Thursday, 3 July 2014

Derwent Artbars vs Derwent Inktense Blocks vs Caran D'ache Neocolor II

If you are wondering whether you should get the Derwent Artbars or the Inktense Blocks, it's an easy choice to make between those two.  I would recommend the Inktense all the way!  I used to own the 36 set of Artbars, but recently sold it on eBay.  I was going to use them alongside the Inktense blocks, as the Artbars have a better range of lighter colours, but the deal breaker for me was when I found out that it is hard (almost impossible) to write on top of the Artbars due to their wax content.

Here's a little experiment comparing these two products, along with the Caran D'ache Neocolor II wax crayons:


All three products dilute and blend easily, but the Inktense stands out from the rest.  It's so easy to blend and returns the most vibrant tone of all three.  The Artbar almost pales in comparison and leaves a waxy-looking residue behind. The Neocolor II is quite vibrant too, but it took several washes to make the crayon marks disappear, whereas it only took one swipe with a wet brush to completely dissolve the pigment in the Inktense.

The Inktense also wins as the easiest surface to write on. I had no problems at all writing on top with my Staedtler waterproof fineliners, once it was completely dry. Both the Artbar and the Neocolor II, however, caused problems with the writing, the Neocolor II perhaps less so.  It's probably because they are wax-based and the wax tends to clog the pens.  After writing on the Artbar surface my pen was completely blocked and I had to use hot water to unclog it.  You can see in the photo that the Inktense has the strongest and smoothest pen marks.  Inktense therefore is the overall winner and my favourite choice of medium!

I'm going to use the money raised from the sale of my Artbars to invest in some more Inktense blocks.  I originally bought the 36-piece set and I've already bought a few more colours individually.  Inktense blocks are open stock, which means that you can buy just the colours you need.  I would suggest that you initially invest in a smaller set (24 or 36) as they are cheaper that way and then buy a few more colours individually to complete your collection. The reason I wouldn't buy the full 72 set myself is because there are a lot of earth colours (browns and greys) in the range and as art journallers we really just want the more vibrant, vivid colours, don't we? (pinks, reds, blues, greens, oranges, yellows, etc)  Buying them one by one allows you to pick and choose, although it is unarguably more expensive than buying a set.

I would recommend buying the smaller sets from Amazon, and the individual blocks from Jackson's Art Supplies. They have the full range available priced individually at £1.30 and they offer free p&p above £20.00 for smaller items. Mine were delivered extremely well packed, each block cushioned in a foam holder.  They also carry the Caran D'ache Neocolor II open stock.  I'm thinking of buying a few pastel/skin tones to complement my Inktense collection.

Below are some product links you may find useful. (These are affiliate links to Amazon.)

Derwent Inktense Blocks 36

Caran D'ache Neocolor II 15

Inktense Block Cadmium Orange (example)

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