Derwent Lightfast Tests on Bristol Paper

Derwent Lightfast Tests on Bristol Paper

This is the second post in a series of posts featuring pencil tests on paper. Today, I’m doing Derwent Lightfast tests on Bristol vellum paper. You can read the first post in the series here.

Derwent Lightfast Tests on Bristol Paper

As is my habit, I’ll do three tests: One with light pressure, one with heavy pressure, and the third with directional strokes. So that comparisons from one post to the next in this series makes more sense, I’m also doing the same type of testing.

Test #1: Light Pressure

This test was with light pressure. I have a naturally light hand, so I almost always start tests like this using light pressure.

Since I have only five colors in this line of pencils and three of them are greens, I chose Foliage (a light-value green) and Nightshade, which is a lovely dark purple.

I applied two or three layers of Foliage with vertical back-and-forth strokes. Over that, I applied one or two layers of Nightshade, also using light pressure and vertical strokes. As you can see, color application was fairly smooth, though there’s still a lot of paper showing through. The darker purple areas are where there are more layers of Nightshade.

Derwent Lightfast Tests on Bristol

Still keeping my pencils sharp, I continued layering these two colors, but now I changed direction with each layer. I used horizontal, hatching, and crosshatching strokes, and continued layering color until I had smooth color.

I was surprised I wasn’t able to fill in the tooth of the Bristol any more than this, but I may have stopped layering too soon. Even so, color build-up was very nice and I could have applied more layers had I wanted to. I think there were a dozen or more layers between the two colors in this sample. That surprised me because Bristol is such a smooth paper.

Test #2: Heavy Pressure

For this test, I applied Foliage and Mountain Green with heavy pressure for every layer. I started out with vertical strokes for each color, then horizontal strokes with each color. I finished up with hatching diagonal strokes, followed by crosshatching.

As shown here, I was able to fill in almost every paper hole just by applying color. I could have filled in the remaining holes with dry blending had I chosen to to do that. Since I wanted to see how well I could cover the paper just by applying color, I didn’t blend.

Once again, I was surprised to be able to get at least eight layers on the paper. I was even more surprised that the paper felt like I could have continued applying color, even with heavy pressure.

But according to Derwent, they are “oil-infused”, which I interpret to mean that they’re oil-based, rather than wax-based. The lay down does seem more like an oil-based pencils, though they feel more creamy than Faber-Castell Polychromos. That would account for the number of layers I was able to do.

Test #3: Directional Strokes

The final test was with directional strokes. For this test, I used Foliage as the light color and Olive Earth for the darker color. This combination was much less pleasing than the previous combinations, but it worked well enough to show me I could use this type of stroke to good advantage on Bristol.

The results would have been more realistic had I applied the color over a light, smooth base layer, but as you can see, the grass I drew looks like grass.

Derwent Lightfast Tests on Bristol

The Bottom Line

Derwent Lightfast pencils performed better on Bristol vellum than I expected. On the heavy pressure test, I was able to get almost ten layers of color on the paper with no difficulty. But they also performed well in the light-pressure directional test.

I could probably complete a landscape on Bristol vellum with these pencils if I had more than five colors. That’s an interesting idea and one I may try after finishing some of my current drawings.

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  1. I really enjoy drawing on a Bristol Vellum surface. I find that it has just enough of a “fine” tooth to grab the pigment of any of the pencils that I like to use. A quick burnish in some of the areas with a Derwent blender or burnisher fills in some of the unwanted gaps without making the final results look too glossy as I like to have some texture showing through my drawing, depending on the subject matter of course.

    I recently purchased a set of Derwent Lightfast along with a set of the Derwent Chromaflow pencils, but have yet to try them out. I do believe that I am becoming a hoarder of colored pencils to some degree…yikes!

    1. Kim,

      Thank you for your comment.

      I used to use Bristol all the time, but got away from it after discovering Stonehenge and toothier papers.

      However, I’m beginning to think about trying a landscape or horse portrait on Bristol, just to see what happens.

      I think most colored pencil artists are pencil hoarders. I have several full sets that I don’t use at all, or haven’t used very much. I still reach for Polychromos most of the time and fill in with the others for certain colors or special affects.

  2. Gail Jones

    Nice article! I have used Bristol Vellum smooth for many of the Cynthia Knox tutorials I have done. That seems to be her paper of choice. I didn’t mind it. I also have just the regular Bristol Vellum and haven’t tried it much. But now, this makes me want to try it on something too. :)

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