Muji colour pencils – Japan’s best kept secret?

I think so! I doubt many artists realise that Muji offer colour pencils, nor that they are actually pretty damn good! I discovered them a couple of years ago when I went on a birthday shopping spree in London and visited one of their stores. Had I seen them online, I doubt I would have tried them because their simple aesthetic could trick you into believing they are just cheap, scratchy pencils like you’d get in any stationery store.

Plus, they’re pricey for assumed cheap, scratchy pencils – a box of 12 is £4.95 compared to, say, £1 for a big pack in a pound shop or £2 for a pack of decent 12 Crayolas. BUT, because I was in store and could see these pencils, I noticed that the sample pack out on the shelf – which had stubby worn leads from people trying them – displayed qualities you might see in a better colour pencil. The lead was not crumbly or easily broken/chipped, and the wooden casings were not fluffy with wood shavings nor ready to splinter at the first opportunity.

What I discovered, were that these were QUALITY! They were soft and creamy, and very vibrant. Granted, they have simple wooden bodies with no colour names on them at all and no information available anywhere as to their pigment and lightfastness information… But who cares when a pencil is this nice to use?! Yes, you need lightfast pencils if you are selling artwork that might fade, but if – like me – you tend to digitist artwork, then anything goes!

Here’s my swatches from my latest Youtube video. They are just as vibrant as other quality soft pencils like Prismacolors and Lyra Polycolors and they blend well.

You can get about ten layers, and Zest It works especially well to dissolve and blend. The white, which comes in the bigger packs, blends well with red to make pink. Not quite as well as, say, Prismacolor, but pretty good nonetheless!

They work really well on brown paper, too – very smooth, good layering, vibrant and with no crumbling or wax blooming or anything like that. They sharpen well too.

The pack of 12 comes with a flesh tone which is nice, but no white. I also got the half-size set of 36 which came with lots of shades of colours and a white, as well as silver and gold.

The results are great, and I would go as far as saying that I prefer them to their closest rival Lyra Polycolors. I think I even prefer them to Prismacolors! They are kind of an in-between consistency – not super soft like Prismacolors and not harder like Polychromos.

The big pack of 60 are definitely on my wishlist!


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