Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Product Review: Graphitint Pencils

3/21/12, Derwent Graphitint pencil
I’m a huge fan of water-soluble colored pencils. They can be used dry like ordinary colored pencils, applied with a wet brush as if they were watercolors, dipped into water to become creamy and crayon-like, or applied dry and then wetted with a brush on the paper to bring out a wash of color. These handy pencils are particularly portable because all you need is a few basic colors and a waterbrush (water is contained within the plastic handle so that a separate vessel of water is unnecessary) to make a color sketch or painting in the field.

I’ve tried a number of brands of water-soluble pencils, and the colors of most look slightly different when water is applied compared to the dry pencil marks alone. One brand that looks significantly different when wet is the Graphitint line made by Derwent. In fact, while each pencil of most brands has two colors – one dry, one wet – Graphitint pencils have three: one dry, one wetted on paper and one wetted on the pencil.

The first row of my color samples shows the pencil strokes dry. The dry hues in the Graphitint line are all relatively dark and neutral, so they work well for sketching the way ordinary graphite pencils would. The second row shows the same colors as the row above, this time with a light wash of water applied with a brush. The third row surprised me. I used a wet brush to pick up color directly from the pencil point and then applied the color to the paper with the brush. As you can see, using the pencils this way produced entirely different hues, so each pencil was like having three colors in one.

The sketch of my hand, above, was done with Graphitint Russet. I did contour shading with a light wash from a brush (as in row 2), and the cast shadows (under two fingers) with color picked up from the pencil point (as in row 3).

A note on lightfastness: I have read consumer reviews stating that Graphitint pencil colors are fugitive (Fugitive is one of my favorite art terms: I imagine David Janssen running from the law with a fistful of colored pencils). I will heed this information when I receive a phone call from MoMA requesting my work for its permanent collection. In the meantime, I’ll just keep my sketchbook closed.


  1. I rather liked the Graphitints for sketching and did a review here: http://vivienb.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/doodling-with-graphitints.html

    I fancy getting my hands on the Akashiya pen it sounds very interesting.

    You can see the lightfastness ratings here

    most seem ok but there are a few colours with low ratings.

    1. Hi Vivien,

      I love the trees you did with Graphitints! I do love their portability and the rich color washes they produce.

      - Tina


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