This review centres around the beautiful Derwent Coloursoft coloured pencil, however, before we jump right into the review of the actual pencil, lets talk a little bit about the company. I think it is important to know a little bit of the background surrounding the pencils, we all come from somewhere and the same is true of our favourite products.
Derwent, or the name they used to be referred to as, "The Cumberland Pencil Company", is a British company, located in one of the most beautiful parts of England, The Lake District. I am very lucky to live only an hours drive from the Lake District, in fact my family and I love the location so much, we have been holidaying there for the past 15 years, every year. In the heart of the Lake District is a beautiful town called Keswick, perched right by the gorgeous Derwent Water. The First recorded record of pencils being manufactured in Keswick goes as far back as 1832, so I think it is safe to say Derwent know what they are doing.
Before starting on with my review, I have also done a video review of the Derwent Coloursoft, which will obviously show you some of the test I am referring to in this written version. I feel that both the written and video reviews compliment one an other. To see my YouTube review you can either simply click the link or select the YouTube tab above in the navigation bar.
Derwent manufacture a plethora of different coloured pencils and various art supplies, however this review is about the Derwent Coloursoft. The Coloursoft pencil is a thick, round, 8mm barrel, with a pigment loaded 4mm core running through the centre. The pencil itself is painted a beautiful burgundy colour, capped at the end with flash of colour indicating the core colour for quick reference and selection.
Along the body of the pencil is printed, where the pencil is produced, "England"; followed by the company name "Derwent" and then the pencil name "Coloursoft". At the end of the pencil is written the name of the colour, followed by a unique number, corresponding to the pencils particular colour, which is important should you need to order open stock replacements.
The Derwent Coloursoft, in my opinion, are the UK's answer to the famous Prismacolor Premier pencils that so many colouredpencil artists swear by. Although the Prismacolor pencil is a wonderful pencil, more and more artists are looking to move away from it due to the incredibly bad workmanship that is evident in the pencil. As a result, so many artists are seeking out the Derwent Coloursoft as a replacement.
The core of the coloursoft is as the name implies, soft and incredibly creamy, resulting in an overall consistent coverage. Due to the soft nature of the pencil, dry blending is a joy, allowing the mixing of colours effortlessly. The Coloursoft is a wax based pencil and so therefore layering can only be applied a limit number of times before a wax build up prevents further layering. However, this can easily be remedied with the application of a solvent based liquid such as Zest-it or Gamsol.
The Derwent Coloursoft holds a point relatively well, considering the softness of the core. The sharpening of the pencil, with a decent sharp blade is smooth sailing, unlike it's US counterpart, the Prismacolor. I personally own the 72 box set and have sharpened the pencils quite a lot, thus far, not a single pencil has split or broken. I have sharpened the Coloursoft using cheap plastic sharpeners, battery powered and hand cranked sharpeners with no problems at all.
Erasability with the Coloursoft is also good. After laying down a light coverage of pigment, I then used a series of erasers, the Derwent Battery Eraser, the Tombow Mono Eraser and the Faber Castell Putty Eraser, all of which, lifted generous levels of pigment where needed.
It's no secret that I have a soft spot for Derwent as a company, however, if a product does not perform well under the various testing methods I've been asked to replicate, then the absolute truth of the results will be written and published. I personally love the Derwent Coloursoft, it's not quite to the level of the Prismacolor Premier pencils, but not a million miles from it either. However, when you weigh up the cons of losing half or more of your Prismacolor pencil before making a mark, due to lead breakage and barrel splitting, against the Coloursoft, simply performing straight out of the box, then I think the choice is easy.
Derwent produce sets of 12, 24, 36 and 72 in Coloursoft tins, they also produce a box set of 48 and 72. For me this is another one of the cons with the Coloursoft, I love the pencil so much and adore the selection of colours present in the 72 set, I'd love to see Derwent increase the Coloursoft range to 120. Derwent also produce smaller blister packs of 6 and of course, most importantly, the Coloursoft is available in open stock, a must have need for the coloured pencil artist when purchasing sets of pencils.
I love the coloursoft range, a lot of people had problems with the Lighfastness of the pencils, however, as I covered in my YouTube video review of these pencils, the vast majority of the Coloursoft range are highly lightfast. This Chart highlights just how lightfast they are, giving artists the absolute confidence to use them, knowing that the bright vibrant pigments are going to last on their work.
I would absolutely recommend the Derwent Coloursoft Coloured Pencils to anyone. As always, buy the biggest set your budget will allow for, but remember, whatever your budget permits, the beauty of open stock availability means you can build your collection over time, making the growth process financially more manageable.