I was looking around for new tools to try out and I found a section on Derwent pencils at the local art store. (Art Friend in Singapore).
Derwent has different series of pencils. But what stood out for me that day were the "Derwent Drawing" pencil series. These pencils come with very pleasant names like Mars Orange, Olive Earth, ink blue and so on. But what I liked most about them was their softness. They are not as soft as the Derwent water-soluble pencil range (that has a brush icon on them and it is a different series), and not as hard as regular colour pencils. I would describe their softness as somewhere between soft chalk pastels and a soft regular pencil. They are soft enough that you can do a kind of script writing with them just by varying the pressure. Light pressure for thin lines and harder pressure of thicker lines. (See below.) They seem to perform best when semi-blunt. When I sharpened them too sharp and pressed on them, they would break easily.
I first bought 4 Derwent Drawing pencils. But when I got home, I realised I had a few old ones I had bought and not used for a few years! Great! So I combined them into one set. I seem to like earthy tones as you can see from my selection. My favourite in this set is the Ink Blue colour. It is a soothing, but strong colour. And rather unusual too (to me at least).
I tried the pencils on different papers to see how they performed. I wrote the names of the pencils on regular 100gsm smooth white photocopy paper. Then i tried them on a rougher brown craft paper. Works well but it takes more effort to cover the paper fully. The advantage of working on brown craft paper is that I can use the white pencil (Chinese White) for highlights.
The pencils do flake off a bit. But a lot less than soft chalk pastels. Flakes off just a bit as you can see from the picture. It also rubs off only very slightly if a page gets pressed on top of it. But that would depend on the pressure and paper you use as well. Take note of that if you are drawing on every page of your sketchbook. One way to prevent rubbing off is to place a tissue in between the pages. Or just use every right-hand page only.
Lastly I tested it on Moleskine paper. I like the combination of the smooth moleskine paper with these pencils. It's easier to cover a solid area of colour. And the yellow gives the drawing an overall warm look.
When it comes to blending, these pencils blend very well because of their softness. You can do layer over layer, almost like crayons to create a rich effect. Since the colours are rather opaque, you can layer light colours over darker colours as well. I'd recommend these pencils to anyone who wants to achieve a chalk pastel effect but wants something less messy.