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The Art Gear Guide is your one stop shop for the most recent, up to date, honest reviews on all your favourite art supply products. 


Caran d'Ache Luminance V's Derwent Lightfast

Caran d'Ache Luminance V's Derwent Lightfast

Caran d'Ache Luminance V's Derwent Lightfast

I would just like to clear up one or two things before I get stuck into this comparison blog, I have also completed a video to accompany this comparison but I must warn you it is long. I have included in the description section of the video time stamps were you can skip to in order to see the information as opposed to just listening to my voice. 

I get ask a lot on my review videos, why didn't you mention if they were like this or that pencil, which is a fair question to ask. The reason is simply due to the fact that when I am reviewing a product I don't mention that companies competitors on purpose as I try to make the review about that one product and company alone. The way I see it is, if a company sees my reviews, they are more likely to share that review on their social media platforms if it is all about them and I haven't mentioned other companies, regardless if it is a good or bad review. I know this is a bit selfish on my part as I know when a company mentions The Art Gear Guides reviews, the channel and website gets more exposure. I have however always known that I would add comparison videos which will obviously included a group of supplies in that one video or blog and this is the first of many. 

Why So Long For The Comparison Videos & Blogs?

The reason it has taken me so long to start uploading and writing about comparison supplies is because for the past three or four months I have tried to come up with a scientific method of comparing pencils or markers without the viewers thinking I am cheating, adding too much pressure on one pencil over another etc. The only video I completed that was close to a comparison video was the one showing off the best white pencils. On this video I was accused of favouriting Derwent pencils as someone felt I added more pressure on those pencils based on the colour of my knuckles. Subconsciously I may have been, but consciously I certainly would never do that,

So I have been wracking my brains, trying to come up with a method of providing such a comparison video and without specialised machinery it is impossible. Machinery that would hold all pencils at the exact same angle, add exactly the same pressure to all pencils, etc and this would cost thousands of pounds which I just don't have. I was contacted by an incredibly influential artist in the Coloured Pencil world, an artist I respect immensely, who explained to me that it will be impossible to conduct a comparison that everyone will be okay with and when I read the message I knew this artist was absolutely right. No matter what I do, someone will always come forward and say that X or Y wasn't done to their satisfaction etc. Which leads me onto clearing up the next question I get asked. 

Who Do I Work For? 

On a regular bases I am asked if I work for Derwent, Caran d'Ache, Koh-I-Noor, Spectrum Noir etc. Most of the time these questions are not just put to me out of curiosity, but because the person asking the questions think I favours one pencil over the other and rigs the review to favour said pencil. Unfortunately I am unable to work due to my disability, pain, PTSD and medication intake and so therefore do not work for anyone at all. However, if I was offered a job with Caran d'Ache, Derwent, Koh-I-Noor, Spectrum Noir etc and well enough to do it, I would accept it in a heartbeat. But if I did work for an art company; and this is why I don't really get the sarcastic questions from some individuals, I simply would not be able to do reviews on other products. For two reasons really, if I worked for a company I would undoubtedly display a bit a bias in my reviews and secondly I would be worried about saying the wrong thing about a competitors product that I would lose my job and so working for any company exclusively, would absolutely prevent me from creating art supply reviews. 

I have devised a comparison, displaying facts about the pencils and comparing those facts, then added in a few pigment tests. They are not scientific in terms of exactly the same pressure being applied to all the pencils, however I can assure you, I gain absolutely nothing by favouring one pencil over the other, I get nothing at all in return, no matter how well the comparison turns out for the either pencil, neither companies will share this information on their platforms due to competitors being mentioned. I stand to gain zero by rigging the comparison, it is now entirely up to you as to whether or not you value the information I am providing, it is not compulsory that you accept this test at all, you are more than welcome to check other sources but I have never nor will I ever try to deceive or betray the trust I have built up with my subscribers over the performance of a pencil, life is too short.  

Derwent Lightfast V Caran d'Ache Luminance 

The first thing to get out of the way is the palette for both these amazing pencils. It is not worth comparing or really discussing yet because Derwent have yet to finalise their largest 72 set, that means there is a total of 36 pigments yet to come. The remainder of the pigments are to join the range in 2019 and when they do, I will complete a blog on the difference of palette. 

I would like to say this however, I have heard or read comments from people writing off the Caran d'Ache Luminance and asking the question, "Will the Derwent Lightfast knock the Luminance of the number one spot." The reason I think this is a redundant question is because even when Derwent release the final 36 pigments, any colored pencil artist, creating commissions and entering into influential art competitions etc, will benefit hugely from working with both palettes of the Lightfast and Luminance. Of course there will be a few duplicate pigments found in both sets, but there will undoubtedly be pigments unique to both sets which will only enhance the colored pencils artists arsenal and abilities. 

Current Sets Available. 

As things stand, as of writing this review on June 30th 2018, the sets available in the Caran d'Ache Luminance range are a 12 set, 20 set, 40 set and a 76 set, you can also get a wooden box gift set in the 40 and 76 packs and the Luminance are also sold open stock. 

With the Derwent Lightfast range they only currently have the 12 set, 24 set and 36 set, with of course a 72 set on the way in 2019 sometime. I am also sure that a wooden box gift set will also be available as Derwent always provide this feature for their products and the Lightfast pencil is also sold open stock. 

Recommended Retail Pricing 

I have read a lot of comments talking about the pricing of the new Derwent Lightfast, some people are quite shocked that it is so high, however, this pencil was always going to be expensive given the amount of testing that has been done to it and of course not forgetting the additional  opportunities that it also provides for the artist.

The prices I am including in this section are the RRP Recommended Retail Prices, that is the prices that you will find these pencils on their respective company sites. Both pencils will always be less expensive on Amazon or E-Bay, in fact when I provided prices in my reviews, they are always from Amazon. The reason I have not done that in this comparison is simply due to the fact that the Derwent Lightfast range is not yet available anywhere other than the Derwent Website. This will change as of the 2nd of July 2018 for the UK and September for the US. I will of course be providing links to Amazon prices on my review of the Derwent Lightfast once they become available, but for now I am afraid it must be this. 

For the Luminance the prices are as follows, the 12 set is £39, the 20 set is £65.99, the 40 set is £129.99, the 76 set is £269.99 and an individual Luminance pencil will cost £2.99. It is also important to remember that the 76 set is not 76 individual pigments, the number includes two white pencils, two blender sticks which happen to be the finest blending sticks I have ever used and I think there is another colour duplicated. 

For the Derwent Lightfast sets, they start at, for the 12 set £34, the 24 set is £69.99 and the 36 set is £109.99 and for an individual Lightfast pencil it is £3.20. 

Based on the individual pencil prices which are of course the RRP, some people have instantly concluded that the Luminance is the better deal, however, before jumping to such conclusions, there are other matters to factor. The core size of the Luminance is 3.8mm whereas the core size in the Lightfast is 4mm. I am sure some may say, "Well does 0.2mm really make that much of a difference?" and my answer to that would be yes. When you are paying such sums of money for the finest art products every little crumble of pigment matter and that 0.2mm diameter is of course for the entire length of the core, which soon adds up. 

Lightfast Information 

Both pencils are highly lightfast, which is the soul reason they are so expensive, I mentioned earlier in this blog that this also provides additional opportunities to the artist, which of course it does. Creating a commission for a client using all 100% lightfast pencils, will allow you to sell your work for a lot more than if you used non lightfast pencils. Longevity of the art is incredibly important, most people when they invest in art do so for their lifetime and the lifetime of their grandchildren and beyond. Art collectors will not even entertain your work if it is going to look different in twenty years time, that will mean a possible devalue and not an increase which most collectors are hoping for. 

The reason Derwent have only provide 36 pencils from the Lightfast is because the remaining 36 pigments had not been tested and passed the grade to be labeled 100% Lightfast and so could not be released. The remaining 36 pigments are still undergoing rigours testing and once they have passed the required grade will be included to the line. This will eventually mean no more setting aside pencils less than LF1 grade and having to sort the most lightfast against the least. Once you open your 72 set of Derwent Lightfast pencils you can use every single one. 

As things stand in the Luminance range, the 12 and 20 sets are rated 100% lightfast, the 40 set is rated 85% lightfast and the 76 set only 80% lightfast. Although the Luminance are a truly magnificent pencil, two of those sets have a certain number of pigments that are not 100% lightfast and this is an issue Derwent is trying to eradicate. Having said that, a 72 set of Derwent Lightfast 100% Lightfast pencils will still not eradicate the Caran d'Ache Luminance range but in my opinion will only enhance the colored pencil artist range. 

When Derwent released the ProColour, many people were disappointed with the lightfast ratings, some people not so much after they discovered the two different scales used and Derwent's Blue Wool method was explained. Derwent listened to the complaints and came up with the Lightfast range, but this time the complaints seem to be the price. After testing and reviewing pencils for over a year now, I personally feel if a coloured pencil company delivered a gold plated pencil for free and 100% lightfast with the pigment name on the barrel, people would still complain because they prefer Silver to Gold.But it is this very analogy that has brought me to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a bad pencil or art supply, only a product that has not been used with the right surface yet and for the right style of art, once these factors are met for all supplies, you will have the perfect product for you. 

I have been researching both the ASTM D-6901 and Blue Wool lightfast rating systems for the past three months on and off, I have been talking to people in the companies who conduct the tests in order to try and understand the difference and the importance of the scales for artists. It is incredibly complicated and the amount of conflicting information I have been given is incredible. Never the less, they are the two standards that Coloured Pencils in particular are tested under and hold a lot of weight when it comes to pricing etc. Once I have complied my notes I will be providing an in depth account of everything surrounding lightfast ratings. 

But one thing that may be of interest is that the Caran d'Ache Luminance have undergone testing from the ASTM D-6901 system. Derwent on the other hand, who normally opt for the Blue Wool scale and who some artists claim the Blue Wool scale to be the more accurate and complete test of them both, have gone with both tests. For the Derwent Lightfast pencil, Derwent have opted to have the pencils tested and graded by their traditional Blue Wool and the more American standard ASTM D-6901. To be honest I am not sure if having a product tested and graded with both systems is better, but it is worth knowing. 

Blue Wool Scale 

When a pencil has been tested and graded under the Blue Wool scale, it is a grading out of 8, with 1 being the lowest lightfast rating and 8 being the most. Taking this system into consideration, any pigment rated 6, 7 or 8 are considered fine to be used in commissions, some artists will go as low down as 5 and consider these pigments fine for their work 

ASTM D-6901 Scale

On this scale the pigments are rated 1 to 5, LF1, LF2, LF3 etc with the LF representing lightfast. Pencils using LF1 or LF2 are considered fine for commissions with anything below unusable in these conditions. The ASTM on pencils may show as a star system, one star representing LF1 and 5 stars representing LF5. 

The problem however with all these scales manifest themselves in the way some companies rate their pigments. Some pencils are rated out of three stars, the only problem with this of course is that the accuracy in the actual lightfast rating can be lost. Some artists think even the LF1 and 2 ratings on the pencils are not accurate enough and would much prefer a direct percentage of lightfastness indicated. With the new Derwent Lightfast pencils, they should appease such artists. 

Derwent Lightfast and Caran d'Ache Luminance Performance 

On a test such as this, a comparison between two or more pencils, writing about their performance is not really accurate enough, all I can do is give you my opinion, which of course factors in all manner of things. Issues such as my pressure may be more heavy handed over others, so unfortunately my opinion is all I can offer, that and my video demonstration of both pencils performing blending and various other tests. 

Taking into consideration that the Derwent Lightfast is an oil based pencil and the Caran d'Ache Luminance in a Wax based pencil, there will be difference that doesn't mean better or worse, simply different. 

I conducted a test using four colours from both sets, I used these colours in particular because they all had the same names in both sets, Scarlet, Yellow, Violet and Black. Other colours were very similar but different names and so I stayed away from comparing those in this particular test. 

I divided up a grid into three columns, each column represented a Light application of pigment, a medium application of pigment and a heavy application of pigment. There were two grids one for the Lightfast test and one for the Luminance test. The image below shows the results but you can also see the video demonstration of this test on my channel

 The next comparison I completed was erasing with three different erasers, I used the Tom Bow Mono, Derwent Battery Eraser and the Koh-I-Noor Pencil Eraser, perhaps the best pencil eraser I have ever used. The pigments from both pencils in this test are slightly different and the results significantly different, but again, this does not mean one is better than the other. One is simply wax and the other oil, wax based pencils are more difficult to erase and remove, this test was to simply demonstrate the erasability. 

The next test was a blending comparison, I used the yellow and scarlet from both the Luminance and the Lightfast. I completed a dry blending comparison were I used just both pencils to blend and on both I started with the yellow pigment, followed by the scarlet adding approximately three to four layers each. 

Below this comparison, I completed a similar test, exactly the same pencils, yellow and scarlet from both the Lightfast and the Luminance. I applied approximately four to five layers and blended them both with odourless mineral spirits, "Zest-It Pencil Blender". The Close up images are actually on this comparison perhaps not as good as the actual video demonstration, because the images have been taken using my Nikon D500 I appear to have slightly over saturated the colours. 

My next test was to use the Luminance and the Lightfast pencils together, using the Yellow Luminance and Scarlet Lightfast pencils blended together dry. This was to demonstrate just how well both these pencils play together despite the fact one is wax and the other oil. Ordinarily one would expect to mix other brands of pencil but that are all wax or oil, but very rarely would a wax and oil based pencil be used to mix. 

My final test was to demonstrate both white pencils on black paper. The Caran d'Ache Luminance white has been thee white coloured pencil of choice for the vast majority of artists. The Derwent Chinese White was always a very close second, so I wanted to see what the Lightfast was going to be like. In this comparison I simply applied a heavy application of both Luminance and Lightfast white coloured pencils. 

Conclusion of the Derwent Lightfast V's Caran d'Ache Luminance 

As I have mentioned once or twice now, I have learnt a grate deal since I started out testing, researching and reviewing coloured pencils. A lot of my information and knowledge has come from the wonderful relationships I have developed with the companies, for which I am eternally grateful. I have also gained a lot of knowledge from artists I have grown to admire and respect immensely. From all this knowledge I have concluded that there really is no such thing as a bad art supply, only an art supply that has yet to find the right surface and subject matter to be used on and I truly believe this. I have a multitude of high grade papers and even then there are hundreds more out there to test. I have tested pencils on one paper, only for the results to be terrible, however, once tested on an other paper, you would not believe the pencil to be the same product. 

Having said all of that, I have in a way been dreading starting these comparison videos and blogs but equally excited about them. I do not want to fall into the trap of telling you which pencil I think is the best, I don't think that would be fair on you to thrust my opinion onto you. I feel the best way forward in this new range of blogs and videos is to present the evidence as equally, honestly and clearly as I can possibly achieve, arm you guys with as much information, along with the original reviews and perhaps any art work I have completed. With this comparative information, the original review on whatever products I am comparing and any art work or speed drawings I have, should help all of you make a decision as to whether or not either of the products are for you. 

I think as far as Coloured Pencil Artists are concerned and the breakthrough that coloured pencil art is making into the world of art in general is concerned, the Derwent Lightfast Coloured Pencils along with the Caran d'Ache Luminance Coloured Pencils are the very top of the cream. Both these pencils I think will open an entirely new perspective into the world of coloured pencil art, allow top coloured pencil artists to produce the finest work they have ever produced with a longevity stamp of approval to rival the most expensive oil paints or acrylics etc. 

Both the Caran d'Ache luminance and Derwent Lightfast pencils compliment one an other beautifully, they each hold qualities that the other does not, making them the perfect couple. If I was asked by an artist that they could only get one set, which would I recommend, I think that choice would be as tough as asking me who I love more, my son or my daughter; well maybe not quite that tough, but you get what I mean. There really is very little to separate both pencils, although clearly right now as I write this and Derwent Lightfast only have 36 colours available, I could understand why many of you will wait until the other 36 pigments are available. 

I know this has been an incredibly long comparison, I promise the others will not be as long. I had an obligation with my first to ensure I covered as much information as I possibly could and of course given that this is a brand new pencil I am comparing with a well established work horse pencil for colored pencil artists the world over, this is by no means been a small task. I hope this and my video demonstration has helped you in some small way. Please let me know what you think below in the comments section and I thank you all so much for your wonderful support.  

The Best White Coloured Pencil.

The Best White Coloured Pencil.