Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Review: Faber Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils

Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils

Since I love to paint with watercolors it was only a matter of time that I tried working with watercolor pencils. I actually bought a small set of Derwent Inktense pencils a while back, but they are permanent once dry and do not work the same as a regular WC pencil. They will be discussed in a future blog post.

Though slightly more expensive than other brands, I decided to go with the Albrecht Durer pencils after Cathy Johnson gave them the thumbs up. I wanted pencils that would be smooth to work with, would lay down a high concentration of pigment, and also blend well with each other.

Seeing that I could purchase individual pencils at roughly the same cost of a set, I chose the above colors on a recent trip to Blick. Since most all of my work is abstract, I picked what I felt were the brightest and most fun colors they had to offer. Once home, I did the obligatory color chart. I found the pencils to be just what I wanted - smooth and vibrant.

The color chart is important because the dry pencil marks look very different once you add water. They go down very dark, get super vibrant when wet, and dry lighter than you might expect. I understand this is typical of watercolor pencils.

Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils - Kandinsky Inspired

Kandinsky inspired pencil testing. Multiple colors drawn in circles to see how well the colors blended. I'm happy with the results.

Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils

I then moved on and played around with attempting to mix specific colors. Seemed to work quite well.

Watercolor Pencil Mandala

I then jumped in and decided to color in this mandala. And that's just what I did. I completely colored it in and then I carefully painted water over it with a Niji Waterbrush. It ended up a little sloppy because you can't really allow one section to touch another while wet or they will run together. I also found that it's really not necessary to completely fill a section in with color - it's overkill. A few strokes will suffice, and you can always go back and add more later.

Watercolor Pencil Mandala

On this next piece, I used less pencil. I would draw a few lines with the pencil and then pull out the color with the waterbrush. If I wanted to darken an area, I'd add more pencil once an area was dry then re-wet.

Watercolor Pencil Doodle

An experiment in blending. Scribbled multi-colored lines were laid down first, and then I applied water. Black marker was added last.

Dotted Mandala

This piece was drawn with the pencils, water was applied, then the marker.

Inspired Mandala

And lastly, this was probably my favorite technique of all - picking up color from the tip of the pencil with the waterbrush and then painting with it. That makes for some extremely portable painting supplies - just a few pencils, a waterbrush and a paper towel to wipe the tip of the brush. Splendid!

I am quite happy with this purchase and would recommend these pencils to anyone. A set of 24 runs about $40 and you can buy them at Blick. They can also be purchased as open stock to test a few at a time or to build your own palette the way I did.

A cold pressed Clairefontaine Watercolor Pad was used for each of these examples. Your results will vary depending on the type of paper used.


plo said...

Georgous! I can't wait to find time to get back to my watercolor pencils. I love your color charts...and you did inspire me to try my hand at mandala's...I am hooked!!!

Once upon a time said...

These look like fun.. like you said, talk about portability. :) I may get these for my summer doodling projects.

Biffybeans said...

Thank you Plo - and I'm happy that you are working on your mandalas - good stuff!

Once Upon... they are much fun!

B2-kun said...

Very nice review and color samples. They are also my favorite watercolor pencils for their smooth laydown and saturated washes. After a quick check of online retailers, you might find that the lowest price ($154.43) for the full set of 120 watercolor pencils is currently listed under the Drawing category of and the set of 24 is listed for $30.88. For a very compact version of similar quality pencils, you might want to check Jet Pens clearance section for the Uni Watercolor pencils set of 12 pencils that also include a waterbrush, pencil extender, and sharpener for $12.

Sue O'Kieffe said...

this is a great review and quite informative. thank you for sharing your processes with us.

Gabi Greve said...

What a gorgeous collection !
Thanks for sharing.

Gabi from Japan

everstar said...

Oh, thank you. I used to have Bruynzeel watercolor pencils, but I lost them a long time ago. Then this year I decided to see if I could find a new set, only to discover Bruynzeel got sold to Sakura! Since then I'd been eying these, but I was hesitating. I'll probably get them now. Hurrah!

Paper Supplies said...

Great blog & nice review! Your art drawing is really inspiring.

You may want to try out Crayola Watercolor Wood Pencil. For the full set of 240 pencils for $50.07.

Keep up the great works of your mandalas!

Anna said...

I bought the whole box set of these and they are my favorite to use of all my watercolor pencils, they go down smooth as butter and I love the intensity of the colors.

Darlene said...

Love the colors that you chose. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

The reason that the inktense is permanent ater it had dried is because derwent intended it to be like ink but can be used like watercolor. Hints the name "INKtense"

MJI said...

I just bought about 4 colors to try out. Already I love them and want to get a full set. They remind me of the Prismacolors but without all the flakes and + nice watercolor. i also like that it doesn't take much water to activate them.

Bethany said...

Fabulous! Love your designs!

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