 36 that are already in here. Then I decided to mix it up and add some acrylic on top of the Posca pencils which also worked really well. So if you are layering this is a really good technique to use. You can use acrylic, or gouache in this case as you can see with the yellow paint as well as Posca pencils and layer all three of them together to get some really interesting effects. This is acrylic paint that has just freshly been painted and dried and as you can see the pencils work really great on this as well. So it really gives you a wide variety of things that you can work with and mix, and mixed media would be really, really amazing with these pencils. Again, you can layer the acrylic over them. I’m not quite sure why the pencils say that they are water-resistant because it’s clearly not that water-resistant. Maybe it is with watercolours – I haven’t tried those, so we’ll see. I had great fun doing this page because each discovery was so amazing and I kept going like, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe these pencils can do this!” And it was a little bit crazy town over here while this was being recorded. But I guess that’s kind of part of being an artist, isn’t it?! 

Anyhow, I could not finish this review of Posca pencils* without actually using them with the original Posca pens*. Now, I switched out my nib so that I could get a slightly finer line and moved on to creating a little bit of a pattern in my sketchbook with three or four basic Posca colours. I added a few different colours so that I could see how the pencils performed over it and then chose a selection of colours in the same tones to work with. The pencils work really, really well over the Posca pens – I wouldn’t be surprised because, obviously, they’re made by the same manufacturer, probably intended to work with each other, but the pencils worked really, really smoothly on top of the paint. Each colour was clearly visible. It added some texture to the flatness of the Posca pens and it even worked over the metallic blue paint that I used for the leaves. And then I added the white highlights as well as the little dashes in the background like I usually do in my work and it blended really well. The flatness of the Posca pen works really, really well with the texture of the pencils. 

I am pretty happy with these pencils in the way that they perform. I’m pretty sure that you would be too. I’ll put any links to all these pencils and the materials that I’ve used down in the description box below [in this blog post]. If you enjoyed this video, here’s another one to watch next. Thank you so much for watching this video and I will see you in my next one, which will be a review of The Maker’s Yearbook – setting it up and planning for the year ahead in my business. I’ll see you there. Bye!


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