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The Derwent Inktense Collection

The Derwent Inktense Collection

Inktense is a range of art products made by the British company Derwent. The Inktense line includes coloured pencils, blocks, and paint pans that are known for their brilliant intensity, exceptional layering and water-soluble properties.

Inktense products are made with a unique formulation that combines high-quality pigments with a water-soluble binder. This means that the colours are very concentrated and can be used to create vivid, intense artwork, and can be mixed with water to create a range of different effects. When water is added to artwork created with Inktense pencils or blocks, the colours can become even more vibrant and blend seamlessly.

The Inktense line includes a wide range of 100 colours, from bold, bright hues to more subtle, earthy tones. The colours are permanent once they have dried, so they can be layered and worked over without fear of smudging or bleeding. The pencils and blocks can be used on a variety of surfaces, including paper, fabric, and wood because of their strong staining capabilities.

In addition to their vibrant colours and water-soluble properties, Inktense products are also known for their lightfastness, which means that they resist fading over time. This makes them a popular choice for artists who want to create long-lasting, high-quality artwork.



What are the key differences between Derwent Inktense pencils and Derwent Watercolour pencils?

Inktense pencils and watercolour pencils are two popular types of coloured pencils that are often used by artists to bridge drawing and painting together, but they differ in some key ways. Here are some differences:

  1. Pigments: Inktense pencils are a  pigment-based product that are extremely soluble in water but have an ink-like quality, Inktense pencils are permanent once dry, while watercolour pencils also use water-soluble pigments that can be activated with water and once dry can be reactivated with water a second or third time.

  2. Colour Intensity: Inktense pencils produce more vibrant and intense colours compared to watercolour pencils. Once activated with water, watercolour pencils produce a softer, more muted effect.

  3. Layering: Inktense pencils can be blended much like traditional watercolour pencils, but only if laid down and wetted together at the same time. For intense colouring, Inktense colours are already incredibly vivid so you don't have to use too many layers to achieve vibrancy, whilst using traditional watercolour pencils you may need to lay down several layers to build up colour gradually and to achieve bright and vivid results.

  4. Surfaces: Inktense pencils work well on a variety of surfaces, including paper, fabric, and wood, while watercolour pencils are best used on watercolour paper or other porous surfaces that can absorb water.

  5. Fixative: Inktense pencils do not require a fixative to prevent smudging, while watercolour pencils may need to be sprayed with a fixative to prevent the colours from running if they accidentally become wet again.

  6. Watercolour pencils will not be permanent on fabric and will wash out.

  7. Both pencils are highly blendable but because the formulations are different, the watercolour pencil has a much softer lay-down core whilst the Inktense pencil has a slightly thicker and waxier lay-down core. Inktense can be sharpened to a good point for detailed work and keep their point for longer for a smooth lay-down.

Ultimately, the choice between Inktense and watercolour pencils depends on your artistic preferences and the specific project you are working on. Inktense pencils are great for producing bright, bold colours and work well on a variety of surfaces, while watercolour pencils are best for producing soft, translucent washes of colour. However both can be used in conjunction with both traditional watercolours and Inktense watercolour pans.


Who uses Inktense products?

Inktense products are used by a wide range of artists, textile artists, quilters and art enthusiasts, from beginners to professionals. They are particularly popular with artists who enjoy working with watercolour-like effects, but want to achieve greater vibrancy and intensity in their colours.

Two well-known artists who have used Inktense products include:

  • David Bellamy, a British watercolour artist known for his landscape paintings that often incorporate the natural environment and wildlife.

  • Kim Johnson, a Canadian artist who creates colourful, abstract paintings using Inktense pencils and watercolour techniques.

In addition to these artists, many hobbyists and enthusiasts also enjoy using Inktense products for their art and crafting projects, such as card making, scrapbooking, collage quilters and colouring books. The versatility and ease of use of Inktense products make them accessible to a wide range of artists with different styles and skill levels. Inktense also bridges the gap between artist and textile artist, as artists can now translate much of their work onto fabrics to create fashion statements or make interior pieces such as quilts, cushions or wall hangings.


What techniques can I use with these products?

There are a variety of techniques that artists can use with Inktense products, depending on the specific medium (pencils, blocks, or paint pans) and the desired effect. Here are a few techniques that artists commonly use with Inktense products:

Layering: Inktense pencils and blocks can be layered to create depth and dimension in artwork. Artists can use lighter colours to build up a base layer, and then add darker or more intense colours on top to create shading or texture. This technique can be used on paper, fabrics and wood panels.

Inktense blocks colours layered on watercolour rough paper

Wet-on-wet: Inktense blocks and paint pans can be used with water to create a watercolour-like effect. The artist can apply the pigment to the paper, and then use a wet brush to blend and spread the colours. This technique can be used on paper and fabrics.

Dry-brushing: Artists can use a dry brush with Inktense pencils or blocks to create a textured, almost scratchy effect. This technique involves lightly dragging the brush across the surface of the pigment to create a dry, textured appearance. This technique can be used on paper, fabrics and wood panels.

Detail work: Inktense pencils can be used for fine detail work, such as outlining or adding small accents. They can also be used to create crisp, clean lines in a drawing or painting. This technique can be used on paper, fabrics and wood panels.


Mixed media: Inktense products can be used in combination with other art supplies, such as acrylic paint, watercolour, charcoal or markers, to create unique mixed media artwork. For example, an artist might use Inktense pencils to create a base layer, and then add watercolour or acrylic paint on top of previously dried layers for additional texture and colour or the other way round, lay transparent washes down on paper or fabric then use a stronger Inktense pattern over the top.

The Pencils and block can be dipped in water then used on paper or even fabric, such as silk, cotton or canvas to create a deeply vibrant smudged mark.

The blocks can also be crumbled on a palette or onto paper and wetted to create ink or put inside a Derwent Spritzer and sprayed onto paper or fabric to create a textured effect.

Overall, the versatility and water-soluble properties of Inktense products make them well-suited for a wide range of techniques and artistic styles.

 Derwent Inktense blocks crumbled on rough watercolour paper.

What surface is the best to work on whilst using Derwent Inktense paints and pencils?


Derwent Inktense pencils work well on both smooth and textured surfaces. Smooth surfaces will allow the pigment to adhere well and create vibrant colors. And Cold pressed surfaces will allow you to really build up multiple colours ready for blending and creating a textured effect. Here are some of the best surfaces to use Inktense pencils on:

  1. Hot-pressed watercolour paper: This type of paper has a smooth surface that allows for sharp, crisp lines and vibrant colours. It is also very durable and can withstand multiple layers of pencil. This paper allows for smooth transitions of colour with now textural background. 

  2. Bristol board: Bristol board is a smooth, heavyweight paper that is perfect for detailed artwork. The surface is ideal for blending and layering Inktense pencil colours.

  3. Smooth illustration board: This is a sturdy and smooth surface that is perfect for Inktense pencils. It comes in different thicknesses and can be used for a wide range of projects.

  4. Smooth wooden boards: Smooth wooden boards such as birch or maple can also be used as a surface for Inktense pencils. These surfaces allow for a different texture and give a unique finish to the artwork.

  5. Cold Pressed paper: working on cold pressed or rough watercolour paper will create more of a textured effect which would be great for foliage and woodland scenes. 

  6. Inktense paper: Inktense paper is 300gsm, and has been specially developed to maximise the colour vibrancy of Derwent Inktense products. The natural white colour and textured cold pressed surface are ideal to withstand Inktense layering techniques and retain the vibrant colours of Inktense when dry.

When using Derwent Inktense pencils on any surface, it is important to start with a light touch and gradually build up the colour with multiple layers. This technique will help to create a more intense colour without damaging the surface of the paper or other material.

 Derwent Inktense pencils blended on hot press paper


Mixed media with Derwent Inktense products

The versatility of the Inktense products mean that you can use them all together on one project if you wish. The Inktense paints, Inktense pencils and Inktense blocks all maintain the same vibrant colours which intensify when you add water.

For large surfaces you can use the Inktense blocks or XL Inktense blocks to create large wash areas of colour, then use the paints to block out shapes and different areas of your composition and finally you can use the Inktense pencils for all the small details and final touches.

The Inktense family of colours and mediums offer exceptional layering capabilities. It is definitely worth investigating unconventional ways to use Inktense products to create an infinite range of mark making possibilities.


Derwent Inktense on fabrics

Once you have used Inktense pencils or Inktense Blocks on fabric you can activate their intense colour with water just the same as you can on watercolour paper. Inktense blocks and pencils work best on cotton, silk and canvas, but not as well on synthetic fabrics.

To maintain their vibrancy fabric must only be hand washed with cool water and do not use any harsh detergents.

Before embarking on a project always test your colours out on a spare bit of fabric first.

Amazing Derwent Inktense products

Inktense watercolour Pencils in a handy tin as a set or to buy as individual pencils.

Inktense blocks in a handy tin or to buy individually

Inktense Paint Pan sets

Accessories to compliment your Inktense products.

In conclusion, the Inktense family of products offers an exceptional array of tools that can truly elevate the creative experience of making art. With their vibrant colours, intense pigmentation, and water-soluble properties, these products enable artists to explore a multitude of techniques and achieve remarkable results. Whether it's through the versatility of Inktense pencils, the fluidity of Inktense blocks, or the convenience of Inktense pans, artists can unleash their imagination and bring their artistic visions to life with unparalleled vibrancy and depth. The Inktense range not only expands the possibilities for artists but also invites them to embrace the spontaneity and excitement of working with bold, expressive colours. With the Inktense family of products, the creative journey becomes an immersive and exhilarating adventure, empowering artists to unlock their full potential and create art that captivates and inspires.

We love using them here at Artdiscount and we will endeavour to keep you updated with all our new Derwent products.


Derwent Pencil Museum


Ellie Jakeman
Ellie Jakeman

I have had a strong interest in the visual and creative arts since a very early age. After completing an Art and Design Degree and Post graduate studies I have taught Art and Design, Fashion and Textiles, Textile design , Fine Art print and Illustration for over 20 years. Before teaching I was a freelance artist and illustrator and decided 4 years ago I would return to freelance and commissioned work. I have created many domestic and commercial murals for hospitals and hospices. I work part time for ARTdiscount as a content creator and product tester.

3 Responses

Sue Godfrey
Sue Godfrey

October 03, 2023

This was just what I needed to read now that I have my Inktense pencils. I’m looking forward to exploring the possibilities on both paper and fabric. I’m new to the world of art and am loving the journey. I never thought I could be creative but I’m learning I can be..thanks Ellie x

Sue Godfrey
Sue Godfrey

October 03, 2023

This was just what I needed to read now that I have my Inktense pencils. I’m looking forward to exploring the possibilities on both paper and fabric. I’m new to the world of art and am loving the journey. I never thought I could be creative but I’m learning I can be..thanks Ellie x

Sue Godfrey
Sue Godfrey

October 03, 2023

This was just what I needed to read now that I have my Inktense pencils. I’m looking forward to exploring the possibilities on both paper and fabric. I’m new to the world of art and am loving the journey. I never thought I could be creative but I’m learning I can be..thanks Ellie x

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