Prismacolor Lightfastness Test – 7/31/18

Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils Lightfastness Test


As I’ve grown more and more interested in my artwork standing the test of time, I have been more concerned about lightfastness.


Lightfastness is the ability of a medium to resist qualitative changes from light. It is the ability of a picture to not fade over time. UV radiation from sunlight (and sometimes electric light) break down the molecules in the medium, causing bleaching and discoloring. You can see how this is important for artwork that you hope  to keep for years, or artwork that you will sell. Few people want to go through the hard work of creating a piece only to have it fade in a matter of months or a few years.


This is why manufacturers and art professionals assess the lightfastness of the materials used to create traditional art. Professional and sometimes student art materials will therefore have lightfastness ratings. Cheaper and scholastic grade materials rarely have this information.

It’s great that manufacturers give out this information on their websites and often on things like labels, but there are many factors to consider to see whether your piece will stand the test of time.

For one thing, manufacturers have very different standards when it comes to what they consider is lightfast.

Another thing to consider is that the direction of light (north, south, east, west), strength, and duration factor into how much and how fast a piece of work will fade.


There are a few things you should know about lightfastness.

  • Pigments are overall more lightfast than dyes. This means that professional artist materials will be almost always made with high quality, more lightfast pigments.
  • Dyes on the other hand fade very easily when exposed to sunlight. Dyes tend to be found in student and scholastic grade art materials, because dyes are cheaper. Works created with student or scholastic grade art materials are meant generally for teaching purposes, studies, or for leisure, and these materials therefore don’t need to last for years.


I keep, give as gifts, and sell my traditional artwork.

I will go through the steps I am taking to assess lightfastness in various art materials in my posession.



Prismacolor Premier Pencils

Dick Blick 11”x15” smooth bristol paper

Southern facing window, with tree partially obscuring.



I cut the 11”x15” paper into 4 strips measuring 3.75” x 11” each.I then colored one very saturated bar of each pencil, trying to cover the white paper beneath. Beneath that, I filled in a smaller, lighter strip of colored pencil, using moderate pressure. I then labeled above the colored strips with the pencil name and number. I did that for all 59 different Prismacolor pencils I own.

I next cut each piece of paper in half lengthwise. The halves with the color name and number are hidden away at the bottom of my sock drawer. The halves with just the color were taped together on the back and taped into my window. I’m setting a periodic reminder in my calendar to check the progress of the fading every set period of time.



2 thoughts on “Prismacolor Lightfastness Test – 7/31/18

  1. Kelly

    So what are the results thus far? Has there been much fading? I have been using predominantly Prismacolor premier for my commissioned pet portraits and would love to know your results.

  2. Lance

    I am very curious to know what you have found to date as I am thinking of using colored pencils on some of my turnings for embellishments and have this exact question.

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