Color Spree

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

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Derwent Metallic Pencils

Derwent Fortnight #6: Metallic Pencils

Derwent Metallic pencils are soft, strong, quite opaque as metallic pencils go and washable. I've tried some other brands of artist grade metallic pencils. Prismacolor used to make a full range of metallic colors and most large ranges include gold, silver and bronze or copper. But these also wash!

Being able to use them in a wash layer over wax or oil based colored pencils that won't dissolve with the water is one of their nicer effects. You can also pick up color with a wet brush to give iridescent glazes and accents to your watercolor paintings.

Used dry, their texture is like the new formula Derwent Watercolour pencils. I like these a bit more than my Prismacolor ones, which have been discontinued years ago. Caran d'Ache makes a similar product but I haven't tried it yet so can't compare. Price is reasonable, comparable to other Derwent colored pencils or artist grade colored pencils and since the range is 12, it's not that high anyway. They're also available in a blister pack of 6.

A tip for beginners: don't try to draw a copper teapot with the copper pencil without shading. If you fill it flat, it's not going to look metallic. But if you want a good copper teapot, use the copper pencil to shade all the middle values. Leave white or use a white pencil for the strongest highlights and go down to black or a very dark red-brown for the deepest darks.

You can do lovely metallic effects with ordinary colored pencils by careful observation and shading. But when you use metallic pencils for the midtones and pay attention to the hues in the reflections on the metal, that gives a sketch of a metal object an extra zing. Don't be afraid to bring in the blues and greens, since colored objects around the metal will reflect into it.

Iridescence on glass or crystal is one of my favorite effects with these pencils. Their spectrum colors give me a full range for all those little flashes of color in soap bubbles, marbles, Christmas ornaments and cut crystal. There's two values of colorless metal -- Silver and Pewter, plus three in the gold range -- Gold, Antique Gold and Bronze.

One of my favorite things about this set is that Antique Gold is about the dark hue of most metallic gold pencils. Gold itself is lighter, a fine gold tracery added to a painting or drawing is going to have more of the brightness of those Renaissance gold details.

For maximum brightness, I would put a light yellow under a narrow gold accent, or white under silver, especially on dark paper. Though these stand up by themselves on black, you can get lighter values with a white value sketch on black paper with any colored pencils.

On their site and on the tin, Derwent recommended using them on black or dark paper. This is where their relative opacity really stands out. They shine on black paper. There's a nice range of values as well as hues, leading to some great effects when I used all the colors together in a sketch of some iridescent clear marbles.

I did not use a white value sketch under this at all, though I did put in the white highlights with a Derwent Pastel Pencil for maximum contrast.

ATC Iridescent Clearies
2 1/2" x 3 1/2"
Derwent Metallic pencils
Black Rising Stonehenge heavy rag art paper

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