The coloured pencil world has definitely been talking about the new Derwent Lightfast series of coloured pencils. This series, which is still only 36 colours, has been very carefully chosen by Derwent to be at the very top of the lightfastness scale. This is the primary reason for so few colours as of yet, they need to have pigments that will not fade! As a result, it's a little shy on the reds and yellows, leaning to the blues and earth tones, but that's not really a surprise as these pigments tend to be more lightfast.
Anyways, SketchBox shipped us a 6 pencil sample pack in a traditional Derwent metal tin (a nice touch, by the way, for Derwent). It comes with Champagne, Salmon, Sepia (red), Mid Ultramarine, Deep Blue, and Brown Ochre. SketchBox says it's versatile for portraiture, landscapes, etc. Maybe. 😊
So, I did a little swatching and blending. This is not many layers, just a simple layer and blend with OMS:
They blended okay, at least these colours, others may vary. I did find that they laid down very nice and smoothly, with solid cores that can sharpen to a very fine point. I also tested erasability with the Deep Blue:
You can see that it's a bit of a tough go to erase and I attempted that with the Derwent electric eraser!
Finally, I wanted to do a multi-layer single tone:
The sphere was about 3 layers. The paper I was using is basic sketch, so not really designed for lots of layers and blending with mineral spirits. Nevertheless, I think it held up and did a fine job.
Overall, I like the pencils. For general usage, I can't say they're any smoother or easier to use than a Polychromos, which is also oil based, but they are good. The assured lightfastness will make them a real choice for professional artists, especially once the colour range expands a bit more.
As I mentioned the box also came with a selection of Graphitint pencils: Aubergine, Ocean Blue, and Meadow. So, despite my inclination to watersoluble media, I had never really cottoned on to these pencils and I was missing out! The range includes only 24 colours, but basically these are water soluble graphite pencils that have been tinted various colours.
That means you can use them like a traditional graphite pencil, mixing with other graphite, or you can use them like a watercolour pencil. Given that I already have watersoluble graphite in standard black graphite, this is a really neat addition to the set for me.
As you can see from the swatching I did, you can do a fair bit with these pencils. This is on cold pressed paper, so there is a lot of tooth to it and it shows through on the dry portion of the swatch, but a little water later... Yeah, I really like the colours it produces and they mix well, with Ocean Blue and Meadow giving a really deep green.
I tried a little bit of erasing, which was so-so, but a lot of that has to do with the paper as well. Regular graphite also struggles to erase well on cold pressed watercolour paper. So, jury still out there, but I'm not too worried about it.
Lastly, I did a bit of layering. They layer very well, producing a deeper, richer, tone as you build. Not really a surprise, graphite does that anyways, but I think you can really build on this because you can go so thin on the pressure and get such rich colour.
Needless to say, I've already bought the full set of 24 off of Amazon.
The SketchBox also came with a Faber-Castell Polychromos pencil in Light Cobalt Turquoise for comparison. In addition, there was Cretacolor MegaGraphite 9B pencil (it's big) and a Mobius & Ruppert sharpener/eraser combo.