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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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
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.
Yeah, cause I still can’t write. Seriously, Google for better charts.
Official color chart:
Example coloring piece done with Coloursoft:
Picture: Sommarnatt by Hanna Karlzon
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