Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Positively Passionate about Pencils!

Good Morning.... for those of you still following me (lol) Loooong post this morning.. sorry... so best grab a coffee now!!

OK.. Pencils! Love them.. addicted to them... adore them.... but why? Is it just that I have slight OCD about them and collect them.. or are they actually as fabulous as I think they are? I was chatting to some friends last week about pencils, and I got to thinking..... I have loads, I mean loads, literally hundreds of them, all Derwents, but all different... I don't just mean different colours, I mean different types.... WHY? Do I need them all? Do I need more? (well, yes, obviously.... but do I need or just want?) What does each pencil do that the others don't, what can each pencil do? Am I just rambling on trying to justify my passion for them.... Hmmmmm

"Some of my babies!"

So.. over the weekend.. I had a little play and experiment, and I have to say, the results blew me away! I am No Artist.. so please.. no comments re technical ability!! But as a Very Enthusiastic Amateur... I had a blast! I stamped up one of my favourite image stamps onto decent quality smooth white card.. lots of times, then I played! I used the same colours from each pencil type for each image, so I could see the difference within the techniques used. There is every chance that you all know everything I found out, but hey.. some of it was new to me, and I was so excited by it all, there may be something you didn't realize!

Are you sitting comfortably? Well, I will begin! (note.. these are all DERWENT pencils... I buy no other brand!!)


I love my coloursofts... beautiful pencils... use them lots! They are particularity fabulous for Parchment as they have such a soft creamy core which you can apply with pressure to the sheet of parchment without accidentally embossing the paper as harder pencils will do sometimes. Coloursoft blend beautifully (especially with a blending oil on parchment), and they are just a dream to use. Not a huge amount more I can say.. could rave about them for hours, but that would get boring for you! :-) I started the weekend with these pencils, becasue I know, love and trust them.... was a gentle ease into the experiment, but I did discover a couple of things!

OK.. totally self explanatory, but! First picture.. no extra blending at all, just coloured with the pencils, blending as I added the next colour.. nothing fancy... lovely colours, lovely finish.. Happy! The middle picture, I blended using a stump.... Can you see the wax bloom on her arms and face? They blended easily, but the wax bloom appeared..... Hmmm! The third image, I used a white pencil to blend (this technique I knew, but I perfected last week doing an online course with the FABULOUS Effy Wild... thrilled with the results!) This has to be my preferred blending method... no contest! The colours blended beautifully, and no wax bloom....You can really create some depth and shadow using this method, and I love it! Press fairly hard, as the pressure you apply helps to soften the wax and move the colours around..... Yayyyyy! Perfect!!! But then, I thought.. I wonder.......

And Yes... although not as easy to manipulate, and you need to be patient, and GENTLE... and although they are not water-soluble as such..... you CAN blend coloursoft with a wet brush!!! Oh WOW! OK.. it is not blending as such, but the rich pigmentation of the pencils means the wet brush picks up the top layer of colour and moves it... Great fun.. This was a New Discovery!!! It works better on the richer colours, the reds and blues as you can see by the little scribbles at the side.... this was not done as neatly as it could have been (apologies) it was only an "I wonder" moment but I was chuffed with the results, so included it!


My second pencil to play with, is my second favourite! Love Inktense... Love the vibrancy, the Wow factor, and the surprise factor. They are stunning pencils dry and blended, but add water... An eye-popping rainbow of lushness appears! Which can sometimes be a bit of a shock, because as you are using them dry, your eye sees the colour in front of you, and your mind forgets how much some of the colours explode when wet! Love these pencils so much!

OK.. first image.. dry, and blended... one side stump, the other white pencil... Both had some wax bloom build up...but again I found the blending easier with the white pencil, although it did mute the colours a little bit. The middle image, I applied the pencils dry, and went over with a water brush.... I love this technique... the colour is easy to push around, and if you apply a bit more water, you can shade areas right down just leaving a hint of colour. The smoothness of the result does however depend on the consistency of the dry application..... and be careful, becasue some papers won't take the amount of water required to smooth it all out. The third image, I used the water brush, and took the pigment straight from the nib of the pencil.... This is a difficult technique for me, because I am not a painter, but I am pleased with the results.... the colours are lovely, and they blended so easily.. I might do more of this!
My only complaint about the Inktense, is there is no suitable skintones in the range (well not in the ones I have, and I have most of them!) so a bit of fiddling and manipulation is required, but I think I got an OK tone to her, especially wet.


I don't use my watercolour pencils very much I have to confess.... why.. ermm.. dunno! I think it is because the colours are more muted... I am the same with paints, prefer acrylics and the vibrancy of the colours, but that is just my love for the dramatic .... anyhow.. I gave them a go, and I was very interested by the results.

Well.. for starters... watercolours don't dry blend! Well, not with a paper stump anyway... I tried and tried, but nope, they were not having it! Quite pleased with the coloured image still.. but no.. not blendable! So second image, dry applied, and wet brush over... Blend fabulously, easy to move the pigment around, but be careful, too much water and you lose the colour! Third image was using a wet brush to take the pigment from the nib again.. (and out of my comfort zone again!) but for a non painter, I am pleased with the results.. the colours are a tad richer and I have to say I loved the ease with which they blended as you worked.... I think I will be using these pencils more often now! Still think they are a bit muted.. but that is only my personal preference for drama!

(are you still with me? Told you it was a long post!!!)


(these are not mine.. I have borrowed them from my mum, and I am sad already that I have to return them.... they are next on my Have To Purchase List!!!!) Well.. if we are going to talk WOW factor, and the surprise element in pencils.. these are the ones to have! It is mind blowing (to pencil freaks anyway! LOL) the difference in the colours wet and dry... Love them! Just look at this.. I promise you.. it IS the same colour on each image!!

How Fantastic is that!!!! Like Magic! OK.. dry.. very dark, but the colours do blend within themselves very well, wonderfully creamy core again, and they are beautifully smooth to apply. When you add water though.. Oh My! All these lush and vibrant colours just explode from the page.... I love it!!! One thing I did note, the pigmentation is incredible.. so less may be more when water blending them, but I am stunned by the colours... I love her hair!!! For skin tones, some playing around may be needed as all the colours in the set are fairly dark.... I used the lightest colours there were and she looks fine, and has a very healthy tan! Another down side (to the non perfect artist such as me!) is they are fairly unforgiving... once you have put the colour down, especially wet.. it is there! For ever! Oh well.. I will just have to be a bit more careful then! They are fabulous for large areas though... beautiful sweeps of colour, and a lovely moment of Oh Wow when you swipe across with the wet brush! Neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed these pencils in my life though!


The pure pigment ones.. no wooden barrel.... very soft and creamy to apply, not so good at small delicate areas (well, not for me anyway) but lovely to use. They Blend beautifully wet and dry, I only have a few of these, but I managed to get great results from the ones I had. The wet side of the image was applied dry, and then water brushed over. Again, these are fabulous for large areas as it is so easy to move the colour about.

Only a few more now promise!!!


Hmmm.. Now this was a discovery!! Artist were the first Derwent pencil set I owned... must be three years ago now... Hubby got me the full wooden box set for my birthday all 120 colours in the range.. Stunning set.. so stunning in fact, the box was put aside for admiration and stroking purposes only, and I have never used the pencils!!! How bad is that! Well.. I have used them now.... and I can honestly say WOW!!!! Apparently, the Artist range was the first coloured pencil produced by Derwent, back in the 1930's, and they must be doing something right if it is still so popular today!

These pencils are STUNNING to use! Easy and dreamy to use, harder than the coloursoft, but just as beautifully beautiful to blend with. Using just the colours, they blend fabulously, the colours merge together so well, and being so many of them.. it is so easy to create a whole variety of highlights and shadows. Amazingly, blending with a white pencil is even dreamier to do! I was amazed by the ease of use from these pencils.... Blissful to play with! Totally blissful... I am thinking I might have a new nearly almost favourite here! I am totally in love! Cannot fault this range at all.. 120 stunning colours and magical to use!

Last lot.. promise! :-)


Four more piccies, bundled all together cos you have been sitting here ages!! These are my others.... pencils I have a few of, and don't use that often... till now! Couple of real WOW moments for me!

OK.. working our way along... PASTELS ...I don't like pastels! There I said it! Love the effect and other peoples work with them.. but I don't like them! I only have them cos a shop was doing a special deal and they were in the pencil wraps which I wanted.. so bought them.. couple of years ago.. occasionally get them out and look at them.. but No.. dont like them..... or do I?!?!?! What I didn't know, Pastel is naturally water soluble! Is it? Hmmmmm. So I coloured my girlie in, one side I stump blended, while chuntering all the while about the amount of mess these pencils create.... yeah, not bad blended.. you lose some of the chalky yukky mess, so happier with that, but you also lose some of the colour too....the other side I applied my trusty water brush and OH WOW!!!!! You can water them.. and they are DIVINE!!!!! The colours are stunning, they don't go all insipid wishy washy outy on you, they are vibrant and gorgeous, and I only have a few pastels, and I neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed to go shopping and buy more! Like NOW!!!! Oh my.. I was beyond thrilled with this I can tell you! Bouncing!!!!

METALLICS... I bought this set at the NEC, use occasionally for highlights, but not really played... Didn't know they were water soluble either... Oh LUSH!!!! One side I coloured the girlie black first as it says on the tin best on dark background! Not my best move... I would go for dark paper if I was you, the black pencil isn't brilliant to work from and they are not the best blenders in the world. The other side of the girlie I left white, the metallics are nice on there, but wet opens them right up.. I think these will now be used lots with the inktense as the vibrancy is perfect for that range, with added "twinkle" :-)

ARTBARS... another NEC buy, last year.. spent ages at the Derwent stand watching these being played with... only got a small tin, but might neeeeeeeeeeeeed more! OK.. they are messy, as in they are sooo creamy, unless you are very careful, your hand sweeps the colour all over the show.... plus the chunkiness of the bars makes small areas difficult to colour, but that really isn't too much of a problem, cos when you apply the water brush, the pigment is sooooooo intense. you can paint it for miles and not dilute the richness.. I adore these!!! By increasing the amount of water used, this obviously reduces the intensity of the colours, so shading (even with only a handful of basic colours to start from) is easy.... I love these... Crayons for Growed Ups!!!

Finally COLOURED CHARCOAL.. another I don't like these! Yet another NEC purchase, cos I loved the demo (I am a sales promoters dream.. see it, love it .. buy it!!!) Got them home, tried them.. like pastels.. all yukky gritty chalky messiness ... No.. not for me.... But.. one girlie left.. so lets try them! Dry.. yeah.. messy, chalky, messy, Hmmmmm....dry blended with a paper stump, better... the messiness goes,They do blend beautifully, they really do, I was impressed, and they are easy to rub out if you make a mistake or ten! However....... charcoal.. have you guessed.. Yup.. naturally water soluble... Wayyy Hayyy!! And you know what.. while I am not loving them as much as some of the others.. I am liking them lots, very lots! The colours are nicer wet (I think), they are still easy to erase any mistakes, and the pigment is easy to manipulate. The colours are all very dark though, but I can imagine for clever people who create those gorgeous landscapes, they would be stunning!

Well.. you will all be thrilled to know.. that is all! Yayyy.. Finished.. I wonder how many of you made it this far?!?!?

What are my findings then? (before I leave you all and go and play again) Well... for starters, I am even more totally and utterly in love with Derwent... I cannot fault a single pencil of theirs that I have... some of them may not be my favourites to use or colour-wise, but for ability and quality, I think they ROCK!

I was blown away by some of the stuff I discovered, yeah it might all be old hat to you, but to me, it was magical... I had so much fun! My biggest WOW moment was deffo using the pastels with water! I seriously did not expect to be that impressed by a pastel pencil, like ever!!!!

So.. seeing as all this was about trying to justify my pencil collection.. did I?!?!? Well Yes.. I jolly well think I did! Ok.. a lot of the pencils are very versatile in the cross overs of techniques, but they all have the little jobs they are best at, and for that reason alone, I need all the ones I have... and possibly the ones I don't have too! Yes you can make do with less.. but heck.. where is the fun in that!

Right.. I am off for a much needed coffee after all that typing... then I am going to have a little trawl of the net.. make a new definitive list of The Pencils I Crave and Covet ... I am happy to email this list to anyone who wants to buy me a pressie at all!!! Then I am off to RightMoves, to see what houses there are in Cumbria.. cos I need to move and live on Derwents doorstep and beg them to give me a job!!

Have a great week.. and if you have stuck with me till the bitter end.... while you are here.. leave me a message... would love to know what you think, and how many of you stuck with me!

Toodles!!! xxxxx

OK.. for those who did make it to the end.. CANDY!!! Leave a message, and I will randomly select a winner for this set of pencils... Not Derwent! LOL They are Koh-Noor's, Lovely pencils, but like I said.. Not Derwents.. and I am staying true to them! :-) xxxx


  1. wow this was great , thank you for taking the time to test these out for us , im very interested to learn the white blending , never heard of it before thank you cher x

  2. Debs what an absolutely fantastic article especially for a.beginner like me. I have the inktense and I love them but I'm just learning with them. Now thinking maybe the coloursoft would be.better.then the prismas ooh decisions,.decisions.

    I'd never have bought the graphitints as I've seen them and frankly they.looked dull but wow don't they look fab wet.

    The white pencil you blended.with is.that just the standard white one of.the same type as you are using.

    So many questions lol

    Am saving this article for future reference!

    Thanks so much for taking the time to do this

    Suzy xx

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  4. What a great post lots of information, will have to try all my Derwent pencils now. Thanks

  5. not sure about justifying your pencil hoard Debs but you have justified mine.... lol I am just like you in my adoration of all things Derwent :) x Jayne x

  6. Wow. What a post. I would never have used pencils for anything other than my journal as I didn't think they would look professional enough. Prob because other than a ate of water colour pencils I just have kids ones:-(. Will definitely be changing that state of play!!!!
    Thank you for showing this new medium in a clever and interesting way. I think if u showed this to derwrent, they would give you that job;-)


  7. Debs...what a fantastic article. Very interesting reading indeed. I only discovered the Inktense pencils a couple of years ago and only had a tin of 12. Bought a few more recently but dont really use them much simply because I dont really do a lot of 'colouring' simply because I dont know how! Might have to try and change that now since reading your article. Thanks for taking the time to give us your views and opinions.

    Take care

    Jackie x

  8. You sound a bit like me! Over the past 3 months I have amassed a collection of Derwent products. Over 80 pencils, Inktense Blocks, Willow Charcoal and Derwent XL Graphite Blocks. I love Derwent and too would love to live on their doorstep and beg for a job. I do have a few Non-Derwent producats too, Faber-Castel and Steadler, they are good, but not Derwent.

    I aim to collect as much Derwent products as i can.

  9. Hi Debs, I've really enjoyed reading about your experiments with all the different pencils. I had not heard of white blending before, but will be investigating it shortly. You undersell yourself, as your colouring and shading is lovely and I enjoyed looking at all the different technques and colours you used. I like using pencils (no mine are not all Derwents) but will hav to try out some of what you've shown us here today. As for moving to Cumbria, I think that Derwent should add you to their team wherever you live, you would be a great addition,especially promoting them to crafters.

    Sue x

  10. Interesting reading- from one amateur artist who is also a stationery-a-holic to another! I bought Inktense as a present to myself and was given Graphitent as a Christmas present. Very exciting to use.....next stop.....colours oft!

  11. Very good article. Give the pencils to someone who wants them, they are not Derwent. ;)I too am a pencil hoarder. I have not found a Derwent I do not like and I have most of them! In fact I cant think of any I don't have. HAHA. I enjoyed this page alot.

  12. Deb, thanks for doing all this work! (I love the stamp you used, too),. I didn't realize you could water blend pastels either, maybe I'll actually buy some now :) and I need to learn about this white pencil blending. I'm not familiar with that at all.

  13. Debs you're as mad as a hatter! Loved this post even though my bum is now numb. I have a huge wooden box with Derwent pencils in - probably the same box your hubby bought you. I also have a small tin of Inktense. But I rarely colour anything in not even with my Promarkers LOL! Don't include me in the candy draw, let them go to someone who will love and use them. Hugs, Pamela

  14. well to start with learned so much from this. thank you! as for shopping for pencils it will be Derwent. and I must have GRAPHITINTS!!! love this post and I am bookmarking.

  15. very well thought out and published experiments....well done, brilliant!!! I have some Derwent pencils, but have not worked with them enough...now I will. Thanks for sharing all the details of your wonder and delight. hugs

  16. I was impressed with all the pencils I have also a lot of pencils markers and watercolour pencils but they have other brands in the Netherlands

  17. A fantastic exercise. I love Inktense and have the Graphitint. Now I may have to go back and get a few others to use with them. Seems like the soft skin tones lacking in Inktense are available in the Academy watercolours. Thanks so much.

  18. Loved this article! Thanks for posting it. I need to do more experimenting with my pencils, especially blending techniques. I want to try the white pencil blending idea.

  19. Thanks for the pencil evaluation-good thing you are sticking with one brand or you would have so many art supplies, lol!

  20. Hello there! Lovely posting, VERY long, I have to read it again, but please tell me something: I see you try a lot of pencils, can you tell me the differences between neocolors II and aquatone? I have the aquatone from Derwent, I;m also a Derwent fan, but I'm curious to lknow more about neocolors, they seem similar to aquatone. Is that so? What do you think?

    Thank you for your answer and for this posting again!

  21. really enjoyed this blog thanks its always good seeing what someone else can do. I like. to mix the different types of pencils also sometimes mixing ink and pencil can look amazing. thanks for that Debs

  22. HI I love your blog your colouring is amazing, Guess what`s up the road from me 5 mins away - ta da DERWENT PENCILS LOL X

    LOVE Jacquie xx


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