The Perfect Selection Box!

The artist's alternative to chocolates

Professional Artist Caroline Bletsis was recently invited to experiment with the new Inktense Selection Box from Derwent – find out how she got on

Specialising in animal portraiture, I have a tendency to stick with traditional mediums, usually acrylic or watercolour with occasional forays into coloured pencil work. I am a big fan of Derwent Drawing pencils and while I bought a set of Derwent Inktense pencils when they first came out, I was a bit unsure how to use them so they sat under my desk unused.

When illustrating the packaging for Derwent’s ‘ Just Add Water’ range I was invited to try their new Inktense Blocks. Initially I tried using these to draw with, but had far better results when I used them as if they were watercolour pans – suddenly I was hooked!

I loved the way the colours could be as pale or as vibrant as I wanted and, once dried on the paper, the colour remained permanent and pure, un-muddied by further layers of colour.

For darker areas, the blocks could be used like crayons to shade directly onto the paper and then wetted with a brush to intensify and spread the pigment, even mixing colour directly on the paper.

Then I was given the Inktense Selection Box to work with and it quickly became one of my all-time favourite mediums.

My work is quite detailed and for this the pencils were ideal for adding colour where needed in small areas, to either be intensified with water or left as textured pencil work.

The blocks are ideal for making large quantities of a colour wash by scraping the pigment into a container and adding water until the desired hue is reached.

These washes tend to dry far more evenly than watercolour, eliminating a lot of the guesswork – and ‘cauliflowering’! The choice of colours make it possible to mix natural, life-like colours for fur and plants.

Endless versatility
Like a pencil, mistakes can easily be erased – prior to wetting of course. As soon as Inktense is dry it is permanent and can be painted over again and again with no fear of lifting, smudging or fading.

You can shade with several colours on top of one another - the effect when water is added can be quite magical – mixing to form a new colour with areas of the original pencil work still showing underneath.

By using the pencils lightly and then washing over the area with a wet brush, it is possible to achieve a smooth, even wash of pure colour, which can be intensified by repeating the process several times.

You can create your own disposable palette – scribble with a pencil or block on scrap paper and mix the colour you require with a wet brush before using it on your work, with the added bonus that you can check the tint before painting with it! Pick up pigment directly from the end of the pencil or block with a wet brush for a real burst of intense colour.

Try experimenting
Create swirls of colour by thoroughly wetting an area of your paper and dropping either diluted pigment or even shavings on top and allowing the pigment to spread.

Try spattering droplets of the various colours you are using in a painting and letting them mix, remain as droplets or even run down the page. A sponge can be used, as can most aids used in obtaining texture in watercolour painting, such as clingfilm, bubblewrap, etc.

Tip: Use brushes with a more robust filament to lift pigment from the blocks or if mixing the colour directly on the paper. Brushes with a springier point are better when using Inktense for detailed work. Although expensive sable brushes are lovely for washes, I find it better to have a cheaper brush that I can treat badly without the expense!

And you are not restricted to paper – I have painted on t-shirts and silk ties with terrific results. ‘Set’ the finished artwork by ironing with a steam iron then it can safely be washed. And as for painting en plein air – I have a feeling the Inketnse Selection Box will provide a handy way of carrying a full set of pencils and paints, only requiring a brush and a cup of water to bring your work to life.

So my advice is don’t be scared to experiment – these colours may surprise you. Just be careful not to get it on your clothes, because it’s not coming out…ever!

To enjoy more work by Caroline or to find out about commissions visit www.carolinebletsis.com or www.uniqart.blogspot.com/

Put to the test in a 7 step-by-step tutorial...

1After sketching out the picture lightly, I put down a yellow wash using the Inktense block to give a warm glow to the finished flower and highlight the bird’s feathers, I also spattered some deeper yellow pigment on the end of the stamen to represent pollen and add a little interest.

Once this was dry I put in the stamen using colour lifted from a red Inktense block. Then using a deep red pencil, I drew in the veins on the flower.

2With clean water, I wet the red veins to soften them and spread the colour over the petals.

3Using the red Inktense block, I built up the colour and shading on the flowers in successive layers, allowing each one to dry in between.

Then, using the light green Inktense block, I laid down a wash for the basis of the leaves and continued to build up shading and form using deeper mixes of the green combined with the Indigo colour block

4I finished the flower using Inktense pencils to add detail such as dark shadows and veins.

I used Ink Black for deep shadows such as on the leaves and in the centre of the flower and, where necessary, in places I wet the pencil marks to intensify the colour.

5Using sharpened pencils, I drew in the bird’s plumage, combining colours such as greens and oranges where they appeared.

Using clean water, I wetted and blended the pencil marks on the bird, being careful not to let the brush get muddy – I used clean water for each separate patch of colour.

6Using the Inktense blocks as crayons, I shaded in the background using a combination of colours - Light Green, Yellow and Pale Blue.

Then, using clean water, I wetted and blended the background, adding more pigment where needed until I reached the desired depth of colour.

Don’t be afraid to scrub quite hard with the brush to blend the colours – some marks will remain which add to the painterly effect.

7I built up the depth of colour and detail on the bird using successive layers of pencil/wetting and finally, using a thick mixture of the white Inktense block.

I added highlights to the flower and to lighten the bird’s feathers, adding further detail with darker pencils, only wetting to intensify colour when needed.

Derwent Watercolour paper Brushes:

Inktense Blocks:

Inktense Pencils:



The Perfect Selection Box!

The artist's alternative to chocolates

Professional Artist Caroline Bletsis was recently invited to experiment with the new Inktense Selection Box from Derwent – find out how she got on

Specialising in animal portraiture, I have a tendency to stick with traditional mediums, usually acrylic or watercolour with occasional forays into coloured pencil work. I am a big fan of Derwent Drawing pencils and while I bought a set of Derwent Inktense pencils when they first came out, I was a bit unsure how to use them so they sat under my desk unused.

When illustrating the packaging for Derwent’s ‘ Just Add Water’ range I was invited to try their new Inktense Blocks. Initially I tried using these to draw with, but had far better results when I used them as if they were watercolour pans – suddenly I was hooked!

I loved the way the colours could be as pale or as vibrant as I wanted and, once dried on the paper, the colour remained permanent and pure, un-muddied by further layers of colour.

For darker areas, the blocks could be used like crayons to shade directly onto the paper and then wetted with a brush to intensify and spread the pigment, even mixing colour directly on the paper.

Then I was given the Inktense Selection Box to work with and it quickly became one of my all-time favourite mediums.

My work is quite detailed and for this the pencils were ideal for adding colour where needed in small areas, to either be intensified with water or left as textured pencil work.

The blocks are ideal for making large quantities of a colour wash by scraping the pigment into a container and adding water until the desired hue is reached.

These washes tend to dry far more evenly than watercolour, eliminating a lot of the guesswork – and ‘cauliflowering’! The choice of colours make it possible to mix natural, life-like colours for fur and plants.

Endless versatility
Like a pencil, mistakes can easily be erased – prior to wetting of course. As soon as Inktense is dry it is permanent and can be painted over again and again with no fear of lifting, smudging or fading.

You can shade with several colours on top of one another - the effect when water is added can be quite magical – mixing to form a new colour with areas of the original pencil work still showing underneath.

By using the pencils lightly and then washing over the area with a wet brush, it is possible to achieve a smooth, even wash of pure colour, which can be intensified by repeating the process several times.

You can create your own disposable palette – scribble with a pencil or block on scrap paper and mix the colour you require with a wet brush before using it on your work, with the added bonus that you can check the tint before painting with it! Pick up pigment directly from the end of the pencil or block with a wet brush for a real burst of intense colour.

Try experimenting
Create swirls of colour by thoroughly wetting an area of your paper and dropping either diluted pigment or even shavings on top and allowing the pigment to spread.

Try spattering droplets of the various colours you are using in a painting and letting them mix, remain as droplets or even run down the page. A sponge can be used, as can most aids used in obtaining texture in watercolour painting, such as clingfilm, bubblewrap, etc.

Tip: Use brushes with a more robust filament to lift pigment from the blocks or if mixing the colour directly on the paper. Brushes with a springier point are better when using Inktense for detailed work. Although expensive sable brushes are lovely for washes, I find it better to have a cheaper brush that I can treat badly without the expense!

And you are not restricted to paper – I have painted on t-shirts and silk ties with terrific results. ‘Set’ the finished artwork by ironing with a steam iron then it can safely be washed. And as for painting en plein air – I have a feeling the Inketnse Selection Box will provide a handy way of carrying a full set of pencils and paints, only requiring a brush and a cup of water to bring your work to life.

So my advice is don’t be scared to experiment – these colours may surprise you. Just be careful not to get it on your clothes, because it’s not coming out…ever!

To enjoy more work by Caroline or to find out about commissions visit www.carolinebletsis.com or www.uniqart.blogspot.com/

Put to the test in a 7 step-by-step tutorial...

To read the next six steps of this step-by-step tutorial, simply log in...

1After sketching out the picture lightly, I put down a yellow wash using the Inktense block to give a warm glow to the finished flower and highlight the bird’s feathers, I also spattered some deeper yellow pigment on the end of the stamen to represent pollen and add a little interest.

Once this was dry I put in the stamen using colour lifted from a red Inktense block. Then using a deep red pencil, I drew in the veins on the flower.

Derwent Watercolour paper Brushes:

Inktense Blocks:

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