Friday, May 25, 2007

Derwent Drawing Pencils and 'Drawing a Head'

Drawing a Head 24th May 2007 - Clelia
coloured pencils on Winsor and Newton Lana Tints Grained Surface Pastel Paper 160gsm

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Two versions of the model I drew yesterday in my Drawing a Head class. The first was done in my usual coloured pencils the first two sessions (approximately 75 minutes) and the second was done using Derwent Drawing Pencils at the end of the session in the last block of 30 minutes.

Derwent Drawing Pencils are fat and creamy with (I'm guessing) lots of wax content. I'm saying this because I found it difficult to use my ordinary oil-based pencils (Faber Castell Polychromos and Lyra Rembrandt) over the top of them.

They're great to use in a class like this and I love lots of the colours which are wonderful for skin. However I would like to see them expand the range to include more greens and specifically ones which help more with portraits. Derwent recommend their use for animal portraits as well and I can well imagine they'd be useful for this too - if one could solve the sharpening problem - see below.

This is the colour chart which you can download from the website. Note the colour chart provides an indication of lighfastness and that they are all at the top end on the Blue Wool lightfastness scale. Here's what Derwent have to say about them.
Drawing is available in 24 subtle shades, including a wide selection of traditional sepia tones together with soft neutral greys, greens, blues and creams.
One downside - there is the perennial problem of finding a sharpener which can cope with big Derwent pencils. Last might saw me sat next to the big waste bin with my scalpel and my DDPs - trying to sharpen them. Frankly this is not an easy job. I've never seen a Derwent pencil sharpener - has anybody else?

If you click on either/both of the images you'll see the marks I made while drawing. It feels more and more like a sculpture exercise using hatching. The drawing is better in the first - but I'm quite pleased with the form and values of the second - even if the drawing was a bit off. And I did like using the Derwent Drawing Pencils for the second one. I don't have the complete set as yet and last night I needed to add in a warmer red from my CPs into the second drawing to reflect the skin colours and the lighting situation. So I need to check the ones I've got and see whether there are some warmer reddish tones which I've not yet got e.g. I don't think I have "Ruby Earth".

I tried an elephant grey paper this week from my pad of Windsor and Newton Lana Tints Grained Surface Paper. My pad has 6 assorted colours and the manufacturers state it has a high cotton content and is acid free and light resistant. (I'm never very sure of the difference between lightfast and light resistant - but presumably there is one). I'm still trying to find the colour of tinted paper which works best with my coloured pencils. I'm beginning to think a lighter shade and maybe one with a greenish tinge to it might work better for me. Lana Tints comes in 30 shades altogether - but apparently they are not available in the USA or Canada.



  1. I love Derwent Drawing pencils, they're so soft and creamy and lay down so well on paper. However, I've only been able to access the earth tone sets here as of yet. I would love to get my hands on a full set of colours to play with them. I guess I'll have to order from the USA again.

    As for sharpening, I use a hand sharpener that has a double hole, one small, for regular pencils, the other large enough to accomodate DDPs. The only sharpening problem I find is that because they are so soft, they do break in the sharpener if you're not careful. Barring that, its back to the old waste bin and sharp knife.

  2. It's weird - it seems to only be wax-based pencils where you can get problems with breakages (as, for example, occurs from time to time with Prismacolor according to a number of artists).

    I never ever have any problems with my oil-based ones - and in fact, to be hones, it's one of the reasons I tend to use them more. Having said that there is definitely a place for these Drawing pencils too

    Thanks for the tip re the sharpener - I haven't used one of those in years - I always wondered what the big side was for! ;)

    I think Dick Blick stocks the complete set of shades.

  3. I have been using Derwent drawing range for ages now, and absolutely love them, and more so since they extended the colour range.As for the sharpening sorry no advice as I just a sharp blade and try to be very careful.

  4. Lovely portraits, Katherine. I prefer the first because of the fineness and subtle range of colours - but they are both excellent. The eyes are particularly lovely.

    I have a small white sharpener labeled 'Derwent Pastel' sharpener. I got it here when I bought some pastel pencils. It works well with the drawing pencils.

  5. Thanks Robyn

    I went looking for a sharpener yesterday - and found the Derwent pastel pencil sharpener. Now if I can only remember which website I found it on...........

  6. I found that General's All Art sharpener works very well with the Derwent Drawing pencils. It makes a short point which is more sturdy than a long one.
    I have done several using these pencils and the feel is wonderful!

  7. I found that General's All Art sharpener works very well with the Derwent Drawing pencils. It makes a short point which is more sturdy than a long one.
    I have done several using these pencils and the feel is wonderful!


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