Review: Caran d'Ache Neocolor I wax pastels

Caran d'Ache Neocolor I are water resistant wax oil pastels. You can probably call these crayons too.

Note that there's also another product called Neocolor II which are water-soluble

The pastels are available individually as well as sold in sets of 10, 15, 30 and 40. According to Caran d'Ache, there are 50 colours in the lineup.

If you buy the pastels individually, each is around US $2 or more. But if you buy them in sets, each pastel on average can go down to just US $1.50 (for the big set).

I'll recommend the set with 15 colours. 10 colours seem limited, while 30 colours seem too many. Bigger boxes are great if you work at home. Smaller boxes are compact and easier to bring outdoors.

These are the colours in the 15-color set:

  1. Yellow
  2. Orange
  3. Vermilion
  4. Scarlet
  5. Purple
  6. Violet
  7. Ultramarine
  8. Turquoise Blue
  9. Cobalt Blue
  10. Yellow Green
  11. Emerald Green
  12. Ochre
  13. Brown
  14. Black
  15. White

This is a good selection of colours from the colour wheel.

The pastels are solid and don't break that easily. The broken pastels in the box shown above were all broken by my daughter.

Each stick is 10.5cm in length.

Diameter is larger than a typical coloured pencil.

Name of the colour is listed on the label. There's no information, even on their website, regarding the pigments used. Caran d'Ache did say these pastels have "extreme lightfastness".

There are pull tabs to remove the label when the pastel becomes shorter.

These are richly pigmented high quality pastels. The colours are incredibly vibrant.

These pastels work best on smoother paper. Shown above are the pastel applied on hotpress smooth surface watercolour paper. The pastels were able to cover the paper white easily.

On smooth paper, the pastels apply very smoothly.

When used on rougher coldpress watercolour paper, you'll see a lot of paper white that's

The pastels are matte and have almost no gloss.

They are also considered permanent in the sense that the pastels will not rub off easily.

Layering doesn't seem to work that well for blending colours.

Blending colours side by side works and looks better.

Yellow, red and ochre for this sketch were from the pastels. These pastels are very convenient for colouring small areas.

These pastels are great for mixed media art because they create textures easily. I usually use these pastels to "paint" textured subjects, eg. trees, bricks. The textures are not suitable for large areas which are not suppose to be textured, e.g. sky.

Ochre was used to draw the window frames, and dark watercolour was painted over. The wax repelled the water leaving the ochre to create the contrast. That's when the water-resistant characteristic is useful. You can also use white to draw on the paper to reserve the white when painting with watercolour.

Note the red life buoy on the left. Brown was used to draw the lines, then red was applied on top. Because the pastels are not completely opaque, the brown can still be seen through the red, breaking the illusion that the life buoy which is suppose to be in front. The white was added with white gel pen. The white gel was repelled by the wax but if you go over a few times slowly, you can still get the white gel to apply on top.

For this sketch...

"NO SUGAR" was applied with white gel pen.

"CO" on the left was applied with white gouache but since there's water, the paint effect is not good.

"cal" was applied with Uni POSCA opaque markers which work well on top of these wax pastels.

The yellow on the right soft drink cans were applied with thicker gouache without water.

Below are two mixed media sketches created with coloured pencils, Neocolor I and watercolor. Click for a larger view.

Caran d'Ache Neocolor I wax pastels are vibrant, fun and easy to use. These are definitely artist grade quality art supplies. This is definitely something I can recommend very easily to anyone.

5 out of 5 stars.


You can find Caran d'Ache Neocolor I, and more reviews, on Dick Blick Art Materials (US) and Jackson's Art (UK). There are individual sticks and sets.



Such a timely post! I've

Such a timely post! I've been looking at these. BTW huge fan of your work going back years. Have used your links to buy books and brushes. Anyway, if you believe them, Blick has clickable pigment info only on Neocolor I, not II. For example they list Cobalt blue as PG7 and PB15:3. Not sure how they know this and why it's not published on the manufacturer's site. Hmmm.

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