Organizing a large set of colored pencils

I bought the biggest honkin’ set of Prismacolors they make, 132 pencils. The tins in which Prismacolors are packaged nowadays are pretty but aren’t practical for daily use.  So, what to do?  I couldn’t find anything on the market that fit the bill.  There are various generic boxes made for storage and transport, but not for ready availability.  I finally thought to contact an established, award-winning colored pencil artist and ask what they use.  So I emailed fellow CPSA member Jeff George.  He was kind enough to send me a snapshot of his setup, a set of carboard tubes hot-glued to a piece of foamcore.  Bingo!

I cut a piece of foamcore 6″x13″. Then I went to the hardware store and had them cut 8 pieces of 2.5″ PVC pipe, each 3.25″ long. I glued the lengths of pipe to the foamcore. Voila! A pencil holder that’s beefy, nothing’s going to knock it over. Yellows in one tube, reds in another, etc., tips up.

My colored pencil organizer

You could substitute cardboard tubes for PVC, and wood or plastic for foamcore.

While you’re at it, spend a couple of hours to do the following and you’ll never have to search more than a few seconds for the right color from a large set.

1. Sort pencils in chromatic sequence per Prismacolor’s website (; click the Color Palettes tab, select your set size)
2. Wrap a little number label around the top of each pencil.
3. Create a sampler chart that includes the name, label number, and a color swatch for each pencil and post it near your drawing table.
4. Group pencils by general color in sequence. Now the next time you’re looking for just the right brown, refer to your sampler, note the label number, and pluck the pencil from its group.

9 thoughts on “Organizing a large set of colored pencils

  1. Hi Denise, What a great idea this is! As I myself have a few hundred pencils (of various types) I plan to try this idea. Great post. Thank you for sharing it. BTW I’m new to artspan and new to blogging. I just happened upon this article. Very nice artwork too. Cheers!

  2. This is fantastic. I’ve seen the idea of PVC tubes, but they were always kind of narrow. But now I know I can organize ALL of my Prismacolors with just a little bit of effort. (And all of my Faber-Castells, and all of my Lyras… etc., etc., haha.)
    Truly a wonderful post and very helpful to those of us who are struggling to organize limited workspace.
    I just came across your blog (from your painting on Ann Kullberg’s site) and have bookmarked it to follow.

  3. Denise, glad you found it helpful! The setup is still working great for me after a year and a half–I haven’t encountered anything about it that I wish I’d done differently.

  4. I love your idea! I wanted to let you know that they now have a 150 pencil set and you can get the extra 18 individually. šŸ™‚ They have a listing of them on the prismacolor blog.

  5. Hi Anna, glad you found my solution helpful! Yes, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the 18 new colors since the announcement last summer. I told my husband they’re all I want for Christmas, and lo and behold, I now have them! They don’t seem to be available yet in local stores, so he had to special order them.

  6. This looks like a great idea. However, I’m wondering what do you do with pencils that are a)too short to put in a tube (shorter than 3.5 inches) and b)too long to glue to another pencil? It would seem a bother to fish for short pencils in a tube.

  7. Pingback: Saving a Lot of Time with Swatch Charts | Denise J. Howard's Art Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s