It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of most Derwent products. I’ve been loving the Graphitint pencils, and recently had the chance to try out the Derwent XL Graphite Blocks. They’re currently deeply discounted (61% off at the date of this writing) at Amazon, so it’s a no-brainer to pick up this set.
I’m officially in love again! Used dry, these are like a giant graphite pencil, but in color. With a distinctive smooth feel and a sheen typical to graphite. These are also a fantastic alternative to watercolor for getting your backgrounds done super fast – just mix with water, using a paintbrush. Like watercolor, the pigment will definitely lift if re-wetted, so this is very different from the Derwent Inktense in that respect – Inktense blocks dry permanent once you’ve applied them wet and dried them.
There are only 6 colors in the set, and even that is an exaggeration: 2 of the “colors” are Soft and Very Soft, which are basically shades of grey. The colors are muted, nature shades (Olive Green, Dark Prussian, Raw Umber, Burnt Umber), so this set is perfect if you do landscapes. Given that these blocks are graphite, there is a distinct silvery sheen to your finished work, which is quite appealing.
These blocks work well in conjunction with the Graphitint pencils, with the same smooth feel as the pencil cores. I find myself using the pencils when I want a little more detail than the blocks and a paintbrush can offer (I’m not really good at controlling a liner brush!)
Lightfastness? These blocks don’t come with a lightfast rating. To be on the safe side, display your art behind UV-resistant glass.
Note: as mentioned above, these graphite blocks are all muted colors. If you want bright, vibrant colors in your painting, get yourself a set of the Derwent Inktense blocks instead … there are many more colors and they are stunningly intense! Or, for a starter set, try out the Travel Pan Set: Inktense in a format perfect for plein-aire adventures!
Dimensions: The XL Graphite blocks are 20 x 20mm square and 60mm long
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