Review: Derwent Graphitone Pencils

Derwent Graphitone

Besides the Derwent watersoluble pencils which I reviewed earlier, Derwent has another water-soluble graphite pencil in a brand called Graphitone. Those in the middle of the photo above are the Graphitone.

I like the watersoluble sketching pencils. I like the Graphitone even more.

Derwent Watersoluble Graphitone
The Graphitone is actually a stick of pure artist quality water-soluble graphite. It's not technically a pencil because there's no wood. There's a protective wrap that you can peel away easily to expose more graphite. I expect it to last a while so it's really economical.

These are really great at creating washes, and layers of washes.

You can use them like normal pencils, hatching over an area before applying water to create a wash. Unfortunately, they don't dissolve totally so hatch marks can sometimes still be seen.

My preferred usage method is to use a waterbrush to brush on its tip before applying onto paper. The graphite would dissolve and get onto the brush and can be applied onto paper that way. You can also brush it across the tip hard to create splatters. The 2B version of Graphitone is way more soluble than the pencil version.

Once dry, the graphite is amazingly permanent. You can apply another wash on top without smearing the one beneath. You can run your figure over and it won't smear either. Since they are that permanent, it's difficult to remove mistakes if you get a wash wrong. Their lightfast rating is 8, which is around 200 years.

Derwent Watersoluble Graphitone
The sticks are available in 4 hardness, 2B, 4B, 6B and 8B. Tones can be created by either using more graphite, or by layering washes. I can create 3 tones easily using the 2B stick. These Graphitone are perfect for practicing tones.

Derwent Watersoluble Graphitone
The Graphitone are available separately, and also sold in packs, sometimes together with other pencils (shown below). I bought mine in a Fine Art Pencils pack which consist of watersoluble sketching pencils (2B, 4B, 6B), Graphitone (2B, 6B) and a small brush.

Here's another pack which features other items:

After I finish using up my watersoluble pencils, I'll be getting Graphitone from now onwards, eventually all the 4 hardness.

I really enjoy using them.

Below are some sketches I did with them.

Sketchwalk at City Hall (30 Jul 2011)

Sketchwalk at City Hall (30 Jul 2011)

Chijmes Sketchwalk (Aug 2011)


Search for this product at Dick Blick Art Materials.



Hi Parka, thanks for this

Hi Parka, thanks for this review! I have used the Derwent woodless Graphite pencils, but I didn't really enjoy them. I learnt now (from your post), that you can peal the outer skin to expose more graphite! I sharpened it that time and wondered how it is economical at all, when all that graphite goes wasted! Other than that I loved the way the pencils conducted themselves and how easy it was to use them...
One more thing is that we need to be pretty careful while using them, so not to drop them on solid floor, they break into pieces! :(
But seeing your sketches and the review, I am definitely going to try these one more time - this time, the watersoluble ones too! Thank you...

Your sketches are gorgeous

Your sketches are gorgeous Parka! And thanks for this excellent review. I will definitely try these out. By the way, thanks for your reviews in general. You are so generous with what you show and I have purchased most of my books solely because of your honest reviews.

Cheers and stay awesome,

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