What is Derwent Inktense?
October 12, 2021

Derwent Ambassador Jill Winch takes us through her experience of using Inktense for her beautiful botanical illustrations. Giving us lots of tips and tricks along the way to use in our own artworks.

Derwent Ambassador Jill Winch takes us through her experience of Inktense.

Inktense is interesting to use just as watercolour but in the form of ink.
It becomes permanent when applied. Because of this, subsequent colours can be used without disturbing the colours underneath.

It comes in pencil form, blocks and watercolours. A massive 72 different colours to use!

As mentioned the paints are permanent when laid down, however they can be washed out to a more transparent layer with the first application of colour. You can then build up the intensity by applying the same colour with subsequent washes or by applying other complimenting colours - creating interesting glazing effects.

Derwent have also produced a specific cold-pressed paper that the products can be used with that I recommend.

Inktense Paper Pad

I am a Botanical Artist - mainly painting flowers, fruit and vegetables - so I was interested to use this product to see what effects I could achieve.

Before setting out on a piece of artwork I suggest doing various test pieces to see how the paint and colours interact.


Initially I worked on some petunias that I had been growing. 

Using the Inktense pencils I worked on a much lighter coloured flower and as an aid to a comparison a much darker one.

After becoming more familiar with the pencils I noticed that less is more and you just require small amounts of the Inktense colour.

These small coloured pencil marks on the paper with the addition of water do go a long way. For the much lighter, pale purple/mauve colour I used just three colours: Violet, Fuchsia and Dark Indigo. I washed the colour over with water to reveal the beautiful vibrant colours.

After this layer had dried I applied more colour to produce a much darker, dense tone where needed.

Once I applied a wash with water the colours became much brighter.
Suddenly the colours came to life.

I allowed the colour to dry and assessed how much more colour was required to achieve depth. These additions were applied with caution.

Excited by how I could use these colours with my art I decided to move on to another favourite.

The Sweet Pea

This time after working on my drawing with a 2H pencil I went over the image using Derwent Ink Pen in grey. I enjoy the combination of pen and colour, therefore thought the combination of the Inktense with an ink pen would add another dimension to their use.

Again I used several colours using the Inktense pencils. This time I also used the Inktense Blocks… These were used differently. Acting more like a watercolour block that allowed me to use my brush and water to apply any additions of colour where needed.

It struck me how useful these pencils and blocks of colour would be for painting 'en plein air'. I know from using Derwent products that they produce a handy, portable ink and watercolour brush with a small waterreservoir built in.


For my last piece, I decided to do a small posy of anemones.
Having experimented with using pencils and watercolour blocks I now felt accomplished to embark on a small design of different coloured flowers.

Again I drew my 3 flowers and went over them with a Derwent Line Maker in Grey. 0.5. This was also useful for the stamens in the centre of the flower.

I worked each flower in their separate colours: Fuchsia, Violet and Poppy Red. Gently at first, then building up my colour once the first application was dry.

For this subject I used the white pencil over the ink. I found this gave the stems a soft bloom to them. I also used it underneath on the red flower. In reality, they have a downy look on the underneath of the petals with their very soft hairs, so this was a satisfying way to depict them.

For the stems and leaves I used dark indigo with sherbet lemon. This gave me a good range of colours from a lovely dark green to a much lighter lime green colour.

Inktense colours can easily be mixed together. Blues and yellows to produce greens, pinks and blues to produce purples, browns and blues to increase the depth of colour, reds and yellows to achieving more orange colours, etc. The colours are not always for the faint-hearted. They can be subtle and delicate but also bright, blousy and certainly beautiful.

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Remember to share your Inktense creations, tagging @londongraphiccentre

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