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 derwent.co.uk as you might presume, it’s pencils.co.uk. 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.
Official color chart:
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