Fruity smoothie bowl coloured pencil drawing

Milly England Fruity Smoothie Bowl, Chromaflow pencils on Derwent Watercolour Paper, 14x16in. (36x41cm)

Milly England puts Chromaflow’s brilliant colours through their paces as she produces a piece of new artwork.

Bold, vibrant and smooth is the promise from Derwent on its new range of colour pencils, and with Chromaflow they don’t disappoint. Aimed at hobbyists, you could be forgiven for doubting the pigment concentration of these pencils, but they really are a joy to work with – and the colour is incredible.

I drew this smoothie bowl using a full set of 72 colour pencils, which provided me not only with a comprehensive range of bright hues, but also a wonderful selection of neutrals that are perfect for shading and toning. 

Enjoy 30% off Chromaflow pencils with our exclusive offer - available until the end of May (2022)! Discover how to redeem your discount here.

Milly Englands art set up

Milly’s set-up for completing Fruity Smoothie Bowl

Priced at £119.99 for the full set of 72, these pencils are excellent value for money in comparison to other ranges on the market. They also come in sets of 12, 24, 36 and 48 and any set would be a great addition to your drawing kit, as the colours really are fabulous. I especially love iris purple 1130 and Pompeian red 0610, which are both rich, intense colours with a creamy smooth laydown. 

Although Chromaflow isn’t Derwent’s most premium range, they perform as an Artists’ grade pencil. The leads are smooth enough to layer up into a vibrant, velvety colour whilst being hard enough to sharpen to a good point, allowing for fine detail work without breakages.

To find out more about Chromaflow, visit Derwent's website.

Vibrant colour    

Colour chart of Derwent Chromaflow colours

The 72-pencil set colour chart

When working with any new materials, I always create a colour chart – it’s a great way to get used to working with the new pencils as well as checking how the colour indicators on the ends of the pencils match up with what comes out on the paper. Often, especially with a colour pencil, the reality of the colour is not as promised on the tin, however these were even better than I hoped. The hues on the pencils matched the colours on the paper perfectly and even when using a light layer of colour, the vibrancy was never lost. This high pigmentation is akin to much more expensive colour pencils and the result is almost luminous in some of the richer shades. 

The combination of vibrant pigmentation along with soft leads allowed for a quick and unlaboured lay down of colour. I was surprised at how speedily I was able to cover the paper and fill in the areas of block colour without having to spend time building up layers to achieve the required brightness for the fresh fruit in the finished artwork. The colour vibrancy of the leads allowed for lovely expressive strokes without worrying about lack of coverage. 

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Easy blending     

Derwent Chromaflow colour chat and pencils

Shades of pink

Chromaflow isn’t water soluble, however Derwent sells blender pens that assist in the blending process, much like water would with a water-soluble pencil. The 3.5mm leads of Chromaflow are super soft and lend themselves to blending without any assistance, however I found the blender pens to be useful, especially in layering up and blending the pink shades of the smoothie in the smoothie bowl. I was able to blend a wide range of colours including five different shades of pink – blush pink 0800, Pompeian red 0610, salmon 0700, hot pink 0810 and magenta 0900 – along with the following neutrals: white 2400, black 2300, carbon grey 2140, red storm 2150 (a beautiful grey with a warm pinkish hue) and lavender ash 2160 (a slightly darker grey with a gorgeously subtle purple hue).

The blender pen comes in two sizes: a fine point nib and a much thicker nib. The fine point was great for getting into the shadowy details between the fruit whilst the thicker nib was perfect for the large area of smoothie and the background shadows beneath the bowl. 

Using Derwent Chromaflow pencils

Milly’s set-up for completing Fruity Smoothie Bowl

After using the pen, I was unsure whether I would then be able to layer further colour on top, but this was no problem at all, so I was able to blend all the initial colours seamlessly and, in some areas, I then added more defined hatched shading with no issue. 

I love to use a variation of texture across a piece of work so that some areas are smooth, such as the smoothie or the blackberries, and other areas are a little more illustrative and expressive, such as the shading on the blueberries and the kiwi. 

Burnishing        

Fruit drawings using Chromaflow pencils

This illustrates different techniques used across different fruit: layering of colours on the strawberries and blackberries; hatched shading on the blueberries; and the blending pen on the fig

Chromaflow pencils have a slightly waxy sheen, so they burnish beautifully, although they are not so waxy that they are difficult to layer. I found that layering up fresh greens for the mint leaves, such as basil 1600, green meadow 1610, pear 1810 and tropical rain 1620, created rich and lustrous-looking finished leaves, with a beautifully burnished finish. 

Paper and sharpening

I would recommend using the Derwent Watercolour Paper (smooth surface, perfect for pencils), as the bright white and incredibly smooth surface accentuates the colour vibrancy of the Chromaflow range.

Out of habit, I always work with two pieces of tracing paper under my hand so that I can still see what I’m working on whilst ensuring there is no risk of smudging or inadvertently marking my work. Although the Chromaflow leads are soft, allowing for lovely textures and blends, they don't create a lot of dust and are not messy or smudgy to work with.

Smoothie bowl drawing with Chromaflow pencils

Shades of blue

The soft leads need a good quality sharpener – such as the Derwent Metal Sharpener – to ensure their best use. I firmly believe a decent sharpener is a vital investment when working with coloured pencils. The colour pencils handle the pressure of sharpening well, as well as the pressure of working on paper. 

Smoothie bowl drawing in progress

The blender pen in action

Derwent’s excellent reputation is certainly reinforced by the Chromaflow range. The pencils are consistent and reliable with fabulous pigments that can be deposited effortlessly to create striking artworks.

These pencils from Derwent are available through all your usual art material stockists. To add Chromaflow to your drawing kit, visit Derwent's website here.

Millie England using Derwent Chromaflow coloured pencils

Milly working in her studio with the 72-pencil range of Chromaflow