Lyra Rembrandt Aquarelle Review
Lyra Rembrandt Aquarell Review
I have had the absolute pleasure of testing and reviewing pencils from Lyra before, the Lyra Polycolor to be exact. My review of the Polycolor was incredibly surprising to me given their inexpensive pricing and their incredibly high quality pigments.
I was really looking forward to reviewing the Lyra Rembrandt Aquarell and to be honest, given my experience and findings of the Polycolor, I was expecting good things, however, not to the extent I did.
Lyra Rembrandt Aquarell Sets Available
Before we get into the characteristics and performance of the Lyra Rembrandt Aquarell, we shall get started on the more simple aspects of this wonder pencil. Although they are a German brand pencil, here in the UK and US, they are relatively easy to get hold of which is always a major plus.
The largest set in this range is the 72 set, which I personally feel is more than an adequate number of pencils for any artist to achieve outstanding work. Next is the 36 set, followed by a 24 and 12 set. It is always worth mentioning that when it comes to the size of set you purchase, I personally always recommend going for the largest set you can afford with wax or oil based pencils. With water soluble pencils it is slightly different and you can get away with a smaller set based on the fact that mixing water soluble pencils is much easier.
There is a 96 set of the Lyra Rembrandt Aquarell however this is a box set, a beautiful mahogany styled case which when opened ejects an upper tier of pencils. Although this is classed as a 96 set, this number includes other items such as sharpener, paintbrush, sandpaper block etc.
Perhaps most importantly for any artist is the fact that the Lyra Rembrandt Aquarell is sold open stock. This is an incredibly important factor for any colored pencil artist when deciding upon a set pencil to buy. For those of you unsure what open stock means, it simply refers to pencils from the set being sold separately.
Lyra Rembrandt Aquarell Characteristics
The Lyra Rembrandt Aquarell is a really beautiful pencil, which I know may sound odd given it is only a pencil. Ordinarily I personally prefer round barrelled pencils, which is simply a personal preference and has no bearing whatsoever on the pencils performance. Lyra's Polycolor pencil is a round barrel yet the Polycolor does not hold the style of the Lyra Rembrandt Aquarell's hexagonal barrel.
The Lyra Aquarell sports a generous 4mm core, housed within a stylish 8mm barrel. The barrel is raw Cedar wood with the beautiful grain exposed enhancing the pencil's raw stylish appearance. On the very end of the pencil barrel is an inch sized pigment indicator, allowing for easy selection of color when using the pencils.
Printed along the barrel from core to end is the following, the company name is the first thing "Lyra" followed by the pencil type "Rembrandt Aquarell" and finally the country of the company origins "Germany". On the opposite side of the barrel, toward the end of the pencil is printed the pigment name in two languages, English and German. Finally beside the pigment name is a number which corresponds to the pencil in open stock format.
Unfortunately there is no lightfast information on the actual pencil, however, on the inside of the tin, each individual pencil is listed with its lightfast rating beside it. On the bottom of this list is a legend explaining what each star means, from one star through to three stars. As of yet, I have never personally seen this level of detail, regarding lightfastness, for any pencil either on the barrel or packaging. I will of course discuss more about lightfastness further into the review.
Lyra Rembrandt Aquarell Lightfast
I have to admit that lately, I have found myself reviewing quite a lot of water soluble pencils, I'm not sure if this means water soluble pencils are on the rise or if I have simply subconsciously selected a wide range of them to review.
I have to say that the first major surprise I encountered with the Lyra Rembrandt Aquarell pencils was the absolutely amazingly high lightfast ratings. I only purchased the 24 set to review and within this set, 23 pencils are rated the highest lightfast of three stars and only one pigment rated two stars. although this is not the full range of 72 pencils, this is still an incredibly impressive ratio.
Once you open the tins, on the inside lid of the hinged tin, there is a chart indicating each pigment in five different languages, as well as the open stock number, however more importantly each pigment has a lightfast rating of stars beside it. At the very bottom of the tin, there is a brief legend explaining what each star in the lightfast chart means, again written in five different languages. Of every single pencil I have reviewed, and I am including the Luminance and Museum Aquarelle in this list, none have had such high lightfast ratings as the Lyra Rembrandt Aquarell.
Lyra Rembrandt Aquarell Performance
Of all the water soluble pencils I have tested, the Lyra Rembrandt felt the hardest when using in their dry format, almost a chalky consistency, which might have something to do with the high lightfast ratings in the pencil. However, this is most certainly not a bad element of the pencils, this hardness lends itself to a nice sharpe core when needed and a certain level of longevity with that point, longer than most water soluble pencils.
The hardness that I felt when using the pencils dry, I initially thought would impact the pigment when activated with water, often in the cheaper less quality water soluble pencils, a hardness in the core effects the pigment, but this was not the case at all in the Lyra Rembrandt Aquarell.
Once the pigment was activated, it dispersed easily over the paper, making it easy to mix and blend together in order to create a new hue or color temperature. The pigment once activated with water maintained its bold vibrancy, keeping strong colors and allowing for large area coverage without compromise.
The pencils, as I briefly alluded to at the beginning of this paragraph, sharpen incredibly well and maintain a good point. I used Derwent's Superpoint manual crank sharpener along with a simple M&R German made handheld sharpener, both left clean shaves and fine points.
Lyra Rembrandt Aquarell Pricing
As always I like to give a brief indication of pricing for the products I review and the best way I find to do this is by referencing Amazon UK, US and Europe, hopefully once Amazon Australia start selling products such as art supplies I will be able to include the folks from beautiful Australia in this process. It is worth mentioning that the pricing I am quoting are prices I found at the time of writing this review and it is always a good idea to shop about.
Here in the UK the smallest set of 12 Lyra Aquarell pencils will cost £12, next is the 24 set costing £25, the 36 set will cost £37 and the largest set of 72 will cost £84. Finally individual pencils will cost approximately £1.47.
The same sets in the US will cost the following; a 12 set will cost $18, the 24 set will cost $28, the 36 set will cost $62 and the largest set of 72 will cost $119. Finally an individual pencil will cost approximately $4, as I mentioned it is worth shopping around and checking these prices.
In Europe for a 12 set of Lyra Rembrandt Aquarell it will cost €9, a 24 set will cost €32, the 36 set will cost €46 and the largest set in the range of 72 will cost €94, leaving the individual pencils costing approximately €4.
I was incredibly surprised at just how lightfast the 24 set was, higher than any other set of pencils I have tested. I did try to find a lightfast chart for all 72 pencils, however the ones I found differed and where from third party entities, I much prefer obtaining my information directly from the company however for this review Lyra did not reply with any answers to my questions.
I really enjoyed using the Lyra Rembrandt Aquarell pencils and pleasant surprise aside with regards to the lightfast information, the experience was an effortless and pleasurable one. The slightly harder core still presented a beautiful coverage of paint with effortless blending and mixing properties.
The Lyra Polycolor which I have also reviewed are among one of the first pencils I recommend to artists looking for a relatively inexpensive pencil but still capable of producing a high level of work. I would certainly rank the Lyra Rembrandt Aquarell in a similar category of recommendation. There is no doubt about it, Lyra is a popular name among colored pencil artists and with good reason, primarily on the back of the Polycolor success, however, I really feel that a lot of the success should be shouldered by the Lyra Rembrandt Aquarell, a truly worthy artist quality water soluble pencil.
Don't forget you can see a full real time demonstration of the Lyra Aquarell pencils in action over on The Art Gear Guide YouTube Channel as well as a simple botanical speed drawing I completed using the pencils.