Review: Derwent 75lb hardback sketchbook , sketch of sea and rocks in Cornwall - added further media to Jan 2012

edited 4.1.11   additional work in carbon pencil, ink, watersoluble graphite and more ........

 Water soluble graphite and graphite pencil

Near Porthgwarra, Derwent Aquatone pencils in Derwent 75lb A4 sketchbook

 Back to painting and sketching - and testing out some early Christmas gifts.   First of all is an A4 75lb hardback using  a set of 24  Aquatone pencils and a waterbrush.   I'll do a review of the pencils and brush another day.

I revisited my plein air sketchbooks and previous subjects of paintings, so that I could compare the variety of marks possible with work already existing, the depth of colour achievable, the ability to glaze colour and to achieve the translucency of water and colour mixing that happens in the painting, that I want.

Sorry if you are tired, seeing Porthgwarra again!  - it's just a very suitable subject for the problem solving that I wanted to test these items against.  The changing colour of sea and sky, the water over the rocks, the grassy clifftop against the sea etc


The 75lb paper weight sketchbook:

75lb is a lighter weight of paper than I normally use - I have the 110lb in an A3 and love it.   This lighter weight did cause a few problems when testing if I let the paper get too wet - but in fairness it stood up to the wet very well considering it isn't designed for this use.

The Aquatone needed more layers of scribbling to build colour  - whereas colour builds up instantly on the heavier paper, enabling me to work faster.  Interestingly, the Derwent watercolour pencils that I have, built up very nearly the same density of colour with the same pressure on 75lb and 110lb paper - though marks didn't wash out as cleanly on the lighter weight paper.   This doesn't always matter to me as the marks are part of my process.  .

The scratchiness of a Rotring pen + water to create washes did result in the ink going through the page.  This isn't something I use regularly but I would definitely use the 110lb book when working with it in the future.

I would keep this book mainly for sketching with dry media - it took charcoal, pencil, coloured pencil and hard pastel well. 

I wouldn't rule out 'wet' media entirely though.   With care, and not over-wetting the paper, it coped surprisingly well with Aquatone, watercolour pencils and watersoluble graphite. 

I did go through the page once in one sketch because I worked too much on a section that was pretty soggy but that was my own impatience!  The paper flattened out and is repaired with a patch on the back and is barely discernable now dry (hidden by surf)  :>). Overall the Aquatones behaved surprisingly well on this thinner paper but working seriously plein air I'd take the A3 book of heavier paper - a size and weight I prefer to work with.

Some people regard an A4 book as their large one, so they would be very happy with the size.  I often work in an A4 but I really do like the extra space of an A3 or A2 for the room to make gestural marks and use masses of colour.

With hardback books you have the ability to work on double page spreads, something I like to do - with thinner paper it pays not to work on the back of these in case work shows through.  I usually put a big pencil cross across the page so that I don't accidentally work on it.   I do this in any book really even if the paper is heavy.   I don't want to end up with 2 paintings/drawings I want to frame that are back to back!

The pages are perforated for easy removal  - something I don't actually want in a hardback book but for those wanting to take out pages for framing, it makes removal easy.

All in all a nice book though I prefer the 110lb version because I use a lot of water based media.

 I'll write about the Aquatones and waterbrush another day - soon.

The ABC's are almost printed and just need to be bound .   If you want to see the illustrations to Z look on the tabs at the top of the blog and you can see them all together.   I'm looking at the possibility of making a Blurb book or one of those that you make with Amazon or Barnes and Noble - I need to do the research and see what is possible.

EDIT:  January 2012  additional media tested - I'll look at each of these media separately in later posts, but for now, this is how they behave on the thin paper


I've now had chance to play with more media in this book - examples below.    Though I much prefer the heavier weight sketchbooks in the Derwent range for my own use, I have to say this is holding up surprisingly well to a variety of media.


here a doodle with a Wolff carbon pencil


Rotring pen and wash

The Lamy pen I have, despite being cleaned and having all sorts done to it, insists on drying after a tiny amount of drawing and bleeds through the paper .......... and is totally useless and will be binned!  My ancient, neglected Rotring Art Pen working infinitely better and doesn't soak through to the next page.


Derwent water soluble graphite (dark) with wax resist stick used for retaining white of waves


Rotring Art Penwith Derwent Inktense pencils (watersoluble and waterproof when dry)

Tombow pen and wash

Aquatone water soluble pencil

Derwent Graphitint, water soluble tinted graphite pencils

sketch using the pencils in the Drawing Pencils tin by Derwent (Tame and wild tin) - the range of colours is shown in the scribbles at the top of the page


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