Tangle Roadtest of Derwent Inktense Pencils

Hi and welcome back to another week on the Chrissie Murphy Designs Blog. It’s time for another Tangle Roadtest and this month I’m roadtesting Derwent Inktense Pencils. These are a pencil I’ve had in my arsenal for about 5 years, but don’t use regularly. And I’ve started to really wonder why…. this month I decided to find out, so come and join me for a Tangle Roadtest of Derwent Inktense Pencils.

Derwent Inktense Watercolour Pencils

Derwent Inktense Pencils – The basics…

Let’s look at the basics before we get into things in greater depth.

  • They come in various sized sets of 6, 12, 24, 36, 48 and 72 colours as well as individually (through some suppliers).
  • They are a Pencil that activates with water – mix them with water and boom! The colour is intense! Thus the play on words with Inktense.
  • Permanent colour – once they dry, it’s permanent, it will not move and you can work over the top of the colour.
  • Can be used on fabrics.
  • There’s 72 colours in the range.
  • Fast drying, nudging them towards being bleed proof – meaning another colour layed beside the original is less likely to bleed into the original colour.

I’d also recommend checking out my short Tangle Road Test of Derwent Inktense Pencils video that touches on some of the things I’ve mentioned above. Sometimes it’s easier to convey things with video. The video gives you a better understanding of how to use the Pencils and the intensity of their colour which really can’t be appreciated til you see it.

Physical appearance

Let’s begin with their physical appearance. The pencils look like just about any other coloured pencil, but their core (the coloured centre) is where I’ve found the greatest difference.

The coloured centre is hard (chalky almost) and comparing it to a Prismacolor or Fabre Castell pencil it’s remarkably different. The Prismacolor is soft, waxy like, the Derwent Inktense Pencils are quite hard and chalky. The colour feels grainy almost.

In the picture below, I’m applying some firm pressure to a Prismacolor pencil. You can see the waxy core crumble under the pressure.

Core Test

But the Derwent Inktense Pencils hold up well as shown in the image below. There’s no crumbling at the core, testifying to the hard centre of the pencil.

Core Test

They are a fairly normal sized pencil feeling comfortable in your hand. They’re also circular in shape, not octagonal like many other pencil brands. I prefer a circular shaped pencil as they’re most similar to a pen. When using octagonal shaped pencils for long periods of time, they begin to hurt my fingers, so circular pencils have always been my go-to preference.

Colour Range

There’s 72 colours that are available in the Inktense range. After spending a month playing with my set of 12, I went out and purchased a set of 36.

Derwent Inktense Watercolour Pencils

So I have half the range! They aren’t cheap, I paid $135 for my set of 36 from a craft shop in Cairns. However I note on Ebay, that I could have purchased a set of 72 for $199. I’m a bit miffed at this, but at least I supported a local business.

Derwent Inktense Watercolour Pencils

In the photos above I’ve tried to photograph all of the colours for you in the 36 pack and 12 pack. I started with a set of 12 pencils. The set of 12 is what I’ve had for 5 years or so, and in my Tangle Reference Book I made a chart showing all the colours that are available in that pack. It’s pictured below for you.

Dry colour Roadtest of Derwent Inktense Watercolour Pencils

I wanted to capture how well the pencils colour normally, without any application of water. You can see how grainy the colour is. Yes, you could use the pencils to colour normally, but I believe blending and burnishing would be difficult. These pencils are truly made to be used with water, so let’s put aside colouring normally and look at how they are made to be used.

Adding water for the Tangle Road Test of Derwent Inktense Pencils

This is where these pencils come alive. As I mentioned above, I’ve only just bought the set of 36 pencils, so all month I’ve been roadtesting with the set of 12. For the roadtest with water, I worked straight into my Tangle Reference Book.

Colour swatch test of Derwent Inktense Watercolour Pencils

A big disclaimer here: my Tangle Reference Book is not designed for watercolour work. It’s a sketchbook, designed for sketching, so the first test I carried out really emphasised the importance of using the right paper.

You can see how pretty and soft the colours are. What I’m not thrilled about is the original blob of colour that remained fastened to the paper not moving. You can tell where I layed down the pencil. I was wanting to see it blend out to be very much like watercolour and in this test (in the sketchbook) it failed.

Watercolour paper road test

So I decided to try again with some hot pressed watercolour paper. You can watch this test in its entirety in the Tangle Roadtest Video I uploaded to YouTube.

I really love Fabriano Aquarello Watercolor hot pressed watercolor paper. It’s smooth, bright white and takes the water so well. By using paper designed for taking water the results are different, but unfortunately the original placement of colour remains the same (quite evident now it’s dried).

However, the watercolour paper seems to allow the colour to move more evenly and consistently. The colour appears more rich and dense verses being faded and muted looking on the sketchbook paper.

Side by side - Watercolour paper versus sketchbook paper

Paper type is key when using these pencils. If you’re going to use them as designed, make sure you have the right type of paper to begin with. I’ve put a side-by-side photo above for you. The one on the right is my sketchbook test, the one on the left is my Aquarello test. See how much difference there is between the intensity of colour.

Blending colour

One of my loves when it comes to watercolour is the ability to blend colour. The water helps the colour bleed into each other and it becomes something very beautiful. I believe watercolour is the pinnacle when it comes to blending! So in my test below, I put down two colours beside one another and activated them with water.

Complimentary and contrasting colours Road test

I’ve tried to use complimentary colours and contrasting colours so you get an idea how well the Derwent Inktense Pencils blend. I’ll let you decide on whether you like their blending ability or not.

In some cases, I think the colours blended beautifully, in others not so much.

Tangling with Derwent Inktense Pencils

I tested the Derwent Inktense with some of my tangle tiles too. And I am 100% sold on using them in my work from now on. To me, it feels like I have greater control of the colour compared to using watercolour straight from the pan or tube. Me likes this extra control!

I used them to accent the border on a tile for one of the latest lessons with Eni Oken’s Art Club.

A tile created with Eni Oken’s Art Club

And I used them to apply some delicate colour over the stencilled tangle patterns in the tiles below. You can read about the brown coloured tile here and the blue one here.

Stencilled Flux ComboStencilled Flux Enhancer Zentangle Tile

The end result of my Tangle Road Test of Derwent Inktense Pencils

I think the fact that mid way through my month long test I ventured out to purchase a set of 36 speaks volumes on how I feel about the pencils. Derwent Inktense Pencils are an Artist’s quality pencil and I’m a little grieved at having not used them, when I’ve owned some for SOOOO LONG!!!

If you can afford to purchase a set of these with your crafting budget then I highly recommend doing so. Perhaps if you’re struggling to do so because of costs, start with the set of 12 like I did and work with those initially. The colours blend, so you can create yourself the additional colours you might need in some instances.

As for the intensity of the colour….. it either appeals to you or it doesn’t. If you’re looking for soft muted colours, then these will be too vibrant for you, either that or you work with them on sketchbook paper. But if you love colour that’s deep, rich, bright and vibrant, and you love the ability to move it, then these are what you’re looking for. Go and get yourself a set.

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Until next time, listen to your heart and sharpen your coloured pencils. A masterpiece awaits!

Bless you my friend

Chrissie xx

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