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Derwent Lightfast Review

Derwent Lightfast Review

Derwent Lightfast Review

The wait is finally over but boy has it been worth it, Derwent have done it again and in my opinion are one of the hardest working companies with regards to pleasing their customers, listening to what they want and trying their very best to deliver. 

About a year ago, Derwent announced the release of their ProColour range, which was met with a mix of delight and disappointment, depending on the artist and what they were looking for in a coloured pencil. My review of the ProColour was incredibly favourable toward the pencil, however the biggest complaint I received from subscribers and viewers was the lack of high Lightfast ratings and for a pencil to be named Pro, it should have had a much higher proportion of pencils rated as such. This was for a lot of people an issue reduced at least with a simple explanation of the Blue Wool Lightfast testing methods and scale as opposed to the ASTM D-6901 lightfast testing methods and the scale they use. 

Derwent, as always, listening to their customers concerns, started work on a new pencil, a pencil that would silence even the most knowledgeable supporter of lightfast testing methods, the new Derwent Lightfast pencil. This is why I personally feel that Derwent are one of the hardest working companies when it comes to customer satisfaction, listening to their customers and artist groups and implementing some recommendations from said groups and customer feedback. This will be a fairly lengthy review as I want to fully explain the Lightfast testing and scales used as well as certain other elements that may affect even the highest lightfast products.

Derwent Lightfast Characteristics 

The first thing to mention is the outstanding art work on the tin, this artwork was created by the absolutely fabulous Jesse Lane. Derwent selected an outstanding coloured pencil artist to work with on this amazing art work.

The Derwent Lightfast pencil is a thing of beauty, the 8mm barrel is constructed of beautiful Maple, displaying in full glory the grain, given the pencil a very natural look. Inside the barrel is encased a stunning 4mm core, bursting at the seems with pigment. The first time you open a set of Derwent Lightfast pencils, your sense are immediately tantalised, visually the beauty and craftsmanship of the pencils and the aroma of high quality wood takes you mentally to a woodland meadow, memories for me as a child playing and climbing on the huge trees. 

Printed along the barrel in deep Navy Blue, working from core to end, is the recently acquired status by Derwent of "Made In Britain", before this it used to say "Made in England". Further along is the company name "Derwent" closely followed by the pencil brand "Lightfast" 

Close to the end of the pencil is stamped the pigment name followed by "LF1" and every pencil has this mark beside the pigment name. LF1 indicates that the particular pigment in that barrel is 100% lightfast, but I will explain more about the lightfast testing further along. 

Finally, no Derwent pencil would be complete without the diagonal flash on the end of the barrel indicating the pigment in each individual pencil. Every Derwent pencil has this unique style of indicating the pigment with a single colour stripe separating the pigment indicator with the barrel. The Derwent Drawing Pencil has a Copper stripe, the Graphitint sports a Graphite Silver stripe, Inktense have an Electric Blue stripe and the Derwent Lightfast has a deep Navy Blue stripe. 

Derwent Lightfast Art Work By Jesse Lane

Derwent have commissioned an outstanding coloured pencil artist to head up the art work on the packaging for perhaps their finest pencil yet. Jesse Lane is an incredibly well known artist throughout the Coloured Pencil community globally, his work is absolutely mesmerising and many wonder how such work can be achieved by pencil. It is well worth visiting Jesse Lanes website and see just how amazing his work really is and why Derwent chose this amazing artist. 

Derwent Lightfast Performance

I have been incredibly fortunate and honoured to have been sent a set of the Derwent Lightfast pencils a while ago now, it was a 36 set, however some of the colours were duplicates as it was only a prototype gathering of pencils that was sent to me. Never the less I have since also received a fully official 36 set to test and review and will be delivering to you, as always, here on The Art Gear Guide, an honest and truthful take on the Derwent Lightfast pencils. 

This is Derwent's first ever oil based pencil, all other pencils in the Derwent arsenal have either been wax based or water soluble. So for Derwent to have added an oil based pencil to their range is not only hugely beneficial to the customers in terms of choice, but also a bold move on their part into the unknown. Working with wax and water soluble pencils for as long as Derwent has, will have provided them with a level of expertise and comfort in the knowledge they were delivering excellent products. I am not saying because Derwent have included an oil based pencil that they don't know what they are doing, far from it, however, the first of anything for any company will always be a daunting and brave move on their part. 

With every pencil I tested, the richness of pigment was unbelievable, working with the Lightfast pencil was almost like working with paint. The faintest touch of the core on the paper delivers a beautiful coverage of pigment. Even adding pressure to the Lightfast pencil did not create a gloopy mess, as some oil based pencils can. 

the Derwent Lightfast pencils sharpen like a dream, I used a collection of sharpeners on them, including the amazing Derwent Superpoint and none of them chipped or damaged the core. Despite their gorgeous creamy texture when layering, they also hold a point for a generous period of time, using a light touch and rotating the pencil. Even when using a heavier touch the core help up to this pretty well and delivered very little to no crumbling. 

As you can see from the swatch I have provided, this is the full range of 36 pencils, I have left the white pencil off the white paper, however you can see it on the black paper test. I think the colour selection for this 36 set is almost perfect, there are one or two pigments I recognise from the Derwent Drawing set. I really don't have any criticisms of this pencil, but if I was forced to select one, and it would be completely nit picking, I would maybe like to have seen perhaps with the Nightshade, Violet and Blue Violet, as they are so similar maybe another red in there or lighter green. Same with the Mallard Green and the Racing Green, both gorgeous colours but very similar and finally the Black and Midnight Black, the Black is the best black I have seen in a pencil but maybe the Midnight Black could have been another colour as they too are so similar. I think however the answer might be that these are the best 36 pigments they could achieve 100% Lightfast ratings with. 

I would say, as the full range of Derwent Lightfast pencils currently stand with regards to the palette, coloured pencil artists with a taste for portraiture, wild life and landscape will love the palette as it is. Obviously with the introduction of more colours, this will open the pencils to an endless genre of art styles. 

As well as showing the simple swatches, I have also completed a drawing with them. I completed the drawing and Speed Drawing with the prototype Lightfast Pencils and so didn't have the full pallet so I included one or two ProColour pencils for this drawing. You will be able to see in the video just how well both these pencils performed together. 

The actual drawing I completed was of Peter Rabbit from the incredibly popular children's book by Beatrix Potter. Beatrix Potter lived the rest of life in the Lake District area not far from Keswick where Derwent are located, so I thought this drawing would be suitable for a new release pencil. 

Derwent Lightfast Available Sets

As things currently stand, on the release date which is the 25th of June if you are purchasing them online via DerwentArt, the 2nd of July elsewhere in the UK or the 1st of September in the US, there will only be 36 colours available. However, Derwent have confirmed that they will be releasing more colours during and throughout 2019 as more colours are tested. This is obviously down to the testing process and Derwent's relentlessness to please their customers in delivering a set of pencils were everyone of them are 100% Lightfast. 

With regards to actual sets available, you can purchase a 12 set, 24 set and 36 set and as with every single Derwent pencil, they will also be available open stock; for those unaware of this term, it simply means that you can purchase pencils from the set on an individual basis. 

Derwent Lightfast Pricing 

Although as of writing this review, the Derwent Lightfast pencils are not yet available in the US and Australia as well as some parts of Europe, a price list has still been made available. 

Here in the UK however, the Derwent Lightfast set of 12 will cost £34.99, the 24 set of Derwent Lightfast pencils will cost £69.99 and the largest set currently, although soon to grow, the 36 set will cost you £109.99. Also each individual Lightfast pencil will cost £3.20 each 

In the US, the Derwent Lightfast set of 12 will cost $44.99, with the Derwent Lightfast 24 set costing $91.99 and the largest 36 set will cost $144.99. For the individual Lightfast pencils, you can expect to pay $3.75 per pencil. 

In Europe, the Derwent Lightfast 12 set will cost €35.99, the 24 set will cost €64.99 and the largest 36 set will cost €109.99, also the individual Derwent Lightfast pencils will cost €3.20

Personally, I feel these are incredibly reasonable prices, taking into consideration, what ever set you purchase, every single pencil can be used for commission work you may do or placed in Gallery exhibitions. The level of testing that has gone into the Derwent Lightfast in order to deliver the pencil that everyone wants has been extensive.  

Derwent Lightfast Testing

Derwent went to huge lengths to make sure the Derwent Lightfast pencils met the demands of professional colored pencil artist, crafters and colourists alike, who are looking to achieve the highest quality work possible. 

Before I knew about the Lightfast pencils, I had been conducting some research on the two systems used to test and scale colored pencils in particular, they are the Blue Wool scale and the ASTM D-6901. It is an incredibly complicated and difficult subject to pin down and master, especially given the number of different scales some companies use. I haven't completed my review on this system yet however I would like to explain the process Derwent have gone through for the Lightfast pencils. 

It is worth mentioning, that the lightfastness of a particular product, in this case coloured pencils, can be affected by many other factors. Factors such as the paper being used, the environment in which you are working and likely to hang your work, such as atmospheric pollution, humidity etc. Also a lot of us coloured pencil artists use odourless  mineral spirits to help blend pigments together, this too can dilute and affect the lightfast rating of a pigment according to one system of lightfast testing but not so much according to another. However, even the company who said OMS didn't affect the lightfast rating too much advised adding a final layer of pigment to your work after blending, just to be on the safe side. So as you can see, nothing is a sure thing completely but Derwent have gone to great lengths to get as close to perfect as humanly possible. 

Derwent have always opted for the Blue Wool testing method for their lightfast testing, however on this occasion, the Derwent Lightfast pencils has been tested and passed with flying colours the ASTM D6901 testing, this involved testing in Arizona, for obvious reasons. 

According to the information I have the rating system of the ASTM D6901 is as follows. 0 - 4 would equate to a grade I which is the highest on the scale and a pass. 4 - 8 equals II which is also considered a pass. 8 - 16 equals III which is a fail, 16 - 24 equals IV which is also a fail and 24+ equals a V and this too is a fail. Every pencil in the Derwent Lightfast 36 set is a LF1, the highest on the scale.


I have had many people ask me if I work for Derwent as my reviews of their products are always favourable, of course the answer is no I don't work for Derwent, however, I am not going to review a product negatively simply because I found the previous few products to be good as well. It certainly wouldn't make me a truthful and honest reviewer. 

I have, as I always do, tried to view the product from every angle I can think of and answer question I feel I would get from you guys and I hope I have done that. My only issue with the set and it is the set not the actual pencils, is the colours selected but I have also addressed why I feel that to be the case. 

I personally love the Derwent Lightfast pencils and really feel that Derwent have given no room at all for people to dislike them. If like me you feel the palette is not enough, please hold judgement on this issue as they have said that throughout 2019 more colours will be introduced. Derwent's main objective with this particular set of pencils was to deliver a set of pencils with that 100% lightfast rating so many artists have been asking for.    

I have absolutely loved using the Derwent Lightfast pencils and I think the range will be welcomed with open arms by so many coloured pencil artists, crafters and colourists. I think that when more colours and introduced in 2019, this will make the range even more desirable. The layering ability is beautiful, the pigments are strong and gorgeous and the actual pencils are pure craftsmanship.

Also don't forget to watch my full YouTube Video review and for a full demonstration on how the Derwent Lightfast pencils perform, check out my speed drawing

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