Vinterdrömmar

Still pretty blind, well not quite, my vision is just hazy enough that I’m forced to read a complete crap of a book because it’s the largest font in my library. Won’t touch my WIP in Sommarnatt yet. But I was bored enough to test how I’d fare with Vinterdrömmar and three pencils only, so a challenge with both limited palette and limited eyesight 😀
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I did some major oopsies here, mainly screwed up the reflections but live and learn. Won’t attempt to fix it since I’m not sure how that’ll go with not seeing all that great.

I used Derwent Artists pencils for this, Blue Grey, Copper Beech and Ivory Black. And to finish off, some white gel pen, Signo Uniball to be precise.

I also had an idea, if you’d like to do a colored postcard swap with me, drop me an e-mail: iris.eenmae@gmail.com. I have two postcard books at the moment, Vinterdrömmar by Hanna Karlzon and Secret Garden by Johanna Basford, I’d love to send you something from those and receive whatever you’d like to send in return, as long as it’s colored by you. So if interested, let me know 🙂 Though I’d color those for sending when I can actually see what I’m doing.

Derwent Coloursoft review

To pass the time while I wait for my eyes to get better from surgery I had last Thursday, lets talk about Derwent Coloursoft today, Europes answer to Prismacolor.
All previous reviews and what’s to come, you can find HERE

Derwent is a company based in the United Kingdom. They make a lot, I mean a LOT of different pencils, everything from graphite to the incredible Inktense, which we’ll get to at a later date. The Coloursoft pencils are wax-based and very soft, they’re quite similar to Prismacolor Premier but how close? Lets see, shall we?
One cool thing about Derwent is that they don’t charge an arm and a leg for the wooden box like many other companies, usually I wouldn’t even consider a wooden box cause that almost doubles the price. Not with Derwent though. My 72 set comes in a wooden box which is surprisingly practical and nice to use. But you can also get a regular tin.
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Coloursoft comes in sets of 12, 24, 36 and 72 in tins and 48 and 72 in wooden boxes. There’s also a special 6-set for skintones and a blister set of 6 with some basic shades.
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These pencils have a round cedar casing with the color code on the tip, name of the color and code. The pencils are quite thick with 8mm diameter barrel, holding a wide 4mm color strip, quite a generous amount of lead.
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Pros:

  • Incredibly soft and smooth
  • Medium price range, quite affordable
  • Pretty good lightfastness, though the rating is not present on the pencil or box, you’ll have to specially look for it online
  • Some very very nice unique colors, looking at you, Pimento, my favorite
  • Quite easy to get in Europe though for me, open stock on anything is difficult, including Derwent pencils
  • Good quality casing, no splintering
  • Not a lot of breakage. Would expect more with this softness
  • Nice range of natural browns, oranges and ochres, specially love the ochres
  • Incredible customer support! They’re sending me a replacement Pale Peach, to Estonia. Beat that.
  • Good thick 4mm lead in an 8mm casing, that’s the same thickness of barrel as Faber-Castell Polychromos but the lead is actually bigger (FC Poly’s being 3,8mm)
  • Available open stock in some art stores and Amazon
  • Will fit in most sharpeners

Cons:

  • To my great sadness, my Pale Peach has tiny particles of dark pigment in it so it suddenly creates a streak of a dark shade out of the blue now and then and completely ruins what I was doing, not happy with that at all. Other pencils seem fine
  • Since the colors are very dense and soft, they don’t layer an awful lot, the wax buildup happens fast, can’t do many layers. That is something you always need to consider with soft wax pencils but I feel Coloursoft is one of the least layerable (is that even a word?) ones. Use a light hand and you’ll be fine.
  • Naming convention has non-technical names such as Iced Blue and Cranberry. I still belong in the pigment-names-please fanclub but this is not a serious con by any means, just a matter of preference
  • Not a very good range of greens I feel, to me there are too few greens and of those, too many are unnatural shades

Comparison:
Since the hype is that they’re the answer to Prismacolor Premier, lets look at how they compare with Prismas. Now what’s definitely better right off the bat is the quality of casing, Derwent casing is a LOT better then Prismacolor. Thicker as well so you get more bang for your buck here. The cores are nicely centered, whereas Prisma has some off center and warped. So that point goes to Derwent. Where Prisma gets a point is the color range, Derwent goes up to 72, Prisma a whopping 150. They are both very soft and whereas that’s a plus, it also creates issues with wax buildup for both equally. I find Prismas are a little better in the blending department then Coloursoft.
Prismacolors main weakness is the breakage. That is not an issue with Coloursoft. I have one with a broken core as far as I’ve found and that I dropped myself cause I’m a complete klutz.
Neither of them likes to hold a point or are great at fine details cause well, they’re both very soft pencils. I feel Coloursoft is softer then Prismas even but not by much.
I’d say they are quite similar with performance. If you’re a fan of Prismacolor, do try these, you might like them. Are they a replacement for Prismas? I honestly don’t know, I have an intense love-hate relationship with Prismas but I can’t really fathom not buying them at all so personally, I’d say get both, Prismas for the days you feel your life is missing a heart attack and a brain aneurysm, Coloursoft for the days you want to spend in peace. They compliment each other nicely though and blend beautifully so I’d get a few of both if I were you before buying the full sets. Or get the smaller tins of both cause they mix so well.

Color chart:
Yeah, cause I still can’t write. Seriously, Google for better charts.

Official color chart:
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Example
coloring piece done with Coloursoft:
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Picture: Sommarnatt by Hanna Karlzon

Overall:
I really like these and they’ll have a place in my collection for a long time to come and will see daylight and use quite a lot. Though I have to replace that sad Pale Peach, it’s a wonderful color which I’d use a lot, have to probably go online, open stock is an issue where I live. I am growing more and more fond of Derwent as I try their different products. I have a few Artist pencils which are very interesting, I’d love to try more of those. I haven’t found open stock Studio here but found one of Drawing and that was intense, I’m looking at getting more. Anyway I’ll be reviewing whatever I can get my hands on from Derwent for you, it seems to be a brilliant brand. And well, there’s nothing like Inktense. Anyway I do recommend trying these, Derwent is on to something with these for sure 🙂 Thumbs up!

Next we’ll look at Prismacolor Premier and I also have Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor lined up for testing and review. And hopefully I’ll get to draw and color again soon, I don’t feel like myself without my pencils.

Disclaimer: all of the above opinions are mine, you might have a different experience with these pencils

 

 

Six shades of grey

And black to boot 😛 Stir in some crazy pink and you get yourself my strange version of the next page in Sommarnatt. I thought about summer dawn here, with the light being pink and strange but the world is still in monochrome in a slight fog. So that’s the inspiration here.

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Started with the background on this one, using Prismacolor Premier. Then continued with the monochrome work, used all the six cool greys from Faber-Castell Polychromos and black as well. Final touch with the Signo Uniball gel pen as usual.
Todays tip, black smears like crazy, so if you end up using it (which I find I rarely do, I build blacks out of blues, purples and browns mostly for more interest), do it last. Otherwise it will just be difficult and who wants stress with their coloring? I know I don’t.

On a completely different note, yesterday was Eurovision and surprisingly good one, I usually like one song if I’m lucky but this year there were a few I liked, Sweden, Netherlands, Australia and Georgia. Oh Cyprus was fun as well. I found it a bit funny how it was clear as day that Sweden doesn’t want to win. They had a great song and zero show element 😀 But congratulations to Ukraine! Being an Estonian I know well what the song is about, it’s our history as well.

Back to coloring, working on the crown that’s next in Sommarnatt and then I’ll finally get to work on the first girl in the book, I’ve been waiting for that picture for so long that I keep confusing myself with plans on how to do her. Everyone seems to like her with black hair and black is easy to do when you want to ignore the linework but I’m thinking maybe red. We’ll see!

Caran D’Ache Luminance review

Today, lets talk about Caran D’Ache Luminance, probably the most expensive pencil out there, the Holy Grail to many. Lets see if the hype is really worth it, shall we?

All previous reviews and what’s to come, you can find HERE

To recap about Caran D’Ache itself, Caran D’Ache was born in 1915 and they’re located in Switzerland. They don’t outsource their production so thus the price is quite European as well. The quality of all their pencils is superb, even their student quality is great. I recently found a fun product they have, Fibralos, those are basically markers but they’re water soluble, so sort of like watercolor pencils but markers. How cool is that? Anyway back to Luminance. Luminance pencils are rather new, been in their range only since 2010. For geek fun, see their history page, chock full of fun information.
Luminance comes in sets of 20, 40 and 76. There’s also a wood box set with 80 pencils, 4 of which are repeat colors. By their website it seems they now come in cardboard boxes like the Museum watercolor pencil range, mine is still in a tin like Pablos.
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The pencils are wax based with a round cedar casing. The casing itself is wood colored, the tip is colored according to the lead color (though not always, some are pretty off so do take the time to make yourself a color chart). First editions didn’t have a color code at all so if you happen upon those, you know. These colors are all extremely lightfast, thus also the name Luminance and why they stop at 76. For a colorist, lightfastness is usually not all that important but artists need this, you really don’t want your work to fade in a year when hanging on your clients wall for instance.
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The pencils themselves have the color name and code on them.
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So, straight to the pros and cons, shall we?

Pros:

  • Incredibly soft and blendable
  • Round barrel is comfortable to hold for longer stretches
  • Excellent range of muted colors, great for portraiture and nature studies
  • Lightfast to the point of thou-shall-fade-like-NEVER
  • Not bad with details, better then expected for such soft pencils
  • They look stylish, you have to admit 😀
  • Great naming convention, they use pigment names here, unlike with Pablos
  • One of the very best white pencils out there (we’ll get to a comparison of whites soon as well, stay tuned)
  • Nice thick 3,8mm lead
  • Premium cedar casing
  • Will fit in standard sharpeners
  • Available open stock in some art stores and Amazon

Cons:

  • Well, the price is breathtaking. It took me a LONG time to save up for mine (I’ve spent years collecting pencils so no, I’m not rich, far from it :D)
  • A few from my tin are a little scratchy, Cassel Earth for instance, wouldn’t really expect that for such a price
  • Since they’re very soft, they tend to lose their point very fast but that’s to be expected

All in all, I’d say the only serious con is the price. If you only color with these, I’d say it’s not the set to get if you only want to go with one tin (in that case I’d say try Faber-Castell Polychromos or Caran D’Ache Pablos). But they are absolutely amazing so if you’re into pencils like me, you’ll love these.

Comparison:
As these are of the soft variety of wax pencils, I’ll compare them to Prismacolor Premier, the other titan of softness bonanza.
One clear difference that jumps out immediately is the color range. Where Prismacolor is happy-go-lucky with vibrant brightness, Luminance is muted and natural. Prismacolor casing doesn’t even go in the same sentence with Luminance, that warped crap just does not compare with Caran D’Ache quality. The leads are incredibly soft for both brands, Luminance being a tad tougher though, doesn’t break as easily and holds a point a wee bit longer then Prismas.
If you need very soft wax pencils for backgrounds and large areas in general, go with Prismas, unless you plan to hang the work since Prismacolor is not lightfast, they don’t even bother marking their pencils with lightfastness ratings.
They’re both good in what they do but you don’t really have to think in curse words when using Luminance, unlike with Prismacolor (but we’ll get into that later when it’s Prismas turn on the review table). The price is dramatically different though. So unless you are a pencil geek or an artist, get Prismas, stalk Amazon, they often have great deals for Prismas. It’s sort of like buying a car. Prismas are like an old Beetle, colorful and fun but breaks down a lot. If you want to cry every time you buy gas but be crazy excited to polish and wax your car, get a fancy sportscar, namely Luminance in this case. That’s about what it boils down to.

Color chart:
Yay, time for illegible handwriting! Seriously, Google will give you better ones, these are just for my own use so they’re not pretty 😀 Click on the pictures to see them bigger.

Official color chart:
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Example
coloring piece done with Luminance:
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Picture: Wild Savannah by Millie Marotta

Overall:
I don’t regret buying these. Never will. But if I lost all my pencils, they wouldn’t be the first ones I’d replace. And that’s only because of the price. In all other aspects, these are amazing and enjoyable. And if you only get one from this set, get the white. If you get more, I suggest you get the ones great for skin tones, the range of burnt ochres and siennas if you do any portraits or human coloring. Overall, love love love!

Next time I’ll talk of Derwent Coloursoft, the European answer to Prismacolor.

Disclaimer: all of the above opinions are mine, you might have a different experience with these pencils

 

First double spread in Sommarnatt

So. This was huge and took longer then I expected but well, I also enjoyed it more then I expected. Win! 😀
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The binding is nice and secure but a little hard to work with, I didn’t quite get to the very extremities there but it’s okay I think. Thought about doing a gradient background but decided against it cause the flowers and bugs are so colorful, it would have thrown it off I think.
Used Faber-Castell Polychromos and one miserable broken Prismacolor for the background. Uniball white gel pen for the dots. Did the background last because I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it in terms of gradient or no gradient and wanted to see how it plays out first. Good tactics if you’re unsure.

Now a tip, something to keep in mind when using gel pen for dots. Gel pen creates a raised surface, so the next page you color will have dots showing. There are two easy ways to fix this. One is to use gel pen after you’ve completed the next page (but who likes to wait, right?) and the other is to use a blending pencil to burnish out the dots. You don’t want to use the pencils themselves cause they have pigment and it will only make matters worse. You don’t have to blend the entire thing, just go over the dots and it will smooth out nicely.

Details:
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Next I will have the review of Caran D’Ache Luminance for you, hopefully tomorrow 🙂

Inklings by Tanya Bond

Interrupting the Sommarnatt madness to bring you something absolutely mindblowing I found on Etsy. I generally steer clear from Etsy since I just can’t afford going nuts. But I was checking something and somehow wandered off the beaten path and.. you know how that is. Anyway, enter Tanya Bond with her book Inklings. If you’ve read my blog at all, you know I love my ladies. This book is all about them, gorgeous girls with a style you can recognize from a mile away. Or kilometer away if you’re European like me 😀

She now has her second book up on Kickstarter HERE, go support it, it’s an artist edition and all. I so wanted to get it and do a review for you guys but you know, life happens and we don’t always get what we want, finances are numbers, not poetry that you can interpret the way you want 😛 So yeah, I have to skip that one which makes me sad. But you go and get it and support her, her work is amazing. You can also get a double deal there with both books if you want them both *totally enabling*.
Anyway back to the first one, Inklings. Lets do the picture do the talking, okay?
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I’m not 100% happy with how I did with this but hey, learning process and all (namely I screwed up with picking colors for the leaf thingies bottom left, too bright but you can’t really erase Prismacolor too well and trying to go over them resulted in an even worse mess. Lesson learned!). Did this with mostly Prismacolor but also some Derwent Coloursoft and a few Luminance thrown in for good measure.
The book has 24 illustrations and the paper has a bit of a tooth to it, not too much but enough to allow for some serious layering with a light hand. It’s double-sided so markers are not a good idea, the paper is not very thick. These girls would be amazing with water media I think, Inklings 2 artist edition should allow for that if you want to test, the paper is 170 gsm for that, might work.
So go check out the Kickstarter and also her Etsy. And no, I’m not paid or endorsed, I just love this book so much. I thought about doing a flip through for you but there are a few on Youtube so go look for those if interested in other pictures as well.

P.S. A detail. And yes, you really want this book 😉
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The Lock

Time to see if the key fits…

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From Sommarnatt by Hanna Karlzon still. I will take a break from this at some point and do something else but for now I’m on a roll and motivated by wanting to do the girl that’s fourth from now.

Done with Derwent Coloursoft and a few Prismacolor Premier pencils. Also learned a valuable lesson. If going for a lighter background and using wax pencils, ALWAYS start with the background. If you even look at the colored parts wrong, they’ll start to bleed otherwise. I don’t know how I missed that important bit of logic 😀 But anyway, smarter by the day. I usually start with the background, not always but usually. But I didn’t know where I want to go with this one so figured I’ll see where the flowers take me. So planning ahead is a good thing.