Fugitive Colors

by | Aug 16, 2020 | Colored Pencil, General Art

What are fugitive colors?

What are fugitive colors?  Does it mean some of my colored pencils are on the run?

Today we’ll sort out what fugitive colors are and why artists need to avoid them.

Definitionby The Free Dictionary

“Inferior pigments that tend to fade when exposed to the sun or disintegrate in a polluted atmosphere.”

Speaking directly in the context of colored pencils, fugitive colors are colors which will fade over time.  How much time?  It depends on the conditions the finished piece of art is housed in and the time can vary from color to color.  Some colors may begin changing/fading within a few months, some over a few years.

Artists who want to sell finished colored pencil paintings or do colored pencil painting commissions would be very wise to make sure the colors they use are not fugitive.  The last thing you would want is to create a beautiful piece of art, sell it to the client, then have the client return to you upset that the colors of the piece have changed.  We want happy clients.  We want our work to last.  We need to make sure we are using artist quality, lightfast pencils.

There seems to be a bit of a pattern to fugitive colors throughout colored pencil brands.  Colors to truly be careful with are usually pinks and purples.  Next you may find some blues, yellows and occasionally some browns.  I recently sat down and looked up lightfast charts on some of the well-known brands.  I wrote down each and every fugitive color for the brands.


Here’s the count:

Faber Castell Polychromos:

* Good
** Very Good
*** Excellent

Total Colors available: 120

Total Worst Fugitive Colors *:  2

Total Fugitive Colors *: 2

Prismacolor Premier: 

I Excellent
II Very Good
III Good
IV Fair
V Poor

Total Colors available: 150

Total Worst Fugitive Colors V:  23

Total Fugitive Colors IV-V : 34

Caran d’Ache Pablo

* Good
** Very Good
*** Excellent

Total Colors available: 160    

Total Worst Fugitive Colors *:  9   

Total Fugitive Colors*: 9

Blick Artists Studio Colored Pencils:

* Satisfactory
** Good
*** Very Good
**** Excellent

Total colors available: 89

Total Worst Fugitive Colors*:  7

Total Fugitive Colors ** or less: 25

Artwork of a flamingo in teal colors.

“Rainbow Wating For Rain”

Colored Pencil Piece Using Fugative Colors

What do you do with your fugitive colors?

First, it would be best to separate them out of your set.  Place them in another container or drawer so you won’t accidentally grab one and use it on a commission or an original piece you intend to sell. 

Do you need to throw them out and never use them?


You can use them on pieces when you don’t intend to sell the original.  What you can do is create an amazing piece of artwork incorporating the fugitive colors, scan the finished piece and sell prints!  That way you can enjoy all your colors and not need to worry about any fading as the prints will be made with archival quality inks.  


I hope this has helped you to better understand what a fugitive color is and why you shouldn’t use them for salable original art pieces.

Until next time,
Keep Creating!

Join My YouTube Wolf Pack