Colored pencils do not go bad or expire. That said, the lead can dry out at varying rates depending on the type of colored pencils you have. It's also important to store your pencils in a safe and cool place that is away from direct sunlight so that they last as long as possible.
Colored pencils do get old, just like everything else. But unlike many mediums, they do not wear out. Twenty-year-old pencils should work as well now as they did the day they were made. In some cases and depending on the brand, they may actually work better than their modern counterparts!
Do colored pencils fade over time? The short answer is that yes, some of them do. Some colors are notorious for fading.
You'll be surprised at how the gentle heat softens the pencil and heightens the color. Some artists warm their colored pencils in the microwave.
Five Ways to Soften Colored Pencils
- Warm in Sunlight.
- Warm in the Microwave.
- Soak in Water.
- Soak in Water and Alcohol.
- Store on Damp Sponges.
- Use Drawing Boards.
If the lead on the inside of the pencil is broken, they won't last especially long and when you try to sharpen that piece you'll have to deal with major breakage and a degradation. Pencils usually break on the inside when you drop them. They're quite sensitive, like complex little people really.
In general, colored pencils can last anywhere from 2 to 5 years. When kept in a cool, dark place and stored correctly, colored pencils can last even longer (10 years or more). I've even read about an artist who had her colored pencils for 25 years and they were still in good, working condition!
Colored pencils do not have a shelf life in the traditional sense. If we haven't used them in a long time, the most we have to do is sharpen them, which isn't a big deal. No, Color pencils do not expire, i.e there is no expiration date on colored pencils.
A dull point is good for applying a lot of color or general blending. Simply coloring with a sharp point will ultimately lead to a dull point, but there are also ways to achieve this result with a sharpener.
So, does soaking colored pencils make them better? No soaking colored pencils do not make them better. Dry colored pencils offer artists more versatility, control, and last longer all while keeping the pencil relatively less damaged as you draw or color.
The fact is, no matter how carefully you sharpen the pencils, the lead inside the colored pencils can still break. If they are dropped on hard surfaces or banged around, the lead inside the pencil may weaken and break when it is sharpened. So take good care of your colored pencils - don't drop them!
Keep colored pencil drawings from fading by minimizing their exposure to bright sunlight and UV rays. You can do this by using a protective varnish, framing the art in a UV frame, or storing it in a dark place.
How Long Does a Pencil Last? The average pencil holds enough graphite to draw a line about 35 miles long or to write about 45,000 words. On average, you can expect to use your pencil for about 2 to 5 years before it has to be replaced.
Graphite has a maximum lightfast rating that prevents it from fading when exposed to light overtime. With a maximum lightfast rating, pencil drawings are expected to last for more than 100 years.
Tip 1: Use light pressure
My number one tip to get the most out of cheaper pencils, is to use light pressure and work in layers. This is important even with high-quality pencils, because it gives you more control over your gradients and reduces the visible lines.
Water can be used to blend color pencils if they are water-soluble. Most colored pencils use a wax or oil to bind the pigment into a pencil so these types of colored pencils will not blend with water. If you have watercolor pencils then these will definitely blend with water.
A knife is the most versatile method of sharpening a pencil because you can use it to cut any styled point. It can take a little practice but it's a useful skill for an artist to master.
You can sharpen colored pencils in an electric sharpener, but be sure to be very gentle with your pencils and regularly clean your sharpener to remove any wax build up. If done improperly, sharpening your colored pencils in an electric sharpener can damage both your pencils and your sharpener.
Colored pencils do not actually contain any lead, which may be a surprise to some. Thin, precise, and easy to handle, colored pencils feature a wood casing filled with a wax or oil-based inside. Pigment is also added and mixed with water and bonding agents to create the rainbow of colors.