Derwent Artists review

Lets look at Derwent Artists pencils today. These are their flagship range as they told me, the oldest and biggest. The Studio range has the same colors but they’re thinner, for even tinier details.

Derwent is a UK company, I think their web address says it all, they’re not as you might presume, it’s Yep. Derwent makes a whole lot of different art products, colored pencils, Inktense, pastel pencils, graphite of all sorts and widgets to go along with all of them. And more. And then some.
I absolutely love that they don’t charge you double for their wooden boxes. The only regret I have with that is not getting Inktense in a wooden case as well, they’re very very nice. The foam insert holds the pencils nicely in place, they don’t fall out accidentally (which happens to me a LOT with Inktense, I have an angled drafting table, the pencils sometimes just decide to leave the tin on it) and it just looks very nice.

A disclaimer I feel I need to add right away is that I feel these are not really the weapon of choice for a colorist, they’re more for artists and thus looking at them from a colorist perspective can be a little unfair on them but since I run a coloring blog, that’s what we’ll do. If you’re an artist, read the cons, they might not cons for you at all.
Derwent Artists comes in a multitude of options, tins of 12, 24, 36 and 72, plus wooden boxes of 48 and 120 and a special black and white tin of 6 with different shades of black and white. Mine is the full 120.
Derwent pencils all have a cedar casing and color coded tips, in addition to that the pencils themselves are colored according to the line. Artists are green, Coloursoft brown, Drawing light brown, Inktense purple and Studio black. All aside from Studio have a round barrel, Studio line is hexagonal. The Artists pencils are very thick like the other Derwent pencils (except for Studio), with an 8mm barrel that is housing a wide 4mm lead.
The pencil holds both the color name and code.


  • Wide color range
  • A lot of natural tones, greens, earthy tones
  • Great for detailed work
  • Hold a point so long it’s almost forever
  • Comfortable barrel
  • Derwent has amazing customer service
  • Good quality casing, no splintering
  • Easy to get and also available open stock
  • No broken cores, they’re so hard that they’re very sturdy
  • Sharpen to a very fine point
  • Good thick 4mm lead in an 8mm barrel (same size barrel as Faber-Castell Polychromos but a slightly wider color strip with Polys having a more standard 3,8mm lead)
  • Will fit in most sharpeners
  • Excellent range of nature tones, earthy greens and natural yellows


  • The lightfastness is all over the place and specially in these mixed cases, I’d love to see the rating on the pencil itself for easier reference
  • The lead is hard and waxy, they do not lay down intense color fast, they take some getting used to
  • Layering is a tad tricky with them, you have to lay down very light layers to be successful with that
  • Blending also comes with a bit of a learning curve, you can not blend them like you do soft pencils, you have to have a light touch and draw the colors into each other, it’s a little hard to explain but you can’t just burnish colors on top of each other well with these like you’re probably used to doing with Prismas for instance
  • The light colors are a bit tricky to handle, they don’t show up much

Derwent Artists pencils are a lot harder then the other pencils I’ve looked so far so it’s not really fair to compare them with those. They’re really very hard and thus take a lot of getting used to but they will produce beautiful results once you befriend them. But they will be frustrating if you’re trying to cover big areas or throw down intense color fast, you will hate them if you try. I really like drawing with these but I don’t use them for coloring much, sometimes with pictures I want a tender result with because I tend to have a heavy hand and these pencils force me to be light and careful. The key to anything with these pencils is a light touch and patience.
The color range is beautiful and delightful, I don’t really miss anything with these, even the greens that often are lacking for me, this set has a great selection of them. Plus, it has the best blue grey of them all. If you want to try them out and get something open stock, get that one. It’s great at shadows and pretty unique, the Prismacolor Premier Slate Grey is the only pencil in my collection that is a similar shade. I so wish they’d expand their Coloursoft range to be as good at color selection as Artists is.
They perform best on high quality paper.

Color chart:

Official color chart:

Example coloring pieces with Derwent Artists, I wanted to show you a range of what it can do so picked two:
_DSC3519 (1)
Picture: Vinterdrömmar by Hanna Karlzon
Picture: Blomstermandala by Maria Trolle

I’ll say this again, they are not for colorists. If you do like harder pencils, do try them open stock before committing to a tin or box. They are very cool and interesting and I love them for details on drawings but they will drive you bananas if you’re expecting Prismacolor. If you want soft pencils, try Derwent Coloursoft (review HERE) or Derwent Drawing (review HERE) instead and you’ll be a happy bunny.

Disclaimer: all of the above opinions are mine, you might have a different experience with these pencils

4 thoughts on “Derwent Artists review

  1. I’d like to comment on a few things you might like to add when you review pencils:

    1) you might get the info (from the company if possible) regarding the diameter of the pencil, and most especially, the diameter of the leads (rather than just saying something like “they’re thicker than prismacolors”. Why/how are they thicker? Is it just the diameter of the barrel that is thicker, perhaps a thicker wood core, or is the diameter of the LEAD thicker?).
    2) you might add, and again, you can find this out from the company, whether the pencils come in open stock or not. Open stock means that you can purchase a single pencil rather than purchasing a whole set of you’ve worn down a color or broken it or something. ****also, whether the open stock pencil is easily obtainable. Can you get an open stock pencil from Amazon, or dick Blick, or as easily as going to the craft or art store-or if you’re UK or elsewhere based, apply to your area. (You mention getting an open stock pencil in this review, but it seemed an afterthought. Perhaps include as a pro/con).
    3) some reviewers will break it down by number of colors contained in a set. (Example|: in a 72 set, there are 14 purple-x dark purple, x medium, and x light purple. There are 16 greens, perhaps broken down into light, medium, and dark). You mentioned there is a somewhat skin tonish pink/peach (in a review, might not have been this set). Are there any lacking colors (example: set lacks a true dark purple or a true pink)? Are there any colors which feature over heavily in the particular set?
    4) I’ve not looked over every review for coloring books and utensils. However, I’ve not noticed you mention if whatever you were reviewing was purchased by you or kindly given to you for a review by a company. I’m assuming that you’ve purchased most items yourself. Perhaps it’s not an issue now, but if you ever think you might ask for review copies or items at a later date, it might be good to begin this practice now. You don’t want to not acknowledge a company sending you an item.
    –Last, but not least, I’m a terrible colorist, lol, but derwent artists are really easy for me to work with. They blend easily to me. Perhaps your disclaimer should have read that was your opinion? Because, the way I read it was that it was a well known, solid fact that these were not best for colourists. Just something to think about, as you don’t want to mislead anyone!

    These were just a few things I noticed specific to your pencil reviews. Of course, they are only suggestions, but perhaps you hadn’t thought of them previously. I review medical products, both for my medical practice and those in our area, but also for companies and national journals. They are totally different categories, and the way I was taught to write a review might not be the way YOU want to write them. :). I’ve enjoyed your site in the time I’ve explored it and found a new coloring book I “need”. Happy coloring!


    1. Thank you for such a thorough analysis and thoughts! I will certainly take them into account.
      As for the mention of whether I bought or received the item, I’ve marked when I’ve received a review copy of a book but where not mentioned, I’ve presumed it’s a given I purchased the item myself. It didn’t occur to me that this should be noted separately 🙂
      Anyway, I’ll take note of all of these and will work on adding information to my already finished reviews plus do more in the future 🙂 Thanks!


    2. She stated that she bought the pencils. Also she is right about the hardness of the artist serie. Yes they are hard like the Prisma Very Fine serie. I use them for small areas and outline some details.


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