Love to color or do colored pencil artwork but just dread all the necessary sharpening that needs to be done? Maybe having to sharpen deters you enough that you just avoid using colored pencils altogether.
Well, have you heard of Crayola Twistables? It’s surprising how many people don’t know about them! Allow me to extol the virtues of these little gems. Hopefully, by the end of the article you will give Crayola Twistables Colored Pencils a try.
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Crayola Memory Lane
The Crayola brand name may bring up images of our schooldays where our supplies in our classroom desks weren’t
complete without pack of Crayola crayons. And you were the cool kid if you had the 64 pack of those crayons complete with the little sharpener on the back. I LOVED those! It was exciting to me to see what I could do with those crayons!
I guess my early love of Crayola brand has not left me since I have done most of my classes with Crayola Colored Pencils—a brand that is universally affordable yet produces decent art work.
As a result, when I first laid eyes on their twistable colored pencils, I was intrigued! A colored pencil that never needed sharpening?! How cool is that?! I had to have them. And they didn’t disappoint.
What are Crayola Twistable Colored Pencils?
Quite an ingenious invention, Crayola Twistables Colored Pencils are colored pencils encased in a mechanical device that allows you to twist the end of the pencil to see the core come through the end. The barrel holds it in place as you use it. When it wears down, simply twist for more color!
Also, the barrel is also clear so you can see how much you have left. When not using, you can retract the point back into the barrel to protect the core till the next art session.
Moreover, their biggest advantage has to be that they never need sharpening allowing for the convenience of just grabbing your pencils and paper and go!
Aren’t They Really Just Fancy Crayons?
Most definitely not (and confirmed by the Crayola company itself)—
Crayola Twistables Colored Pencils are not crayons. You will understand this the minute the color lays down on the paper. The Crayons and Colored pencils are two different products.
Admittedly, Crayola Twistables feel somewhat soft (kind of like a crayon) but perform like a colored pencil. You can layer and blend with them quite easily, just like traditional colored pencils.
Having said that, Crayola does make Twistable Crayons, in case you’re interested. The core is much thicker and performs like a typical crayon. The advantage of these crayons compared to traditional crayons is that being that being enclosed in the barrel, they always remain the same length, making them easier to work with as the color runs out.
Why I Love Crayola Twistables Colored Pencils—Let Me Count the Ways
Pictured above on my Visual Edge Slant Board, Crayola Twistables have many advantages. Here they are:
- Never needs sharpening—so no worries about leads breaking in the sharpener or having to have a sharpener at all!
- 50 different colors available through Amazon—up to 30 in a pack elsewhere
- Clear plastic barrel shows how much lead is left
- Color coded on both ends for color identification
- Durable plastic barrel protects cores to prevent damage
- Can retract leads back into barrel to protect the points when not using
- Adequate pigmentation for beautiful artwork
- Easy to use
- Comfortable to hold with the barrel being bigger than traditional colored pencils
- Great for coloring and other art projects
- Soft, buttery feel when using them
- Blunt points gives artwork a softer look
- Fun to work with
- Easy lay-down of color
- Can layer colors easily
- Great blending
- Safe and non-toxic
- Very affordable
Blunt Points and How to Work with Them
The fact that you cannot sharpen this like traditional colored pencils, you will always be working with a blunt point. In fact, this is one of the biggest differences in performance of this pencil compared to their traditional counterparts. But rule #1 in working with colored pencils is to always have a sharp point when working with them, right?
Well, that’s correct if you’re working with traditional colored pencils that easily lend themselves to producing exacting artwork with sharp, crisp edges.
A Softer Look
But if you’d like a slightly softer look, twistables are at your service. In working with these, the blunt points do seem to lend themselves to a softer look for your artwork by producing softer edges. In fact, I find this advantageous as I don’t have to work as hard to get a soft look, the point kind of does that for me.
So, does that change the way we lay down color? And what do we do for fine detail?
Alter Your Technique
Another big difference in working with these twistable colored pencils is that we have to abandon the “underhand position” we learned with traditional colored pencils (click here for description of underhand position in Basic Colored Pencil Techniques) Truthfully, there simply is no way to place the twistable pencil on the paper to achieve a broad, flat stroke. Wait…What??! No way to create texture, then?
No worries! You can simply adjust your thinking and rely totally on stroke technique and placement to achieve a similar
Illustration with Twistables
To illustrate, here is a quick tree study I did using Twistables and adjusting my stroking to create texture. I used very small, random, quick back and forth strokes and pressure variation on the fly to create the look. Notice I did not cover every part of the paper either. Easy, peasy!
What about fine lines and details? Contrary to what you may assume with a blunt point you still are able to create a fine line and detail with these pencils. All you need to do is look for a fine edge on the point a voila! fine line.
Although, it won’t be super, super crisp, it will be a softer fine line. It’s kind of similar to working with pastels in this way. (Notice in the tree picture the finer lines I was able to produce for the branches).
In summary, I do not find working with a blunt point a limitation in any way. I simply go into an art session with twistables knowing I will be employing slightly different techniques and producing a slightly different outcome. It’s almost like working with a different medium.
What about Layering and Blending?
Layering with these is the same as regular colored pencils. You can achieve different values with the same hand positions and pressure variations reviewed in Basic Colored Pencil Techniques. You can do light layering all the way to heavy layering and burnishing as pictured below.
Because the points is blunt, I find an advantage in that you don’t have to work as hard to “fill in gaps” that occur with stroking with a traditional sharp colored pencil.
Blending is also very easily achieved with these pencils; beautiful gradients are easily rendered. You can still use all the various techniques discussed in my post on blending, (click here for 6 Ways for How to Blend Colored Pencils).
Note this beautiful butterfly coloring I did for fun with Twistables—layering, blending no problem and getting into all those tight spaces was a breeze!
Tip: When trying out brand new pencils out of the box, I recommend doing two things: 1. Twist up about a quarter inch of the point and gently wipe with tissue to remove the wax that rises to the surface after sitting for a while. And 2. Work them on scrap paper first to gently wear down the very hard edge and round out the point a bit. If you use them right out of the box without doing these things first, you may find them a bit scratchy to work with and get the wrong impression of them.
Color Variety and Pigmentation
Crayola makes them available in 30 wonderful colors (50 exclusively available through Amazon). The colors aren’t named on the barrel, but the ends make the color identifiable, at least. You could also, number or name them right on the barrel yourself with a sharpie and make yourself a numbered or named swatch color chart.
The colors are adequately pigmented allowing for satisfactory result. I think the colors produce a softer looking (as opposed to bold) coloration. And that’s very nice. (See the butterfly picture above).
Are They Erasable?
Crayola makes both erasable and non-erasable twistable colored pencils. And I find even the non-erasable can be almost completely erased when erasing a very light layer.
Completely Safe and Non-Toxic
Crayola Twistables are promoted as safe and non-toxic giving parents peace of mind when their kids use this product. Also, Crayola makes Crayola Silly Scents Mini Twistables Crayons that would surely be fun for children to use!
OK, What’s the Downside?
Really, there are only three disadvantages I can see with this product. First, they do not make refills for the Twistables. Secondly, they are only available in sets. You cannot buy colors individually. And thirdly, the barrels are not recyclable. So when you use up a pencil, it has to go in the trash.
On all three counts, though, the upside is that they wear very slowly so you may seldom have to toss or replace these.
Crayola Twistable Colored Pencils are definitely worth a try. If you color, you will love them! They are so fun and delightful to use. And you can’t beat the convenience of no sharpening!
If you’re an artist, you may want to have a set among your collection of mediums. There’s just something so relaxing and comfortable about using them.
Thanks for reading. I would love to hear what you think about them! Let me know!
Have a colorful day,