Derwent Artist Coloured Pencil Review And What Paper To Use
Derwent Artist Coloured Pencil Review And What Paper To Use
Just before Christmas, I asked a lot of you on Social Media how you would feel about me re-doing some of my very first reviews and lots of you agreed it would be a good idea. You see, in the two or so years I have been reviewing art supplies, I have learnt so much and whilst none of the previous information on the earlier reviews will change, I will most certainly be adding important information, stuff that just never crossed my mind back when I started.
The first pencil I really wanted to review is one of my all time favourite pencils, the Derwent Artist. I guess my main reason for wanting to start with this pencil is due to the amount of questions I get about them. So many people tell me that they purchased a set way back and put them to the side because they thought the core was too hard or not pigmented enough, hopefully, in this review I will be encouraging those people who have a set of these beautiful pencils sat on the sideboard doing nothing, to get them back out and use them to their full potential. I also hope to appeal to new artist who have perhaps heard discouraging things about the pencils, to buy a set and try them out.
Derwent Artist Coloured Pencil Characteristics
The barrel of the Derwent Artist pencil is a gorgeous racing car green or English Green, the barrel itself is 8mm in diameter and round, housing within a robust workhorse 4mm core. Along the side of the barrel, on my particular set, the companies home of “England” is printed, however this is a slightly older set and you may have a barrel that says “Made in Britain”; this is okay and just a new achievement for Derwent. Pretty much all pencils going forward from Derwent will have the “Made in Britain” stamped.
Further along the barrel in Gold print in the company name “Derwent” followed by the pencil brand “Artists”. After this further toward the end of the pencil the pigment name is printed along with a series of digits, the number corresponds to the pigment of that particular pencil also. On the very end of the pencil is a half inch flash of color indicating the pigment of the pencil for ease of visual selection. Every one of Derwent’s pencils sport the same diagonal flash at the end of their pencils with a decorative colored band separating the barrel from the pigment indicator.
There is no lightfast information printed on the barrel, however further into the review I will explain the light fast information regarding the Derwent Artist range along with a brief explanation of the Blue Wool System used to measure all of Derwent’s pencils, with the exception of their newest Lightfast pencils.
Derwent Artist Sets Available
Of the vast range, Derwent manufacture, the Derwent Artists are the largest set they sell. The Derwent Artists come in sets of 12, 24, 36, 48, 72 and 120; the 120 and 48 sets are only available in a Wooden Gift Box set whereas all the other sets come in traditional tins.
The Derwent Artist coloured pencils are also available in open stock format which means you can purchase them individually from Derwent or other good art supply stores.
Derwent Artists Performance
The Derwent Artists pencils, were the pencils that really helped me make my mind up when it came to referencing pencils as wax or oil based pencils. The reason for me was really quite simple, when you mention that a pencil is wax based, not all artists but the vast majority will automatically think soft core and visa versa when they discover a pencil core is oil based. However the fact is and the Derwent Artists pencils is a perfect example of my claim, that not all wax based pencils are soft, case in point with the Derwent Artists. The same can be said for oil based pencils, not all of them are hard core and again the Derwent Lightfast pencils is another example of this.
The various waxes used from company to company vary quite a lot, there is a number of different waxes, all of them various levels of hardness. Then you have to take into consideration the fillers and clay that is added in. So I personally prefer to describe a pencil core as soft or hard. I do understand that whether or not a pencil is wax or oil can be important to some artists as oil based pencils perform better being blended with odourless mineral spirits. But I prefer not to fixate on this area of the pencil.
The Derwent Artist core is incredibly hard and it is not the most pigmented core in the world either, however, all coloured pencils lend themselves to different styles of colored pencil artists and the Derwent Artists pencils are perfect for those who love to layer. There is a translucency to the Derwent Artists pigment and I think this is one of the reasons the pencil performs really well to layering. However, and I can’t stress this enough, the paper that you use is so important.
Strathmore 500 Series Bristol Plate
I love to use the Strathmore 500 Series Bristol Plate for pieces that I really want to turn out well, this paper is 100% cotton and comes in different ply sizes, which means the thickness of the paper. The paper ranges from 1 ply to 4 ply and the 4ply is like thick card, incredibly sturdy paper. I have used this paper for the Derwent Artists and despite the incredibly smooth surface of the paper, the pigment layers beautifully on it and many layers can be applied. Ordinarily I would advise against a really smooth surface for the Derwent Artist, but it is the high quality cotton in this paper that I feel compliments the Derwent Artists so well.
Strathmore Bristol Smooth
As you can see from the swatch below, I completed this swatch on the Strathmore Bristol Smooth Visual Journal paper, a wonderful paper for blending markers and really soft cored colored pencils, but I still wanted to display the Derwent Artists for you on this type of paper. You can see that the pigment, despite the smooth surface is quite vibrant, but not as vibrant as the swatch on the paper below, which is the Strathmore Watercolor Paper.
Strathmore Watercolor Paper 140lb
Comparing the Bristol Smooth surface to the more toothed and textured Strathmore Watercolor Visual Journal paper, it is clear to see that even the top row of one light layer, performs better on the watercolor paper.
Winsor & Newton Black Paper
I always try to demonstrate colored pencils on dark paper as I feel it helps to demonstrate whether or not the pigment is opaque or translucent. Although in this case we know the Derwent Artists pigments are quite translucent, with a heavy application, the pigment is still rather bright and vivid. The same has to be said for the Derwent Artists Chinese White pencils on the end.
I really wanted to try this paper, which I am sure you can already deduce is a pastel paper, however, given its corse texture I thought it would be perfect for the Derwent Artists Coloured Pencils. I completed a speed painting with this paper and the Derwent Artists which you can either watch the video of or take a look at the still images from start to finish of the completed art work.
In the review video I have completed to accompany this written review, I also swatch the Derwent Artists on some Pastelmat which will give you a good indication of the pigment strength accomplished. Whilst completing my speed painting, I also decided to try the Alyona Nickelsen Brush and Pencil blending kit, this is a superb blending method which a lot of colored pencil artists use mainly on sanded paper and it is also supposed to work better with oil pencils. However, on the pastelmat with the Derwent Artists pencils, the powder pencil blender kit worked lovely. Ordinarily when I blend I use just the pencils and a lighter pencil as the blending tool, I personally don’t like to use OMS unless the pencil I am testing needs this type of blending method.
Derwent Artists Lightfast Information.
The first thing to mention about the Derwent Artists Colored Pencils Lightfast information is that Derwent use a system called the Blue Wool testing method. This means that the pigments are rated from 1 - 8 as opposed to the ASTM D6901, which is the specific standard for colored pencils. The ASTM testing method is rated 1 - 5 with LF1 being the most lightfast. It is widely considered that any pencils rated LF1 or LF2 are good enough to use in any commission piece or museum bound piece
With the Blue Wool testing method, pencils rated 6 to 8 are considered the equivalent to LF 1 and LF 2 on the ASTM system, anything below 6 should not be used for commissions or art destined for museum conditions. With all that in mind, the Derwent Artists 120 pigments are as follows
9 pigments rated 1 / 3 pigments rated 2 / 15 pigments rated 3 / 40 pigments rated 4 / 3 pigments rated 5 / 7 pigments rated 6 / 13 pigments rated 7 and 30 pigments rated 8.
From this chart 50 of the 120 pencils are rated highly lightfast and able to be used in commissions or museum condition galleries. I will leave it up to you to determine if this is a good ratio or not for a 120 set of pencils.
Derwent Artists Black And White
A year or so ago, Derwent released a small set of pencils to accompany the already extensive Derwent Artists range. The set only comprises of six pencils and rather than the English Green barrel, they sport a mat black barrel. The barrel sizes and cores are all the same, 8mm barrel and 4mm cores, however the Derwent Black and White set is three white pencils with subtle pigments and three black pencils with subtle pigments.
The black pencils in the set offer a blue pigment, dark green pigment and jet black, I personally have used the green pencil in particular on many landscape pieces. The three white pencils offer a pink pigment and pale blue pigment and brilliant white. To find out more about this set you can check out my review by following the link.
Derwent Artist Prices
Here in the UK, to purchase a set of the Derwent Artists Colored Pencils you can expect to approximately pay the following for the sets. For the 12 set of Derwent Artists you will pay £13, for the 24 set £25, the 36 set £40.24, the 48 wooden gift box set £53.58, the 72 set £72.95 and finally the largest 120 set £144.97. Open stock pencils will vary from place to place but they are approximately £1.50 but the best place to find them open stock is The Coloured Pencil Shop, based here in the UK but ships globally.
Unfortunately for prices in the US, when I checked Amazon.com I couldn’t find any Derwent Artists sets, so I am not sure if we get to see a different store here in the UK, but I have taken the prices and added links to Michaels as this was the only place I could find prices to all sets.
For the Derwent Artists 12 set you can expect to pay $29.99, for the 24 set $59.99, the 36 set $89.99, the 48 set, the 72 set $179.99 and the largest 120 set $449.00 These prices seem incredibly high to me so please check about before purchasing from these US links.
For the Derwent Artists in Europe, you can expect to pay the following for the sets. For the set of 12 Derwent Artists €13 for the 24 set €16.64 the 36 set €47 the 48 set €70 the 72 set €106 and the largest set of 120 €172
Derwent Artists Conclusion
With regards to my original review of the Derwent Artist, no information I mentioned back than has changed, it is all the same, however, in this review I have, with the experience of time and research, been able to add hopefully more helpful information.
I used to think that the Derwent Artists pencils were an acquired taste, only certain types of colored pencil artists should use, however my thought on this has firmly changed. As I have mentioned many times, I personally love the Derwent Artists, I think that with the correct surface many of you will discover a new pencil, perhaps dust of that gorgeous 72 set of Derwent Artists you purchased two years ago and didn’t think much of and add 72 gorgeous new pencils to your collection. Hopefully you can see from my demonstrations in both the written review and the video review, that using the right surface can completely transform your pencils.
For those of you who may suffer from pain in your hands or any other disability that prevents you from applying pressure to pencils, I highly recommend trying the Pastelmat paper with the harder cored pencils you may have, this will shine a very new light on your art and hopefully cause you less pain and discomfort.
If there is anything that I have missed, please by all means contact me via social media, email or the comments section below and I will do my very best to reply as soon as possible. Don’t forget you can see some still images of the Rose I completed using the Derwent Artists on Pastelmat by following the link. You can also watch my speed painting video of the Rose or watch my real time demonstrations in my YouTube video review. Thank you all so very much for your support and donations, many of you have left donations which I can’t express my gratitude enough for, all donations go straight back into purchasing art products to review and use as giveaways, thank you all so much.