Reported by Heather Strenzwilk
Inktense Pencils by Derwent are described as “watersoluble ink pencils” meaning they offer the best of three worlds: 1) Control of pencils 2) Blendability of watercolors and 3) Highly pigmented, intense color. These pencils come in 71 assorted colors plus an outliner which can be used to draw non-smearing, permanent outlines.
Aside from their intense pigment, what sets these aside from ordinary watercolor pencils is that inktense pencils are permanent once they dry. They can be used just like regular watercolor pencils and while wet, the colors are blendable. Once the ink has dried, the built in glaze makes it permanent so additional layers of color or other mediums can be applied on top. Unlike regular watercolors, the artwork will not become “muddy” with the addition of more color (one of the things I hate about regular watercolors).
Because my watercoloring skills are amateur, I prefer the control of pencils. By varying the amount of pressure The above sample shows four different looks for the same blue pencil. Applying color directly to the paper provides more intense color and applying color from the pencil tip with a wet brush gives a softer, more traditional watercolor look. My favorite look was a combination of lightly shading the paper and adding extra color from the brush because it had lots of smooth color.
Like many of you, I own several styles of pencils and I wanted to see how they compared to other products. But because Inktense pencils are unique in nature, so it is difficult to do a direct comparison because there are no like products. But just to give you a rough idea, I did a side-by-side comparison of both wet and dry of three products on Canson 120lb Watercolor Paper. From left to right are Lyra Aquacolor Crayons, Staedtler Karat Aquarell Watercolor Pencils and Inktense Pencils. The Staedtlers were the smoothest to apply to the paper but the Inktense blended the smoothest.
I started with a set of 24 and at the same time I also purchased a Derwent blender and burnisher set, and two good brushes. The artist who demoed the pencils for me (and made it look really easy and fun) recommended good brushes and a using the Derwent blender with Derwent pencils. I definitely agree and the proper tools did make a large difference. Since my initial purchase I have purchased: Thistle, Fern, Payne’s Gray, Sienna Gold and Crimson and I have found these colors to be among my favorites.
- Intense color
- Permanent- no smearing, easy to add additional layers of color
- Versatile- watercolor and pen and ink looks from 1 product
- Set of 24 had too many dark colors and no pink
- Product difficult to find- available in art supply stores or online only
- Skilled watercolorists might prefer traditional watercolor pencils
In summary, Derwent Inktense pencils are my favorite pencils for their plentiful pigment, blendability, versatility and permanence. They are available in fine art stores or discounted online from Dick Blick, Jerry’s Artarama and Amazon for about $1.50 or so each. This is the best product I have reviewed for Craft Critique and I rate them a 10 out of 10!
Have you tried Inktense pencils yet? Do you think they’ll take the place of more traditional watercolor pencils?