Review: Derwent Studio-series Coloured Pencils

This review is written by my friend Teo Hwee Lee.

Derwent pencils have been manufactured by The Cumberland Pencil Company in Cumbria in the UK since 1832 and is now a brand under ACCO UK Ltd.

The Studio pencils are one of the five Derwent colouring ranges,the other four namely: Artists, Coloursoft, Metallic and Drawing. The colour strip of 72 colours in the Studio range are the same as that in the Artists. It should be noted that Studio pencils are not to be confused with student-grade pencils, these are artist-grade and complement the Derwent Artists range fully. I have used a 24-colour set for the purpose of this review.

The list of colours included in this set are:

  • 02 - Lemon Cadmium - LF 1
  • 06 - Deep Cadmium - LF 4
  • 10 - Orange Chrome - LF 5
  • 14 - Deep Vermilion - LF 4
  • 18 - Rose Pink - LF 1
  • 20 - Crimson Lake - LF 4
  • 23 - Imperial Purple - LF 3
  • 26 - Light Violet - LF 1
  • 32 - Spectrum Blue - LF 3
  • 35 - Prussian Blue - LF 3
  • 38 - Kingfisher Blue - LF 3
  • 45 - Mineral Green - LF 3
  • 46 - Emerald Green - LF 4
  • 47 - Grass Green - LF 7
  • 48 - May Green - LF 6
  • 51 - Olive Green - LF 4
  • 57 - Brown Orche - LF 8
  • 59 - Golden Brown - LF 8
  • 61 - Copper Beech - LF 8
  • 64 - Terracotta - LF 8
  • 67 - Ivory Black - LF 8
  • 68 - Blue Grey - LF 4
  • 69 - Gunmetal - LF 4
  • 72 - Chinese White - LF 8

The lightfast rating for most colours in this set are quite lousy. Derwent uses a lightfast rating from 1-8 with 8 being the best. From the list above, you can see that most of the earth colours have good to excellent lightfast rating. The rest are just not as good with only borderline LF 3 and 4 ratings, so they will fade faster with time. The Derwent Studio-series has 72 colours and the quality of the whole range is not too different from the list of 24 in this box. The Studio series is more for casual work rather than permanent work. Make sure to scan your artworks after you've created them to keep the digital files as archive.

I have been using mainly Prismacolor Premier, Prismacolor Verithin and Derwent Coloursoft in loose sticks.

The Studio leads are hard and sharpen to fine point easily and pressure can be applied without crumbling, I would liken them to HB or B graphite pencils and colouring does not produce flakes which are really messy and dirty drawings easily.

Though they smudge only very slightly, application of fixative is still recommended after completion of artwork. They feel slightly waxy, dry and squeaky but not scratchy on the paper, strangely I found the Artists pencils more waxy and scratchy instead.

I was quite surprised to come across some reviews that suggested that Derwent Studio and Artists pencils are clay-based which could explain their hardness and dryness but as I cannot find information on the tin or Derwent’s website regarding the base of the pencils. I wish the the set would come with its own little information leaflet.

In terms of colour richness,I find Studio pencils obviously not as rich as Prismacolor Premier or Derwent Coloursoft pencils and very slightly less rich than Prismacolor Verithin and Derwent Artists. Hence,I find them pretty good for hints of colour but not for pops of colour.

Having undergone carpal tunnel release surgery in my master hand, I still have to take great care in not overstraining it. While the Studio pencils are ergonomically hexagonal, they feel much heavier than Prismacolor Verithin pencils and will still roll in the metal tin they came in, unless the tin is placed completely flat or tightly secured in the middle. It would be better to transfer the pencils to a cushioned pencil case or wrap for ease of transport, I use a Derwent canvas pencil wrap.

I find it really odd that it was easier to colour and layer with the Studio pencils than the Artist ones but I find laying down colours still require way more effort and time. I also recommend layering rather than using blenders as I encountered "wax bloom".

In conclusion, I find Derwent Studio coloured pencils better than the Artists pencils which they are supposed to be complementary to, and they are most similar to Prismacolor Verithin pencils and between the two, I would get the Prismacolor Verithin pencils for colour performance and time efficiency.


Find more reviews at Dick Blick Art Materials (US) | Jackson's Art (UK)

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