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Derwent Graphite Pencil Review

Derwent Graphite Pencil Review

Derwent Graphite Pencil Review

I think it is a fair assumption to make that I, like so many artists, before selecting my medium of choice, coloured pencil, I started out with graphite. Living so close to the beautiful town of Keswick in the Lake District, home to the wonderful Derwent Pencil Company, Derwent Graphite pencils were in large supply. 

If my memory serves me well, I purchased a set of the Derwent Academy graphite pencils first, which are aimed at the student and school grade market, however, it wasn't long before I discovered the silky smooth Derwent Graphic Graphite pencils. As always, I feel it is important to note that despite my love for the Derwent Pencil Company and their products, when it comes to reviewing any products, my love takes a back seat and my critical eye takes front and centre. 

Made In Britain 

The first thing that has to be said about the Derwent graphite pencils is the new Made in Britain stamp now emblazoned on every pencil and of course the new rebranded packaging for all of Derwent's products. 

Until very recently, in fact as recent as last year, simply "England" was stamped onto each and every pencil, indicating the place of origin. however, in order for Derwent to change this to "Made in Britain" the company had to meet certain criteria and the status itself is incredibly significant regarding trade and thus an outstanding achievement for the company. Of course this only makes an exterior cosmetic change to the products and nothing more as far as the user is concerned. 

Derwent Graphite Pencil 

The shaft of the pencil comprises of traditional, high quality Cedar Wood, hexagonal and lacquered in a black matt finish. The core of the pencil is approximately 3.8mm with an 8mm barrel, allowing the user a generous core width for laying down graphite

Along the body of the pencil, starting from core and working toward the end, is stamped in silver "Made in Britain". Further along in a fresh new font is the name of the company, "Derwent" followed by the brand of the product, "Graphic". toward the very end is the grade of the pencil, 2H, 4B etc and then the end is finished off with a burnt orange flash, making the Derwent brand easily identifiable among other brands. 

Sets Available 

The largest set in the Derwent Graphic range is the 24 set, this set ranges from 9B to 9H, with HB, B, H and F also among the range. Derwent also supply three 12 sets, making them more aimed at particular artists, allowing the artists to ensure they are purchasing the relevant grades for their particular art. 

The first 12 set is the Soft Graphic, this ranges from H to 9B, all the darker style graphite pencils, next is the Medium Graphic set, ranging from 6B to 4H. finally the Hard Graphic set consists of the lighter graded pencils, ranging from B to 9H. 

However, the above sets are not what you are looking for and you need to be a bit more specific, ensuring that you are not purchasing a set of pencils that you will only use three or four of, you can mix and match with Open Stock. Purchasing the pencils individually, will allow you to purchase exactly what you need. 


Some think that there is not much too a graphite pencil and not much to talk about in the way of performance, however, if you take a look at the amazing portraits, animal and human and landscape art that is created by some of the most amazing graphite artists, you will discover just how important quality is. 

The Derwent graphite pencils are so incredibly smooth when laying down, occasionally, graphite pencils, especially the harder graded pencils, can be a bit scratchy, this has not been my experience with any of the sets I own, which if you check out my YouTube video review of the pencils you will see the sets I own. 

Ordinarily, graphite pencils comprise of graphite and clay, the ratio will depend on how hard or soft the core is. So the 9B with be primarily graphite, whereas the 9H will contain a large quantity of clay, giving the core the hardness attributed to the H grades.

Sharpening the Derwent Graphic pencils was again another painless experience. I used both the Derwent Superpoint and the M&R hand held sharpener, both of which worked a dream. None of the cores shattered nor any of the wood split or snag. Again, due to the large clay concentration, the harder cores can be troublesome to sharpen.


Believe it or not, lightfastness is a factor with graphite pencils as well, this refers to the graphite not fading in sunlight over a period of time. With the Derwent Pencil Company using the Blue Wool scale, graded 8-0, with 8 the highest lightfast scale. Every single pencil in the Derwent Graphic range has been rated 8 for lightfastness, the highest in the scale. 

Graphite artists, are always looking for a nice dark B pencil and one that does not give off a shine when the light hits it. On my YouTube video review, I review the Hard Graphic set, however, I also have the 24 set and to me, the 8B and 9B, give off a really nice rich dark, it may not be the very darkest, but Derwent have taken this a stage further with their beautiful Onyx range, which I will be reviewing at a later date. 


In general I love the Derwent Graphite pencils, they feel incredibly good in the hand, well weighted and balanced, their hexagonal shape lends well to those using a tilted drawing board. The smoother laying down of the graphite was exceptional and you can actually see and hear this in my video review. I would highly recommend the Derwent Graphic pencils, you are spoilt for choice in the range and not restricted to sets given the open stock nature of the pencil.  

Tom Bow Irojiten

Tom Bow Irojiten

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