Sunday 3 April 2016

Test-Driving Derwent Pencils: Graphitint Review

Those kind folks at Derwent have been in touch again and sent me another parcel: a pressie of art materials play with. It came almost on my birthday too! I got all sorts of bits and bobs, some familiar, some new things to try...

They sent me another set of my all-time favourite tool: the Inktense watercolour pencils.

This 12 set is really all you need. I once went to their shop in the Lake District and bought lots of other colours to add to my kit, but have taken most of them out again, because these colours are so well chosen. 

Inktense pencils are absolutely perfect for sketching on the go. I just love the way you can combine dynamic drawing with painterly mark-making and fill the page with vibrant colour, while carrying almost no kit - just a handful of pencils and a waterbrush.

Derwent also sent me some pastels and pastel pencils, knowing how I create my picture book artwork.

The pastel pencils were the perfect thing: really lovely quality of course, richer and softer than a lot of brands, but also very timely, providing me with some new and useful colours which I have already pressed into service, working on Class One Farmyard Fun. You need the pastel pencils for all the fiddly detail which is impossible to achieve otherwise: like all those itsy bitsy outfits the children wear, and tiny animals in the background.

The Derwent pastel bars are just slightly harder than I like for my illustrations, but that will make them ideal for outdoor sketching, as soft pastels are a bit of a messy nightmare when you are out and about, so I shall save them to use for landscapes, when the weather is a bit warmer.

For the last 2 years running,  John and I have enjoyed a week's caravan holiday in the Lake District, where I have spent my time sitting on top of hills, or down by the water, sketching every day, while John goes off walking. Once my busy period is over, I'm sure we'll be off to do it again, and I shall take my new Derwent pastels with me. Can't wait.

Most exciting of all, Derwent sent me something I haven't tried before: a set of water-soluble, tinted, graphite pencils:

I tried them out on a recent sketchcrawl. It was one if my residency days, taking my volunteer group of academic newbie-sketchers out of the safety of the university, to draw in the big wide world for the first time. We didn't go far, just down the road to the Manchester Museum, the same place I took my Urban Sketchers last week.

I thought I would document the occasion by drawing them sketching, rather than focusing on the exhibits, and I used my new pencils to sketch Vanessa and Andy.

The Graphitint are similar to my Inktense pencils, because of being soluble, so I used the same technique - vigorous mark-making followed by quick, understated gestures with a waterbrush - but the Graphitint pencils were different to use in three important ways.

Firstly, the lead is softer than either Inktense or any regular watercolour pencils I have tried before, giving a thicker line which you can see really picked up the grainy surface of the watercolour paper, creating a slightly looser, more textured result:

Secondly, whereas the Inktense are extremely vibrant and explode into colour when you add the water, the Graphitint are far more understated: certainly the set I was given were slightly muted shades, which work well together to create a softer overall effect, whereas the Inktense tend to be more contrasting and zingy. 

Lastly, the Graphitint colour doesn't change when wet, it just dissolves.  Though less exciting than the Inktense, this makes them more predictable and so slightly easier to manage. It is less easy to 'overdo it' - with the Inktense pencils, if you apply too much pencil work before the water, you can quickly get into a mess. It just depends what you are after.

I think these are going to be great for life drawing, although I have not had time to go in ages. Perhaps this will give me the push I need to make some time.

In the meantime, thank you Derwent, for my gorgeous pressies. Much appreciated.


Kate (Cathy Johnson) said...

I did like the Graphitints, but unless they've changed the formula the warm colors REALLY tend to be fugitive over time. My tan and black calico cat turned pink after a couple of years in a closed sketchbook!

I still use the cool colors, though, they're lovely.

Peter Bjørn Nielsen said...

This is Pdf from Derwent .... with information about the Graphitint Pencils

;-) PB

Toni said...

Love this. Thank you for your insight.

Ginny Stiles said...

I am so enjoying following your blog.
You are so generous with your information and great about giving examples.
The Derwent Inktense are my favorite go-to water soluble colored pencils.
And they last a long time. But as you say, they explode when you wet them but then become permanent which means you can overlay them with other media or graphite or line work.
I have also loved General's water soluble graphite pencils and carry them in all my kits for just black/white and gray sketches. Have not worked with pastel pencils in my sketchbook due to not being sure about how permanent they will be over time. Do you spray them with something after you are done?

Lynne the Pencil said...

You're welcome.

Re pastel pencils: they are no problem except for the potential for smudging. It's less of an issue than with pastel bars, but they still will smudge. I use the white a lot, when I am using a tinted sketchbook, and it transfers across to the opposite page if I don't fix it. A quick spray with fixative will sort it out. You can use hairspray if you are just using black, but it tends to darken other colours, so it's worth getting the proper stuff if you are using colour. It's expensive, but you only need the lightest once over, so it will last ages.