Charcoal and graphite – two of the oldest and most versatile natural drawing instruments still in use today. These are often known for gorgeous grayscales and neutral shades, but Derwent’s Graphitint and Tinted Charcoal palettes bring a modern spin to these ancient tools. While charcoal is soft, powdery and perfect for smearing; graphite is smoother, more defined and brings a metallic finish.
These two simple, organic dry drawing materials provide artists with both rough texture and fine detail. But with Derwent’s tinted varieties, their versatility expands even further into the water-soluble world.
I am a watercolour artist, which means I adore the spontaneous nature of colour blending, bleeding and splattering. Derwent’s Inktense Paint palettes sufficiently bring vibrant colour to my work, but I have been missing a more earthy range of hues. The Tinted Charcoal pencils and Graphitint pencils have now filled that need. In the images below I demonstrate how I use these tools as water-soluble media to paint various textures found in nature.
Derwent has elevated charcoal to a new level with the addition of subtle pigments. Yes, you can
certainly achieve a dynamic grayscale for which traditional charcoal is known for, but this palette goes beyond. You can also create soft coloured scenery with hues like Sand, Burnt Orange, and Mountain Blue. And while the charcoal is still powdery, in pencil form artists can sharpen the tip for better application control.
I was able to achieve both smooth and textured finishes using the Tinted Charcoal pencils through
two applications: (1) by applying them to dry paper followed by blending with water, and (2) by applying clear water to paper and then drawing in the wet areas. I also love that when combined with water, the
charcoal smudges less than when applied dry, keeping my composition clean and free of accidental smears.
The set of 24 pencils is now a staple in my water-soluble toolkit.
Derwent has also elevated graphite with the addition of subtle watercolour pigments. These are very
muted when applied dry, but colour shines with the addition of water. Pencils like Ocean Blue, Meadow, and Juniper have become just a few of my top preferred daily tools. Compared to the Tinted Charcoal colour palette, you will notice the Graphitint are lighter, more vibrant, and bring a playful mood to a composition.
The Perfect Complement
Below are two examples of how these palettes complement each other. In the fossil shark teeth
illustration, the blue shadow is slightly shimmery with the use of the Graphitint Shadow pencil. The shark
teeth are dark and blended smooth with the use of Tinted Charcoal combined with water.
In a final example, both palettes were used to complete a colourful Blue Crab pincer. All beach treasures
have a beautifully gritty, sandy feel to them. The natural textures of both charcoal and graphite lend themselves well to this subject, and the subtle pigments bring ideal colour.
Whether you’re sketching or painting, I recommend trying both of these sets. They bring unique and pretty, muted hues that will enhance all natural subjects and scenery.