The Creative Plan – Inktense Pencils review


my_inktense_setIt’s taken me so long to wind up this project that I feel a bit disengaged from it, like I haven’t given them a proper trial. As it is a medium I do have previous experience with I did cut out some techniques I would’ve normally tested with other materials.

An on location sketch done a few years back

I do love Inktense, even before starting this project, and I guess what this endeavour has shown me, like all mediums, are its strengths or more purposefully what they would be good for.


Layering and permanency

I’m not sure if I fully comprehend the permanency of Inktense particularly when it comes to layering. I found that when the colour has been really washed out it is permanent, but if there is any built up areas of colour, like the Miles Davis piece, you can still pull off colour at any time.

Detail showing areas where the water was still pulling off base first layer

This made it difficult to work with at times when I wanted to create underlying textures, maybe a mixture of using Inktense with another more permanent medium would have been better.

And if you dont want to accidentally remove underlying layers you need to really “brush out” any residual pigment so it doesn’t lift off with successive layers, like I did with the drawing below.

A layered sketch a did several years ago

Pencil work

Layering colours with Inktense as a dry pencil medium is really easy and the pigments still adhere to the paper after each new layer. If drawing is your thing then these are so much more compliant than colour pencils allowing you to be as sensitive or as expressive as you want to be.

So much so I would definitely consider using Inktense over traditional colour pencils for any kind of drawing. The lead is softer making it easier to work with, the only real issue is then having to constantly sharpen them to retain a point for detailing.


LunaPark002 LR
On location sketch done a few years ago

They are amazing, really rich and vivid. In some exercises it felt like I wouldn’t have been able to achieve that same kind vibrancy with another medium, possibly gouache but the finish would be quite different.

Better than watercolour pencils?

Aah, the question is probably more along the lines of what medium suits what I want to achieve. 

Using Inktense pencil shavings on a wet background

If I wanted a more painterly effect I would go with watercolour pencils, especially if subtlety is desired. Despite their water solubility I don’t think Inktense have a real painterly nature. I suppose there are ways around it but if you’re wanting to blend wet colours or create tonal variation it’s trickier to manipulate.

Using Watercolour pencil shavings on a wet background

Don’t quote me on this but..when you wet watercolour pencils you more or less get a tint or wash of the original colour, with Inktense you get full colour.

Though this might be based on how heavily you apply the pencil in the first place. I would like to explore later whether loosely sketching on the pencil or tightly packing the pigment down does actually effects its pliability or intensity when adding water.  


It’s a very impactful medium and there’s no doubt the colours pack a punch.

If you’re not afraid of colour its great to have Inktense in your kit, especially if you have an expressive style. Or if you’re a “splash of colour” type of person Inktense provides instant gratification, more so if you’re a drawer rather than a painter.

Finished piece

But the key is manipulating and controlling the medium in its wet state, because wetting it doesn’t dilute the colours, they remain intense. Therefore to treat it as an extension of a watercolour medium could be pushing its boundaries. 

However, like watercolour pencils it has that 2-in-1 practicality that comes in handy when you’re out and about. Several times I’ve taken two or three colours plus a black outliner on location where I haven’t had much time or space to set up –  they instantly add volume and colour to a quick sketch.

Walking around Chinatown

I’m keen to work more with it as a wet on wet medium which was a lot of fun. And despite not always enjoying drawing in a realistic style the end result of my Hawaiian mask made me feel like the effort was worth it and the medium made it far more enjoyable than if I attempted it with colour pencils.

You definitely have to get to know Inktense but I think its worth it.

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One thought on “The Creative Plan – Inktense Pencils review

  1. I’ve been a fan of Inktense pencils for forever, but it’s the vibrancy i’m drawn to. I love bold, bright colour work and for me, Inktense tick that box.

    But yes, I do find them a touch grainy when it comes to the watercolour part, compared to other brands. I love how you’ve thoroughly tested them here, trying many different styles, you’ve provided a lot of info here 😀

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