Koh-i-noor Gioconda Soft Pastel Pencils Review
A bit different than your typical colored pencils, these are actually a sort of pastel pencil hybrid that attempts to capture the great blending ability and vibrancy of pastels with the control and less-messy pencils. The potent pigments used are mixed with a base of calcium carbonate and other binding agents to create the unique look. This is outputted through a 4.2mm diameter lead point. These do a few things well and a few things not so well and the mess that can occur with pastels still lingers. They do have decent color, however. Sets range from 12 to 48 pieces and are round.
Visual appeal – 3.5/5
Overall the loads of pigment they stuff into the core is noticeable, and the output can be vivid and noticeable. Blending is hit or miss, and seems to vary somewhat. We would expect almost every pastel to blend very easily so this was a bit of a disappointment. Application is smooth, but there are some hard spots in the lead (potentially from some of the other components they inject into the concoction) that can disrupt the smoothness. Color selection is actually quite good, with up to 48-piece sets. This is the largest color selection we’ve seen out of any of the Koh-i-noor offerings and it is definitely welcome.
Usability and durability – 3/5
For the most part strokes are smooth and buttery, with the occasional hard spot. Depending on what you are working on, these inconsistencies in the output can be quite annoying, as it can also literally create scratches on the paper. Pastels in general can be a bit more work, and a stump might be needed to get the proper blending and a fixative might need to be used to lock in the pigment. In addition, pastels tend to be on the messy side, as there can be a lot of dust-like residue that remains on the surface. This isn’t a con for these in particular, but rather a general observation.
Packaging and presentation – 4/5
These pencils come in a sturdy tin case with corrugated channels for each item and a sleeve for the smaller sets. The pencils themselves generally have a lovely stained wood finish on the outside with a color-coordinated base. There is also gold stamping that identifies the type. Overall a nice looking presentation.
Cost – 3/5
The prices of these vary wildly. However, they all tend to be premium priced, but can get quite high into the premium category. It is essential you shop around on these. On the low end these are a good price and on the high end, not so much.
Overall Ranking – 3/5
These pastel pencil hybrids have their strong points and their weak points but overall they aren’t bad for someone looking to incorporate the pastel feel into their next project. Whether or not they are a buy will depend on how much you can get them for. At the top end there are much better options but if you can get them for a steal then why not?