Organizing Colored Pencils
Here's a system that keeps your colors visible and close at hand.
Hard and Waxy Pencils
I combine both hard (such as Verithin) and soft lead pencils (such as Prismacolor) in my caddy sections. I group both together because it's the color that matters most to me, and I use both pencil types on every piece I do. The hard lead works for small details and the waxy lead is good for filling large areas and for layering over the hard lead areas.
I do not keep watercolor and pastel pencils in this caddy because I use them separately with other materials.
Group Colors into Families
It's easier to find colors when you keep color families in rainbow order, such as reds/oranges, pinks, purples, blues, greens, yellows, and browns around the edge, and cool neutrals in the center.
- Reds/Oranges – include colors such as vermillion, coral, orange, dark magenta, crimson, burgundy, and other red-based tones.
- Pinks – Although pink is light red, I separate pinks from the red family because there are so many shades. Include colors such as light magenta, pale pink, bright pink, mauve, and peachy colors.
- Purples – include colors such as dark purple, lavender, orchid, blue-purple, and violet tones.
- Blues – include colors such as pale blue, turquoise blue, lavender-blue, bright blue, cobalt, indigo, ultramarine, and other blue tones.
- Greens – include colors such as olive, pale green, bright green, dark green, grass green, aqua, turquoise-green, and yellow-green.
- Yellows – include colors such as ochre, pale yellow, bright yellow, golden yellow, yellow-orange, and cream colors.
- Browns – Browns are warm neutrals. Include colors such as sienna, umber, beige, tan, taupe, terra cotta, khaki, and warm earth tones.
- Cool Neutrals – Put this group in the center section. Include colors such as black, white, all shades of gray, and blender pencils.
Half & Half Colors
There are colors that could fit in either of two groups, such as yellow-green. Is it more yellow? Or more green? Life is short; pick one and move on.
If you work with metallic colors, consider putting gold and bronze in the brown group because they're warm neutrals. Group silver and pearl white with cool neutrals.
Is this the pencil caddy you’ve been waiting for? Or, do you have a better way of organizing your pencils? Let me know your thoughts. Start a discussion in the comments.