They say that the UPS truck is the adult version of the ice cream truck. And you know what? They are right!
Today the truck arrived and left a package on my doorstep that I have been waiting for a long time. Want to see what it is?
It’s a huge box of Derwent inktense color pencils. Yay!
The first time I heard about them, someone recommended them to me as an alternative of the wonderful Stabilo art pencil, my weapon of choice for all my pencil artwork and drawings in my studio, but they did not do what I wanted them to do at the time so I put the Inktense I got aside and continued working.
But now that I have been experimenting with watercolors and a new illustration style, I read about the wonders they can do so I gave the ones I got another go. And you know what? I loved them! I loved them so much that I ordered five, and then I ordered a tin of 24 and now I ordered a box of 72 and I wish they sold boxes with more colors.
What makes them so special that I changed my mind and I love them so much?
Well, they are not like ordinary watercolor pencils, they are heavily pigmented and produce solid color layers. Their secret is that when you add water, they do not release watercolor pigment, instead, they release ink, and it becomes permanent when it dries, so it opens the possibility of working with layers that remain when you paint over them, giving you a range of creative choices that are impossible to reproduce when you use plain watercolor. Once they dry, it’s done and will remain bright and undisturbed and will not mute or muddle when you add pigment over them.
I experimented and I found that the only way to mute the colors is to control the amount of water you use when you lay your initial layer, and it’s very important to keep them wet as you work with your painting, and you must make sure not to add too little water, because if you did not dissolve all the pigment, it will activate once again when you add water and your next color and will mix. It happened to me while I started to work with them. It can be a blessing or a curse, and will puzzle you when you use them for the first time.
There are several ways to work with them. You can touch a wet brush to the tip of the color and then use it as a regular watercolor over your paper for a permanent wash or an under painting. You can also use them as regular pencils and then fade the lines with a clean brush as you spread the color on the paper. And if you are daring, you can dip the tip on water and then draw with them as the water dries on the paper.
Each technique will give you a very different result, and a wide range of possibilities that you will be able to incorporate as you get familiar with them.
I tested how they mix with each other too and I used the different watercolor techniques for the sake of science… and fun!
Dry on dry, dry on wet, wet on wet and mixed separately on a metallic palette yield different results, all of them beautiful and fun to do.
No matte what technique you use, you can always pick up the excess and cleanup using a very absorbing paper towel to pick up the water and try to erase the color or reduce the intensity.
One of the secrets to use the derwent inktense color pencils that you need to be very aware of is that what you see on the tips is not always what you get, so I will advise you to create a sample color chart for each color so you know how they look when they are wet, and how they dry and with how much intensity and value each color renders.
Start with a strip of watercolor paper and write down the number and name of each pencil in the order they are in the box, and make the commitment to keep the box tidy in order to be able to reuse your chart.
Take each color and draw a few lines with a fading intensity towards one side of the paper, so you get nice gradient chart for each color. Then the fun begins!
Apply the same amount of water to each line and create the intensity gradient to see how transparent the color becomes, and keep on doing it for each color on your set. Be. Be careful not to mix each color with the next, Because you want each color to be try to the intensity, hue and value in your chart. The end result is a very beautiful color chart you will keep as a reference as you work with them in your artwork.
All in all, these color pencils are now a permanent part of my arsenal of art weapons whenever I have one of my art attacks. They are way above what I was working with before with watercolor pencils and I can definitively recommend them to use as the main focus of you art, or as accents like I use them when I create the faces and big, beautiful eyes of my handmade art dolls.