As far as brand comparisons go there definitely seems to be a difference in quality with the higher priced ones as opposed to the student brand. But it also depends on how you plan to use them.
All the different brands I had were good and easy to use but if you wanted more watercolour-like washes the Albrecht Durer and Stadteler Karan were preferrable, but if you just wanted to pull out a little colour or have more subtle blends any of them would be fine.
What I don’t like about watercolour pencils is that they don’t handle too much water particularly well – areas where I had a lot of pencil built up the colour tended to stay on the paper surface. This always meant that I had to wait until it completely dried to see the resulting colours.
The type of paper I used did come in to play but it was more relative to how easy or hard it was to apply a second or third layer. Despite all being watercolour papers, once wet, the tooth starts to wane making it hard to apply more pencil work.
Another gripe I have, and it’s not necessarily limited to watercolour pencils, is how some pencils looks completely different when wetted.
They are definitely less labour intensive than normal colour pencils. So much so that even at its most basic use as a one colour drawing medium the Albrecht Durer’s were so lovely to use that several times once I finished drawing I questioned whether I needed to add water or not.
This cloud drawing is my favourite from the whole project. Although I couldn’t replicate it with other subject matter, ie lively balance between line and wash, it’s just a matter of more exploration on my part to work out what I’ve done. There was always this constant trepidation when it came to brushing on water – the where and how in particular.
What was really exciting was the ability to quickly create textures especially when it could range from delicate to expressive. I’m not sure if it’s possible with any other medium.
Dipping the pencil straight into a water jar also created a very textural, waxy type of effect. I’m not sure how good it is for the pencil but its a nice wild card to play when you need that bit of oomph in your picture.
Shaving pigment off and wetting it with a spray bottle was another exciting find, again simple execution but effective.
Plus being able to remove colour to create shines and reflections is a really cool bonus. Though I think it needs to be done whilst working on your drawing, ie coming back to it a day later may not work, and possibly different pencil treatment might be more effective than others.
The detail above also shows areas where I scraped off colour with my fingernail.
Ultimately I do like watercolour pencils. As mentioned before I am a drawer so any drawing tool feels more comfortable in my hand than a brush.
The fact that they’re a 2-in-1 medium made drawing on location more practical but with enough versatility to go from really expressive work to tight pencil renders. They have a lot going for them.
The Creative Plan – Day 5 Watercolour Pencil