A Comprehensive Guide to the Derwent Lightfast Colored Pencils

In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into what Derwent Lightfast colored pencils are, their features and characteristics, how they compare with other popular colored pencils, and why they are highly valued in the artistic community.

What are Derwent Lightfast Colored Pencils?

Derwent Lightfast Colored Pencils are high-quality, professional-grade art tools that are recognized globally for their superior quality and durability. Manufactured by Derwent, a renowned British company with a rich history dating back to 1832, these pencils are designed for artists who demand the very best from their materials.

As their name suggests, one of the defining characteristics of Derwent Lightfast pencils is their lightfastness. Lightfastness refers to a color's ability to resist fading when exposed to light over time. All colors in the Derwent Lightfast range boast a rating of 100% lightfast, which is the highest possible rating. This means the pigments used in these pencils are highly resistant to fading even under long-term exposure to light. This makes them an excellent choice for serious artists who are creating artwork for display or sale, as the colors will remain vibrant for an extended period.

The pencils are oil-based, as opposed to the more common wax-based colored pencils. This gives them a unique texture and handling characteristics, allowing artists to achieve effects and techniques that may not be possible with other types of colored pencils. Additionally, oil-based pencils like the Derwent Lightfast tend to have a smoother application and are less prone to wax bloom, a cloudy build-up that can occur on the surface of wax-based colored pencil artwork.

Available in a range of 100 colors, the Derwent Lightfast colored pencils offer artists a wide spectrum of hues to work with. Each pencil is encased in a beautifully crafted, color-coded barrel made from California incense-cedar, allowing for easy identification and adding an element of elegance to the pencils.

Derwent Lightfast colored pencils are highly versatile and can be used on a wide variety of surfaces, including paper, wood, and fabric. Whether you're a professional artist, an art student, or a hobbyist, these pencils can help you bring your artistic visions to life with their exceptional quality and performance.

Features and Characteristics of the Derwent Lightfast Colored Pencils

Derwent Lightfast colored pencils have several unique features and characteristics that make them stand out in the crowded field of artist-quality colored pencils. Here's an in-depth look at what sets these pencils apart:

1. Lightfastness

As the name implies, Derwent Lightfast pencils are 100% lightfast. This means the colors won't fade over time, even when exposed to light. This lightfastness is assessed in accordance with the ASTM D6901 standard, the highest standard in lightfastness. Artists can confidently create artworks for display, knowing the colors will remain as vibrant as the day they were applied.

2. Oil-Based Core

Unlike many colored pencils that use a wax-based core, Derwent Lightfast pencils are oil-based. This provides a smooth, velvety laydown of color and enables the pencils to glide smoothly over paper. The oil-based cores also resist wax bloom, a common issue with wax-based pencils, where a white, cloudy film can develop over the artwork.

3. Rich and Vibrant Colors

The Derwent Lightfast range includes 100 carefully curated colors. The pigments are vibrant, delivering rich and intense color. The colors can be easily blended to create a virtually unlimited palette of hues and shades.

Derwent Lightfast Color Chart

4. High-Quality Materials

The cores of Derwent Lightfast pencils are encased in premium California incense-cedar wood. This not only gives the pencils a high-end, luxurious feel but also ensures easy and clean sharpening. The barrel is color-coded and labeled with both the color name and number for easy identification.

5. Versatility

These pencils are incredibly versatile. They can be used for a wide range of artistic applications, from detailed illustrations to large-scale drawings. They're suitable for use on various surfaces, not just paper, but also wood, fabric, and more.

6. Blendable

The oil-based nature of Derwent Lightfast pencils makes them highly blendable. Artists can easily mix and layer colors to achieve complex color combinations and transitions. The colors can be blended with a colorless blender, a blending stump, or even your finger.

7. Consistency

One of the hallmarks of Derwent Lightfast pencils is their consistency. The color from these pencils lays down evenly, without the patchiness that can sometimes occur with lesser-quality pencils. This provides a professional, polished look to the finished artwork.

These features and characteristics combine to make Derwent Lightfast colored pencils a high-quality, professional-grade art tool that's a joy to use and delivers exceptional results.

Comparing Derwent Lightfast with Other Colored Pencils

When choosing colored pencils, it's helpful to understand how different brands compare. Here we'll look at how Derwent Lightfast pencils stack up against other popular brands: Faber-Castell Polychromos, Caran d'Ache Luminance, and Derwent's own Chromaflow.

1. Derwent Lightfast vs. Faber-Castell Polychromos

Like Derwent Lightfast, Polychromos pencils from Faber-Castell are also oil-based, known for their smooth application and blending capabilities. Both offer rich and vibrant colors, but the Polychromos line has a wider range of 120 colors, compared to Derwent Lightfast's 100. However, not all Polychromos colors are rated as lightfast, which gives Derwent Lightfast an advantage for artists concerned with the longevity of their work.

2. Derwent Lightfast vs. Caran d'Ache Luminance

Luminance pencils by Caran d'Ache are wax-based, offering a slightly different handling experience compared to the oil-based Derwent Lightfast. They are known for their creamy texture and superb lightfastness, rivalling Derwent's. However, the Luminance line only offers 76 colors, which is fewer than the Derwent Lightfast range. For artists who value a wider color spectrum, Derwent Lightfast might be the preferred choice.

3. Derwent Lightfast vs. Derwent Chromaflow

Chromaflow, another offering from Derwent, is positioned as a more affordable, yet still high-quality colored pencil. They are also oil-based, providing a smooth application similar to Lightfast. However, their lightfastness ratings are not as high as the Lightfast line. Moreover, Chromaflow's color range is less extensive, offering just 24 colors. If budget is a concern, Chromaflow could be a good choice, but for professional artists who demand the best lightfastness and a wider color range, Lightfast would be the superior option.

In conclusion, while all these colored pencils have their strengths, Derwent Lightfast pencils stand out for their unrivaled lightfastness, extensive color range, and oil-based cores, offering a unique blend of performance, versatility, and longevity.

Benefits of Using Derwent Lightfast Pencils

Derwent Lightfast colored pencils bring numerous benefits to artists, whether you're a seasoned professional, an art student, or a hobbyist. Let's delve into the key advantages that these top-tier pencils offer:

1. Unparalleled Lightfastness

The most significant benefit of Derwent Lightfast pencils is their 100% lightfast rating. This ensures the longevity of artworks created with these pencils, as the colors will not fade even when exposed to light over extended periods. This is especially important for artists creating works for display, sale, or archival purposes.

2. Smooth, Oil-Based Cores

The oil-based cores of Derwent Lightfast pencils offer a smooth, creamy application, allowing for seamless blending and layering of colors. They are also free of the wax bloom issue that can plague wax-based colored pencils.

3. Wide Range of Vibrant Colors

With a selection of 100 colors, Derwent Lightfast pencils provide artists with a wide spectrum of hues to work with. This range includes a variety of vibrant, rich colors that can be mixed and layered to create virtually unlimited shades and tones.

4. High-Quality Materials

The premium materials used in these pencils, from the pigmented cores to the California incense-cedar wood barrels, offer a luxurious, high-end feel. This translates into a comfortable grip and easy, clean sharpening.

5. Versatility

Derwent Lightfast pencils are not just for paper. Their oil-based cores adhere well to a variety of surfaces, including wood and fabric, providing artists with a versatile medium that can be used for a broad array of creative projects.

6. Consistent Performance

The consistent performance of Derwent Lightfast pencils makes them a reliable tool for artists. They deliver even color laydown, maintain their point for detailed work, and resist breaking, ensuring a hassle-free drawing experience.

7. Professional Quality

As professional-grade colored pencils, Derwent Lightfast pencils meet the high standards required by artists. Their superior quality and performance can help elevate your artwork, regardless of your skill level or artistic style.

By choosing Derwent Lightfast colored pencils, artists not only get a tool capable of producing stunning, vibrant artworks but also ensure their creations stand the test of time.

Techniques and Styles that Work Best with Derwent Lightfast Pencils

Derwent Lightfast pencils are versatile and can be used for a variety of techniques and styles, from detailed illustrations to bold, vibrant artworks. Here are some techniques and styles that particularly benefit from these high-quality pencils:

1. Blending

Derwent Lightfast pencils excel at blending. You can smoothly merge colors to create transitions, gradients, or new shades. The pencils can be blended using a colorless blender, a blending stump, or even your finger.

2. Burnishing

This technique involves applying heavy pressure with a pencil (often a light or colorless one) to create a shiny, polished finish. Derwent Lightfast's oil-based cores are perfect for burnishing, as they lay down smooth, intense color and resist crumbling under pressure.

3. Realistic Portraits and Landscapes

The wide range of colors and the ability to create fine details make Derwent Lightfast pencils ideal for creating realistic portraits and landscapes. The high lightfastness rating also ensures that these artworks will retain their color integrity over time.

Artwork Created with Derwent Lightfast Colored Pencils

Many artists have created stunning and diverse artwork using Derwent Lightfast colored pencils. Here are some of my favorite examples:

Made by Fine Art by Sun (source)
Made by me (source)

What Artists Think of the Derwent Lightfast

Artists who have used Derwent Lightfast colored pencils often praise their unique features and high-quality performance. Here's a summary of some common sentiments among artists:

1. Excellent Lightfastness: Many artists appreciate the 100% lightfast rating of Derwent Lightfast pencils. This feature gives them confidence that their artwork will withstand the test of time, maintaining its vibrancy and richness even when displayed in well-lit environments.

2. Smooth Application: The smooth, creamy texture of these oil-based pencils is often lauded by artists. They find it easy to achieve even color coverage and enjoy the pencils' ability to glide across the paper effortlessly.

3. Blendability: Artists frequently comment on the superior blending capabilities of the Derwent Lightfast pencils. They appreciate how easy it is to merge colors, create smooth gradients, and achieve complex color combinations.

4. Wide Color Range: The range of 100 colors is a hit among artists, who enjoy the variety of hues available. They note that the colors are rich and vibrant, enabling them to create a wide array of artistic effects.

5. High-Quality Build: Many artists commend the overall build quality of the pencils, including the comfortable grip provided by the California incense-cedar wood barrels, and the ease of sharpening.

6. Versatility: Artists appreciate the versatility of these pencils, noting their effectiveness on various surfaces, not just paper. They also praise their compatibility with other mediums, making them a great addition to mixed media projects.

7. Consistency: Users note the consistency in the color laydown and the durability of the pencils, reducing the risk of breakage during use or sharpening.

However, it's important to note that some artists mention the relatively high price of the Derwent Lightfast pencils. While they acknowledge that the cost is justified by the pencils' professional quality and unique features, some suggest that these pencils might be better suited for serious artists rather than beginners.

In summary, most artists who use Derwent Lightfast pencils find them to be of exceptional quality, delivering on their promise of lightfastness, smoothness, blendability, and vibrant colors. Despite the higher price point, many believe the investment is worth it for the professional-grade results these pencils deliver.

Overview of All Features of the Derwent Lightfast Colored Pencils

Barrel materialCalifornia Incense Cedar Wood
Barrel finishNatural wood finish with color-coded end cap
Pencil length17.4 cm (6.85 inches)
Core size4mm
Core binder/typeOil-based
Color availability100 colors
Color intensityHigh
Color laydownSmooth and consistent
Color rangeWide range of hues, including vibrant and muted tones
Smudge resistanceHigh
Break resistanceHigh
Holding its pointMaintains sharp point for detailed work
Availability of open stockAvailable, individual colors can be purchased separately
Recommended surfacesTextured and smooth paper, canvas
Blending toolsCan be blended with blending stumps, tortillions, and solvents
Manufacturer originUnited Kingdom


When it comes to professional-grade colored pencils, Derwent Lightfast pencils undoubtedly stand out with their unique blend of features and superior performance. Their 100% lightfast rating, oil-based cores, extensive range of vibrant colors, and high-quality materials make them a fantastic choice for serious artists who demand longevity and quality from their art materials.

Artists have found them to be versatile, comfortable to use, and capable of producing a wide range of artistic effects. Whether you're creating detailed illustrations, vibrant landscapes, or experimenting with mixed media, these pencils can help you bring your artistic visions to life.

While their cost might be a consideration for some, the professional-grade quality and unique features of Derwent Lightfast pencils make them a worthwhile investment. Their durability, consistency, and the assurance that your artwork will resist fading over time further add to their value.

In a crowded field of colored pencils, Derwent Lightfast pencils manage to carve out their niche, offering a unique blend of lightfastness, smooth application, and vibrant colors. Whether you're a professional artist, a student, or a hobbyist, investing in Derwent Lightfast colored pencils could be the key to elevating your artwork to new heights.

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