“Mersey River Stones.” 40 x 60 cms

Derwent Lightfast pencils on Canson pastel board. Own reference.

As soon as they had been released, I was keen to try Derwent’s latest range of coloured pencils. With the name ‘Lightfast’, it was obvious that these pencils were aimed at the top end of the coloured pencil market and that made me very happy! Lightfastness has always been of concern for professional artists in all mediums and indeed for anyone who exhibits their art. I have 39 different sets of coloured pencils, the majority having a good lightfast rating, while some haven’t. The pencils that have a high rating are the ones I use for any work that I try and sell or enter in art awards.

What’s the big deal about lightfastness? It’s simple, one doesn’t want their work to fade within 12 months, do they? Always choose a quality pencil with a high lightfast rating, because you’ll also work with high quality pigments that give excellent surface covering and ease of application. Cheap pencils cost too much!

Before I ‘saw the light’ and ‘converted’ to Cps, I worked with oil pastels, soft pastels and finally pastel pencils. My first set of Cps was a 72 tin of Derwent Cumberland Artist’s and they were a joy to work with. Because I’d favoured coloured papers with pastels, I continued this approach with my pencils, with greys and ochre colours being my favourites paper colours. The pencils’ coverage was excellent with good results and I was rewarded with several art prizes. That was over 30 years ago and since then my Derwent Cp arsenal has increased dramatically. I now have Derwent’s Coloursoft, Inktense and Procolour pencils, with Coloursoft being my favourite. That was until Lightfast pencils arrived.

Last year Derwent (for whom I’m a Cp tester) sent me a tin of 12 to try and this year I received a set of 72 and so far, I’ve completed 2 drawings. I’m looking forward to receiving 28 more colours (that have recently been added) in the next month. A set of 100 coloured pencils will make Lightfast a strong competitor alongside Caran d’Ache, Polychromos, Prismacolor and Albrecht Durer brands.

PACKAGING: The strong metal tin looks impressive thanks to Jesse Lane’s ‘eye-catching’ artwork (pun intended). The pencils themselves are clearly labelled and as is a Derwent tradition, coloured at the top end. I was a little disappointed though at the lack of strength of the plastic inserts, fearing the possibility of disturbing the pencils if they were mishandled in transit.

COLOUR RANGE: Landscape colours were well represented. The overall palette was somewhat subdued and I hope that the additional 28 colours will contain some warmer even brighter examples, such as brighter blues, turquoise, deeper greys, a vermilion and a strong pink. Not sure about the 3 shades of black.

APPICATION: The pencils sharpen easily to a point and lay down their respective colours well, very well. I find high quality pencils perform best when they are warm and these are no exception. They were a joy to work with on different coloured supports (papers). The pigments are strong and cover exceptionally well. I was impressed! For those (like me) who often use Luminance pencils, you will notice that the 2 brands are very similar to hold and work with (and are about the same size as each other). Both brands are very responsive with Luminance being slightly ‘oilier.’

BLENDING & LAYERING: I usually apply a maximum of 3 layers in my drawings and I experienced no concerns with Lightfast pencils in that regard and the same applied when working under or over layers of both Luminance and Prismacolor pencils.

Lightfast White with Mid Ultramarine

HIGHLIGHTS: WHITE is a prized addition when working on coloured supports and Lightfast White won’t let you down. I tested what I believe are the top  5 coloured pencil whites on Canson Red Mi Teintes paper with the strongest being, Museum Aquarelle,  Prismacolor, Lightfast, Luminance and Supracolor in that order. All 5 pencils performed admirably and confirmed my opinion concerning their status.


THE COST: I’ve read that there is some concern regarding the ‘high’ cost of both sets and individual Lightfast pencils but as the saying goes, ‘you pay for what you get.’ Yes, Lightfast maybe more expensive than most of the other brands but it must be remembered that these are high quality coloured pencils. Cheap pencils cost too much!

I believe that Lightfast pencils are the best product Derwent has produced and the release of a set of 100 is something worth looking forward to.


About artkleko

artist, art curator, art teacher, art judge, art critic
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  1. That’s quite a recommendation Richard! Seeing that you have 39 sets of coloured pencils makes me feel so much better – I have been feeling a little guilty about the quantity I have. I have bought many different kinds, some of which I will never use again. I’m keeping them for my grandchildren to use when they are a little older! My favourites though are still Prismacolor, for their ease of use and lovely strong colour, more so even than Luminance, but I do worry about the lightfastness of some of them. Another thing I collect are pencil sharpeners and a friend recently alerted me to a new one, it is a Blackwing long point sharpener, with two holes, one for sharpening the wood and the other sharpens the lead. It makes a phenomenal point – it could cause injury! I love it!

    • artkleko says:

      They are very good, Anna, Verona improvement on ProColour. Although Caran d’Ache pencils are still my favourite, I think one shouldn’t be open to trying new products. I like Prismacolor but their Achilles heel is that their cores are too soft, hence the issue of breakages that has dogged them for years.
      I always work with quality pigmented pencils that are lightfast. Derwent’s latest addition to the Cp market is now part of my Cp arsenal. 😀

    • artkleko says:

      Speaking of coloured pencil sharpeners, my Ledah 333 electric continues to perform brilliantly since I bought it in 2010. I suffer from arthritis in my hands from time to time and it’s been a great help. I have several hand-held sharpeners the best being one made by Caran d’Ache.

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