The arrival of brand new coloured pencils is always an exciting event in my studio, especially if they were created with the professional artist in mind. Working with Derwent Procolour was a real pleasure and the colour selection is very attractive. The wood used for the casing is soft and allowed me to sharpen the pencils easily either with a knife to expose a large portion of the core, or with an electric sharpener to form a needle-sharp point. I was pleasantly surprised at how Procolour pencils retained their points under the pressure of a working hand, without crumbling or breaking. This is definitely a plus when moderate pressure is needed or when I work using striking strokes to achieve a textural effect.

Another happy discovery was the fact that, due to a lower content of wax, Derwent Procolour coloured pencils immediately demonstrated a great ability to blend well on sanded paper with Powder Blender. They work perfectly for fast coverage of large areas such as backgrounds, creating seamless colour or value transitions or even when working with the wipe-off technique in the underpainting process. These pencils are also highly pigmented, and allow you to create impressive colour saturation in a single layer using heavier pressure, or by blending with odourless mineral spirits for a painterly effect.

This set of pencils would be a great addition to a professional coloured pencil artist’s studio, although I would like to see more colours with the maximum lightfast ratings within the range.

DEMONSTRATION Of Dragons and Men


I secured the transferred drawing onto Fisher 400 paper with Derwent Procolour burnt umber. I indicated the overall boundaries of the subjects, the locations of key details and the edges of major value changes.


I worked on the underpainting using the wipe-off technique and Powder Blender using Derwent Procolour burnt umber and touches of ivory black in the darkest shadows. These colours can be easily incorporated into the overall colour scheme of the finished piece. I blended applied pencil lightly with Powder Blender, working with a set of sponges and various short bristle brushes. The underpainting was then modelled by correcting, adjusting and erasing with Blu-Tack and scotch tape. At the end, this layer was secured and isolated with textured fixative.


For the dead layer* I used Derwent Procolour Chinese white and Coloured Pencil titanium white in its dry form, applied with a sponge. The transitions between opaque titanium white and translucent Chinese white were blended and then the entire layer was isolated with Textured Fixative. This layer allowed me to create contrast between receding transparent shadows and advancing opaque lit areas to enhance the 3D effect of depth and volume.


I worked with Derwent Procolour deep chrome using a light touch and holding the pencil almost parallel to the surface, then the applied pencil was blended with Powder Blender, which helped to spread it thinly over the entire subject. This superimposed transparent colour warmed up the shadows in the underpainting and the lit areas in the dead layer. The entire rendering was again isolated with Textured Fixative to restore the surface tooth and allow the following multiple layers.


Of Dragons and Men, Derwent Procolour pencils on Fisher 400 paper, (23x40.5cm).

In this stage I used soft violet, magenta, plum, Mars violet, primary red, crimson lake, pink madder lake, autumn leaf, spectrum orange, sunset gold, yellow ochre, champagne, cobalt blue, dark indigo and ivory black. I increased the colour saturation by lightly blending in the lit areas with odourless mineral spirits for a painterly appearance. The edges and details of the focal point were sharpened and refined. The variation of colour temperature and intensity was achieved throughout by cooling with additional transparent Procolour Chinese white and opaque Coloured Pencil titanium white. I increased contrast by adding more ivory black in the deepest dark shadows and touches of Coloured Pencil titanium white mixed with Touch-Up Texture for the brightest highlights of the details. The entire rendering was then secured with a few coats of Final Fixative.

*The dead layer is a technique used by the Old Masters. It requires various opacity of white: more opaque in the most lit areas and translucent closer to the mid-tones. Since Derwent Procolour Chinese white is a translucent colour, I used opaque Colored Pencil titanium white for the lit areas.

Alyona Nickelsen is a contributing writer for Colored Pencil Magazine and the author of Colored Pencil Painting Bible and Colored Pencil Painting Portraits. She has exhibited widely and won many awards.

This report and demonstration is taken from the September 2018 issue of The Artist

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