Review – Farber Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolour Pencils

A lot of my art-loving friends have asked me how I find these pencils and, since you want to read about art related stuff, I figured I’d do a review.

I got these puppies last Christmas and have been using them at least twice a week since. Without spoiling the review, I love them. I’ve had other brands of watercolour pencils before, including the budget range from Farber Castell, but these are my favourite by far.

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I have the 60 piece set, which we got from Amazon for roughly 75 Euro. This is officially the priciest pencils I’ve ever owned, but let’s face it, art is expensive.

Here are the specs for this set from the Farber Castell website.

Albrecht Dürer artists’ watercolor pencils provide artists with great versatility of expression when drawing, shading and painting in watercolours. High-quality materials, combined with over 250 years of experience, have resulted in watercolor pencils that produce unsurpassed watercolor effects and vibrancy. The colored surface can be transformed with only a few fine or broad brush strokes to reveal the full and unique power of the colors. Depending on the paper being used, the pigments can be completely dissolved, and will then behave in the same way as classic watercolor paints.
  • High quality pigments of unsurpassed light-fastness and brilliance
  • Pigments dissolve completely when brushed with water
  • Smooth color stroke
  • Break-resistant due to special bonding process
  • 60 colors in a metal tin
  • Available as individual pencils or in various assorted sets

These are the colours included in this set.

White, Cream, Light yellow glaze, Cadmium yellow lemon, Light cadmium yellow, Cadmium yellow, Dark cadmium yellow, Dark chrome yellow, Cadmium orange, Dark cadmium orange, Pale geranium lake, Deep scarlet red, Middle cadmium red, Permanent carmine, Dark red, Magenta, Madder, Rose carmine, Middle purple pink, Pink madder lake, Red-violet, Purple violet, Mauve, Delft blue, Dark indigo, Indanthrene blue, Helioblue-reddish, Ultramarine, Light ultramarine, Phthalo blue, Bluish turquoise, Prussian blue, Cobalt turquoise, Cobalt green, Deep cobalt green, Dark phthalo green, Emerald green, Light green, Leaf green, Pine green, Juniper green, Olive green yellowish, Earth green yellowish, Chromium green opaque, Medium flesh, Pompeian red, Venetian red, Sanguine, Burnt ochre, Naples yellow, Dark Naples ochre, Raw umber, Van Dyck brown, Burnt siena, Walnut brown, Warm grey V, Warm grey II, Cold grey II, Cold grey IV, Black

Refilling the set is possible too, with individual pencils available for sale at most good art stores. In Germany, I’ve found the pencils retailing for around €3.50 each.


Alrighty, now that the official part of the review is done, let’s get to the opinion part. 🙂

The colour payoff is epic. These pencils are soft and saturated, and it’s easy to change the look of the artwork by adjusting the pressure used to draw. The colour also builds really well.

As an example, I did a painting especially for this post, using only one layer of colour. I achieved this level of vibrancy with medium pressure applied to the pencils – AKA, my hand didn’t cramp as a result. 🙂 Also, no photo filter was applied to any of the art photos and all of them were painted on quality watercolour paper.

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Organic blending took place in this artwork – I didn’t specifically try to create gradients when applying the colour. Painting over the colours brought the magic. As you see towards the bottom of the painting, adding more water to the brush dilutes the pigment for that dreamy watercolour look.

Here’s another example. This is a painting I did of Varric Tethras, using light pressure to the pencils while colouring the work.

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Much softer after water is applied, right? But, as I said above, the colour builds really well. This next pic is of the same artwork, after two more layers of colour were applied.

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Don’t judge me on how warped the pages are. 🙂 I’m lazy about taping the page down.

I love the precision that watercolour pencils offer. I can still get crisp lines where I need them, while keeping the lovely way watercolours blend together. And the colours blend easily, without having to rip the paper with the paintbrush. In fact, very little pencil residue remains on the paper after water is added, and this can often be blended away with a damp paintbrush.

If you’re looking for a more painterly style, you can achieve that too. This painting of Benedict Cumberbatch was achieved with two to three layers of colour, and loads of water added to the brush.

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I’ll recommend these pencils time and time again, just because of their versatility. You can achieve a great variety of looks when adding water, but of course use them in the traditional way too. 🙂 This is a page from my beloved Dragon Age colouring book.

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And that’s not where the versatility ends. I also use the pencils for my doll repaints.

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The pencils sharpen easily and the tin casing protected them well during shipping and afterwards, so I’ve had the minimum breakage.

My biggest complaint is that the lighter colours tend to splinter and their tips break more often. I don’t know if something in the pigment affects the wood, but the darker colours don’t have the same problem. This issue is the worst in the white pencil, a pity, since it’s one of the colours I use most in my doll repaints.

I would have loved if the set had fewer shades of yellow and more browns. I do miss the earthy hues in many paintings and, again, when repainting dolls. Most of the yellows in my set had never been touched before I painted the tiger for this post.

I realise I can buy single earthy-toned pencils, but it would have been great if the set had come with them. You know, considering there are 60 pencils in the set.

Still, despite these issues, I’m in love with these pencils.

Which brings me to value for money. Yes, the pencils are pricey, but I’ve been using them non-stop for over 6 months. Just the stress-relief they have offered has made the pencils worth it. And, once I start selling art, I bet they’ll pay for themselves soon.

Also, they’ve lasted much better than some of their less expensive counterparts, with much less swearing at the walls because my hand cramped from having to press so hard to get any colour payoff. 🙂

In conclusion, Farber Castell has once again proven why they’re my favourite art brand. I can’t recommend this set enough.

Hope you enjoyed this post!

Yolandie.