Review: Derwent Aquatones used with their waterbrush, a sketch of Cornish rocks and sea

A quick sketch of the rocks and sea in Cornwall (from previous plein air work) to experiment with the Derwent Aquatones.  In A4 sketchbook.

Derwent Aquatones:

An early Christmas gift :>)  - I wanted to experiment with the Aquatones and see what was possible as I hadn't used these before.   They are a pencil made of solid pigment with a coating of paint to keep hands clean   They feel harder in use than the watercolour pencils and don't provide such a strong colour whilst dry  but colour still washes richly out when they are wet.   I found that the same scribble and pressure gave richer colour on the 110lb paper - the 75lb needing more pencil application or layers built up to achieve rich colour  (the sketchbook reviewed in the previous post).

Colours mix well on the paper - something I need them to do.   Drawing back into wet washes made nice marks.   It is easy to wash out marks entirely (on heavier paper) or deliberately leave marks showing with only a light sweep of a wet paintbrush.   I like the capability to leave lines showing, taking only a light sweep across with water sometimes.  Lines and marks are important in the way I work.

It is also possible to lift pigment directly from the pencil with a brush, which results in rich sweeps of colour, which can be glazed over previous layers.  Drawing across damp paper gives a rich line, that gels with the underlying colours in a satisfying way, the edges softening slightly, depending on the wetness of the paper.

I will happily sketch with these plein air. :>0


The sketch above was done with a waterbrush - again something I haven't used before as I'd imagined that changing colours during painting, would result in muddiness -,with contamination from previous colour.   It amazingly, wipes clean in a second on a tissue or rag, ready for the next colour.   Even yellow wasn't contaminated at all.

I can see me taking this out regularly in a small sketching kit, where I don't want to carry too much.

I wouldn't use it in larger work as I like to use larger brushes.    It's a very  useful tool for smaller sketchs - for A4 and below it would be part of a great minimalist sketch kit with water soluble graphite pencils or ink, the waterbrush and a sketchbook - lots of expressive tonal marks would be possible.   To see a sketch done with liquid graphite and a waterbrush that I was lucky enough to receive in the Postcard Exchange, click here.

I'd love Derwent to make a size 12 or larger waterbrush.  I know the reservoir would need to be bigger but it would open up so much more opportunity to use it.   Maybe a half inch flat too?   Please Derwent?

Have you used either of these? 


Jeanette said…
I've used Aquatone pencils and also General brand sketch and wash pencils for sketching. I keep to neutral colours (read umber and black) and use a waterbrush to blend.

I love their versatility and how to can capture so much without having to lug a ton of supplies with you when you want to sketch. They have my vote and I think yours too. :)
vivien said…

and I really like the way the Clementine painting is going Jeanette - a beautiful glow
dinahmow said…
A great review, Vivien! I have several (el cheapo) soluble pencils, plus a small set of Inktense and I fell in love with water brushes a few tears ago.
I have seen bigger brushes somewhere. Possibly Chinese? If I wanted to use big squirrels plein air I'd take a couple of plastic film canisters with water.
Than ks for the show-and-tell. :-)

Oh! Happy Christmas!
I use these and another brand for monoprinting. Drawing on acetate and then printing from this with damp paper. Some pigments work better than others but there's unexpected lovliness from the results and the 'failures' are nice to sketch on.

Your picture makes me feel like paddling but it's a touch too cold for that now.... have a great day.
vivien said…
bigger waterbrushes - mmmm I must research that. Yes I've used film canisters in the past too. And Happy Christmas to you too :>)

Monoprinting - mmm I love doing that but wouldn't have expected these to register on acetate - definitely something to experiment with - thanks :>)
vivien said…
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