Watersoluble coloured pencils
Watersoluble coloured pencils can be used in a variety of ways:
- To add details to a traditional watercolour painting
- Dry, just like a regular coloured pencil
- Dry just like a regular coloured pencil, and then blended with a clean wet brush, which will also make colours appear more saturated
- Like a watercolour pan; a wet brush can lift colour from the lead of a watercolour pencil and then be painted on to paper just like traditional watercolour
- The pencil can be dipped into water and then drawn on in its wet state, creating intensely saturated pencil marks
- A combination of all of the above!
They are an asset to any artist’s paintbrush, and because of developments, need not only be a drawing material of hobbyists or children, as many watercolour pencils on the market are fully lightfast and can be used to create finished works of art, and not just preparatory sketches. At Jackson’s Art Supplies we sell a wide variety of different watersoluble drawing media, and below is a guide.
Woodless watersoluble drawing materials
The advantage of the woodless watersoluble drawing materials available is that wastage is minimised. The woodless pencils that we sell perfectly demonstrate this; pencil shavings from these can be diluted in water in order to make paint for watercolour washes or stains.
Professional Grade Watersoluble Crayons :
Caran d'Ache Neoart Wax Crayons
These 2 ranges are comparable in appearance and quality. They are both described as being ‘watersoluble wax pastels’ and are professional artist quality. They possess optimum lightfastness and pigment concentration levels. Caran d’Ache also manufacture the student grade ‘Neocolor II’ pastels which we also sell. The Neoarts are harder than these, and without a sharp point to one end, they do take a little getting used to handling. There are 60 colours in the range of Neoart and 80 in the range of Aquastics (these are not available individually but do come in sets of 10, 20, 40 or 80). These crayons are versatile and can be used on a multitude of surfaces, with watercolour, encaustic, and sgraffito on paper, cardboard, canvas, wood, leather, glass, or mirror. Because they are wax based they will melt if heated up (say if they are left expose to direct sunlight in summer) – if this happens simplay leave them to dry and use the hardened pool as if you would a pan of watercolour. No waste!
Student Grade Watersoluble Crayons: Neocolor II from Caran d’Ache
This range of watersoluble crayons are student grade and do not possess the same levels of saturation and lightfastness, however they do have a more extensive range of colours (123) and work well with Neoart and Aquastics – they are blendable with one another. They are a little softer and break down with water more easily, and are shaped with a point, much like a regular Crayola crayon. Sets of these crayons are also available. Colours can be layered with ease, creating a sense of depth in your work. Neocolor II crayons are softer than coloured pencils yet denser than children's wax crayons, and extremely responsive to a wet brush. Wet and dry techniques can be combined in the same drawing. Because of their opacity, light colours are able to cover dark colours and vice-versa. Neocolor II crayons are ideal for trying the sgraffito technique – i.e., etching into colour to create an ‘engraving’ in the wax. Colours can also be blended when dry with a finger.
Individual crayons measure 105 mm in length and 10 mm in diameter (4-1/8" × 5/16")."
Woodless Watersoluble Pencils: Derwent Aquatone and Cretacolor Aqua Monolith
Watersoluble pencils are harder and less waxy in feel than crayons. They are better suited to detail work. Aquatone have a paper wrapping and the Aqua Monolith have a very thin lacquer coating, which stops your hands getting too dirty while working. Because the pencils are woodfree, it is very easy to achieve both very fine lines and broad strokes of colour as you can use the pencil on its side to achieve a wide mark. Aqua Monolith has a range of 72 colours and Aquatone has 24 colours. They are a little harder in consistency than the professional grade watercolour pencils such as Faber Castell Albrecht Durer or Caran d’Ache Supracolor, but they do blend just as well with good pigment saturation.
Highest Quality Wood Coated Watercolour Pencils – Caran d’Ache Supracolor and Faber Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolour Pencils
For the highest quality, wood coated, professional artist quality watercolour pencil, we recommend either the Caran d’Ache Supracolor range or the Faber Castell Albrecht Durer range. You will find the consistency of the lead to be slightly soft and creamy when applying the pencil to paper. This consistency maximises blending possibilities. Supracolor pencils have 120 colours in their range, and are popular among fine artists, illustrators and graphic artists, as well as tutors in art colleges. This is also true of the Albrecht Durer range which consists of 127 fully lightfast shades. Supracolor is fully watersoluble however the Albrecht Durer pencils are not re-wettable once the wet colour has dried on to the surface of your paper – for this reason many watercolour artists will use Albrecht Durer pencils to add fine detail and highlights at the final stages of creating a watercolour painting. Both pencils possess a hexagonal cedar wood coating for maximum control and comfort. Additionally, you will find that the leads in both of these ranges are highly resistant to breaking, meaning that wastage is kept to a minimum.
Derwent Watersoluble Pencil Ranges – Derwent Watercolour Pencils, Derwent Metallic Pencils, Derwent Inktense Pencils and Derwent Academy Watercolour Pencils
The Derwent Watercolour Pencils range is Derwent’s ‘Artist’ quality watercolour pencil range, however the consistency of the leads is slightly harder than the Supracolor and the Faber Castell Albrecht Durer and as a result the pencils do not blend as easily. There are 72 colours in the range, the majority of which are fully lightfast. They are very good quality pencils which will serve you well, but in our view do not rival the highest quality watercolour pencils on the market.
The Derwent Inktense Pencils Range consists of 71 intensely saturated colours, which behave more like ink than watercolour when the pencils are used with water. Just like other wood coated watercolour pencils they can be used wet or dry in a number of ways, but they dry waterproof, so once they have dried they cannot be reactivated with water. Derwent Inktense pencils can be used on a variety of supports, and are particularly effective as a silk painting medium. To accompany the pencils Derwent also offer the versatile Inktense blocks, which look like Hard Pastel blocks. The Inktense colours can be applied in broad expressive strokes, layered and worked into. The Inktense blocks offer even greater choice when it comes to mark making with these saturated colours.
The Derwent Metallic Pencils range consists of 12 colours which work best dry on dark supports. If a wet brush is dragged over the applied dry colour the colour strength reduces, but what is left is a beautiful subtle iridescent sparkle across your paper. If you wish to use water with the metallic pencils and minimise the loss of colour strength our suggestion is to use the pencils on white or light paper. Derwent Metallic Pencils can be bought individually or in sets of 6 or 12.
The Derwent Academy Watercolour Pencils range is the college/student grade watercolour pencil range. It has a lesser pigment saturation, and is designed as a good range to start experimenting in. Watercolour pencils are a great way of learning to draw and paint in one foul swoop!