Using Derwent Precision for anatomical drawings by Adele Wagstaff

When I first received the Derwent Precision, I headed off to the British Museum to draw from the incredibly intricate friezes of the Royal Lion Hunts in the Assyrian Department. I make regular visits to both the British Museum and the V&A to draw from the sculpture and artworks, studying the figure in two and three dimensions and enjoying the definition and depth of shadow the museum lighting provides. I had been intending to draw from the Assyrian bas-reliefs some more and I thought that the intricacy and detailed carving would be an ideal subject to try out Derwent’s first mechanical pencil.

The Derwent Precision’s sharp graphite is ideal for marking intricacies and detailed areas, perfect for taking with you on-the-move for drawing visits. Even better, no sharpening is required, a small refill box containing numerous spare leads comes with Precision and a small rubber is concealed under the cap making ideal to take anywhere you go. I decided to try out the mechanical pencil for some anatomical drawings I was making in preparation for a series on anatomy I am currently writing for an art magazine this coming autumn. My exploration of the human figure and time in the life room as a student led on to further investigation within the University Medical School dissecting rooms, where I was granted access to work for a number of weeks.

Derwent Precision is perfect to use for the subject of anatomical drawing because of its precise nature; expressive linear strokes and flowing marks needed to pick out structures and shapes. The point allows me to draw fine detail, while the soft-edges that the lead gives in contrast describe the more delicate modelling and volume of the muscle groups.


This first drawing (above) was made from one of the many casts, which line the walls of the historic life room of the Royal Academy Schools. This is a wonderfully atmospheric room in which to teach drawing the human form and anatomy, while being surrounded by such anatomical casts and busts. The cast is placed higher than eye-level so that the foreshortening becomes more evident as the eye moves higher up the torso, making the chest and shoulders appear slightly smaller in scale as you look up at the sculpture.

Precision gives a soft quality to the shaded areas of the muscles, providing delicate and soft modelling alongside contrasting fine darker lines when further definition is required.


The second drawing was made while studying a pen and ink drawing made by Benjamin Robert Haydon RA (1786 – 1846). Haydon produced a wonderful series of anatomical drawings, which are now held in the Royal Academy Archive.

You can find more information about Derwent Precision on the DerwentArt website.

Adele Wagstaff is an artist from Yorkshire who specialises in portraits and still life.

You can find out more about her work here or via her Facebook page.