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Which Derwent Colour Pencil Is For Me?

10/11/2016 13:30

Colour Pencils, A Quick Guide


Here at The Art Shop Skipton we pride ourselves on always having our shelves well stocked with Pencils. In fact, our store is packed full of pencils in a multitude of varieties and colours. We understand how tough it can be picking the right colour pencil for your individual style and needs. Some are more obvious than others, Pastel pencils are a soft pastel in a pencil form, as are watercolour. But what about the, more mysterious Inktense, Coloursoft or Studio pencils? This little blog post aims to review these, guide you to your perfect colour pencil and hopefully clear up a little confusion.



Coloursoft Pencil

The Derwent Coloursoft pencil range was launched back in 2006 and since that time has only been growing in popularity becoming one of our best selling colour pencils on the market.

These pencils are as the name suggests, colourful and soft but don’t be led into thinking soft means crumbly, they are a robust pencil that have an almost waxy texture to them which makes applying bold colours a doddle. Shading is easily achieved as the waxiness and softness of the coloursoft lends itself well to working with differing pressures and adding layering. A little goes a long way with these pencils as the boldness of the colour illuminates the page.

As you can see from our little test here various pressures and techniques have been played with showing the versatility of the coloursoft. From the softly shaded edges and background to the block colouring effect on the fox achieved by adding more pressure to the page and really letting the bold colours show what they can do. They really are a pleasure to work with and come highly recommended for all levels of artists.



Inktense Pencil

Inktense pencils are rather different from your more traditional colouring pencil. They certainly stand out from the crowd, for good reason! Loosely speaking they are a little like a watercolour pencil, you pop a little colour on the page like you would with a pencil, take a wet brush, spead the pigment around your artwork and your pencil strokes vanish. So far so familiar, but there is far more to the Inktense pencil than that. Intense pencils use an Ink pigment so the colour is so much more vibrant, rich, bold and dare we use Derwent’s pun “Ink-tense” than a watercolour pencil (although you can easily achieve a watercolour effect by apply them lightly).

Not only do the Inktense pencils stand out in colour department but they are versatile too, unlike traditional watercolour pencils or paints once the Inktense are dry the colour is fixed and you have free rein to apply more layers without compromising the previous ones. They can be painted onto fabrics such as silk or cotton and are colourfast too, the pencils can be used dry, you can mix gratings of the pigment into water to use that way and you can even mix the colours together to create your own bespoke shades if the huge selection of 72 colours is still not enough!

For our example we played around with a few of the techniques that are possible with Inktense. We applied the pencil thicker in certain areas and spread them using a wet brush to create fades. We mixed one colour into another to achieve a merged colour gradient for the trees and a heavy coat of vibrant orange was applied to Mr Fox which gave him a blocked in look. You might want to practice with these pencils for a little while if you haven’t used them before but after a fun 15 minutes or so you soon get to understand the ways in which they work and a whole new world of possibilities is opened up for your artwork! Well done Derwent, hats off to the boffins at the pencil research laboratory, another great product and definitely a step forward for what a pencil can do and be.

Inktense Pencils


Studio Pencil

If you are looking for a colour pencil that can give fine detail and great control the Derwent Studio might be the pencil you.

A dry colour pencil, they are certainly designed well for detail. The barrel is hexagonal giving you a fantastic grip and when tested we found the lead finer and tougher than many other colour pencils so you can really get into those tricky areas and add detail much easier. This hardness means the colours are subtler and more muted unless you can apply a lot more pressure to let the colour really shine through, this is great as it really lends itself well to giving accurate control.

These pencils are great for any artist but illustrators, designers and those who wish achieve really fine detail would particularly like and benefit from the Studio range.




Derwent’s expansive pencil range just goes on and on and after testing just three of the biggest sellers you can see what different styles you can achieve. This list is by no means comprehensive but has hopefully shed that little bit more light on what might work for you and your projects. If any of the pencils above don’t tickle your fancy there is bound to be a Derwent product out there for you, these guys certainly know how to make a good pencil! If you are unsure why not pop into our store or give us a call here at The Art Shop Skipton we would love to help. Happy colouring!







Add A Comment



This was very interesting and helpful. I came back to art about 5 years ago after an absence of about 45 years and much has changed, it is taken for granted that you know about these things and I struggle for information. Thank you.

Valerie Page

The descriptions of your coloured pencil varieties are really useful. They open up all sorts of creative possibilities by either using them together, or with other mediums. They will definitely be on my list after Xmas.

Gillian Morris