Saturday, July 6, 2019

Reviews: Derwent Coloursoft, Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor, Pencil Organizer, Strathmore Coloring Pencil Paper

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 Derwent Coloursoft Colored Pencils, 6 Piece Portrait Set

image of 6 piece Skintone Derwent Coloursoft pencils from
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 I bought the set of six pencils last month so I could finally try out this line, which has been around for a long time. The reason why I hadn’t tried them before is that they are pretty expensive compared to other wax based colored pencils. The pack of six is very affordable and contains useful colors (Cream, Ochre, Pink, Blush Pink, Dark Terracotta, Brown Earth).

Derwent cores are thicker than those in my OG favorite Prismacolor Premier pencils, and their performance is comparable to the Prismas. I think Prismas are a bit softer and blend better, but Coloursoft pencils are less likely to break when sharpened to a fine point. I used both electric and manual sharpeners for these pencils, and they sharpen rather well without any apparent uneven or broken cores. The six piece portrait set comes in a nice tin and is less than $10 for Amazon Prime members.

Image of Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor Colored pencils, 24 count set from
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 Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor Pencils, Set of 24 

I bought this set last year, and I am very much in love with them. They are oil based and very affordable. The core lays down very smoothly, blends nicely, and sharpens to a fine point. Like many oil based pencils, these are great for layering and do not get that dreaded wax bloom we all hate. I only paid $18.99 when I bought these, but as of today (5 July 2019), Amazon has the 24 set for around $25 if you have a Prime membership (non-Prime pricing is in the same range when you add shipping). That is still a pretty good price for high quality pencils. Compared to an expensive oil based brand like Faber-Castell Polychromo, the difference is minimal. I cannot tell them apart when I swatch them on the same paper.

 BTSKY 160 Slot PU Leather Pencil Organizer

Image of the BTSKY 160 slot PU Leather Pencil Organizer from   
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I own hundreds of colored pencils, but my studio space will not accommodate a large storage and display setup like I have seen in other artist’s studios. I bought this pencil case to hold my most used pencils and tools while I stash the extras out of sight. I bought the BTSKY case last year when I got the Lyra pencils, and I have enjoyed the tidiness and convenience this case offers. It looks like a book with four zippers when closed, but it has five “pages” when unzipped. I know the product name states it has 160 slots, but it actually has 170 total (167 pencil size and 3 larger slots for tools like erasers or mini sharpeners).

 Amazon Prime pricing is about $21 currently. I have the brown one, but there are several other colors available. I only have one complaint about this case. The zipper ends are not blocked off to prevent the zipper pulls from sliding right off the tracks. The back binding covers both ends of the zippers, so you don’t see this flaw. When I was closing one of the compartments, I tried to tuck the zipper pull under the binding (why? I thought it would look neater), and it ended up falling right off the zipper track. I cannot get it back on without deconstructing the case, and that is just too much work in my opinion. Maybe I am the only person who would do this, but just in case I’m not, do not try to tuck the zipper pulls under the binding when you zip or unzip the pages.

 Strathmore 400 Series Colored Pencil Paper

Image of Strathmore 400 Series Colored Pencil Paper Pad 9 x 12 inch from
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Strathmore has made a new line of papers for colored pencil, and I decided to try them out. I bought two 30-sheet pads in sizes 9 x 12” and 6 x 8”. I have never used a paper made specifically for colored pencils, but I have tried many types of papers, and I prefer some texture or "tooth", which describes this paper perfectly. I have used both wax and oil-based pencils on it, and I was able to layer colors, blend, and erase without any problems. 

I did not use any fluid type blenders on it, and I think it might be too thin to take liquids without buckling. Artists who use heavier, more textured papers like those made for watercolor and printmaking may not be impressed with it, however. Even if this paper does not meet your needs for colored pencil painting, it is also an excellent surface for graphite. The price is also extremely affordable. You can buy the 9 x 12 pad for about $12 and the 6 x 8 for about $6 on Amazon (again, that is current Prime pricing).

I hope this review post has been helpful. I am rusty with blogging, but future posts will get better as I get back in the swing of it. I have ideas for more interactive content which I am currently developing. My next post will celebrate adult coloring books. I have amassed quite a collection during my sabbatical! If you want me to try out any art media or equipment for future posts, please leave suggestions in the comments. 

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