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Derwent Sketching Pencil – What it is and Why You Need One

Derwent sketching pencils

As an artist who loves to draw, I used to think that pencils were pencils. All pencils are made with graphite and a clay binder. Except for the hardness of softness of a graphite pencil, they all seemed the same to me. It wasn’t until I noticed Derwent brand sketching pencils in my local art supply store that I discovered I’d been missing out on a very useful and fun drawing tool. Let’s see what a sketching pencil is and why you need one.

The Difference Between Drawing Pencils and Sketching Pencils

The biggest difference between regular drawing pencils and sketching pencils is the thickness of the graphite core. The core of a standard Derwent drawing pencil is around 2 mm, whereas the core of a Derwent sketching pencil is twice the thickness, roughly 4 mm. The sketching pencil also has a larger body diameter, and is very comfortable to hold. The round shape of the body causes the pencil to roll around on the table somewhat, but it’s a small inconvenience compared to the benefits.  

Derwent sketching pencil and regular drawing pencil point close up
Derwent sketching pencil on top, regular drawing pencil below. Image © Rhonda Roth 2023

Sketching Pencil Uses and Examples

If you like to draw with the side of the pencil like I do, the sketching pencil makes beautiful thick marks for rendering bold lines and soft textures, giving a free flowing feel to a sketch or finished drawing. Sharpening the sketching pencil yields a reasonably sharp point. Although the sharpened point is not as fine as the point on a regular graphite pencil, it’s more than adequate for many of my drawings. 

As mentioned in How to Choose the Right Drawing Media, one of the cons of using graphite pencils is that its tedious to shade large areas. The thicker graphite core of the sketching pencil has a larger surface area, making shading easy and fast.

Drawings using Derwent HB and 2B sketching pencils. 

In this drawing of cumulous clouds hovering over the bridge and city skyline, the sketching pencil’s wide side is perfect for the fluffy clouds and shading. I used the tip of the pencil for the city buildings and portions where the land meets the water. The drawing has a rough, etherial feel.

example sketching pencil drawing
Image © Rhonda Roth 2023

The sketching pencil also does a very nice job rendering the trees and foliage in this next drawing. Again, I employed the side of the pencil for the soft foliage and shading for the ground. The point of the pencil makes bold marks for the tree trunks and branches. 

Image © Rhonda Roth 2023

The large body and core of the Derwent sketching pencil makes drawing easier and faster for a variety of genres, and is a welcome addition to any artist’s toolbox. 

( Note – I don’t receive monetary compensation from any art supply manufacturer. My reviews are solely based on my experience with the product. )

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