Derwent is a esteemed name in the art world, not least because its heritage dates way back to the 1800s when graphite was first discovered in the Lake District! It seems like Derwent Pencils have been around forever yet they are still going from strength to strength, releasing new high quality products year on year. Did you know the original 'The Snowman' film was produced using Derwent Pencils?
I am writing this masterpost to catalogue the different Derwent products I have tried and tested, so that it may help colourists to compare the different pencils on offer and give pros and cons of each to see which pencils are right for you. I may do this in the future with other top pencil brands too. All Derwent pencils are available to buy as open stock, and I always recommend you try a few pencils before buying a full set to see how you get on with them. At the end of this post will be a EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT CODE to get 10% off everything Derwent over at Cult Pens.
Derwent Artists Pencils
Artists coloured pencils are the original coloured pencil of Derwent. This set has the most pencils of any in the Derwent range (120) and have a hard wax core. Each pencil is a a dark teal green in colour with a silver strip near the top. They have a very hard lead which is ideal for detailing and sketching, but will need lots of light layering when colouring to build up blends and softer colour. I find them too hard for me, but it is always a case of personal preference.
Derwent Inktense Pencils
These pencils are not to be confused with the watercolour range as they are actually made from Ink (hence the name) in a water-soluble format, and come in a maximum of 72 colours. Each pencil has a dark blue barrel with a light blue strip near the top. They laydown incredibly intense colour (again, hence the name) and can be used wet or dry, but the best results certainly come when you water. The colours are so bright and vibrant it's easy to see why these pencils are a favourite among colourists, but be aware that once the 'ink' dries it is permanent, so you can't re-work it like watercolour pencils...
Derwent Watercolour Pencils
These pencils come in sets as little as 12 right up to the maximum of 72. Each pencil is dark blue in colour with a silver strip near the top. They perform beautifully on the page whether or not you use them with water. The soft leads give a rich pigment which doesn't need a great deal of pressure to apply, and the application of a little water really makes the colours pop (although not as much as Derwent Inktense). These are true watercolour pencils so they will continue to blend with water even if previously dry, unlike the Inktense.
Derwent Coloursoft Pencils
The lead in these pencils has a very soft and almost velvety feel to it, but not as soft as Prismacolor or Luminance pencils. This is a good thing if you don't like crumbly leads but still want to blend easily. The barrels are a burgundy colour with a silver stripe near the top. Blending with these pencils is best achieved with light layers to build up the colour otherwise you will encounter wax build up. These are available in sets from 12 to 72 and the majority are a 8 on the Blue Wool Lightfast scale, so they could be suitable for professional work as well as recreational colouring.
Derwent Procolour Pencils
These pencils sit between the Artists and Coloursoft pencils in terms of hardness and feel just slightly harder than Polychromos. They have a dark grey barrel with a silver strip near the top. It holds a super-sharp point very well, the strength of these pencils unmatched in my opinion, so if you're looking for pencils that stand up to hard pressure and don't give off much dust, but aren't as hard as the Artists, these are it. They layer amazingly, blend particularly well with solvents and come in up to 72 colours. A lot of artists were flummoxed at why they weren't more lightfast with a word like 'Pro' in the name, so Derwent came up with...
Derwent Lightfast Pencils
They are what it says on the tin: pencils of the highest lightfastness. Every pencil in this set (currently there are 36 available, soon to be 72) is the maximum lightfast rating, and they are Derwent's first foray into oil-based pencils. The barrel is made of natural Maple wood which is unpainted, and has a dark teal stripe near the top. These pencils are extremely creamy to lay down and really are ideal for professional use. If you're someone who likes to gift or frame your colouring and want to keep the vividity of colour over time, these pencils will not disappoint. They do however, have a price tag to rival the most expensive coloured pencils, but you really do get what you pay for.
I hope this post will be useful as a reference when you are looking for information about the pencils Derwent have to offer. All Derwent products are currently 10% off on Cult Pens by using the limited-time exclusive code CWC at checkout! Let me know if you bag yourself any new pencils to play with, and what you think of them!