In my opinion, these pencils are not ideal for colouring, but more for detailing and sketching. They have a very hard lead which needs a lot of pressure to produce bright colours, though when achieved the colours are gorgeous. I found the lead to have a very 'sticky' feeling which isn't helped by my trying to lay down colour hard. Therefore I think these pencils require a soft touch with lots of very light layers to build up colour rather than trying to get vivid tones down straight away. If you do press too hard, you'll find the black linework in some books will smudge and the paper may even tear. It can also give hand fatigue.
Erasing, Smudging & Sharpening
Blending is achievable, again by layering lightly until enough pigment builds up and the colours merge together. It takes patience and time, so it depends on whether the colourist prefers very soft, easy pencils like Prismacolor or something that needs practice and getting used to but will give amazing results if given the chance.
These pencils erase surprisingly well for such a hard lead, especially if you use a battery operated eraser like this one also from Derwent.
Derwent Artists do leave some pencil dust when colouring, so be careful if you have a tendency to brush the page with the side of your hand otherwise you will notice smudging. Instead, gently blow the dust away or use a (clean & dry) make up brush.
One of the best things about these pencils is the sheer durability. They are extremely sturdy and that fat 4mm core isn't going anywhere! Each pencil I sharpened gave a super sharp point with no breakages whatsoever, in fact it seems to be an age before you have to sharpen again as the points last and last.
Derwent Artists pencils are available in sets of 12, 24, 36, 48, 72 and 120. They come in a lovely jade green tin and some of the sets can also be bought in beautiful wooden presentation boxes.
The 36 set contains a lovely selection of greens and browns but could do with more greys to replace some of the similar tones in my view. This set is around £46 which makes them just over £1 each, not bad for a top of the range brand like Derwent where you can guarantee the quality is going to be fantastic.
The best thing is that they can be bought as open stock, which is definitely where new users should start I think. Buy one or two similar shades, test out the blending and lay down and just get a feel for them before you commit to a bigger set.
These pencils are not for the majority of colourists; they need time to get the right technique otherwise the very hard leads will ruin the paper in most books. That being said, if you can tolerate harder leads you may be able to produce some stunning works of art by lightly layering the huge 120 colours that you have to choose from. They definitely live up to their name- in my opinion these are for artists who sketch coloured drawings rather than for use in colouring books. For something a bit easier to use, try Derwent Coloursoft.
These pencils were given to me in exchange for an honest review. You can find them on Cult Pens with FREE UK DELIVERY here.