Color Spree

Color Spree
My favorite color is "all of them." What's yours?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Derwent Collections and Gift Sets

Derwent Fortnight #12: Collections and Gift Sets

Above is a photo of the Derwent Sketching Kit. I think that's what it's called. I bought it on sale even after I already had a 24 color set of Graphitints because I use my Graphitints often. Having an extra set of twelve with all those other supplies at a price well below the combined price of everything in it looked handy and convenient. It proved to be a good choice.

If you can find one of these, snap it up. The leather or faux leather zippered case is structured like the Global Classic leather cases, with a series of loops to hold 8mm round pencils in place neatly. That keeps them from banging into each other and helps prevent internal breakage, it also makes it easy to organize them by hue. This side has 13 pencils -- all 12 Graphitint pencils and the Light Wash Watersoluble Sketching Pencil, plus a handy A6 hardback sketchbook with a proprietary design by Malcolm Glover.

The other side, shown in the last review covering the Derwent Waterbrush, has four more pencil loops for a total of 17 pencils in the kit. It's also got the waterbrush, a white eraser, sharpener and handy plastic mixing palette for when you want larger amounts of wash. The other two Watersoluble Sketching Pencils, Medium and Dark Wash, are back there, also two Derwent Charcoal Pencils in Light and Dark.

Almost every year Derwent will create some interesting gift sets for the holidays, bundling an assortment of pencils, usually something to draw on and other supplies into a clever case. Right now at Blick, the Derwent Aqua Pencil Library gift set is on clearance -- a clever arrangement of 12 Watercolour and 12 Inktense pencils in cases that look like books along with a good hardcover sketchbook in an aqua colored library box. Snap this up while it's on Clearance.

Every year there's a new clever gift set idea and sure enough, if no one got it for you, wait long enough after the holidays and you can gift yourself for St. Patrick's Day or your birthday or your unbirthday or just because you love your art. They're usually good samplers in an extremely convenient form. Someone who works in an office might really enjoy that Aqua Library because it can be set neatly on the shelf with the law books and other references, then pulled down at lunch for some sketching and painting.

Derwent's also introduced some Combo Sets, you can get 24 Coloursoft with 12 Derwent Drawing pencils or 24 Watercolour with 12 Graphitint pecnils in a 36 pencil tin. These are great if you want to try more than one type of pencil at once, or are fond of using those pencils together. Both are well chosen combinations.

Derwent Drawing Pencils are super soft and opaque, they blend well with Colourfast so much that they're almost an extension of the range. Coloursoft has the brights the Drawing range lacks, but Drawing has even more opacity and all the muted nature colors that can give you misty distances and tawny furs.

Derwent Graphitint are muted and silvery when washed, dark tinted graphite dry. Watercolour are bright, soft in their new formula and supply a needed bright yellow in combination to complete the spectrum. These are both good combination sets and may allow you to try more than one product at once without stacking up your shelves with Derwent tins the way I have. Though if you're a true pencil addict like me, you'll probably add some of these convenience sets on top of the full range for when you want to work somewhere other than your studio.

It's okay to do that.

It tends to help keep the big sets from wearing down as fast and it does make for better convenience. It's also good for experimenting with a limited range, a set of 120 colors can leave you spoiled for choice sometimes.

Derwent Watercolour pencils now also come in a 24 color wood box. I like the design of it, twelve pencils above and below in a clamshell arrangement with a little catch to hold it together. That could be a good choice for someone who likes wood boxes but doesn't have the space to spread out two big trays or the budget for the full range wood box set.

Speaking of wood box sets, back in 2008 or 2007 I had a young student named Eric. His mother on my recommendation bought him a wood box version of the Sketching Collection on sale. I'd noticed it at Blick, regretfully decided against it for myself but when he wanted to start drawing lessons I realized that would be perfect with its assortment of charcoals, earth tone pastels, charcoal and graphite and wash pencils. It was a great set in a wood box. If you find it anywhere, snap it up, that box turned out to be a great way to organize sketching supplies. I should've gotten one for myself while they had it.

The sketching collections in the tins are nice too, they bring a variety of supplies together at a good discount even when they're not on Clearance. The tins are well organized and the larger the tin, the more little extras like sharpeners, sandpaper paddles, stumps and putty erasers wind up in it.

Derwent's Color Collections and Pastel Pencil Collections are just as convenient. The 24 and 12 piece sets are in handy tins with styrene sectioned inserts. The 24 color Pastel Pencils set has a putty eraser and sharpener included along with pastel sticks and pastel pencils, the 12 piece set has six of each in non-duplicate colors. It's a good way to find out if you prefer sticks or pencils for detailing.

Derwent Color Collection comes in 12 or 24 piece sizes too. Those have a product I have not seen sold separately anywhere. Derwent makes color sticks out of pencil cores that are comparable to Prismacolor Art Stix. I wish they'd make a set of those available by itself, since I've already got the pencils, but I might pick up a 24 piece Color Collection to be able to try them. Perhaps they've only made them in that range of eight colors, but it's a useful range for blocking in that includes black and white. Included in the 24 piece set are a sharpener, metallic pencils, HB graphite pencil and 11 Studio colored pencils.

That might be another handy take-along set for doctor's appointments or plein air excursions if I want to work in colored pencils. For someone who wants to try the Studio colored pencils and get some drawing blocks similar to Art Stix, the Color Collection could be very handy. It's also a nice gift.

All of these make great gifts if you know and love another artist. They're good ways to surprise family members and friends who mutter about how they wish they could draw too, an introduction that'll give them a good start with varied supplies.

Derwent also created a number of manga kits. Most recently they've come out with the Master Steampunk Manga set. It includes 12 Inktense, a paint brush, a spiral bound A4 sketchbook and a CD with a 20 page set of instructions for three fascinating Steampunk characters created exclusively for Derwent by Hayden Scott-Baron(Dock).

Unfortunately, not all of these sets make it through the distributor to reach the USA. Steampunk Manga isn't here yet, but a similar set for Master Chibi Drawing is available at Blick while supplies last. Listed on the Derwent site are a couple of other Manga sets.

Also listed at Derwent's home page are a series of DVDs with lessons by Fiona Peart and other great UK artists. You can see free clips of them at this link: Derwent DVDs. One of the DVDs was included with a 24 color Inktense set I bought that was an introductory bargain, and ever since I got that I've wanted to get hold of the rest of them.

For these DVDs or the Steampunk Manga set or anything else that's hard to find in the USA, your best option might be to pay extra shipping and order from a UK online supplier. I am seriously considering saving up for one order and putting all the Derwent products that Col Art, our USA distributor, doesn't carry together in one. That may save a little on shipping. But sometimes if I wait, Col Art will add a product I have been watching and I can get it at Blick.

Derwent's new pack of Essential Tools with two embossing tools, rubber shaper, fan brush with another rubber shaper on its tip and stipple brush sounds well named. I think if I can get hold of that, it'll rapidly become essential. Finding the right tool to inscribe fine lines for reserved white cat whiskers, grass blades and other things in colored pencils is a continued search of mine and I trust Derwent's quality.

So watch for the collections, gift sets, accessories and other products Derwent creates. Each new combination set is well thought out, has a good color range even in limited ranges like the six color blister packs and generally costs less than buying those supplies separately. If you haven't tried any of Derwent's products yet, a collection or gift set will let you try out several at once.

Blick does carry the good battery operated Helix multi-point sharpener. It can handle pencils from 8mm to 11mm diameter and takes four AA batteries. I have heard raves about this sharpener from friends who use it, but I haven't bought it since I have a good X-Acto electric that has a wall cord. It still may be worth it sometime for handling the extra wide Derwent Artist, Graphitint and other oversize Derwent pencils. I have plenty of them and it would save my thumb some blisters!

Below is an example of something I did with a combination set, my pictured Derwent Sketch Kit.

I brought my zippered Derwent Sketch Kit on a visit to a farrier school here in Arkansas last summer. It was perfect for doing a life sketch of one of the horses, an ill-tempered but beautiful reddish brown mare named Misdemeanor. In reality I had a fence between me and the horse, which helped a lot. I was able to settle down on a stool and give myself a good ten or fifteen minutes to draw her well. This is one of the first times I got horse anatomy and proportions decently, my daughter the farrier approved of these sketches.

So this is a good example of how bringing a collection or gift set with you on an outing can be a lot easier than juggling multiple tins, sketchbooks and other supplies. I could've easily washed this drawing with the Derwent Waterbrush included, just chose not to since I liked the way it looked dry.

Horses from Life
A6 size (about 4" x 6")
Derwent Graphitints on Derwent hardbound sketchbook.


  1. Wow! that was a perfect gift sets good that you shared this. Anyway,I enjoyed reading your blog keep posting!

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  2. the post.. it is so nice to see like this..

  3. Nice gift sets huh! Very good gift for Christmas!