Raffine coloured pencils by Chinese brand Marco are part of their artists' range, and have been a popular choice around the colouring groups for budget pencils that perform well. I've had my set of Raffines for almost a month now and I can certainly attest to the fact that they are very decent pencils for their price bracket. They do have some not so favourable points, but for the majority of colourists these pencils will rival larger brands like Polychromos on performance and certainly on price. I've had so many people ask me if cheap pencils really can give good effects, so I've attempted to demonstrate the full capabilities of these pencils to show that it really can be done!
The barrels are slim and hexagonal shaped for a comfortable grip, with a colour dipped end that is generally true to the core shade. They're uniform in their silver body, each one stamped in black with the Marco name and individual colour number. The full set of numbers range from 501-572 and are predominantly ordered by shade, though certain pencils seem darker in tone than the next. The pencils are very light in the hand and have a dense 3.3mm lead which seems strong and solid.
Erasing, Smudging & Sharpening
Raffines erase as well as, if not better, than Polychromos, another benefit to the oil lead. I use Derwent Electric Eraser which lifts more pigment than manual rubbers, so it might be worth investing a few quid if you nudge out of the lines a lot like me.
The pencils will only smudge slightly if a heavy hand is swept over them straight away, but if you blow off the pencil dust before handling your picture the colour sets well into the page.
Sharpening wasn't as good an experience in my trial unfortunately. Although the leads are fairly hard, it's extremely difficult to maintain to a needle-sharp point without them crumbling at the tip. Most of the pencils have sharpened without breakages but a couple have not fared well like my Yellow-Orange in the picture. This could be due to damage in transport, so I can't say this is true for every pack of Raffines- I just couldn't get mine to keep that fine point. The thickness of the leads does give them strength when they leads are at normal length though.
Incredible value. That's all I can say really! The 72 count, which is a huge number of colours for budget pencils, are around £16-20 in the box and £30 in a tin. Prices vary everywhere, but I got mine from DanielsBigMarket on Etsy. They are also available in sets of 24, 36, 48 & 60, and are usually shipped from China so there will be a wait.
When anyone asks for a cheap pencil recommendation, I'm going to point them towards Marco Raffine every time. The vibrant laydown of pigment on and variety of shades blows all the other budget pencils out of the water! You've seen one of the pictures I coloured with them earlier, but how about a step-by-step of me colouring an intricate picture with blends and shading galore? I worked on this for days with the smallest & cheapest set - 24 - to show you that Raffines CAN give amazing results, proving that you don't need to spend a lot of money to create great effects!
Click here to see the Flipagram of each step. The book is Imagimorphia by Kerby Rosanes which I will be reviewing closer to its release in May.