Watercolor Pencils Test

The Story
Oh, yay, payday! It’s shopping time!

Today at lunchtime I went to the nearest bookstore to get supplies. I realized that I need good watercolor-soluble pencils to do my flash art and stuff. I’ve only got itty bitty mini-sized 12 pack Faber Castell colored pencils – they’re mini sized travel color pencils, only 2″ (5cm) tall each and the color shades in the pack were kinda inadequate to do proper flash coloring with.

So I went to the art supply racks and came across some options for watercolor pencils. Faber-Castell sell the 12-pack for Rp. 25k-ish , the 24-pack for Rp. 36k,  the 36-pack, and the monstrous 48 pack for 93k… Aha, the moar colors, the better, I thought. But it turned out that the 36 and 48 pack has so many unnecessary colors that I wouldn’t even use, like 3 shades of pink, 6 shades of blue, metallics, and white (on a pack of watercolor pencils for F sake), so I put that back on the shelf and re-weigh my options.

That’s when I saw the stacks of Derwent pencils on the other rack… they claim to have like 5 different types of watercolor-soluble pencils on the brochure, but there’s only 2 on display and the shop helper offered me to test some…

The 12-pack cost Rp.133k (about $12) and the 24-pack, Rp 238k (About $22 which is kinda out of my price range!)

Upon first impression, this pencil blends much better than the Faber ones, and it came with a tin (while the Faber one came in a carboard box) so I thought, oh well, art supplies are an investment, so I decided to buy the 12-pack, despite over the Rp. 100k price difference. Also, I was curious what difference would it make to use artist-grade pencils over supposedly student grade ones.

The Test
So I got back to the office and eagerly started the test. I drew 12 circles for each color and each brand like so, and started coloring in separate shades like so.

Upon second impression, the Derwent pencils are smoother on the paper and easier to apply, while with the Faber you’d have to press a little harder to get a solid shading. Also I noticed that the Derwent pencils are a bit flakey – I got little bits of pencil lead dust falling off on the paper surface. The resulting Faber colors looked shiny on paper, while the Derwent looked matte…

Then I went on to put water on the colors. Here’s the result.

The result looked near-identical! LOL. (Click for larger image).

Well, actually there’s subtle differences, not really that noticeable. Since the Derwent was easier to apply, the gradation/shading is smoother all across. Colors are softer, while the Faber colors are more bright and saturated. The Derwent black dilutes into a cool, bluish grey, while the Faber black dilutes into a warmer grey. I dunno which one is better for traditional flash, I’d have to experiment on that…

I started another test, drawing strips that looked like a rainbow… For the bottom left test, I wet the paper first and shaded with the pencil on top.  On the bottom right, another comparison on how a particular color looks like before and after wash.

Again… if you look at the rainbow stripes, the difference is subtle, but if you nitpick like I did, you can somewhat see how the Faber colors are brighter but choppier, while the Derwent colors are smoother both in color tone and subtle gradation changes. When I was using my Faber set before, I had difficulties laying one color on top of another, because the resulting colored surface would be so waxy and slippery, and the paper won’t take in any more color. This is not the case with the Derwent pencils. It’s easy to lay one color on top of another.

On the bottom right test, I conclude that the Derwent has slightly more pigment content than the Faber, because with the same amount of color applied, I can cover more area with color. Ah well. There’s my justification for the extra Rp.100k spent! Will I recommend buying the pencils? Sure. But keep in mind for 3/4 of the price you can get like a 48-color set Faber Castell pencils. The choice is yours.

I’ll leave you with an inappropriate drawing of Me as Kuan Yin, done with pencil, markers and my Faber pencils. Enjoy.

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4 thoughts on “Watercolor Pencils Test

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