Sunday 31 December 2017

Product Review Series | Irojiten Coloured Pencils by Tombow

Hi everyone, thank you for stopping by. I hope you're having a great day.

To wrap up the year, and because it's Sunday I have a final product review for 2017. As many of you know I received a bunch of stuff for Christmas and I promised some reviews. Today I am doing the Irojiten Coloured Pencils by Tombow. If you haven't heard of these before, do some Googling and then come back here. I'll wait.

For those of you that have seen them and are interested in more information, sit back and relax, grab a cup of coffee and read on! As always, this is a lengthy post with lots of pictures and information.

  • Wax-based
  • Made by Tombow
  • White barrel with painted end for colour identification
  • Each pencil has a number and name directly engraved
  • Each box has a list of colour numbers and names included
  • Each set contains three volumes of 10 pencils (30 per set, 90 in the collection)
  • They are pre-sharpened

Set one contains:

  • vol 1 Pale tone 1
  • vol 2 Vivid tone 1
  • vol 3 Deep tone 1
For the purposes of this demonstration I will be using this set for the examples as I feel it gives the widest range of colours as well as what I consider to be "true" colours. Vivid tones is what I expect rainbows to be made of. 

I tested on my three most common papers - 110lb white cardstock, 65lb kraft cardstock and 65lb black cardstock. The stamped image is from Lawn Fawn's "Our Friendship Grows", stamped with Memento Tuxedo Black ink.

I used P1 and P2 (Orchid Pink and Coral Pink) for this example. Basically, I'm testing to see how they lay down on each of the papers and how much they stand out from the background.

As you can see on the white cardstock that the colours are very pale - which I expected coming from the pale tones. They continue to be quite soft on the kraft but not so much that I would choose not to use them. They stand out magnificently on the black - obviously you cannot see the stamped image, but the colours stand out very nicely. Again, colour choice is important on a darker cardstock, and it will take some experimentation before you find what works for you.

  • Core is a medium hardness - definitely harder than Prismacolor Premier pencils, but softer than a Faber-Castell Polychormos.
  • I found that on all three papers the pigment lay down evenly without a lot of effort and they layered very nicely.
  • It did not hurt my hand to use them. I didn't feel the need to grip the pencil tightly nor did I have to apply a lot of pressure to lay the pigment down.
  • The colours I chose for this were very close together so it didn't entail a lot of blending at this point.

For the blending test, I lay down V1 (vivid tones 1) Cherry Red, V7 King Fisher (the blue) and then over top V3 Dandelion. On the left of the swatches is blending with the pencil. On the right I am blending with Gamsol.


  • The colours do less blending and more sitting together. You can see this specifically in the green area, where I lay the yellow over the blue. It seemed to fill in the gaps between the blue streaks causing the colour to appear green. 
    • This is very different than the Prismacolors that seem to blend and mix together on the page.
    • These seem to just work "together" to look the way I wanted it to.
  • On the right where I used Gamsol, you can see that the blending is smoother and there is less visibility of the tooth of the paper - the Gamsol reacts as expected with these as they are a wax based pencil.

For the erasability test, I lay down the V1 Cherry Red in two layers over the paper. On the left I used a regular white eraser and on the right I used the Tombow Mono Sand Eraser. I chose red as it is the hardest colour to fix errors with or to blend. Red is a nightmare in pretty much any medium from coloured pencils through to nail polish.

  • Both erasers did a decent job of pulling up the pigment. I wasn't expecting perfection as it is red.
  • The regular eraser (left) was able to lift more pigment than I expected and if I should have a tick or a mistake in a piece I suspect it would work nicely.
  • The Tombow Mono Sand eraser was able to pull up a lot more pigment as expected due to the nature of the eraser. If you haven't gotten one of these I highly recommend you check them out in the link above.

Set two contains:
  • vol 4 Pale tone 2
  • vol 5 Deep tone 2
  • vol 6 Light Grayish tone 1 
I found their naming of Light Grayish tone 1 interesting as there isn't another one, but maybe in the future.... who knows?

This set rounds out the pale and deep tones that are found in set one and expands into muted tones. I would naturally gravitate towards the Light Grayish tones for background or shadowed areas in a forest or floral scene.

Set three contains:
  • vol 7 Fluorescence
  • vol 8 Very pale tone
  • vol 9 Dull tone
If you are not buying the full set, this is the last I would recommend, and maybe that's why they put these together as they did. I don't tend to use very bright colours and I'm still searching for a reason to use the Fluorescence pack. 

The very pale tones (vol 8) just screams baby cards or Easter cards and I definitely cannot wait to use these in that way.

Vol 9 Dull tone reminds me of a swamp or a forest at night and I will likely use them as such when a project comes my way with those things. I highly suspect that this third set will be the least used.

Here I have completed my swatch pages for all the colours - I'll have an entire post about swatching and why it is important in the future but this will give you a basic look at the colours and how they have set out their palettes for this collection.

Overall Conclusions:
  • These pencils are super pretty to have in my craft room. They just look classy. So far the packaging has held up quite well, but I haven't taken them to travel yet. Regular use in the craft room, they take up a lot of space when they are all laid out. If you aren't into the pretty packaging I would recommend a pencil case of some kind.
  • The pencils feel good in the hand. They have a smooth round barrel that is comfortable and I don't feel like I have to hold tightly.
  • They lay down very nicely overall, the pigment quality is quite good. If find them comparable to Prismacolor Premier pencils - though the core is harder.
  • The colours are true - One pencil is called "apricot" and when I lay down the pigment I am not disappointed when I see the apricot colour. They also match their painted ends rather well, so well done there - no sneaky surprises when grabbing a pencil. We've all been there and it's a dark, angry place.
  • The colours are very unique which is not something you see with a lot of other pencil brands. 
  • There is a disgusting lack of grays. Out of the entire set of 90 pencils there are two grays. TWO!! I happen to like to use a lot of gray in my pieces for shading and animals and it was incredibly disappointing to find only two. Both of which are in the first set - another reason why I recommend that set the most.
  • They sharpen nicely and I did not have any breaks. As always the sharpener I use and highly recommend is the T'GAAL multi-sharpener by Kutsuwa
If you are looking to expand your coloured pencil collection I highly recommend them. The unique colours and the range in which they come with this set will make an excellent addition to your pencil collection.

However, if you are looking for your first "Artist" grade pencils - these are not the way to go. I would only recommend these to people who already have or are planning to have another set, such as the Prismacolor Premiers or the Faber-Castell Polychromos. 

I hope you enjoyed today's review. If you have any questions about these pencils or a suggestion for a future review, please leave me a note in the comments section below. If you haven't already, please follow me on the right side bar or over on Facebook so you don't miss any future posts.

Have a Happy New Year

*disclaimer: I am not sent products to review nor am I paid to review them. I review the products that I have, that I find interesting and that I have paid for (or in this case received as a gift). I receive no payment, reward or incentive by the company to review the product. All reviews are based on my experience with the product and are my opinion only.


  1. Thank you for your review. I found it very useful. I was looking at these for my first artist grade pencil. I do not have the finances for prismas and faber. What would you recommend as a good yet not too expensive alternative

    1. Hi! Thank you so much for stopping by. If you are looking for a good set of wax pencils I would recommend the Blac Widow and Scorpions. Very inexpensive and excellent quality. I’ll be reviewing them shortly.
      If you are looking for Oil based pecils I suggest the Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor pencils.
      At the top of the blog there is a link that goes to product reviews and comparisons and I have several other sets there.
      If you have any other questions please let me know and don’t forget to follow along!

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