Inktense pencils by Derwent are watersoluble pencils with brillant colours that give ink like effects. The colours are translucent and blendable.
The range includes 71 colours. I tested a selection of 24 pencils. The box also contained a non-soluble outliner. You can draw with it outlines that are permanent, even when water is applied.
You can use Inktense pencils on paper like watercolour pencils. They can also be used on fabric and I tested them on cotton. One advantage is that after you apply water onto the pigments, the colour is permanent once dry.
The process is simple, with a number of variations:
- The first method consists in applying the colour first and then adding water on the colour with a soft brush. This is similar to the technique used with watercolour pencils. Depending on the colour, the result will look like a watercolour wash or some pencil marks will remain visible.
- For the second method, you put the water first with a clean brush on the fabric and then apply the pencil. This is interesting because the colour fuses in the fabric in the same way watercolour fuses when you employ a wet on wet technique. In addition, the water makes the colours come to life and you see immediately what the final colour will be. When the fabric is wet, the pencil glides on it.
- Third method consists in using a fabric gel medium to wet the fabric where you want to apply the colour. By contrast with the previous method, the colour does not fuse. This works well for details.
You can layer colours one on top of the other. You can also use water to blend together colours after then have been laid on the support.
One difficulty when you start working with these pencils: it is sometimes hard to identify the colour of the dark pigment pencils without reading the name printed on the pencil. In addition, for certain shades, the coulour of the lead won’t tell you much about the brillance of the colour once washed with water. It would be a good idea to make a colour chart showing each colour dry and then washed with water.
In conclusion, these pencils are interesting to work with for bright and luminous colours. The fact that you can use them on fabric without the need for any special fixative is a definite plus. Derwent also sells Inktense sticks (looking like square dry pastels) for work on larger formats.