Sketches for the Week of August 16, 2021

Sketches for the Week of August 16

This week, I published a new tutorial, Draw Clouds from Life, available at Colored Pencil Tutorials. It’s a graphite tutorial and I had a lot of fun with it, so I decided that all my sketches for the week of August 16 would also be in graphite.

Why graphite?

Because it’s easy to use, it’s a great way to practice drawing values, and it’s fun.

It’s also a change of pace from colored pencil sketching, and since my sketching habit goals didn’t specify colored pencil, I thought, why not graphite?

My Sketches for the Week of August 16, 2021

Because I’d already decided to use graphite for all of my sketching this week, I decided to try different papers. I didn’t expect much difference from one paper to the next, but I got a couple of surprises.

Trunk Study in Graphite on Canson Mi-Teintes Pearl Grey

This sketch is on Canson Mi-Teintes Pearl Grey, which is a very light gray paper. I sketched on the back because that’s the smoothest side, and I chose Pearl Grey because it was the lightest color of paper I had cut to the right size.

I sat on the front porch and sketched the base of an old elm tree in the front yard. The shape of the trunk is interesting because it isn’t round. It looks almost like two trunks grown together early in the life of the tree. When the late afternoon and evening sun strikes it just right, the shape is clear.

I used a 6B Prismacolor Turquoise pencil sharpened to a sharp point and did all my shading with mark making. You can see the hatching and cross-hatching strokes quite clearly. It’s quite easy to create value layering graphite this way, and the direction of the strokes adds visual texture to the sketch.

So do my smudgy fingerprints! One thing I always forget about graphite is that it migrates so easily. Get a little bit on your fingers, and you leave finger prints everywhere!

sketches for the week of August 16

Branch Study in Graphite on Canson Mi-Teintes Steel Grey

I did this sketch immediately after doing the previous sketch, but i did this one from imagination.

The darker gray paper didn’t work as well for graphite, but I wanted to try it anyway, just to see what could be done. I like the sketch, but it would have been better on lighter paper and more detailed if I had been drawing an actual branch.

Even so, it was fun to practice blending by smudging. It was a good effort.

But probably the last combining graphite and medium-value paper.

Mountain Landscape in Graphite on Bienfang Bristol Vellum

The next paper was Bristol Vellum. I like Bienfang Bristol because it’s the only Bristol I’ve found that comes in a pad of 146lb weight. It’s a good, sturdy paper.

I thought it would be perfect for graphite because it’s so smooth. This is where I got the first surprise for the week: Bristol is too smooth for good graphite drawing.

I was able to get a wide range of values by starting with a 3H pencil. But that pencil was so hard, it felt scratchy on the paper. I sketched in the most distant mountains (barely visible) with this, then switched to an F for the next range. Better, but still too hard.

For the rest of the drawing, I used a 6B, which is very soft. Even this soft pencil didn’t work very well on Bristol.

I blended with a stiff bristle brush and my finger to smooth out some of the values, but the best work I did was the nearest range of hills, which I drew with the side of the 6B, then left alone. I also like the grass in the foreground. That was fun to draw!

Broken Ends Graphite on Bristol Vellum

Unwilling to let the Bristol go without another try, I used it to sketch this branch.

Once again, I sat on the front steps and started by intending to sketch a dead branch from life. But I had a lot of help in the form of cats. After the first random mark made when a cat rubbed against my arm as I drew, I decide to just “wing it.”

I continued drawing the branch, but also worked in whatever additional random marks my “studio assistants” caused. This bare and cracked branch is the result.

Prismacolor Turquoise graphite worked better for this type sketching, but it was still a struggle to get really dark values. Confirmation of my conclusions after the previous sketch.

sketches for the week of August 16

Broken Graphite on Bristol Vellum

I liked the previous sketch enough to try a similar subject. This time, I focused on one end of a branch and made sure my studio assistants were elsewhere.

I also used different pencils. That’s part of the reason I wanted to try Bristol Vellum a third time.

The first pencil was a Prang 2B. Believe it or not, I liked this pencil better than the supposedly higher quality Prismacolor Turquoise pencils. Layering was much smoother and the pencil was easier to use. Surprise #2 for the week!

But a 2B is all I had. So for the darker values, I switched to a Mirado B1 pencil. I got these pencils in a box of over 1,500 pencils purchased years ago. They’re an excellent sketching pencil, with nice dark values, smooth lay-down, and several grades. They make Bristol vellum a decent sketching paper.

That’s the third surprise.

Sunset Graphite Powder & Pencil on Clairefontaine Pastelmat

The last sketch for the week doesn’t really look like a sketch, does it? I tried something brand new this time: Graphite powder on white Pastelmat.

Graphite powder is essentially a graphite pencil without the pencil. It’s all graphite. No binders, no fillers, nothing but pigment.

I used a bristle brush for everything but the sun and the trees. I dipped the brush into the graphite powder, then brushed it onto the paper. Pastelmat grabbed hold of it very well.

Better than expected, as a matter of fact. I couldn’t spread the graphite as thinly as I wanted, so the clouds are far darker than I intended.

I “drew” the sun and sunbeams with a pink pearl eraser. That worked quite well, but didn’t make as bright a sun as I’d hoped. Probably because white Pastelmat isn’t bright white. I would also have been better off with a smaller harder eraser.

After that, I used a 6B graphite pencil to draw the trees.

While it didn’t turn out exactly as I’d hoped, I’m pleased with the results. I learned a lot from this try and know what to do (and what not to do) the next time!

Those are My Sketches for the Week of August 16

I had hoped to do more than just six sketches, but it was a busy week. Then I spilled some of the graphite powder on Saturday afternoon, and spent the rest of the afternoon vacuuming and steam cleaning my “studio.” That happened to be a black couch. I’m still not sure I got all the graphite powder.

Despite the surprises, “help” from studio assistants, and spilled graphite, I really enjoyed sketching with graphite. I hope you’ll take up the challenge and do some graphite work, too.

If you purchase graphite pencils, I recommend not buying Prismacolor Turquoise. Some of the pencils I used felt gritty. One or two felt capable of scratching the paper.

I’ve heard good things about the Faber-Castell 9000 Graphite Pencils, and I’m sure Derwent’s graphite pencils are also high quality. In fact, all of the companies that make top-of-the-line colored pencils also make graphite pencils. You won’t go wrong with any of them.

If you feel really brave, get a little graphite powder and try your hand with that. It’s a lot of fun!

I hope you’ll join me in developing your own sketching habit, and invite you to share your work. I’ll be happy to add your sketches for the week of August 16 as a reader’s sketch gallery to this post!

Sketches for the Week of August 9, 2021

sketches for the week of August 9

Summer colds. Not much fun. I spent the week feeling like I was wading through tapioca, so I don’t have many sketches for the week of August 9.

The week was also busy with a student for the week, the latest freelance article, and other things going on. A couple of days ended with no energy for even the simplest sketch.

But I did get six sketches for the week; and that’s my weekly goal.

My Sketches for the Week of August 9, 2021

Branch Study in Derwent Drawing on Canson Mi-Teintes

The sketching week got off to a fairly good start given the circumstances. It was late in the day before I got to sketching, and I really didn’t feel like picking up a pencil, but did it anyway.

This branch was sketched with Derwent Drawing Olive Earth on Canson Mi-Teintes Fawn. Not the best color combination, perhaps, but not bad either.

I drew this from memory and imagination, combining interesting twists and turns, and other features seen in real life branches.

sketches for the week of August 9

Mountain Landscape with Derwent Drawing on Stonehenge

With no particular goal in mind this week other than sketching, I used whatever paper was on the top of the stack. The first sketch for the week was Canson Mi-Teintes. Both of the next two sketches are on Stonehenge Fawn.

It was very hot and humid on Wednesday, so when I sat down to draw, I decided to draw something cool and not so humid. A mountain landscape with a lake in front seemed like the perfect subject.

I drew this scene from memory, but it was heavily influenced by two of my favorite landscape painters. One works in oils, and the other in acrylics, but they both do a lot of mountain landscapes.

So I did one, too!

And I’m very pleased with it.

Blue Mountain on Stonehenge

Derwent Drawing colored pencils are great sketching pencils. They work on every paper I’ve tried, though they’re better on traditional papers.

For this sketch, I chose Derwent Drawing Smoke Blue and focused on drawing space and form with line and limited values.

The mountains are imaginary. I simply sketched and shaded until I thought the sketch was finished.

Mountain Landscape with Derwent Drawing

This is a more complete sketch than what I’ve been doing. I used almost all of my Derwent Drawing pencils (I have about eight colors) to draw this landscape. The paper is Stonehenge Fawn again, which proved not to be a good color for the light blues in the mountains.

It was perfect for the rest of the landscape however.

This sketch is very loosely based on a photograph sent to me by a reader. I started a more “serious” piece late this winter, but have never finished it. So now I can say I’ve done something with that photograph!

sketches for the week of August 9

Tree Branch with White Derwent Drawing

Back to Canson Mi-Teintes Fawn for this sketch, and back to just one color. Derwent Drawing Chinese White.

Instead of drawing a subject by drawing the shadows, I decided to try drawing just the highlights and reflected light.

It’s not quite as finished as I would have liked, but I was interrupted. One of my rules for this sketching habit is not to go back so something once I’ve put it down (unless I have to sharpen pencils or something like that.)

Still, I’m quite happy with the results.

By the way, I drew this from my imagination.

May in Kansas

The final sketch for the week was drawn with Derwent Drawing Sanguine on Canson Mi-Teintes Fawn paper.

I revisited a scene I drew last week. This week, however, I drew the main tree much as it appears in the reference photo, with leaves.

This is the sort of scene that makes me think I’ll some day do a more serious piece based on it. Neither this sketch nor the previous one shows the atmosphere of this morning time scene.

And atmosphere is one of the things I enjoy about drawing landscapes.

Comparing Stonehenge and Canson Mi-Teintes with Derwent Drawing Colored Pencils

I used either Canson Mi-Teintes or Stonehenge paper for this week’s sketches, and I used Derwent Drawing pencils on all of them.

Derwent Drawing colored pencils are a great sketching pencil. A full set of 24 colors is definitely on my wish list. The earthy colors are great for nature subjects as well as sketching.

And as I mentioned before, they’re ideal for traditional drawing papers.

Both types of papers I used are 98-pound papers, but they feel different. Stonehenge has a sturdier feel, but it’s also much softer. Canson Mi-Teintes is a nice paper for sketching and more serious drawings, but it’s best for colored pencils if you use the back side!

Those are My Sketches for the Week of August 9

And that’s my abbreviated report on my sketches for last week. It was disappointing not to have drawn more, but I’m pleased to have drawn any at all! It was just one of those weeks.

I hope you’re week went more smoothly, and that you were able to do some sketching.

If you have, I hope you’ll join me in developing your own sketching habit. I invite you to share them. I’ll be happy to add them as a reader’s sketch gallery to this post!

Sketches for the Week of August 2, 2021

Last week, I did all of the sketches for the week on white Clairefontaine Pastelmat. This week, I used the same pencils, but all the sketches for the week of August 2 are on Stonehenge.

Here’s what I thought.

My Sketches for the Week of August 2, 2021

Koh-I-Nor Progresso Woodless Pencils

Green Desert with Koh-I-Nor

I’ve been generally dissatisfied with these pencils for every application, but I haven’t done much drawing with them. So my first sketch for this week was more like a color study than a sketch.

The scene is based on the Flint Hills in Kansas, but it’s totally imaginary.

And not as finished as I’d intended.

That was because I didn’t like the way the pencils were layering on Stonehenge. Stonehenge is super soft, and just was not a good surface for these pencils.

Tree Branch with Koh-I-Nor

So I went back to a more typical sketching style. I like this piece much better, but am still not happy with the pencils. Getting good, dark values was difficult.

However, I do like having the ability to draw broader, softer lines.

sketches for the week of August 2

Blick Studio Colored Pencils

Elm Tree with Blick Studio

I sat on our back porch Tuesday evening with a few pieces of Stonehenge and my cup of Blick Studio pencils. My intention was to draw from life, but before I did more than choose a subject and rough it in, mosquitoes drove me back inside.

The two knots on the upper left got most of my attention while I was outside, so they became the focus. I filled in the rest after going into the house again.

Those two knots do intrigue me. I may have draw them more specifically later. After a cold snap removes the mosquitoes!

Mountain Landscape with Blick Studio

The idea of line drawing landscapes interests me enough that I decided to give it try this week. I wanted to see if I could draw a complete landscape with distance using only the darkness and thickness of the lines.

That was not only possible; it turned out pretty well.

But I had to press so hard with the Blick Studio pencil to get those dark foreground lines that I felt like I was impressing them into the paper. I don’t think I was, but I didn’t like working that way.

Prismacolor Soft Core Pencils

Mountain Landscape with Prismacolor

The next pencils I used were Prismacolors, and I started with another landscape line drawing. In fact, I redrew the previous sketch, but without looking at the previous sketch.

The Prismacolor I chose was Indigo Blue and it worked extremely well this way. I still had to use heavier pressure and repeated marking to get the dark lines in the foreground, but the overall drawing process was easier and faster.

It also felt more comfortable.

sketches for the week of August 2

Rotted Plank with Prismacolor

For this drawing, I went back to the back porch. It was earlier in the day and more windy, so the mosquitoes weren’t much of a problem.

But I didn’t want to draw a tree again, so I looked around where I sat and finally settled on this rotted plank. I’d drawn something like it for the original plein air challenge in 2016, so thought it was time to revisit the subject.

I did a little bit of shading in the darkest values, but used mostly lines to suggest the weather-worn wood.

Faber-Castell Polychromos

I’ve used Polychromos pencils for a lot of sketches since starting this sketching habit, so I did only two this week.

Flint Hills with Polychromos

Another line drawing landscape. I really enjoy sketching like this!

This sketch is drawn from an old, poor quality photo I took of the Flint Hills many years ago. I did a little more shading with this one than with the other line drawings. But I still relied on line thickness and darkness to convey the look of distance.

Tree Branch with Polychromos

Another sketch from one of my photos. This tree is near a local business and has interesting lighter patterns in the bark. Those light patches are what I wanted to capture, since they really defined the twisting and turning of each of the three large branches.

sketches for the week of August 2

Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor

This is my Lyra Polycolor sketch for the week. It, too, is based on one of a collection of images I took a couple of years ago. I simplified the landscape quite a bit, and drew the main tree without leaves so it stood out even more from the clumps of trees in the background.

Caran d’Ache Pablo

The last sketch for the week was this tree trunk study with Caran d’Ache Pablo.

I liked the tree in the previous sketch so much that I decided to do it again with much background.

Crayola Colored Pencils

I got an opportunity to try a brand of pencils I would not be likely to ever purchase: Crayola colored pencils.

I love their crayons. The smell of Crayola crayons is one of my all-time favorite non-food scents. The colored pencils are made for the same artists for whom the crayons are made. Grade school students.

So I had no interest in purchasing them, even just to test them.

But this week, I came into possession of a large collection of them. Since a reader asked about them, I decided to do a little work with them, just to see how they measured up to my expectations.

One of my tests was a sketch on Stonehenge.

This sketch is called The Moor, and I drew it one evening while watching The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The moor shares some characteristics with the Flint Hills and I love drawing the Flint hills, so I decided to try sketching the moor.

I would have made more progress with a better pencil, but I’m still pleased with the way this turned out.

sketches for the week of August 2

How I Rate these Pencils

I made some interesting (and surprising) discoveries this week.

As I mentioned last week, I have only one each of the Caran d’Ache Pablo and Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor pencils, but they turned out to be my favorites on Stonehenge paper. They both performed very well and I didn’t feel like I had to press very hard to get the darker values. I rate them about equal in ease of use and overall performance.

After that, my favorites, Polychromos and Prismacolor, tied for second. That’s not surprising. The really good pencils general perform well on most surfaces. And they weren’t that far behind the first two.

The Blick Studio pencils were okay with Stonehenge. I think if I had no other pencils, I could get used to them easily. But they are better suited for sanded surfaces in my opinion.

Koh-I-Nor Progresso Woodless Pencils are still at the bottom of the list, but this week they’re joined by Crayola colored pencils. I won’t be doing anymore tests with Crayola, but I’m not yet ready to give up entirely on the Koh-I-Nor Progresso pencils.

The most interesting discovery this week was the fact that Stonehenge has fallen from favor with me. It just seemed too soft and spongy after all the work I’ve done on the sanded art papers. In fact, by mid-week, I realized that my problems with the pencils were really problems with the paper.

And to think that Stonehenge was once my go-to paper!

Those are My Sketches for the Week of August 2

Another interesting sampling of different types of pencils on Stonehenge paper. I hope you enjoyed the results as much as I did.

I also hope you’ll join me in developing your own sketching habit.

And if you’ve created some sketches during the week of August 2, I invite you to share them. I’ll be happy to add them as a reader’s sketch gallery to this post!

Karin Dusterhoft: Here are the sketches for this week. The paper was Canson Bristol Vellum and the pencils were Prismacolor, Verithin and Polychromos. The challenge was to try new and different things, and I definitely learned a little something from each sketch. That’s what it’s all about and it was fun!

Sketches for the Week of July 26, 2021

Before I picked up a pencil to sketch this week, I decided to be a bit more deliberate. I’d still draw whatever struck my fancy, but I’d do all the sketches for the week of July 26 on the same paper.

I cut a full sheet of white Clairefontaine Pastelmat into 4×6 pieces (sixteen of them, plus a few smaller pieces.) My intention from the start was to try different pencils on Pastelmat just to see how they performed in a week-long comparison.

So hold on. This week’s sketching report is also a review of several types of pencils on Pastelmat!

My Sketches for the Week of July 26, 2021

Since this is a more “disciplined” sketching week, with a specific purpose in mind, I’m still listing sketches in chronological order. But I’m also doing a sketch or more with each type of pencil before moving to the next type.

So the sketches will be categorized by pencil, beginning with Koh-I-Nor Progresso Woodless.

Koh-I-Nor Progresso Woodless Pencils

I originally bought these pencils for use in laying down broad applications of color. At one time, I had Prismacolor Art Stix, which are Prismacolor pencils in a chalk-like shape. I never developed a taste for the Art Stix. After some early success with the Progresso, I decided they weren’t for me, either.

But I haven’t tried them very much on Clairefontaine Pastelmat, so they were the first pencils to come off the shelf this week.

Tree Study with Koh-I-Nor Progresso #1

I mentioned last week that I wished I was better at sketching in color, so I tried a color sketch first the the woodless pencils. I used Brown, Sap Green, Light Ochre, and a touch of Black.

These pencils are about the size of a standard colored pencil, so they’re easy to handle.

But they’re all pigment, so it can be difficult to get fine lines with them. I knew that when I started, so I kept my sketching loose in style.

The first layer or two went well. But then I remembered why I didn’t use the Progresso pencils more. They just don’t layer very well on sanded paper. It’s as if the pigment clogs up the tooth of the paper without filling the tooth; almost like all the pigment stays on the top of the grit.

Adding more layers just adds to the clogging.

It’s possible that using a solvent to blend would smooth out the color and sink the pigment down into the tooth, but for straight sketching or drawing, I’m not happy with them.

Tree Study with Koh-I-Nor Progresso #2

For the second Progresso sketch, I drew a similar subject, but limited myself to one color: Brown. I also chose not to layer color, but to use line to create value. I handled the pencil more like a graphite pencil, using directional lines, hatching and cross-hatching lines, and light pressure start to finish.

The results are better, but I still found the Progresso pencils a bit clumsy. I have no doubt that I could learn to create smooth, subtle color and value transitions with them if I continue using them.

I’m just not sure I like them enough to put in that kind of drawing time!

Blick Studio Colored Pencils

Cloud Study with Blick Studio Pencils

I was feeling a bit unfocused Tuesday morning, so after doing the second of the sketches above, I got out the Blick Studio pencils and started sketching. The sky I could see out the window was clear, but a nice blue. I decided to sketch clouds against a blue sky by shading the sky.

I used only two colors for this sketch: Ice Blue and Light Blue, and I applied both colors with light pressure for the entire sketch, but mixed strokes.

The sky is layer after layer of both blues, sandwiching Light Blue between multiple layers of Ice Blue (which is much lighter.) I used horizontal strokes, vertical strokes, hatching and cross-hatching strokes, and even circular strokes. In between some of the layers, I blended with a finger tip.

I drew the clouds by drawing the shadows in the clouds with the same two colors. But most of this work was completed with circular strokes.

The result was much more satisfying with the Blick Studio pencils than the Progresso pencils. I’ve tried Blick Studio pencils on a number of surfaces, and for my style of drawing, they seem to be made for sanded art papers.

Sparkles on the Water

I did this sketch as an experiment for this past Saturday’s product review of the Slice tools.

I’ve been watching the videos of an acrylic landscape painter who paints the most remarkable landscapes. Many of them include water and from the first video, the process has mesmerized me.

And made me wonder if there was a way to get the same look with colored pencils.

As it turns out, there is. Slice tools!

I started out by laying down three or four different colors with medium-heavy pressure and back-and-forth horizontal strokes. I wasn’t particularly careful adding color, though I did try to apply colors in a way that looked like water.

Then I went over each area repeatedly until the tooth of the paper was filled.

sketches for the week of July 26

Next, I used Slice tools to etch X shaped “stars” in the places where I wanted sparkles. They didn’t look like much at first, but after going over them a couple of times, they began to look better.

When I finished, I showed the sketch to my husband and said, “What does this look like?” (It didn’t look like much to me.)

“It looks like water reflecting trees or something,” he said.

I made my art notes on the back and called this sketch finished.

Tree Study with Blick Studio

This is the last sketch with Blick Studio, and I used Gold for this and sketched from memory and imagination. I didn’t really have a goal beyond playing with color, value, and shape.

I like the way this sketch turned out.

sketches for the week of July 26

Prismacolor Soft Core Pencils

I did three sketches with Prismacolor pencils just because I enjoy using them so much. They’re not quite as good on sanded papers as on traditional papers, but they were still fun to use.

This sketch is drawn from a photo of a tree that was partially destroyed in a storm early in July. I received a few photos of the damage before the tree was taken down, and this branch caught my eye. The simplicity of the branches and the complexity of the positioning both drew my attention.

It was also silhouetted against the sky, which meant I could create my own lighting. I chose backlighting and big, bold strokes to add details I couldn’t see in the photo.

My subject for this sketch is a dead branch on a live tree in our front yard. After I drew it, I added other branches drawn with lighter and lighter pressure to create context for the main branch.

The main focus is that spindly looking branch so I keep the darkest values on that branch.

I merely suggested bark on the main tree with lines.

The final Prismacolor sketch is another, much older favorite subject: Horse hooves.

I’m not sure what appeals to me so much, but I really enjoy drawing the joints in the legs, particularly the back legs.

This was drawn without a reference photo so it’s a bit rusty. It’s been a long time since I drew a horse’s hoof and it shows.

sketches for the week of July 26

Faber-Castell Polychromos

I’ve used Polychromos pencils for a lot of sketches since starting this sketching habit, so I did only two this week.

Tree Branch with Polychromos

I used a Black pencil to sketch these branches from memory and imagination. I’m seeing improvement in my ability to use lines to convey form and create the illusion of depth on paper. Even with such a simple subject and one color.

Mountain Study with Polychromos

For this sketch, I used Polychromos Mauve. I really like the look of this sketch. It’s one of the more pleasing in this week’s collection (in my opinion.) The use of line to create visual texture in the mountains and the clouds turned out extremely well.

I think one of the reasons for that is that I didn’t over-work it. I tend to keep working on a drawing when I should quit. I’m not sure how to correct that, but it does look like I got it right this time!

sketches for the week of July 26

Caran d’Ache Pablo

I have only one Pablo pencil and in the rather atypical color of Flame Red; atypical for a landscape artist, anyway.

So I did only one sketch with a Pablo.

Pablos are said to be a harder version of Caran d’Luminance, much like Prismacolor Verithin pencils are a harder version of Prismacolor Soft Core. In a way, that’s true. They are a bit harder than Luminance pencils.

But while Verithins are quite a bit harder and thinner, Pablos are only a bit harder and about the same thickness as Luminance.

This sketch turned out well, given what I was attempting to draw. My subject was a couple of dead branches hanging down on the interior of a favorite oak tree across the street. The branches were mostly in shadow, so there wasn’t a lot of middle values. But there were patches of sunlight shining through the foliage.

sketches for the week of July 26

I was able to capture that look fairly well, but I had difficulty getting decent middle values with the Pablo pencil. They didn’t gum up the surface like the Progressos, but they weren’t as easy to use as the Polychromos either. That could be a lack of significant experience with this pencil. As I mentioned, I have only one color and I haven’t done much with it. Perhaps practice is all I need.

Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor

Another line of pencil for which I have only one color is Lyra’s Rembrandt Polycolor, True Blue.

I decided to sketch something I haven’t sketched in quite a while; a horse’s eye.

Polycolor pencils are a bit smaller than most of the other pencils I use. That wasn’t a major problem for me, but I know it can make a difference to some artists.

Polycolor’s are oil-based, so they’re a bit harder than wax-based pencils. The pencil I used laid down color nicely and I was able to get a nice range of values. I didn’t have enough color on the paper to scratch eyelashes with a Slice tool, but overall, I’m quite happy with this sketch.

sketches for the week of July 26

How I Rate these Pencils

First: I’m giving Faber-Castell Polychromos a slight edge. I just really like these pencils for every type of drawing I do. They’re easy to work with, they have a great color range, and I have yet to find a paper they don’t work with.

Second is Prismacolor Premier. They’re not quite as handy on Pastelmat as the Polychromos, but they’re the first pencils I used. It’s difficult not to list them as favorites after using them for over twenty years!

Blick Studio pencils perform nicely on Pastelmat. They feel like a cross between Polychromos and Prismacolor. Color selection is more limited than either of those two brands, but they are very reasonably priced.

Koh-I-Nor Progresso Woodless Pencils are at the bottom of the list. I don’t know what it is about them, but I’ve never used another type of colored pencil that clogs the tooth of Pastelmat (or any other sanded paper) the same way these do.

What about the Lyra Polycolor and Caran d’Ache Pablo? My initial impressions are mixed. They both have good pigmentation and they feel good layering on Pastelmat. But I just don’t have enough experience with them to feel capable of giving an honest opinion.

They are however, pencils I would like to continue working with.

Those are My Sketches for the Week of July 26

I’m very pleased with the decision early this week to use different pencils on Clairefontaine Pastelmat. I hope you enjoyed the results as much as I did.

I also hope you’ll join me in developing your own sketching habit.

And if you’ve created some sketches during the week of July 26, I invite you to share them. I’ll be happy to add them as a reader’s sketch gallery to this post!

Using a Slice Tool with Colored Pencils

Time for another product review. Today I want to share my experiences using a Slice Tool with colored pencils.

Before I begin, I want to thank Slice Inc. for providing samples of their tools. The tools were sent to me after I contacted the company for more information and product images for the Q&A post, What is a Slice Tool?

I’d never used these tools before, though I’d seen countless videos by artists such as Lisa Ann Watkins and Bonny Snowdon, and have published many tutorials by Peggy Osborne. So I was delighted to get a chance to try them out for myself.

Using a Slice Tool with Colored Pencils

The Slice Tools I’m Using

I received three different Slice tools: The Manual Pen Cutter, the Manual Precision Cutter, and the versatile Slice Craft Knife.

All three are ideal for etching out details such as whiskers, flyaway hairs, and other fine details. Slice tools have quickly become a Must-Have tool for pet portrait artists and wildlife artists, but I wanted to see how well they added highlights to grassy areas in landscape art.

From left to right, the manual pen cutter, the precision cutter, and the craft knife.

I didn’t have time to make a new piece to try these tools on, so I went back to some older art that I thought could be improved with a little etching. The piece I chose was Spring Storm.

A Landscape on Clairefontaine Pastelmat

Spring Storm was completed in early 2020. It’s on Anthracite (dark gray) Clairefontaine Pastelmat, so scratching out details was more a matter of adding shadows than highlights.

But there is a lot of grass in the foreground that I thought could benefit from a few more details. Here’s what the area looked like before the Slice tool.

The lower right half of portion of Spring Storm before the Slice tool.

I tried all three tools on the drawing. At first, it didn’t look like they were having an affect. But as I continued to scratch out shadows, I began to see the difference.

I used the two larger blades to add shadows to the grass in the foreground and the tall clump on the left.

The smallest blade, the Precision Cutter, was great at adding a few spots of dark foliage around the edges of the trees in the middle ground.

All three knives allowed me to add fine details that would have been next to impossible to recreate with pencils, especially on such a small drawing (about 7 inches by 9 inches.)

Here’s what the same area looked like when I finished. I don’t know if you can really see the differences this way, but in real life, they are quite obvious.

An Interesting Experiment

My next experiment was this little piece.

This is one my Sketch Habit sketches. It’s on white Clairfontaine Pastelmat and I wanted to see if I could make sparkles on water.

I layered three or four colors heavily onto the paper in a pattern that looked like water.

Then I used a couple of the Slice tools to etch X shapes in various spots in the drawing. I’d seen an acrylic painter create sparkles on water by painting white shapes like this, and wondered if it would work with colored pencils.

It does, if you scratch color off the paper.

Keep in mind that I made no plans where the sparkles would appear as I was laying down color. This was just a sketch; a experiment.

If I were to do this with a finished piece, I would be more deliberate in where I put and how I put color down. Using brighter colors in some of the areas where I wanted sparkles would help them show up better.

But overall, I’m thrilled with this little test.

Tips for Using Slice Tools

I also learned a few things about using Slice tools that are worth sharing.

First is to be careful. It’s difficult to cut your fingers with these blades, but it’s easy to cut paper. Use light or medium-light pressure to gently remove color.

Second, it will probably take more than one “layer” of etching to remove enough color to make a difference. Going over an area a couple of times produced good results. That’s why light pressure is so important.

Third, the scratch marks will be either the color of pencil beneath the layers you’re removing, or it will be the color of the paper. For my test with Spring Storm, I was essentially drawing shadows because the paper was so dark.

On the white Pastelmat, I drew highlights.

Fourth, you get the best results if there’s a clear difference in color or value between the color you scratch off with a Slice tool and the color beneath.

Scratching black layers off dark gray layers makes very little difference. Scratching black layers of light gray or white layers makes a big difference.

Do I Recommend the Slice Tools?

If your work is highly detailed and you like precision in your artwork, then consider buying the Slice tools. They’re a great way to get ultra fine details.

You can remove color, add more color, then remove color again to create a depth of detail that is difficult (if not impossible) with just colored pencils.

And you can also bring a little additional life to an older, finished piece, as I’ve shown here.

They’re not for everybody, just as sanded art paper isn’t for everyone.

But if you’re looking for something to add a little spark (or shadow) to your artwork, the Slice tools may be just what you’re looking for.

My thanks again to Slice, Inc. for their generosity in giving me an opportunity to try their tools. I didn’t honestly think I’d have much use for them.

I now know different!

My Review of Titanium White

My Review of Titanium White

I mentioned a few posts ago that I’d started experimenting with some of the products by Brush & Pencil. Today, I’d like to offer my review of Titanium White pigment and share one particularly exciting (to me) unexpected benefit.

My Review of Titanium White

Titanium White is pure, white pigment; the same pigment used in making white pencils. The pigment, which comes in powder form, can be applied dry by brush or sponge applicator. You can also mix it with Touch-Up Texture and paint it onto a work-in-progress.

Since there is no filler in the pigment, it goes onto the paper fairly opaque, but you can spread it thin enough to create varying degrees of translucency.

Titanium White pigment and white colored pencils work extremely well together. Use Titanium White pigment for larger areas, and pencils for smaller areas or details. Alyona Nickelsen uses Titanium White and white colored pencils to lighten parts of her under paintings before the color glazing phase.

Because it’s powder with no filler or binder, you must seal it with ACP Textured Fixative before adding more color.

You can remove Titanium White pigment with mounting putty until it’s sealed. Then it becomes permanent.

My experience with this product is still limited to two experiments. One wet, and one dry.

Titanium White mixed with Touch-Up Texture

My first experiment with Titanium White involved a small landscape called Blazing Sunset. When the landscape looked like this, I thought I’d finished it. It looked complete.

Review of Titanium White mixed with Touch-Up Texture

Then I decided to add a bright gleam of sunlight streaming through the clouds.

I tried layering lighter colors over the sky, but in vain. Even sealing the painting with ACP Textured Fixative didn’t help. Those bright values continued to elude me.

As you can see here, it was a pretty good painting. The additional details added to my overall satisfaction, but it still wasn’t quite right.

So I mixed up a small amount of Titanium White with Touch-Up Texture, then painted that over the sun. It went onto the painting very easily and dried quickly.

And it completely covered up everything underneath.

The illustration above shows the patch of sunshine with traditional color layering. The illustration below shows the Titanium White mixture painted over the area. Quite a significant difference!

Once the surface dried, I glazed color over it to get the right colors for that area and I finished the painting with no further setbacks.

The result was very pleasing. The improvement delighted me to no end.

I was even more delighted with what happened on the next experiment.

Using the Pigment Dry

I recently decided that a horse portrait wasn’t working and set it aside for later work. In the back of my mind, I’d already decided the portrait was a failure, but I lacked the courage to say so out loud. So I tucked it away in a closet with the thought that I’d stumble across it sometime in the future and be able to finish it.

Sometime that night, the thought came to mind that I should try Titanium White pigment on it. I knew the pigment was opaque mixed with Touch-Up Texture. Was it opaque enough dry to cover a failed drawing so I could start over? It was worth a try.

The next day, I started spreading Titanium White pigment over the paper. I tapped a little bit out of the container, then used a sponge applicator to spread it around and blend it into the tooth of the paper (Clairefontaine Pastelmat.)

One application covered the paper. The drawing was still visible, but I could draw over it if I wished.

Review of Titanium White used dry.

I put down a second application and the drawing was even less visible. I knew it was still there and could still see it.

Would it show through a new drawing? I didn’t think so.

I could have added a third application, and I did think about it.

Instead, I sealed the surface with three light coats of ACP Textured Fixative, letting each coat dry completely before applying the next. Three applications completely sealed the Titanium White. I could lift no white pigment by drawing my finger across the surface.

I ended up applying another layer of Titanium White. Once it’s sealed again, it will be ready for a new drawing.

That’s My Review of Titanium White Pigment

For now.

Yes. Only one of my experiments involved using Titanium White pigment the way it’s marketed. But you have to admit that the second experiment opens a lot of doors for saving drawings that might otherwise fail.

Do I recommend Titanium White pigment?

Absolutely.

For my money, this successful experiment makes Titanium White worth its purchase price. I don’t abandon that many works-in-progress anymore, but if I can blot out an entire drawing with this product, then I can certainly cover a small part of a drawing if it goes wrong.

And that does happen more often than I’d like to admit.

My First Impressions of Lux Archival Paper

Trying new pencils and papers is always fun, even if the projects don’t turn out. I’ve been doing some experimenting this winter, and I’d like to share my first impressions of Lux Archival paper.

I’m especially happy with this report, because all three projects so far have turned out!

My First Impressions of Lux Archival Paper

About Lux Archival

Lux Archival is a non-absorbent, sanded paper created by Alyona Nickelsen of Brush & Pencil. She wanted a toothy paper that was completely archival, front to back. Unable to find one already on the market, she developed her own.

It’s available in packs of 8×10, 11×14, 16×20 and 24×36 or in a 48-inch by 5-yard roll. In the smaller sizes, it’s quite sturdy and didn’t curl or buckle even when I worked on it without taping it to a rigid support.

Lux Archival is designed for dry media, but also handles wet media. I have yet to use watercolor pencils or solvent blending, but I understand it stands up under both.

White is the only color available, but you don’t really need any other color, since it’s so easy to shade backgrounds in any color you like.

The surface is gritty but very fine with an even texture that’s very easy to draw on and that takes color easily.

Lux Archival is a bit on the expensive side, but if you’re doing client work or work designed for sale, then it’s well worth the expense. But then I spent years buying canvases for oil paintings. A good sanded paper is still inexpensive by comparison.

My First Impressions of Lux Archival Paper

It wasn’t my intention to try Lux Archival. I really wanted Alyona’s book, Colored Pencil Painting Portraits. My intention was to learn her methods more completely so I could finish a horse portrait I’d taken on and was struggling with.

The book came with several samples, including pencils, small packets of Powder Blender and Titanium White, and a 4-inch by 6-inch sample of Lux Archival.

I’d heard so much about this paper that I was reluctant to try it before finishing the portrait. The portrait was on it’s second incarnation after a switch from Stonehenge to Pastelmat. I like Pastelmat but was having difficulty with this particular piece. So I was afraid that finding I liked Lux Archival better would make me want to start the portrait over again.

So I waited. The wait was worth it!

My First Two Projects

My first projects were two small sketches, one plein air, and one from memory. I used a limited palette for both. I also tried new pencils, Derwent Lightfast pencils, with the first one, shown here.

Derwent Lightfast pencils are quite soft, so they put color on the Lux Archival very well. I loved the way they felt on this paper. It was easy to layer color and build values just by adding layers.

However, the combination of sanded paper and soft pencils made it difficult to get fine marks. I was able to draw some of those small twigs by “striking” the paper with short strokes and light pressure. The “stop-start” nature of those strokes mimicked the affects of fine lines to draw twigs.

Overall, I was quite happy with the results of this plein air piece, even with a very limited palette (only three colors.)

For the second test, I used Faber-Castell Polychromos Crimson. Polychromos pencils are harder pencils, so it was a bit easier to get fine marks. But the paper still “grabbed” color very easily.

I was able to get a good range of values even using only one color because the paper takes so many layers of color.

The harder pencils allowed me to draw finer lines, but getting a good, crisp line with so few layers was a challenge.

Even so, I was very pleased with these two sketches. Each one took 20 minutes or less to finish, and there was still enough tooth left to do much more.

A Full Up Drawing

The third drawing was a full up landscape based on a photograph supplied to me by fellow artist Carol Leather. A stunning sunset seen through a stand of bare trees, this was exactly the type of project I wanted to try on Lux Archival. The colorful sky was the real test.

I also used some of the other Brush & Pencil products such as Powder Blender, ACP Textured Fixative, Touch-Up Texture, and Titanium White. So this was a test of all the products, not just the paper.

My First Impressions of Lux Archival Paper

Lux Archival was sheer joy to work with!

Especially the smooth colors of the sky. I was able to do in less than an hour what it would take hours to do on regular paper. Combining Lux Archival with Powder Blender, ACP Textured Fixative, and ACP Final Fixative further improved the drawing experience.

This small piece was finished in six hours, which included preparing the paper and spray room time applying Textured Fixative or Final Fixative.

A Couple of Warnings

Like any sanded support, Lux Archival produces a lot of pigment dust. It’s easy to blend that dust into the tooth of the paper, however, so it’s not wasted.

But you will need to seal your artwork at some point. I sealed Blazing Sunset with ACP Textured Fixative several times during the drawing process. That keeps the pigment in place, and allowed me to draw over previous layers without disturbing them.

When the piece was finished, I sealed it again, then used ACP Final Fixative on it.

I don’t recommend using only ACP Final Fixative. When I tried that with the first sketch, the wet spray blotched pigment in one place. Not seriously, but noticeably.

Those are my first impressions of Lux Archival Paper.

So do I recommend Lux Archival?

Absolutely and without hesitation!

I look forward to doing larger work on this paper in the near future. I also hope to try it with animal art when time allows.

If you’re doing work for clients, exhibit, or sale, this is a beautiful paper for smooth color and for detail.

Is it worth the price? A pack of ten 8-inch by 10-inch sheets is only $30 or $3 per sheet. For a professional artist—or any artist who wants to be a professional—that is not a bad price.

Customer service is also top notch when you buy directly from Brush & Pencil.

Whether you use it regularly or not, I hope you’ll give Lux Archival a try.

Review of Colors A Workbook

Today, I want to share my review of Colors A Workbook, by Amy Lindenberger.

I don’t often review new products. So many new tools and products enter the market every week that it wouldn’t take long for this blog to become a product review blog if I tried to review everything.

Ann Kullberg released a new book May 1 that I wanted the moment I saw it. I bought it the same day.

Colors Workbook Review

Before I begin the review, however, I need to issue a caveat or two.

Caveat #1: Colors – A Workbook is not a casual read. Yes, you can pick up a few things just by reading it, but you will not get full benefit from just reading.

Author Amy Lindenberger has designed several exercises to download and do (that’s why this book is called a workbook.) One of two exercises are fairly easy. The rest are more in-depth.

Caveat #2: This book is designed for artists serious about learning how to choose colors. Every subject. Every brand of pencil. Exercises include a color wheel, blending bars, and drawing projects.

No hand holding involved! The author designed each exercise for a specific purpose. Give them the same attention you give regular drawing projects, and by the time you finish, you won’t have to ask someone else which colors to use.

Now for my review!

Colors Workbook Review

My Review of Colors A Workbook

Long-time artist Amy Lindenberger has several tutorials published by Ann Kullberg, so you may already be familiar with her work. In addition, she also teaches in person, so it’s possible you’ve attended one of her classes or workshops.

Having said that, this book is not a tutorial in the traditional sense. It’s very in-depth. Amy covers many general color-related topics beginning with color perception and the basics of color theory.

She also designed drawing exercises that walk you through basic color mixing. And I do mean color mixing. Students start with three colors—the primaries—and graduate to a total of twelve colors. You complete every exercise in the book except for the first two with twelve colors.

You need only three colors for the first two exercises.

My Experience So Far

I say “so far,” because although I bought the book the day it was released, I ‘m still reading it. Quite frankly, it’s taken nearly two weeks to finish the color wheel.

That in no way reflects on my level of interest in the book or the exercises. It’s just that there’s no way to rush through the material or the exercises and do a good job.

The first exercise is probably the easiest one in the book. Making color isolation cards. Basically, punching two holes in a small piece of medium gray paper (I used Canson Mi-Teintes Steel Grey.) My color isolation card is shown here.

Use a color isolation card to look at a color without also seeing the colors around it.

The next exercise is a color wheel, which you can download and print on Bristol (Amy’s recommendation) or printer paper. I spent at least an hour on my color wheel to reach the point below, just to show you this is no fast exercise.

I used Faber-Castell Polychromos Fuchia, Light Cadmium Yellow, and Medium Phthalo Blue for my color wheel. Amy recommends colors to use in other brands, though she says she gets the best results with Prismacolor pencils.

I finished the color wheel in eight days.

Granted, I try to give at least half an hour a day to drawing, but don’t always succeed. Artists with more time to draw will finish more quickly.

Colors A Workbook includes practical drawing exercises in addition to exercises in which students create their own drawing tools.

These pages show one of these projects, a collection of colored eggs, but students also draw cherries and pears.

Review of Colors A Workbook

The Bottom Line in My Review of Colors A Workbook

Colors – A Workbook is 80 pages in length and stuffed full of encouragement as well as instruction. It’s available in print format or as a PDF download.

The individual exercises are also available for download and I highly recommend them.

In fact, I highly recommend this book. The content and drawing exercises benefit every artist willing to treat them like a course, no matter your level.

After all, if I can learn more about color matching, mixing and selection after over 20 years of using colored pencils, you can too!

Review of Colors A Workbook
This article contains affiliate links.

Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils Compared to Caran d’ache Luminance Pencils

Let’s see how Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils compared to Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils when used side-by-side. Since both brands are on the expensive side, this is valuable information if you’re considering either one.

Like most artists, I have a long list of items on my To Be Purchased list. Top on that list are colored pencils.

Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils Compared to Caran d'ache Luminance Pencils

Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils are among my most desired colored pencils. I’ve wanted to try these oil-based colored pencils since first learning of them years ago.

Caran d’ache Luminance pencils are also high on my list and my curiosity was first sparked by this video review.

But neither set is inexpensive, so which to choose first?

Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils Compared to Caran d’ache Luminance Pencils

The following review comparing these pencils provides a basis on which to make a decision. The review is provided by Emmy Kalia on YouTube. Emmy’s YouTube channel and her web site feature tutorials in colored pencils and graphite with a special focus on human subjects. Some of her most interesting videos are about drawing hair and skin tones.

Here’s Emmy.

My Thoughts on Emmy’s Comparison

As I mentioned above, this video is very interesting, as well as being informative.

I’m most interested in the ability to draw with an eraser after laying down color with both pencils. I’ve found some ways to lift color with Prismacolor, but it’s nowhere near as easy as Emmy makes it look in this video.

Drawing with a knife—a process known as sgrafitto—is also intriguing. I’ve done a little of this with Prismacolor pencils but have never been very happy with the results. Perhaps I’m just using the wrong pencils!

But what about choosing which pencils to buy first?

My heart was still set on a set of Polychromos after watching this video. I’ve been wanting those for years and finally got a full set in 2017.

But I’m once again drawn by the prospect of being able to draw light over dark and you can’t do that with Polychromos. So Luminace are still on my To Be Purchased list.

If you’ve used either of these pencils, share your thoughts on why you would—or wouldn’t recommend them to another artist.

More Information

Caran d’ache Luminance Pencils web site.

Faber-Castell web site.

Emmy Kalia’s on YouTube Channel

Derwent Watercolor Pencils – My Review

I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about Derwent watercolor pencils. After using the Derwent watercolor pencils for a few months, it’s time for a review.

Derwent Watercolor Pencils Review

About Derwent Watercolor Pencils

I purchased a set of 12 colors, along with a pad of Canson L’Aquarelle 140 lb hot press watercolor paper at Hobby Lobby. The pencils retailed at $25.99 and the paper at $24.99, but I used a 40% coupon on both items.

TIP: If you shop regularly at Hobby Lobby, go online and print their 40% off coupon. You can use it only once and it applies only to the most expensive item you buy (not the entire purchase,) but it’s a great way to get new supplies and a good deal.

Since I did most of my work on the watercolor paper, I’ll share my thoughts on that, as well.

Derwent Watercolor Pencils - Set of 12

Derwent Watercolor Pencils: My Review

Derwent packages their tins with a shrink wrap cover inside the tin, so you can remove the tin’s lid and see the pencils before you buy them. A very helpful feature if you buy retail from a brick-and-mortar store.

The pencils are stamped in easy-to-read silver, with color names and color numbers clearly visible. They come pre-sharpened, and with the approximate colors on the end of the pencil.

Approximate because they aren’t all 100% accurate. It’s a good idea to make color swatches to see the actual color once you buy the pencils.

Derwent Watercolor Pencils in the Tin

Most of the pencils in my set were in excellent shape and ready to use. Only the Burnt Ochre broke when I sharpened it the first time, but that gave me an opportunity to test Derwent’s customer support process. My understanding before buying these pencils that the Derwent company is very quality conscious and is quick to replace defective stock.

I found that to be true. I emailed the company and told them about the set I’d purchased and the pencil with the broken pigment core.

True to expectation, they emailed me back within a few days and offered to replace the pencil if I wished. I could still use the pencil—yes, even the broken pigment core—so I didn’t ask for a replacement, but it’s good know they were so willing to help me.

Lightfast Ratings

Derwent is a British company, so they use the Blue Wool Scale for lightfast testing.

Two identical dye samples are created. One sample is placed in darkness and one in the equivalent of sunlight for three months. A standard test card is also put in the same lighting conditions and the samples are then compared.

Fading is rated on a scale of 0 to 8, with 0 being the poorest and 8 the highest. A rating of 8 signifies a color that doesn’t fade at all and can be considered permanent.

Of the twelve colors in the 12-pencil set, four have an “8” rating, one is rated “7”, two are rated “6,” and the other five are 5 or below. Most professional artists either don’t use any color rated 5 or less for fine art or they don’t sell the originals. Fading colors can be used to create artwork if all you plan to do is sell reproductions.

However, these ratings are all for dry pigment. They apply only if you don’t use water to activate the color.

Since the purpose of watercolor pencils is to use them wet, I set up my own lightfast test.

My Lightfast Test

I made a swatch of color for each of the pencils. Each swatch is labeled with the color name, the number, and the Blue Wool rating (in parentheses.) At the bottom of the page is information on the pencil, the paper, and the test I started the test.

This swatch shows the dry color.

Derwent Watercolor Pencils - Lightfast Test Dry

Next, I activated half of each swatch with water.

This also gives you a good idea of how will the strokes disappear with a minimum of blending. I have found that strokes disappear entirely with a few more strokes of a wet brush, or if you use more water.

Derwent Watercolor Pencils - Lightfast Test Wet

When the samples were dry, I covered the center portion with a piece of opaque paper and taped it in a south-facing window.

4-Week Results

This is the result after four weeks. Dry pencil on the right, water-activated on the left. The only color that appeared to have faded at all was the Imperial Purple (rated 4,) and the fading wasn’t obvious. The fact of the matter is that the ball point pen I used to label the test faded far worse than the colors.

Derwent Watercolor Pencil Test 4 Weeks

8-Week Results

The 8-week check looked like this. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t see much difference. That was encouraging, to say the least.

Back into the window for the test sheet.

Derwent Watercolor Pencil Test 8 Weeks

12-Week Results

I checked them again at the 12-week mark and this is what I found.

Derwent Watercolor Pencil Test 12 Weeks

There does appear to be some dulling of the color, but it’s not significant.

However, I need to make two points about my test.

One, it’s in no way scientific or conclusive. We had a lot of gray days this spring, so the exposure of the colors may not have been as strong as it could have been.

Two, I didn’t use very much water to activate the color. The more water you use, the more likely the colors are to become fugitive.

However, given my results, I’d have no difficulties using all of these colors (except maybe the 4-rated and less colors) for fine art if I didn’t plan to sell the original work.

Drawing with Derwent Watercolor Pencils

From the first stroke to the last, these pencils were a delight to use, even on a paper that I was previously unfamiliar with. Color goes on with ease, even with light pressure. They have a soft almost creamy feel when used dry. Not quite as soft as Prismacolor, but much softer than Faber-Castell Polychromos, for example.

They’re also fun to use when you apply color wet. I did a lot of work by wetting a brush, stroking the brush across the sharpened pencil, then brushing the color onto wet or dry paper.

Remember I mentioned that broken pigment core? I wasn’t too upset because pieces of pigment core can be dissolved in warm water to create liquid pigment. It’s a great way to blend colors before putting them on paper.

I’ve drawn several pieces on different types of paper. I’ve also used them wet and dry, and tried several different ways to use them wet. As I prepare this post for publication, I’m working on a sky and cloud study for a tutorial, so you can see how they perform in action.

What Do I Think of the Derwent Watercolor Pencils?

I’m a little disappointed so many of them are fugitive. The pencils are so easy to use dry and wet that it’s a shame five of them are too fugitive for my liking.

But that is the only strike I have against them.

Colors lay-down very smooth, the pencils are highly pigmented. The earth tones, blues, and greens are perfect for landscape and animal art, even in just the 12-pencil set.

Time will tell on the fade rate, but I have no objections to using all the colors for sketching and studies, and will be using the lightfast colors for finished pieces.

So if you want to try watercolor pencils, but don’t have a lot of money to spend, you can hardly go wrong with a small set of these.

And What about the Canson L’Aquarelle Paper?

I didn’t forget!

Most of the work I did with Derwent Watercolour Pencils was on Canson L’Aquarelle Watercolor Paper. I was as pleased with the paper as with the pencils. It’s very much like Stonehenge Aqua in feel, and performs pretty much the same way, too.

I bought 140lb hot press because it’s smoother than cold press watercolor paper, so is more suited to colored pencils. The 9×12 inch pad contains 25 sheets, so it’s about a dollar a sheet. I cut the sheets in half for my small works.

It would also be ideal for ACEO art, since it’s heavy enough to withstand the use of water.

The only thing I haven’t yet tried with it is dry drawing. As soft to the touch and smooth as it is, I have no doubts it will perform well for that application as well.