Color Spree

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

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Derwent Metallic Pencils on Black Book

I reviewed Derwent Metallic Pencils back in March, and the Derwent Black Book on September 1st.

Today in my email I got a cool little handout from Derwent announcing that they're changing the look of their Derwent Metallic Pencils with a lovely new tin and paint job. The pencils will now be hexagonal silver pencils - still skinny enough for a normal electric pencil sharpener. They'll have a metallic blue angled stripe to show what line they are and a color dipped end to show what color they are, rather than each one being dipped in its metallic color.

One of the things I like about Derwent's changes in pencil paint is that they're moving toward more ecologically friendly, water based enamels for it. While some of the older paint jobs were gorgeous, the company's concern for the environment runs higher than just appearance. Besides, the new style is very striking so they haven't sacrificed anything.

The new tin art has a blue peacock butterfly in Derwent Metallic pencils on black. I'd already done strip samples of the Metallic range in the back of my Black Book, so I thought hey, let's see how these two products go together. The handout raved about how great they are in combination. Let's test that.

You see the test above.

Wow. The smooth but heavy paper in the Derwent Black Book has enough tooth for some strong applications. I did some layering in some of the shaded areas in order to blend colors or just to run foreground elements over background elements - no problem. Some of the pencils are softer than others.

Two problems emerged. The metallic red seemed hard and didn't go on as heavily as the other colors, but I was able to get it to go on well after rolling it. I might've gotten some fixative or something on the point too, so I'll see if the problem continues. The copper pencil had to be sharpened with a knife because the core went off at an angle and didn't sharpen properly, but once I had, it came out fine.

The rest of course, performed perfectly.

This drawing looks much darker in person, though still rich, metallic and visible. A side effect of using metallic pencils on black paper is that unlike some other combinations that fade or get muted in scans... metallic on black will brighten up fiercely in a scan and look spectacular online. So keep this combination in mind when you need to do something to decorate a website.

Do your art manually with metallic on black, then open it in Gimp and notch up Contrast once, that takes the silver to about white. That's all I did to adjust the scan. Fiddle with the black or use the bucket fill to knock it down to pure black and you can lay something like this as a header over a black background, light text page seamlessly. I think I got close to it anyway, but if I were going to use it as a background online I'd want to push it that extra notch more toward purity of the black background or color-pick the art background and match it on the site just for smoothness.

So that's something to think about in choosing Derwent products, look at how they work together. It's a great combination, the flyer did not exaggerate that at all. Enjoy!


  1. Thanks for the review, and for sharing your awesome drawing! I haven't tried metallic pencils before, only some of the metallics in the Neocolor II box I have. I wonder how they compare with these?

  2. That is rich in color and technique! Exquisite!