Derwent Watercolor Pencils Review

Review Summary
4.6/5 Our Score
• Great color variety
• Varied count sets
• Works easily with water
• Velvety application
• Affordable
• Color is not very intense

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Derwent's watercolor pencils are their number one sellers for a reason and that reason is quality. Far above any other watercolor pencil on the market, these are professional grade tools made affordable.
Color Intensity


One of Derwent’s best-selling colored pencil lines is their watercolor pencils. The company produces a couple of different watercolor lines, most famous of which is their Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils. The latter are a line of very intense, ink-like watercolors criticized only for their lack of neutral or lighter colors. The company’s regular watercolor pencils take all of the good qualities of the Inktense colored pencils with the exception of providing a more practical range of colors.

Designed like all Derwent colored pencils, with a soft lead and sturdy wooden casing, the watercolor pencils are available in a couple of different count sets, ranging from singles to their biggest pack, a set of 72 watercolor pencils. Packs include sets of 12, 24, 36, 48, and 72 pencils, all in a tin or wooden box- the latter reserved for a 48-count or above.

What They’re Good For

If you’ve used the Derwent Inktense Watercolor Pencils, you’ll know that they are high quality watercolor paint that have amazing application and finish qualities- smooth to apply, spread and blend easily, and have a nice, opaque finish- none of that watery mess most watercolors tend to leave.

As opposed to the Inktense line, Derwent’s regular watercolor pencils provide a more practical range of colors and while they do lose a significant amount of intensity as compared to their inky brothers, the quality is still that of a professional grade colored pencil.

Most watercolor pencils are used because their softer core allows for a more intense application of color. These are meant to be used with water, so blending dry is quite difficult to accomplish. That being said, Derwent’s regular watercolor pencils have a pretty consistent color range that multiplies its range when used with water.

Ratings Breakdown

The Derwent company is known for producing high quality, professional grade colored pencils and their watercolor lines (the regular and Inktense) are their most popular line.

Derwent’s Inktense watercolor pencils are known for their glossy, ink-like finish; this trait makes them more gel-pen like than watercolor-like. The regular watercolor pencils on the other hand perform like a watercolor pencil, with a slightly faster drying rate and a more opaque finish.

Lightfastness 4/5

Since it is a professional grade colored pencil, the Derwent watercolor pencils have a pretty high lightfastness rating and since they were redesigned in 2009, their ratings have gotten way higher. That being said, unlike the Inktense watercolors, the lightfastness rating tends to fluctuate more with this line among individual colors.

Durability/ Sturdiness 4/5

While Derwent makes softer cores than other brands of watercolor pencils, the hexagonal barrel and lead fixative in the manufacture of Derwent’s watercolors makes them quite durable. That being said, the lead is water-soluble, quite heavy on the wax, and very soft. This makes for a pencil that will start to fall apart in higher temperatures- if you do happen to live in a warmer climate, the pencils must be kept cool.

Binder/ Quality 5/5

This line of watercolor pencils was redesigned in 2009, the result of which was a higher lightfastness rating which made quite an improvement in quality of the watercolor core. While the core is softer than most watercolor pencils, it is also very durable and lays a rich stroke of color with each application.

Color Intensity 5/5

In terms of color intensity, we can compare Derwent’s watercolor pencils to their line of Inktense watercolors and other brands’ regular colored pencils and note that they fulfill that happy middle area.

While they are significantly less intense in color than Derwent’s Inktense line, the colors are very bright compared to other watercolor pencils. In addition to their natural intensity, the color is also more opaque, giving better coverage than other watercolor pencils.

Value 5/5

Derwent makes very affordable professional grade colored pencils. For the quality of the pencil as well as the range of sets, these are mid-range priced colored pencils that anyone can afford without breaking the bank.

Final Verdict

Derwent’s watercolor pencils are their number one sellers for a reason and that reason is quality. Far above any other watercolor pencil on the market, these are professional grade tools made affordable.

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