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Caran D'ache Luminance Pencil Review

James Dean coloured pencil portrait using Caran D'ache luminance pencils by Camile Doubtfire

I have been the proud owner of a complete set of Caran D'ache Luminance pencils for a few years. They are essential in every coloured pencil piece I create. Since I have so much experience with them, I thought it was time I wrote a review.

I found a box of these waxy beauties under the Christmas tree, and ever since then, I have been addicted to their luminous colours and smooth, almost paint-like texture. I began using them for very hyper-realistic portraits as a way to add an extra few layers and smooth everything out. They are fantastic for this, and if you are averse to seeing the grain of the paper through your drawings like I am, these pencils are perfect because they quickly fill in all those annoying little gaps and stick like no other pencils I own.

Portrait of little girl "Lauren" using Caran D'ache luminance pencils by Camile Doubtfire
"Lauren" coloured pencil portrait

The 100 pencil set gives you everything you need to start creating. There are no filler pencils like you get in most other pencil collections. It is like having an expertly mixed paint palette as many full-strength colours have been mixed with white in different percentages. This is amazing for getting realistic skin tones without much effort, making the often painstaking process effortless.

I also find colours in the collection that I would never think of using that make skin tones pop. These greens, purples, blues, pinks and yellows give an iridescent quality to my drawings that I couldn't achieve with any other pencils.

Amy Winehouse coloured pencil portrait using Caran D'ache Luminance Pencils by Camile Doubtfire
"Amy Winehouse" coloured pencil portrait

David Bowie coloured pencil portrait using Caran D'ache luminance pencils by Camile Doubtfire
"David Bowie" Coloured Pencil Portrait

I have made many portraits solely with these pencils - they are some of the fastest works I have ever done! The colour lays down so quickly that I can create one in a day or 2! The only downside to this is that you burn through your favourite colours very quickly, but it is worth the price of an extra pencil or two to save all of that valuable time and get more artwork made!

I also love to use Luminance pencils in conjunction with my other favourite pencils. They make a perfect addition to my oil-based pencils, bringing them in for the final layers. I use the brighter colours to act as a beam of light and seal my base layers with similar tones over the whole piece. They blend and smooth everything together so beautifully.

Coloured pencil portrait of Italian man using Caran D'ache luminance pencils by Camile Doubtfire
"Franco" Coloured Pencil Portrait

After a while, I saw that many of my prettiest colours were going unused as they often weren't found in the palette for drawing hyper-realism. I decided to set myself a challenge and find a way of making portraits using the brighter, more fun colours I had in my collection. I drew a small collection of 7 portraits in vibrant colours, all depicting actors and actresses from the 1950s - 1960s and made them into prints.

James Dean coloured pencil portrait A3 print by Camile Doubtfire
"Verde" James Dean print

A few weeks ago, a customer who had bought one of those prints commissioned me to draw him a similar portrait using blue (his favourite colour). I knew immediately that orange and blue would be perfect together and started swatching luminance pencils to see which combination would give the best effect.

James Dean coloured pencil portrait using Caran D'ache luminance pencils by Camile Doubtfire
"James Dean" Coloured Pencil Portrait

The photograph doesn't do justice to the incredible luminosity that the pencils give to this piece! I wish I could show you all in person, but James is already in his new home with his owner in London. I'm sure he will be very happy there.

In the meantime, I will be sitting at my desk playing with my pencils.

Talk to you soon,



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