Water soluble pencils

Since I can’t resist art supplies shops, I tend to collect materials that look interesting – the most recent acquisition was a set of 6 water soluble graphite pencils. These are interesting to work with and require different thinking from normal graphite pencils. Something I like about them is the fact it is possible to get a painterly quality to a drawing, the water marks can add a new dimension. Another interesting quality is that adding water takes away the shine of graphite which can be unappealing at times. 

The top two drawings are small (postcard size) which is convenient while I am travelling. These are on rough watercolour paper, so have a natural looseness to them. The other two are larger, about 25cm square, on smoother paper, so they have a cleaner finish. 

These have all been inspired by plants of various kinds. 

Adding a wash of watercolour adds something else as well. I’m enjoying this, so the experiments will continue!

Author: anna warren portfolio

I draw, I paint, I am a printmaker. Always searching for the interesting detail in the world around me.

28 thoughts

    1. Thank you Jill – these are Derwent, you can get 6 in a tin, 2 x HB, 2 x 4B and 2 x8B. However, today I bought some Faber Castell ones which seems a little different, I think I will be able to get sharper points. Trying them out tomorrow!

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    1. Not a silly question Janina, I realised afterwards I didn’t explain! I draw up the basic image, then add light tone with a pencil, usually the HB to start with, then brush over it with a wet brush, pushing the resulting grey around. Let it dry, then add more pencil for darker tones, then wet again, and keep doing this till I am satisfied. I did more layers on the drawings on smooth paper, partly because they are larger but also because there is a bit more detail. Something I have to be aware of is remembering to leave enough white areas as it is easy to cover them with the grey wash.


  1. I love how you are experimenting. I need to be more adventuresome, thank you for the inspiration. I love the addition of the light wash over the graphite. Such a nice quality!


    1. Thanks Cathe! In a way it reminded me of the transfer images you were doing a little while ago, because there is a certain element of chance in what comes out. I think you would enjoy using these, if you have time to give it a go!


    1. Thanks Julie – doing these drawings has been quite enlightening, I’ve been enjoying the painterly quality that I can get with these pencils. (I have been meaning to write too, but am in the same boat – we have lots to catch up on!)


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