Apart from family, friends, cake and cards, one of the lovely things about having a birthday is being given new art supplies.
This year, my mother-in-law gave me a fantastic set of 12 Derwent Graphitint pencils. Unlike the creamy and smooth watercolour pencils that I’ve previously used, these have a much more textured finish. You can see the pencil marks more clearly on the paper, even after you’ve washed over the graphite with a water brush. They are brilliant for sketching and doing water colour on the go, as you only need a water brush to activate them and don’t have to carry a pot of water with you.
The first thing that struck me when I used the pencils, is how inaccurate the colour swatches on the end of each pencil are. I’d highly recommend doing yourself a sample swatch before using these pencils, as you’ll be surprised at the difference. Here’s mine to illustrate what I mean. Look at the difference in colour of the Storm pencil in particular. On the end of the pencil is a light grey paint, the actual pencil nib is dark grey, and once wet, it is almost a purple colour:
Don’t they have a wonderful vibrancy once wet?! The Chestnut pencil in particular is much brighter and warmer than when the pencil is dry. The tones in the collection are generally quite muted though, and it is an interesting challenge to decide what to create with such a limited palette. I was gifted the 12 pencil set, but even in the full 24 pencil range, there is no yellow, and the Midnight Black is a dark grey at best when diluted.
To give you an example, I thought I’d do a quick sketch:
I really love being able to build up the colour slowly with the pencil, then using a barely damp brush to soften and intensify the colour. I used a Zig water brush (available here ) to wet the pencil, and then once dry, I went back over with more pencil strokes layered on top for additional texture. Here is the finished quick sketch:
If I had more time, I’d break out my other watercolour pencils or paints and add some gold to the eyes and white to the fur. For larger pieces, or more detailed work, try creating a paper palette for yourself. By sketching a block of colour onto a scrap of paper, you can use your water brush or damp paintbrush to pick up the colour as though it was a solid pan of watercolour. This gives you more pigment on the brush, and the option of using a small brush to add very fine details. For the most intense colour, run a damp brush across the nib of the pencil itself.
If you fancy having a go with these pencils, I’d highly recommend them! Grab yourself a set from here or your local art store. Have you used these before? What do you think? I”d love to see your creations in the comments below.