Inktense Pencil Basics

by Dina Kowal

Learn how to use these unique, inky pencils from Derwent.


  • Derwent Inktense Pencils
  • Paintbrush
  • Water
  • Compatible ink (Versafine Clair used here)
  • Paper towel
  • Stamped image (Stamps Happen 60042 Blubird used here)
  • Other supplies as needed to complete the project (cardstock, Posca white acrylic pen, sentiment stamp (Strawberry Jude Stamps), copper thread, foam tape)


  1. Step 1

    Inktense Pencils feature a specially formulated pigment core. Once blended with water, the Inktense pigment transforms into bright and transparent, ink-like color that will be permanent after it dries. (Most watercolor pencils are more opaque; many can also be reworked or lifted after they dry.) Inktense pencils can also be used with wax or oil based colored pencils and can be blended with a solvent. They're very versatile! The Inktense line also includes pans and blocks of the same core material.

  2. Step 2

    Get to know your pencil set. There are a variety of ways these pencils can be used.

    Color directly onto watercolor paper and blend out with a wet brush. Your initial laydown of color on a stamped image can be imprecise, since the pigment will be moved with a brush. Scribble!

  3. Experiment with the pencil pressure as well as amount of water to find what works best for you.

  4. Step 3

    You can also color directly with the pencil on a wet area. The water will activate the pencil at the tip. The application of color will be very intense, and more difficult to blend out.

  5. Step 4

    Lift pigment directly from the tip of the pencil with a wet brush, like a small palette. This technique is great for small areas, less intense color, or wet-into-wet blending (a water wash, or painted area that is still wet).

  6. NOTE:
    You can also color directly with the pencil on a wet area. The water will activate the pencil at the tip. The application of color will be very intense, and more difficult to blend out.

  7. Step 5

    Inktense pencils can also be blended with a solvent, such as odorless mineral spirits (Gamsol is a popular artist’s brand), Copic blender (will stain the tip) or rubbing alcohol. The color is not as vibrant as water blending, but it’s an effective method and also results in a permanent application of color.

  8. Step 6

    Finally, try using your pencils dry, blending colors by building up layers. Begin with light pressure, increasing pressure slowly as you add layers.

  9. Burnishing with a blender pencil or another Inktense pencil can also help to press the layers together for more saturated color.

  10. Step 7

    Apply what you’ve learned by coloring a stamped image. Begin with a base layer of color, scribbling lightly into each area.

  11. Blend out the pigment with a wet brush.

  12. Step 8

    For a blended look, pick up pigment with a wet brush directly from the pencil tip.

    Do not hold the pencil directly over your work when picking up color as ink may flick onto your paper.

  13. Dot or brush into a painted area that is still wet. Blend as needed.

  14. Step 9

    Continue in the same way with other sections of the image.

  15. Step 10

    When the image is dry, add deeper or more precise shading and details with a dry pencil.

  16. Brush lightly with a very small amount of water to set the ink.

  17. Step 11

    Since the Inktense coloring is now permanent, you can add a background around the area without disturbing your painting. For a light wash, apply water to the background first.

  18. Step 12

    Lift pigment from the pencil tip and blend it over the wet area.

  19. Work around the image in the same way, keeping the leading edge of your painting wet to avoid hard lines.

  20. Step 13

    More details can be added as needed, using pencils…

  21. …or other mediums.

  22. Step 14

    Use the completed panel on a card or other project.


Your Turn

You've seen the tutorial, now you try it! We've got a section of the gallery set aside for Inktense Pencil Basics. Try this technique, then upload your artwork to the gallery. Show us your creations!

***Please note - Internet Explorer/Edge is not a supported browser, and will not allow you to see the videos. Please use Chrome, Firefox or Safari to view our tutorial videos.

Questions and Comments

We'd love to get your feedback or questions. Leave your comment below.

This looks awesome! I think I'm going to have to wait because I only got out to Walmart today and they don't have those. I think I only have prismas.
muscrat  |  Mon Nov 30, 2020 at 2:28 PM
You've done a great job of bringing back my desire to use my Inktense pencils again! They are marvelous. I've gotten into dies lately but have lots of stamps these would work with. Thanks, Dina!
ElaineLawson  |  Wed Dec 2, 2020 at 6:39 AM
I have had these pencils for a few years and not used them much. Thanks for the tutorial! Hopefully will get them out, find a stamp I want to color and pull those pencils out.
lovinpaper  |  Wed Dec 2, 2020 at 7:29 AM
Please tell us how these pencils differ from Prismacolor pencils and other watercolor pencils. I have both and love using them both. I also have a small pack of Distress Crayons that I haven't really used. Perhaps you could do a demo on those also?
Sarah  |  Wed Dec 2, 2020 at 7:34 AM
Most watercolor pencils are more creamy and opaque when blended out. You can also lift them with reapplication of water or rework them after they've dried.
dini  |  Wed Dec 2, 2020 at 8:15 AM
hello,one question, can you only use these on water color paper, the regular color pencils I use on regular card stock. these seem wonderful, I would definitely like to try them as I do regular color pencils, but the color is so muted. thanks !
junedonofrio  |  Wed Dec 2, 2020 at 8:53 AM
June, you can use them on other papers, but you'll want the watercolor paper for use with water. What kind of pencils are you using that are giving you muted color?
dini  |  Wed Dec 2, 2020 at 9:29 AM
Will a watercolor pencil work for this? I plan to get some derwents but not shopping until the weekend
muscrat  |  Wed Dec 2, 2020 at 10:13 AM
Sorry, I see you already answered my question.
muscrat  |  Wed Dec 2, 2020 at 10:14 AM
@muscrat, the blending techniques will be the same, but the results will be different. Good practice though! Watercolor pencils tend to be softer - the Inktense core is wax-based but hard.
dini  |  Wed Dec 2, 2020 at 10:27 AM
Thanks so much for this video. I have a set of these pencils & seldom use them. Your techniques makes sense to me & I think I'll be for comfortable now.
CorgiCali  |  Wed Dec 2, 2020 at 12:52 PM
Hi Dini, thanks for your quick reply, understand about the watercolor paper, I use all different kinds of colored pencils, from crayola to Derwent, & Prismacolor, some regular and some water color pencils, all with mineral spirits for blending, but the colors are really not that vibrant... another question - do these last about as long a regular colored pencils ?? they are really expensive.
junedonofrio  |  Wed Dec 2, 2020 at 4:35 PM
Thank you for the great tutorial. I love inktense pencils and use them on cloth often. They also blend well with aloe gel on cloth or watercolor paper.
moonstamper  |  Wed Dec 2, 2020 at 7:01 PM
You can continue layering pencil over blended mineral spirits to build up intensity. Longevity will depend on how you use them - if you use the palette method and only sharpen to expose the core they will last forever. Cost is pretty reasonable for a professional pencil, especially in sets... some pencils I use are $4 or more apiece. Check Blick for better set prices than Amazon.
dini  |  Wed Dec 2, 2020 at 7:01 PM
Great tutorial and demonstration. Thanks for the inspiration. I need to pull mine out and play with them again.

Stay safe and be well.
Bohodiva  |  Wed Dec 2, 2020 at 7:36 PM
Thank you for the beautiful tutorial. My question is when you stamp your image what kind of ink is best to stamp with?
JMFMS  |  Wed Jan 6, 2021 at 8:15 AM
You'll need a waterproof ink - Versafine Clair is what I used here. Archival ink, hybrid ink, or a solvent ink like Stazon would work too.
dini  |  Wed Jan 6, 2021 at 8:27 AM
Hi Dini - Thanks! I do use the versafine Clair :}
JMFMS  |  Wed Jan 6, 2021 at 12:50 PM
Hi Dini, I had talked to you before about the Inktense pencils, I did buy the set of 72 & I absolutely love them !! have been using them on the watercolor paper. I am just obsessed with them. thanks for your tutorial. so glad I saw this. take care and thanks again !
junedonofrio  |  Wed Jan 6, 2021 at 7:11 PM
Awesome tutorisl. Now only if I had a set. 😢 They will have to wait until the time I have some spare money. Bills need paid first.
prpldy  |  Thu Jan 7, 2021 at 11:58 AM

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