Review by Tina Koyama
When I first saw photos of Uni Pericia colored pencils and their prices, my immediate reaction was skepticism (OK, lust – then skepticism). $74.50 for a set of 24 pencils? Certainly, it’s not the only professional-quality, colored pencil that costs $3 each or more (Caran d’Ache’s premium lines come to mind). But for the Pericia, how much of that cost is for the fancy, faux-leather case? Even pricey Caran d’Ache pencils come in a cardboard box, and most other colored pencils come in metal tins. Could the Pericia pencils themselves be worth the price? Of course, I had to know.
First, let’s get the bling out of the way, shall we? Yes, that fancy box. It came protected in a translucent plastic sleeve with the color names printed on the bottom.
As described, the case itself is made of a textured faux leather that feels nice and sturdy. A tab on the case slips into a loop on the lid like a belt to keep the case from falling open. The pencils are well protected, and the case looks like it should hold strands of pearls.
Inside, the pencils sit in a velveteen-lined tray of snug grooves that will not let the pencils fall out inadvertently. The lid can be folded back like an easel, and the case can then stand upright for easy access to the pencils. I admit, the box is much better than most.
However, I’m not one to be seduced by a fancy box (especially since I always store and use pencils in a cup). Let’s get to the important stuff: the pencils. Uh-oh, more bling – the pencils themselves are very pretty with a round, brown, matte-finish barrel. (I’m partial to both round pencils and a matte finish, so I love the way these feel.) The end cap indicates the color, and a gold trim ring separates the end cap from the barrel. The Uni logo and Pericia name are stamped in gold foil. On the other side the color number and name (I always appreciate seeing the latter) are stamped in white. The standard-size barrel sharpens well in any sharpener.
JetPens describes Pericia as “soft oil-based colored pencils” and “featuring a special wax core.” The only other oil-based colored pencils I own are Faber-Castell Polychromos and Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor (I may have others, but not all manufacturers identify the binder material clearly), and both are relatively hard. Those led me to expect Pericia to be similarly hard.
In fact, Pericia has a core that is among the softest I have used. It’s softer than Caran d’Ache Luminance, which, up to now, was the softest I was accustomed to using. I know that Prismacolors are known for their softness, and although I don’t use them much due to breakage issues, I have some on hand. I compared them, and I’d say Pericia is easily as soft as Prismacolor.
The hues are rich and saturated, and they blend beautifully. My only quibble is that in my set of 24, there was only one yellow; usually an assortment this size includes both a cool and a warm yellow.
The sample swatches and sketch above were made in a Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook. On the Epsilon’s smooth surface, I expected the soft cores to have no problem covering the paper, and I was right.
Lately I’ve also been experimenting with colored pencil drawings in my black Stillman & Birn Nova sketchbook, so I made sample swatches and a sketch in it, too. Nova paper has some tooth, which takes a little more time to cover with the soft Pericia cores, but their buttery smoothness makes the additional time a pleasure.
Fancy box notwithstanding, Pericia pencils are scrumptious! They are among the best pencils I own. My only complaint is that I can’t find them anywhere open stock, so it means that once a pencil is gone, it can’t be replaced without buying another set. (I’m hoping JetPens eventually offers them individually.) Since they are remarkably soft, they will not hold a point long, so you’ll need a harder pencil for fine detail work. But for anything else, they are a joy to use.