The Uni ArtErase 12-color Colored Pencil Set ($33) is considerably more expensive than the Prismacolor Col-Erase set I reviewed a couple weeks ago but when I saw it, I knew I had to try them. Uni Mitsubishi makes such amazingly high-quality graphite pencils and I love their red/blue pencils that it seemed worth considering the possibility that their erasable colored pencils might be worth the investment.
First of all, the ArtErase pencils come in a lovely tin box compared with the paperboard box that the Prismacolor Col-Erase were packaged. Not that I want a lot of fancy packaging, nor am I inclined to keep my pencils in a tin, but from the standpoint of the pencils being protected in transport and, having a useful and potentially reusable box, clearly Uni has the lead here. Uni also included a foam/plastic eraser in a hard plastic sleeve with the set which, while being only a couple dollars additional investment, is also a mark in their favor. And, it actually works. As opposed to the useless pink erasers on the end of the Col-Erase pencils, which are so useless I don’t think I even mentioned them in my review of the Col-Erase at all. I think those pink eraser top erasers are included on the Col-Erase pencils are for decorative purposes only.
The ArtErase pencils are absolutely beautiful as pencil objects alone. I’ve come to expect this from top-tier Japanese brands but it should be mentioned, especially in contrast to the Col-Erase. The finish on each of the ArtErase pencils is lacquer smooth with perfect foil stamping, gold foil rings and a sparkly metallic, gold-dipped end that gives it a clean, sophisticated finish. The core of each pencil is thicker than the Col-Erase though I do not have a caliper to provide specific measurements. The ArtErase pencils have the look and feel of a Faber-Castell Polychromos rather than a Prismacolor Verithin, if that helps give you a better idea.
Once applied to paper (in this case, a Stillman and Birn Alpha sketchbook paper) it becomes clear how rich and creamy the leads on the pencils really are. They are much softer and creamier than Col-Erase pencils of comparable color. It’s most notable with the black pencils. The ArtErase black is considerably darker and inkier in color than the black Col-Erase. Where some Col-Erase pencils can feel scratchy on paper, the ArtErase pencils feel velvety. Even with how smooth and buttery the ArtErase pencils are, the only colors I could smudge with my finger was the black, brown and red. I could smudge the same colors in the Col-Erase plus the blue. The water solubility tests were also pretty comparable though the ArtErase, since the colors were richer, were prone to a bit more color spreading when wet.
Overall, the ArtErase pencils are richer, creamier and more luscious colored pencils when compared to the Col-Erase. They erase a little bit better than the Col-Erase and have softer, thicker leads. They are a bit more water soluble and are about as smudgeable as the Col-Erase. But the ArtErase are considerably more expensive. Presently, I have only found them through JetPens in the 12-color set so should you find that you like a few colors in particular, there are not open stock sources to replenish those. That said, the ArtErase are not at all scratchy like the Col-Erase and generally perform more like traditional artist’s grade colored pencils than the Col-Erase.
If you’re looking for an alternative for base drawings for animation, storyboarding, preliminary artwork or even everyday sketching and artwork, I think these pencils are far more versatile than the Col-Erase even with the more limited color range and the lack of open stock options. But they are more expensive. Buy once, cry once?