“Colour Rush.”   A4 size

Derwent Lightfast pencils on Canson 240 gsm paper. Own reference.

The recent release of 28 new colours has seen the Derwent Lightfast coloured pencil range reach 100. Will there be anymore to come? Maybe another 20? I hope so.

I rarely draw on white supports but I drew a small composition which was taken from a photo of a rock pool that I took at Port Macquarie, NSW, Australia. It’s usually a colour support for me as the colours seem to have more life and a somewhat painterly look to them. The latest colours went down very easily on my ochre coloured pastel board. Let’s take a closer look at the 100 range. I divided the pencils into groups as I would use them. This  may  not be  technically  correct,  but it should be easy enough to follow.

Let’s begin with the Green Family, that make up 21% of the range. An excellent selection of deeper greens, very ‘European’ I feel, but not so many on the ‘brighter/lighter’ side.


The Brown Family has a good balance of ‘earthy’ tones and make up 20% of the total range. I didn’t include Yellow Ochre and Mustard in this group because their pigments were more aligned to the Yellow Family.

The Blue Family represents 15% of the range, the majority being deeper blues. I feel that some warmer/lighter additions are needed. Mid Ultramarine is the nearest to a ‘sky blue’ and it needs some company on either side of its tonal value.

I quite like the Yellow Family (10%) and I’ve included Yellow Ochre because of its lightness. Banana is an interesting addition.

The Grey Family (11% with the inclusion of White) could do with some deeper cool and warm greys.

The Red Family (12%) has a lovely bright orange (Flame), but nothing either side in the form of a vermilion and an apricot colour. The pinks are very ‘fleshy’, maybe the omission of a richer pink maybe a lightfast issue.

The Magenta Family is small (8%) but quite varied with some close cousins in the Blue Family. Where is a true pink?

The Black Family has 3 members (3%). I like the softness of the Mars Black, compared to Black. Midnight Black seems to be a distant cousin of Dark Indigo.

The Verdict: There’s no doubt that Derwent have created a range of quality coloured pencils that should seriously challenge most of the major brands. I’m a fan of Coloursoft and I see strong similarities between the two pencil sets, the difference being the quality and depth of pigments in the Lightfast range. I am a little disappointed in the dominance of darker/deeper colours over warmer/lighter tones. There is room for up to another 20 colours in the range. There seems to be a strong ‘Northern Hemisphere palette’ in the range which is to be expected as that’s where they are manufactured and that’s where their greatest market is. Having said that, I particularly like the selection of browns as they suit a lot of my ‘stone’ drawings. In large sets of coloured pencils we always seem to ignore certain colours, I’m no different, but simply having a ‘full set’ of coloured pencils is something special and that is why I expect a lot of people are eagerly awaiting the release of Derwent’s set of 100 Lightfast pencils.



About artkleko

artist, art curator, art teacher, art judge, art critic
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9 Responses to DERWENT LIGHTFAST 100

  1. AnneMai Berchtold says:

    I agree with you, and also miss some lighter colours. But I love the quality of these cp’s. Great write up, and let us hope for another 20 lighter shades !

  2. Linda says:

    Since so many of the Prisma light colors (but certainly not all), and the pinks and purples have relatively poor lightfastness, this may be a reason for their absence with these colors which seem to be manufactured for lightfastness.

  3. Kathy McLean says:

    It would appear that we’re going to have to work at mixing our own lighter colors. Probably means the need for a lot of white usage and blending/layering. And for a lot of testing that the colors will remain “lightfast” when mixed/used with whites and lighter colors. Do they thin out with solvents and become lighter? Do they remain lightfast when used that way? I see a lot of remaining questions. Perhaps I’m just behind on what information is already out there.?

    • artkleko says:

      Good questions, Kathy. I never use solvents ( I want my drawings to look like pencil, not gouache)and I rarely mix my colours. I don’t see the lightfast issue being a problem when mixing lighter colours and white, as long as they have a rating of 1, maybe 11.

  4. Great review Richard, very comprehensive. My first thought is a feeling of being overwhelmed with choice! When I paint I use a limited palette of about 7 colours, as I find I can mix almost everything from these but obviously working in pencil requires a very different approach. Even when I work in pencil, I tend to choose a small range to work with, but having all these options is very useful. Your image at the top is wonderfully vibrant, the intensity of these colours is just fabulous, and being able to have confidence in their lightfastness is a huge bonus.

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