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Saturday, 18 July 2015

Comparing Marco Raffine Coloring Pencils to Derwent

When I published the blog where I used Derwent's Drawing pencils, someone commented that they preferred Marco Raffine because you got great quality at a fraction of the cost. When asked it turned out that this person had never actually used Derwent Drawing pencils. I, on the other hand, had never used Marco Raffine. It started me wondering how good these pencils were and if I would like them at all. You know by now that when I start to wonder about something I make a plan to find out. This time was not the exception to the rule. I bought myself a set of 12 Marco Raffine pencils today and immediately set out to test them. Let me share my findings with you.


I was not sure to expect and bought only a small set of 12 pencils to start with. I can tell you at this early stage already that I will regret this decision. I liked these pencils.


The first thing I always do when I buy new pencils is to test the color quality. I will do shading as well as hatching and cross-hatching in each color. This will immediately show me how fine a line I will be able to achieve with the pencil, as well as its shading properties. I was impressed in both these qualities. What impressed me most, though, was the brilliance of the colors. Very vibrant!


Next, I wanted to find out how easy it would be to create a third color from a blend of two original colors. I laid down a few hatched lines in blue.


I cross-hatched the blue with yellow. This did not render a true visual green which disappointed me.


I blended the colors with a paper stump to see if that would give me green. I was still not impressed.


I then decided to try the same thing, but this time I would shade the colors in the same direction. I again started with the blue.


I put the yellow on top and found that this time the results were better, though not great. I achieved the beginning of a visual green.


The results improved dramatically when I put a paper stump to it to blend the colors.


I now realized that the blending had left enough residue on the paper stump that I could use it to do some light shading. I love this aspect of pencils and will often use it to my advantage.


Marco Raffine has a range of water-soluble pencils, but this is not it. Yet, I have often seen that pencils that are not meant to be soluble, will actually partially dissolve if you apply water to them. I wanted to put this to the test and laid down some red for the purpose.


I used a Pentel Aquash Brush to paint the smudge with water and was delighted to find that it would dissolve ever so slightly. Sometimes this is all that is needed when you want to add shading to a drawing.


A last test is to do a gradated shading so I can see how feint and intense a color can be achieved with a single color. Impressive!


I loved the pencils. They were soft and responded well to my tests. But how would they hold up when compared to Derwent's pencils? I decided to test them. I would restrict the comparison to the non-soluble color ranges only. I started with Derwent's student range; Academy pencils.



I then tested their professional Coloursoft range against the Raffine pencils.



Lastly, I pulled out the Drawing pencils that sparked the original discussion.


I used each set's orange to make a graded shading. Judge the results for yourselves. I thought they were all of them rather wonderful!


I marked the names for you so you could see which pencil made each mark and zoomed in to make it easier to determine the results.


I want you to note something in the results. It required a fair amount of pressure from the first two pencils to get the deep darks and it has left the paper slightly indented.  It required less pressure from the Coloursoft pencils. But when it came to the Drawing pencils, it was almost impossible to not get a deep dark color. Yet the pencils are equally capable of very feint colors. I will rave about this for a long time still if I do not stop myself. This article is actually about the Marco Raffine pencils after all.


I decided that I now wanted to know how the different pencils would hold up against my solubility test. Again the Raffine and Academy pencils compared well with each other. The Coloursoft was the most soluble and the Drawing almost not at all.


Zoomed in on the painted pencils. What is the result? I have not changed my mind; my favorite pencil remains the Drawing pencils. Second in line would be the Coloursoft and then the Raffine and Academy would give each other a run for their money. This means that I find the Raffine a good quality student pencil, but not quite up to par for professional artists. And yet I will happily buy a larger set and indulge in the colors it will add to my collection. I do not know if you have noticed, but even though I used the Orange from each set, I did not get exactly the same color in any two sets. Here the Drawing set can not really be compared since Derwent does not produce a true orange in this range. I do wish that one of these days they will bring out a set of 72 colors, but until then I have to satisfy myself with the set of 24 muted colors.


Time to draw something. I had only a few minutes left before I would loose my light and decided on copying this painting by Paul van Rensburg that I found on my iPad.



I drew the sketch plan in quick lines with a Derwent Charcoal bar.



I added some quick reds.


The orange came next.


There were loads of greens and I applied it liberally.


The drawing required a second hue of green.


Lots of blue at the top and some at the sides.


I found that the black allowed me to get a strong grey.


The drawing was grounded by adding brown.


I then added some light with yellow before I was done. The fact that the pencils did not easily create a visual third color when used on top of each other, meant that I could work rather carelessly and I used this property to my advantage. This was a fun drawing to do!


In conclusion I will summarize my findings in a simile. Raffine and Academy can be compared to making cheese sauce with water. Coloursoft is like making it with milk. And Drawing? This can be compared to making your cheese sauce with rich cream! Nothing compares to the luxurious softness of these pencils.


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