Lightfast Test GELATOS by Faber Castell Design Memory Craft

Art supply review and lightfast testing of "Gelatos" manufactured by Faber Castell aka Design Memory Craft. This company is best known for making artist quality graphite pencils, Polychromos color pencils and Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils.

Gelatos are gel sticks containing pigment color in a creamy binder, similar to chapstick in both container and consistency. They are best for laying down background color on paper, canvas or any acrylic gesso painted surface. They can also be used for light pastel-tone (pale) watercolor painting (they are lighter in color when picked up with water and a paintbrush).They can also be used directly on a rubber stamp, misted with a fine spray of water and stamped onto your surface.

They claim to be "permanent" which in the art world typically means waterproof after drying. But I had major sealing problems for mixed media/layers of artwork after allowing them to dry for 24 to 48
Because Gelatos are designed to be water activated, even after drying for a day they can still be re-wet enough to cause a muddy mix of colors when you attempt to apply a brush-on sealer to do multi-layer artwork. To avoid smearing colors you can use light sprays from a spray can style sealer, or
watered down acrylic matte medium in a spray bottle, or a quick pass with a sponge brayer using your favorite brush on sealer for water based paints, but they are finicky to work over. If you attempt to draw with a pen over top of a thick layer of gelatos, the waxy layer from the color sticks will clog your pen. I found that it was much easier to draw over the gelatos covered surface after you water it down. If you try to paint over the gelatos, the wetness will activate the colors and they will mix into your new layer of paint.



**additional images posting shortly**


The color chart above shows the "gift set" which contains 28 color sticks (advertised as a "34 piece set" that includes some applicators and a water brush). The color chart to the right shows 8 colors from two of their 4-color pack sets called "Tropical" and "Macaroons" that also come with a brush and foam applicator.

GELATOS lightfast test fugitive color chart fading Design Memory Craft Faber Castell

Unfortunately 12 of the 36 colors showed very bad fading and/or color changes in just 1 month of light exposure, with several showing signs of fading in under 2 weeks. Three additional colors showed slight fading but were not as severe in color change as the first 12 (see pictures). Pretty bad for a product claiming all colors to be lightfast, especially in comparison to other coloring products on the market (nearly all of my acrylic paints stayed true to color, even my crayola kid's color pencils did better). The versatility of this product is pretty good, but I'm disappointed that I spent the money for the larger set. I would only use a limited list of their colors (and only if you have a need for this type of product, as their are so many inks and paints on the market that can do similar jobs with easier application, sealing options and precision application vs the wide chapstick type tip).

Design Memory Craft (Faber-Castell's "craft" supply brand name) has many great projects using Gelatos on their blog. The "no fading in the sun" quote above can be viewed on this blog post by them. On the Faber-Castell website, Design Memory Craft blog, and on many of the product packages themselves they claim all Gelatos colors are lightfast. However, compared to other coloring products my testing has shown many of their colors seem to be severely lacking in lightfastness. I can not say if this was due to the company lying, or if it is because they used pigments normally considered lightfast while creating their product and then just never bothered testing them to make sure.

This was extremely disappointing for me, especially because money is very tight and these were expensive. I hope that they will clarify their lightfast ratings for individual colors in the future, because simply labeling them all "lightfast" is not accurate. The manufacturer's blog also repeatedly makes comments about these not fading from sunlight. As a seasoned artist, I was armed with knowledge on how pigments fade over long periods of time so I didn't expect the colors to last forever, but certainly didn't expect changes within 2 to 4 weeks. Other "lightfast" colors last a year or more in the same conditions, so what I purchased REALLY didn't meet my expectations.

Sadly I can't recommend this product, but I've included an amazon link if you'd like to check it out anyway. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I've also included links to the paper, ink and paintbrushes used within all of my reviews.


If these type of water soluble color sticks interest you, a similar product is called Caran d'Ache Neocolor II Artists' Crayons made with quality pigments that have been used by fine artists around the world for many years. They can be sharpened to a smaller crayon style point than Gelatos, and used for expressive broad strokes or diluted with a wet brush like watercolors.