I love the look of watercolors, but I’ve never felt like I had the skills to be able to use professional artist watercolor paints. Â Thankfully, watercolor crayons and pencils have made it easy to incorporate watercoloring into my art without feeling like I have to learn a whole new art skill set. Â I was really excited to review these Aquarelle Watercolor Pencils from Faber-Castell, because I hadn’t really found a set of watercolor pencils that I was in love with yet.
The packages I received are part of the Design*Memory*Craft “Mix & Match” line of products. Â The pencils come in color-coordinated packages, with 8 colored pencils, one silver/grey pencil, and a paint brush. Â The packages are available in red, blue, green, and yellow color themes.
Upon opening the package, I immediately noted that the pencils are triangular-shaped and covered in tiny comfortable “GRIP dots,” which aid in gripping the pencils. Â This was especially helpful for me, since my neuropathy and rheumatoid arthritis often make it hard for me to hold a regular pencil. Â I found them much easier to hold than a regular pencil of the same size, and did not have a need to put a foam or gel gripper on the pencil like I would normally need to do.
If you’ve never used a watercolor pencil, the basic premise is this. Â You can use it two ways – either as a regular colored pencil, or you can color with it, and then go over it with a wet paintbrush and the color turns to paint right there on your substrate.
I started out with some swatches:
I was actually really impressed with how vibrant the pigment was on nearly all of the swatches. Â The only one that wasn’t really successful was the mulberry paper. Â You can see that the vellum did curl up significantly – I’m not certain if that would have happened anyway, or if it was because I used a heat gun to dry the swatches. Â The only other one that was a bit iffy was the glossy paper. Â It wasn’t really an issue of it being a problem…just that when I added the water, the pigment moved around so much that it was a bit difficult to keep it where I wanted it. Â I think with more practice though, it would probably be okay. Â I LOVED the way it washed on the watercolor paper, textured cardstock and the sticky-back canvas, and I was impressed at how well the pigment showed up on the patterned paper (granted, it was a lighter colored pattern).
Next, I just covered a piece of watercolor paper in various colors from the blue pack of pencils. Â Then I went over it with my water brush, blending the colors as I went.Â (By the way, you might want to read our comparison of water/aqua brushes as well.) The colors dissolved easily and quickly, and blending smoothly.
You could use this for so many different things. Â I punched a couple butterflies and tried stamping over it with Jet Black Archival ink and loved the results.
One of the unique attributes of the Faber-Castell mixed media products that I was eager to try out is their layering capabilities. Â Per the packaging, “The watercolor pigments dissolve completely, and are permanent, waterproof and lightfast when dry so you can create layer after layer of beautiful watercolor effects that will last a lifetime!” Â I was really excited about this – the possibilities would be endless…the ability to layer water-based mediums such as Mod Podge or acrylic paint mediums over the watercolors in an art journal, for example, would be awesome!
I bought a set of the gold/silver metallic Faber-Castell Gelatos this past weekend, eager to try them out (be sure to click that link to read Jenny’s review of the Gelatos!). Â I decided to try layering them over the stamped image above. Â The piece had dried for several days before I layered the Gelato, so I was hoping that the “waterproof” quality would shine through when I wet the Gelato and spread it around the edges of the piece. Â Unfortunately, I was disappointed when my brush picked up the blue/purple watercolor paint off the paper and mixed it with the silver Gelato. Â It didn’t cause a “bad” look on this piece, per se – but I was hoping for better water resistance for other applications. Â You can see on the paper below where I wiped my brush, the color lifted from the background.
Finally, I wanted to use the pencils for what I imagine most stamping folks will love to use them for – coloring/painting in stamped images. Â I stamped this Hero Arts image using Ranger’s Archival ink in Jet Black (which, by the way, was very waterproof and I found to be excellent for using with the watercolor pencils). Â I colored in the flowers and leaves, then used a paint brush and water over them. Â I used the included silver/grey pencil to add shading around the images and around the entire piece, and absolutely LOVE the added depth it gives. Â I also love how easy it is to shade and blend the colors to add dimension. Â And the colors are SO vibrant – LOVE!
Okay, so details. Â The Aquarelles are priced at $12.95 MSRP, for the 9 pencils and 1 brush. Â I think that’s a great price point, given how long these will last and how many pencils you receive in the package. Â There are 4 different packages, as stated before – red, blue, green and yellow. Â The only thing I wish is that you could purchase the entire set of the Aquarelles all together. Â You can also purchase various mixed media or stamping sets within the Mix & Match line which have one or more Aquarelles in the set.
For lots of ideas and inspiration, Faber-Castell has a wonderful blog, Design*Memory*Craft. Â I know these pencils will have a place on MY studio workspace for many years to come!
Disclosure: Samples provided for review
If you are thinking about purchasing Faber-Castell Products, I hope you’ll use my affiliate links:
- Craft Product Review: Royal & Langnickel Soft Grip Paintbrushes - September 3, 2012
- Craft Fave: My Mind’s Eye – Follow Your Heart: Be Happy - August 27, 2012
- Craft Product Review: ScrapBands - June 26, 2012
- Getting Inky: A Comparison Of Color Sprays, Spray Inks and Mists - June 14, 2012
- Craft Product Review: Scissor Mouse by Westcott - May 14, 2012
- Craft Product Review: Spectrum Noir Markers from Crafter’s Companion - May 10, 2012
- Craft Product Review: Decou-Page by DecoArt - April 17, 2012
- Craft Product Review: Liquid Pearls by Ranger - April 3, 2012
- Kids Craft Product Review: Glam Art kits by Dot Art - March 15, 2012
- Kids Craft Product Review: Do-A-Dot Art Markers from DotArt - March 12, 2012