Derwent Graphitint Paint Palette – First Try and Review

I received this paint palette inside of a Scrawlrbox, a monthly art subscription box that has a surprise selection of art supplies delivered to your door. I absolutely love watercolours but have never tried watercolours quite like this before.

Created by UK based art supplies brand Derwent, Graphitint can be purchased in pencil form or in the palette that I received. It is described as a ‘Unique blend of water-soluble graphite with a hint of colour for dramatic tonal work.’ which means that it is actually not watercolour. However being a watercolour artist I have used it in the same manner as my other paints. I wet them all and swatched them.

The paint palette comes with twelve colours, they all look very similar before they are swatched. The plastic box houses them very securely and the lid doubles as a mixing tray. It does include a water brush and a sponge, I am not a huge fan of water brushes unless I am taking a very limited supply of products to paint on location so I cannot say how this one works but I have had Derwent water brushes before and they work like all the other brands. The sponge I am sad to say will go to waste because, and I should be embarrassed to admit this, I have a very bad habit of wiping my brushes on my clothes, after years of painting I just don’t think I will be able to break that habit in favour of a little sponge BUT it is a great addition if you aren’t a complete fool like I am!

It does include a colour chart which if I am honest is pretty close, closer than most, to the actual colour of the paints but I always swatch on the paper I will be most likely to use. This little card can then stay in the palette for future reference. If I use a considerably different paper I will reswatch before painting, this is fine with me because swatching is one of my absolute favourite things to do, (it is a great cure for art block too!). I also swatched them into my swatch catalogue which has swatches of all of my paints in, this helps me pick a palette quicker before I begin a job (I hoard paint palettes!).

Swatches on watercolour paper.

My first impressions from swatching them were not great, they are thicker than standard watercolours and you could see bigger than usual bits of pigment being picked up by the paint brush. I wasn’t sure I would have a use for them. The colours are very dark, muted and earthy which is a bit of a change to my usual preference. I got out my sketchbook to doodle with them, no planning at all just straight into exploring these paints.

Doodles with paints.

These paints did not mix well with each other, they became muddy and messy really quickly. You can see from the balloons that the colours do not merge very well on paper. With the teddy bear I decided to try layering, I am a bit impatient with painting so layering can sometimes be my downfall, I don’t wait long enough for each layer to dry. It may have been the rare bit of British heat that we have been experiencing but these paints seemed to dry pretty quickly. I layered the teddy and was quite impressed, you can see where the pigments of graphite lay on the paper and it is really hard not to overwork them and keep moving them around but being able to layer the paints meant that in some places where I had removed too much of the grainy texture, I could add more on. I think it would be next to impossible to get a flat wash with these colours, that is not their intended purpose and you may just drive yourself crazy trying to get it all smooth.

On to some practice illustrations, I did feel limited by the colours I must admit, they seemed dark and dull, I was missing a really good green too. However, working within the limitations I did manage to come up with a few ideas.

The colours which didn’t blend very nicely on paper were not too bad when mixed on the mixing tray before hand, I even managed to mix a green I was happy with. I did enjoy using the limited colours and I think that it helped me to create very coherent illustrations. The little Loch Nessie is my favourite though.

After a few days I decided that I wanted to try and create something lighter with the paints and to see how they went with my other watercolours. The answer was, brilliantly. I think they really added depth and dimension to the illustrations that had just a hit of brighter colours. They work great on top of the lighter colours too, adding effects with the graphite particles that I could not achieve with most watercolours.

A Rainbow Pugicorn.

As requested by Harrison, I painted the rainbow Pugicorn with rainbow poop. Perhaps not the most inventive idea but it made my nine year old giggle and I think it really shows off how the graphite inside the paint gives more dimension, it is especially great when painting fur which is never a flat colour anyway.

Princess Tortoise.

Finally, inspired by Lilly who really wants a tortoise (But I am afraid it will end up like this!), Princess Tortoise is slowly on her way to a party. Again, this image shows the contrast between regular watercolours and the Graphitint but I think they work really well together and showed me that they can be used in images that aren’t dark too.

After this exploration I think that the Graphitint paints are brilliant as an extra addition to your watercolours but I wouldn’t expect them to be the only set of watercolours you will want in your collection. They are a lot of fun and it is mesmerising to watch the graphite particles in the water moving around before they settle into place. If this was your first experience with watercolour though I think it would really put you off. They really are a separate medium altogether, one that I will use with my watercolours quite a lot I think.

If you have tried them let me know what you thought or if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask.

Samantha x

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