Friday, October 9, 2015

When Fails are not so "Fail-y" and, Finally, an Inktense Review

Skully Update, Derwent Inktense Review

Okay, so my last post was a step-by-step water soluble graphite and Derwent Inktense painting that I almost scrapped at the end. It was going just fine until I added color, but my choice of medium was not ideal. This is what I get for writing the post in real time while I am making the art. I did not want to scrap the post because I had already spent so much time on the whole affair.

I decided to let the painting dry completely before I would tackle it again the next day, so I put the piece on my table and went about my business. Then, my daughter comes to tell me something, stops mid-sentence, and stares at my little painting saying, "Ooooh that is so pretty!" My baby loves anything with skulls, bless her goth punky little heart. So my problem solved itself! Next thing I know, she is trotting back to her dungeon with the mini painting, happy as can be (she's not Emo), and so I don't have to work on the piece any more.

During subsequent experiments, I have discovered that regular watercolor and watercolor pencils work much better with water soluble graphite. Inktense pencils are not quite the same thing, you see. They have a water soluble ink base rather than the traditional watercolor pencil formula. The good thing about this is that once dry, the Inktense pigment is almost waterproof. You have the same translucent qualities but less chance of accidentally creating "mud".

Affiliate Disclaimer: For full transparency, you should know that many of my links in my posts are affiliate links. As an Amazon affiliate, I receive a small commission when readers purchase items using my affiliate links. This helps me fund the blog domain costs, and you will not be charged extra if you buy anything using my links. 

Derwent Inktense Rundown

Here are the "Nitty Gritties" on this line:

  • 72 colors , see the chart here
  • Available in open stock and in sets
  • Permanent once dry
  • Work on paper and certain fabrics
  • Nice thick cores
  • Also available as Art Blocks (woodless crayons) 
A few "Cons" that are easy to work around: 

  • Not great as dry colored pencils- they crumble
  • Can look grainy if applied heavily
  • Colors are not the same as other lines (I'm okay with this, personally)
  • Not ideal for really sharp, fine lines (but you can use a detail brush with pigment instead)

One "con" that is hard to work around: PRICE! Derwent is a spendy brand, period, but it is one of the best as far as quality. I was lucky to receive a set of 24 from my sister as a Christmas gift, and I added some more open stock colors later to round out my collection. Otherwise, I would still be pining to try them. Now I just pine for some Inktense Blocks. 

Amazon image of 24 tin set Derwent Inktense pencils image 

Inktense Pencils in Use

One thing that bothers me about the Inktense pencils is that they are more prone to grainy washes than watercolor pencils. I think this is because the pigment core in Intense pencils produces a thicker "paint" when you add water. The grainy effect can work for you when creating visual textures, but it is a pain if you want a smooth wash or gradient. The best way to avoid unwanted texture is to work in thin layers, either wet-on-wet or wet-on-dry.  If you want to create texture, you can  rub the dry pencil over wet paper or vice versa. You can see where I used this technique in the image below.

image of Derwent Inktense Pencil Drawing of cat
I created this with Inktense pencils a couple of years ago on 140 lb
Strathmore watercolor paper. My inspiration was a cat food ad, but
the final piece does not violate any copyrights. I only mention it because I make
reference to an ad in my DeviantArt post for this image. The cat looks exactly like
one of my cats, but the ad photo had better lighting.

image of Russian Blue cat ouside
See! This is Blue Killmouski

You can also avoid lumpy or grainy washes by grabbing ink from the pencil tip using a wet brush or by shading lightly with the pencil and using plenty of water. Just make sure your paper can handle it. Paper surface will affect the outcome as well. Hot press watercolor paper or smooth plate bristol have slicker surfaces that will yield smoother areas of tone. Cold press and rough watercolor papers have a tooth that will 'catch" bits of the pencil core and retain more color when you add water. You can still make smooth washes on the textured papers by using more water and working quickly.

 The main benefit of Inktense pencils is that you can layer wet washes over dried ones without disturbing the previous layer. The glazes come out perfectly, and you do not have the risk of muddying colors when layering more than two shades as long as the colors work with each other. Glazes and wet-in-wet techniques are amazing with Inktense if you get the consistency right.

Also, you can lift some color as long as the paper is still wet. While experimenting, I have been able to lift a tiny bit of color after the layer is dry, but it was minimal and took too much scrubbing. It really isn't worth the damage to your paper to try removing the pigment because you will not get the pure white paper back anyway.

You can always try masking parts of the paper, but understand that you will not have the option of softening the edges of the masked area after you remove the frisket. I don't bother masking for this reason. Instead, I use white gouache or acrylic paint to make the highlights after the ink has dried. You can also use a white gel pen, paint pen or white ink and a brush for this little trick. Erasers will not remove Inktense pigment- permanence is the main point of the product, after all!

If you are dying to try the Inktense line, you can save a little cash by getting a small set like the 6 pack Inktense blister card set or the 12 piece tin set . They blend really well, so you don't need every single color.

Here is something exciting- I just got my Dick Blick order of 2 ArtGraf water soluble graphite sticks. Can you guess the topic for my next review post?

No comments:

Post a Comment