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How to Organize Colored Pencils

how to organize colored pencils

Colored pencils are a versatile and popular medium among artists and enthusiasts of all skill levels. However, the array of colors available can quickly become overwhelming if not properly organized. A systematic approach to organizing colored pencils saves time and enhances the creative process by facilitating easy access to desired colors.

But how to organize colored pencils? This article will explore various methods and tips for organizing colored pencils efficiently, ensuring a harmonious and inspiring workspace.

Choosing the Right Storage Solution

Selecting an appropriate storage solution is the first step toward organizing colored pencils. There are numerous options available to suit different needs and preferences.

Pencil Cases and Rolls

pencil cases and rolls organize

Pencil cases and rolls are popular choices due to their portability and ease of use. They come in various sizes and materials, such as fabric, leather, or synthetic options. Pencil cases with individual slots or elastic loops provide excellent protection and organization, keeping pencils secure and preventing them from rolling around.

Pencil Boxes and Trays

pencil boxes and trays organize

Pencil boxes and trays are ideal for artists with larger collections. They offer more extensive storage capacity and can be stacked or organized in drawers for easy access. Clear plastic or wooden boxes with compartments provide a visual overview of the pencil colors and make selection effortless.

DIY and Repurposed Storage Options

diy pencils storage

For those on a budget or seeking a creative approach, DIY solutions and repurposed containers offer an opportunity to create customized storage. From mason jars to recycled tin cans, the options are limitless. This approach allows artists to design a storage solution that aligns with their personal style and preferences.

Sorting and Categorizing

Once you have chosen a storage solution, sorting and categorizing your colored pencils is essential for efficient organization.

By Color Families

organize colored pencils by color

What is the importance of learning how to organize colored pencils by color? Sorting colored pencils by color families is a popular method. This involves grouping pencils with similar hues together, such as warm colors (red, orange, yellow), cool colors (blue, green, purple), and neutrals (black, white, gray). This arrangement allows for easy color identification and simplifies the selection process.

By Brands or Sets

organize colored pencils by value

If you primarily work with specific brands or sets, organizing your colored pencils accordingly can streamline your workflow. Keeping pencils from the same brand or set together ensures consistency in color quality and facilitates replacements or additions.

By Lightfastness and Quality

organize colored pencils by lightfastness

For artists concerned about lightfastness (the resistance of colors to fading), organizing colored pencils by their lightfastness ratings can be beneficial. Separating lightfast and non-lightfast pencils helps ensure long-lasting artwork, especially for pieces intended for display or sale.

Sorting pencils by quality levels, such as student grade and artist grade, can also aid in selecting the appropriate pencils for different projects.

Labeling and Color Reference System

organize colored pencils by color reference

Labeling your colored pencils and utilizing color reference systems can significantly enhance organization and ease of use.

  • Color Swatches: Creating color swatches is a valuable practice that involves drawing a small square or circle with each colored pencil onto a reference sheet. This provides a quick visual guide to the actual colors without having to test each pencil on the artwork. Labeling the swatches with the color names or codes further enhances organization.
  • Color Charts and Catalogs: Many colored pencil manufacturers provide color charts or catalogs that display their sets’ entire range of colors. These charts can be downloaded or obtained from manufacturers’ websites and serve as handy references for organizing and selecting pencils.
  • Digital Apps and Online Tools: In the digital age, several apps and online tools can assist in organizing and managing colored pencils. Some apps allow you to create virtual swatches, color libraries, and even generate color schemes (Like: color.adobe.com, coolors.co…). These tools provide a convenient way to have your color references readily available on your smartphone or computer.

Organizing Techniques

organize colored pencils by tone scales

There are various techniques to arrange colored pencils within your chosen storage solution. Experimenting with these methods can help you find the one that suits your workflow and aesthetic preferences.

  • Rainbow Order: Organizing colored pencils in rainbow order follows the natural progression of colors in a rainbow spectrum. This visually appealing arrangement helps locate specific colors quickly and intuitively.
  • Gradient Blending: A gradient blending approach involves organizing colored pencils from lightest to darkest, creating a smooth tone transition. This arrangement is particularly useful when working on shading and blending techniques, as it allows artists to easily identify pencils within a specific tonal range.
  • Chromatic Wheel: Inspired by the color wheel, organizing colored pencils in a chromatic wheel arrangement groups colors in a circular order, with primary, secondary, and tertiary colors represented. This method aids color harmony and facilitates color mixing by placing complementary colors opposite each other.
  • Value or Tone Scales: Arranging pencils by value or tone scales involves organizing them from the lightest to the darkest, disregarding color. This method allows artists to easily identify pencils with similar tonal values, making shading and highlighting more efficient.

Benefits of Organizing Colored Pencils

Organizing colored pencils offers several benefits.

  • Firstly, it saves time by eliminating the need to search through a jumbled mess of pencils to find the desired color.
  • Additionally, an organized workspace promotes a sense of calm and focus, allowing artists to immerse themselves in their creative process fully fully fully.
  • By establishing a well-structured organization system, artists can also prevent accidental breakage and extend the lifespan of their colored pencils. An effective organization enhances productivity, creativity, and enjoyment of the artistic journey.


Learning how to organize colored pencils is vital in creating a functional and inspiring workspace for artists and enthusiasts. You can experiment with different methods presented in this article and find the organizational approach that best suits your artistic workflow, allowing you to focus on what you do best – creating beautiful artwork with your colored pencils.

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