|Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer Magnus Watercolor Pencils|
I laid it on the line right there in the title: I bought Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Magnus watercolor pencils because I feared missing out!
|Magnus tin with sleeve removed|
Before I get into the Magnus pencils, here’s a little background
on my use of the standard Albrecht Dürer watercolor pencils, which I
initially reviewed in 2018. One of my oldest sets of watercolor pencils (I’ve
had it since my mixed-media collage days more than a decade ago), Albrecht Dürer
was my top watercolor pencil choice before I discovered Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelles. Although it’s difficult to compare pencils on the opposite ends
of the hard/soft spectrum, and although Faber-Castell’s artist quality
watercolor pencil line has good pigment overall, the Albrecht Dürer pencils
have characteristics that I don’t care for compared to Museum Aquarelles
or even Caran d’Ache Supracolors (closer to an equivalent match to
Dürers in quality). Except when I need a hard watercolor pencil, I don’t
usually reach for Dürers.
As for the Magnus line – a limited selection of colors
housed in a jumbo-sized barrel – I had bought a few colors several years ago
with specific purposes in mind. One was to apply wide swaths of color efficiently
to large sky areas. I do like the hefty barrels that are comfortable to grasp,
and the 5.3mm core is unsurpassed by any other watercolor pencil, at least in
size (I have a wild, crazy fantasy that Caran d’Ache will make even a few
colors of Museum Aquarelles with Magnus-size cores!). Magnus are big by
any standards. But again, once I got my hands on Museum Aquarelles, all other
pencils seemed forgettable. And forget I did; I hadn’t thought much about
Magnus since then.
Until a few weeks ago. That’s when I heard from two blog
readers within days of each other that Faber-Castell was discontinuing the
Magnus line. Before reacting irrationally, I first checked out the tip: Was it
true? A quick search on Faber-Castell’s website confirmed that it was
(scroll down to the response to a customer’s question).
Initially, I wasn’t alarmed – I obviously wouldn’t miss
them. But then I started picturing myself a year or two from now suddenly having
a purpose for jumbo-sized, artist-quality watercolor pencils, and I couldn’t
think of anything comparable. (Heck, what if I have arthritis some day, and
jumbo pencils are less painful to use?) Cretacolor offers jumbo-sized MegaColor colored pencils in various sets, including metallics,
but not watercolor pencils (and I’m not a fan of Cretacolor’s watercolor Marino
line anyway). By then, the Magnus sets would be hard to find except overpriced
on eBay. Hmmm. Better safe than sorry.
Annoyingly, even though Dürer Magnus pencils are available
in 30 colors, the largest standard set includes only 24; to get the complete
set of 30, you need to buy the fancy, wood “gift” box. I got the standard set of 24 at Blick. The other six colors (Cream 102, Leaf Green 112, Middle
Purple Pink 125, Cobalt Green 156, Dark Indigo 157, Mauve 249) are available
open stock, and most are still available at Blick as of this writing. ArtSnacks
also offers them open stock.
|Set of 24 plus the 6 other colors. The set includes a small watercolor brush.|
Before my Magnus pencils had arrived, I was doing a little
digging to see what others in the colored pencilsphere were saying about their
demise. Not much, it turns out – not even speculation about why Faber-Castell
is discontinuing them. But I found one YouTuber with the opinion that the
Magnus formula is slightly different from and inferior to the standard Dürer
formula. That gave me something to compare.
As I made the sketches below – one with standard Albrecht
Dürer and one with Magnus in the same two colors – they felt and looked the
same (those chunky barrels sure are comfy to hold, even without arthritis).
|3/5/23 Albrecht Durer Magnus pencils in Hahnemuhle sketchbook |
(both portraits from Earthsworld reference photos)
|3/5/23 standard Albrecht Durer pencils in Hahnemuhle sketchbook|
I was making swatches, however, my standard Dürers felt slightly softer, and
the washes might be ever-so-slightly heavier in pigment. I’m not sure the
difference is significant, though, if any exists. (It’s important to note that
my standard set is more than a decade old, so it’s actually a bit surprising
that those older pencils don’t show degradation compared to the much fresher
|Albrecht Durer Magnus|
To sharpen them, I use my Cretacolor Mega sharpener, which does a beautiful job.
|Standard Albrecht Durer |
Sorry – nothing dramatic to report about Magnus pencils.
This post is mainly a PSA: It seems the hoarding hasn’t yet begun, so if you
want them all, now is the time. Relieved that I got mine!
|A nice point from the Cretacolor Mega sharpener.|