Tombow is a family company founded in Japan in 1913. It still remains in family hands and has developed into a world-leading manufacturer of high-quality writing tools. In 1983, the American sales subsidiary was founded.
In this Tombow colored pencils review, I’d like to comment on its coloring media, highlighting Tombow Irojiten color pencils that have become immensely popular among artists due to their unsurpassed drawing characteristics.
|1||Tombow Irojiten Primary Set of 5|
|2||Tombow Irojiten Vivid Set of 12|
|3||Tombow Irojiten Tranquil Set of 12|
|4||Tombow Irojiten Rainforest Set of 30|
|5||Tombow Irojiten Seascape Set of 30|
|6||Tombow Irojiten Woodlands Set of 30|
The Irojiten collection is available in various packs that include top-quality media. They can be purchased as singles or as larger sets, which contain 5, 12, 30, or 36 coloring instruments.
As a rule, pencils in smaller sets come unsharpened and may include a sharpener or/and an eraser, while pencils in larger packs are always pre-sharpened.
Depending on a set type, they can arrive packaged in a blister. The sets of 30 differ in color selection. They are arranged according to the set name and focus on coloring specific scenes – “Seascape,” “Rainforest,” or “Woodlands.” You can’t find extremely bright and popping hues in the packs to depict nature. The tools are packaged in cardboard boxes and look like a set of books. There are 3 color-grouped volumes with 10 pencils in every set. Actually, the word “Irojiten” is translated from Japanese as “a color encyclopedia” or “a dictionary of colors.” These sets can be kept in their slipcases on a bookshelf. Most artists buy these media exclusively on account of their unique packaging, regardless of the fact if they like them or not.
The pencils don’t feel clunky in hand. They feature a round wooden barrel covered by white enamel. The media have a colored base for easy hue identification. The hue name and the company name are stamped in silver ink on the barrel.
The tools are wax-based and have a soft core, which allows for good blending and offers creamy application. The color core is well-centered.
In some pencils, the actual color output doesn’t correspond to the color indicated on the label. It may result in less bright shades during blending. There is a color swatch in each set that allows artists to choose a shade close to the true color.
The colored lines can be removed with a sand eraser on quality paper. When erased on thin paper, they can damage the page.
- Convenient to use for coloring of the intended themes
- Good at sharpening without chipping the pencil
- The packaging is very cute
- Can be purchased individually
- A beautiful color selection, including pastels
- Ideal for gifting
- More expensive than other brand collections
- Available only in a 30-color variation
- Some colors are on the light side, so the media may require increased pressure to get a brighter shade
- The hexagonal barrel shape would be more convenient
Recycled Drawing Pencils by Tombow
|1||Tombow Recycled Primary Set of 5|
|2||Tombow Recycled Earth Set of 5|
|3||Tombow Recycled Assorted Colors Set of 24|
The Recycled pencils are made of repurposed finger-jointed wood and come in various sets. They are available in 5-item blister sets and in 12- and 24-item metal tins. Five-pencil sets include different color variations. They feature the Primary set, which includes basic colors, and the Earth set. They are less expensive than the Irojiten media and can serve as a budget solution for artists who want to get acquainted with the Tombow products.
The coloring tools have a wooden casing and don’t look so elegant as the Irojiten ones. The company name and the collection name are printed in color on the barrel. One end of the pencil is color-dipped to find the appropriate shade easily. The colors are similar to those in the Irojiten collection but not the same, though the drawing quality is almost similar. The pencils are good at blending and layering. They easily sharpen and erase.
- Large sets include unique shades, which are not available in the Irojiten series
- Come with an affordable price tag
- Have bright colors
- Great at blending
- A limited number of colors
- Not available open stock
- Can roll off the desk because of their round shape
Tombow 1500 Series – Artist Grade Pencils
|1||Tombow 1500 Series Mini Set of 12|
|2||Tombow 1500 Series Set of 12|
|3||Tombow 1500 Series Set of 36|
The 1500 series is another pencil collection from the Japanese masters at Tombow. These media have a wooden housing painted the same color as the core pigment. It makes the right pencil selection very easy. The information printed along the barrel includes the company and the collection names. There is also a recognizable company logo – a dragonfly (a translation of the company name from Japanese, which is regarded as an insect that brings luck and stands for bravery and courage).
As wax-based pencils, the media in this collection show consistent and smooth application; however, when artists apply pressure, they get heavy pigment application but with traits of wax.
The layering ability is great. The pencils work well on any type of paper and can be used in conjunction with other media, for example, with markers.
The pencils in this series are available in 12-, 24-, and 36-pencil sets. They come in metal tins carefully arranged in slotted plastic trays. The 12-item set is also sold as mini-sized tools.
The media in any type of set come pre-sharpened. Made of cedarwood, the coloring instruments ensure effortless and easy sharpening.
The manufacturer doesn’t provide information concerning the lightfast rating of the instruments. By default, they can be recommended only for amateur colorists and crafters.
- No barrel split or core fall out during sharpening
- Work on dark paper as well
- Come at an affordable price
- Available in a compact and portable mini version
- Tough metal cases prevent the media from damaging
- The pigment name printed on the barrel is in Japanese and can be discovered only with the help of a color chart offered on the inside tin lid with the provided English translation
- Not available as larger sets
- Due to their round shape, the media can roll off the desk
- Not so creamy as the Irojiten series
Color Charts of Tombow Colored Pencils
The entire Irojiten collection includes 100 colors, but some artists complain that the collection contains shades that are too pale. It has a lot of unusual hues but lacks basic/standard colors. The media from the Recycled collection complement these pastel shades, offering bright and saturated colors. The same is true for the 1500 series, which comes with a lot of expressive and vivid hues.
The main differences in their color charts are displayed in the below table:
The official Tombow website offers a color selector and a color tracker that can be printed out. This information may help artists to choose the right shade and mark the hues that they own.
Best Places to Buy Tombow Colored Pencils
The Tombow colored pencils can be bought from the official website. Amazon and eBay are indisputable shopping meccas that offer full sets and individual media for sale. You can find the best price for these instruments in popular craft and art stores such as Michaels, Dick Blick, Joann, Hobby Lobby, Office Depot, and many more.
Few Last Words
The media in all the reviewed collections perform very well. The Irojiten series is definitely the winner, but it provides light color output. Regarding their high price, buyers can be pickier. The Recycled and the 1500 collections come with a full range of vivid hues suitable for drawing more traditional scenes, but they lack lightfast testing. The only way out is to acquire all sets so they can complement each other, which again can be quite costly.