I spent some time over the past couple of days trying out my Mitsubishi pencils (see previous post). I decided on a simple picture where I could explore layering and gradients. I chose this pretty little bird from Millie Marotta’s first book Animal Kingdom. The first thing I found was that the way the pencils had been sharpened for sale did not suit me at all. Each had blunted points so into the sharpener they went to give me the nice sharp point I prefer. There were no issues with sharpening and no core breakages. The wood is good quality and sharpens smoothly. The pencils are thicker barreled as the Derwents and feel very comfortable and luxurious to handle.
The cores are quite soft but are definitely wax based from the feel. They feel a little dry similar to the Colour Soft pencils made by Derwent but went on easily delivering rich colour. My issues with this picture may have been related to the particularly smooth paper of this book as i had some issues with getting a smooth lay down with multiple layers. As you can see in the picture below. In the dark green leaves with the olive edges I started with a layer of yellow ochre and then went over it in a dark green to get an olive. But the dark green did not want to play nice and left a blotchy look. Even going over it again with the yellow ochre did not fix this. I didn’t mind the resulting texture but it wasn’t what i was aiming for and certainly not how I want my pencils behaving. These are the only colours I had this issue with on this picture. I quickly learnt that with these pencils you will get a better result if you lay the darker colour down first and then go over it with lighter colour layers.
Over all I like these pencils. They are not my favourite but I wouldn’t be unhappy using them again and they’ll enter my rotation of art products that I use. I think I will have to test them some more on different paper types before I can draw a final conclusion as I have found the smooth paper in Animal Kingdom a bit of a wrestle with some pencils to get a good smooth laydown. My advice is that if you like to try new pencils, or if the very bright ‘anime’ style colours of this set is attractive for you then these pencils aren’t a bad choice. For my money, though, I think I would invest in Lyra Rembrants or Polychromos if I had to choose.