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Colored Pencils for Cloth Doll Faces

How to choose pencils that work best on textile surfaces

Colored Pencils for Cloth Doll Faces

Have you ever wondered which colored pencils to use for cloth dolls?

Most people think of painting or sketching as art – not dollmaking.  And painting on fabric is even more uncommon.  I couldn’t find any help, so I had to do a lot of trial and error to understand how pencils can work well on fabric.


This is a legacy post, written in 2006 when I lived in Israel.  During that time, I didn’t have easy access to specific brands of art materials commonly used in the States. As I advanced in my dollmaking artfulness, I was confused about what to look for in a colored pencil specifically being used on fabric.  It was definitely “one of those things.”  Here’s what I learned during that time:


Usually, when I tell art shop keepers that I’m a doll artist and I need colored pencils for fabric dolls, they don’t know what I’m talking about!

The brands that I hear a lot about in America (Prismacolor and Derwent) aren’t available here in Israel. We’ve got Swiss, German, and other European brands. They are probably all comparable, but let’s face it- they’re still all different! I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of trial-and-error experimenting, which put me on a learning curve.

In Israel, I discovered a brand called LYRA Aquarelle Artist Pencils by Rembrandt. These pencils don’t color on paper, but they are smooth as silk when coloring on a wet palette (like a cloth doll face). These are watercolor pencils, which means that you need to either spray the fabric with water or dip the pencil tips in the water. They blend beautifully and have been my favorite so far.

I’ve found another brand called Koh-I-Noor. These are wax-based pencils. They are much harder than the Lyra pencils, but they don’t seem to blend as well.
Something has been telling me, I should try expanding my colored pencil horizons.


There are three main differences that you can find between the various brands:

1. Color palette
2. Softness
3. Lightfastness.

This refers to standard wax-based pencils, not watercolor.

Prismacolor is considered to be a relatively soft pencil that is easy to blend. They have one of the most extensive color palettes available. They offer many lightfast colors that are great for art that needs to be very permanent. Not all colored pencils are, by the way.

Derwent pencils come in three basic types. The artist pencils which are like the Prismacolor ones in softness are called Studio Version. These are slightly harder than the watercolor ones. Derwent’s color palette tends to be more traditional like a painters’ palette of colors. They are not all lightfast, so they will fade eventually.

There are at least ten more other brands and types out there. My advice is to go to your favorite art store and take some fabric or good paper scraps with you and test them out for yourself.

This vintage post was edited for nostalgia.    Looking back, I love this old post.  It was written more than 13 years ago today, and it still holds true.
Thank you for reading and have a dollightful colored pencil day!


  • December 29, 2013

    Thank you for explaining the differences. I actually went to college for art and while Prisma colors were on our supply list, they never explained WHY. (Im one of those people who NEED the WHY. : ) You made things snap into place for me. 🙂

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