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Although crayons today are largely associated with scribbly drawings destined for refrigerator doors, they can be serious drawing tools for budding and professional artists alike. Combining wax and pigment, crayons can yield controlled, sophisticated lines; add some water (if your sticks are water soluble) and you can thin out colors to achieve complex textures. Or layer crayons with paints to create unique mixed-media pieces. While you’ll get only so far with a popular kids’ brand like Crayola, there are numerous artist-grade options to choose from. Explore the convenience and versatility of crayons with our selections below.
1. Lyra Aquacolor Crayons
Whether you apply them with or without water, Lyra’s water-soluble crayons are a satisfying way to color your world without breaking the bank. Though not the absolute best, they perform better than most in their class, and due to their reasonable price, you won’t have to feel overly concerned about experimenting and working freely with them. Sturdy yet super creamy, they go on so smoothly and offer impressive blendability. Plus, they’re lightfast.
Lyra Aquacolor Crayons
2. Sargent Art Watercolor Crayons
Less expensive still than our top pick, Sargent’s water-soluble crayons are another great choice if you work frequently in this medium. They feel dryer than Lyra’s crayons and the pigments appear more grainy on the page, but once you add water, they look smooth and alive. A little H20 goes a long way with these crayons, making them flow with ease and blend beautifully while maintaining their intensity.
Sargent Art Watercolor Crayons
3. Faber-Castell Beeswax Crayons
Looking for a crayon set for children that’s a step up from Crayola? Go with these soft yet durable beeswax crayons. They boast amazingly vivid color, lay down smoothly, and are nontoxic. They fit small hands comfortably, and at 13mm thick, they can withstand more pressure than your average crayon (and tolerate recurrent abuse, from gnawing to high-velocity throws). Plus, with a triangular body, they won’t roll off tables or desks.
Faber-Castell Beeswax Crayons
4. Caran d’Ache Neocolor I Wax Pastels
If you love working in mixed media, these babies from Caran d’Ache are for you. The opposite of the also popular Neocolor II—a top-grade water-soluble crayon—the Neocolor I guards pigment from water, allowing you to safely use the crayons under inks, watercolors, acrylics, and more. They are loaded with pigment and feel similar to pastels in their blendability and creaminess, but they have a firmer structure and resist crumbling. Caran d’Ache offers a generous assortment of colors, and you can buy your favorite ones by the crayon.
Caran d’Ache Neocolor I Wax Pastels
5. Manley Pencil Box with 50 Crayons
Unless you’re from Spain, you may not be too familiar with Manley. Made in Barcelona, these wax crayons have long been a staple of Spanish classrooms—but that’s not to say they’re suitable just for kids. They are incredibly soft and highly responsive to pressure. Although you can blend them with water, they’re simply a dream to work with when dry, showcasing seamless blendability and laying down to create almost silken textures.
Manley Pencil Box with 50 Crayons