Using the Derwent Shade and Tone Mixed Media Set – Our Top Tips

The Derwent Shade and Tone Mixed Media set is filled to the brim with painting and drawing products to help you explore shade, tone and form. Choose from a selection of paint pans and a broad selection of coloured and graphite pencils. There’s a whole spectrum of natural colours perfect for capturing landscape, portrait and tonal studies. Find out how to get the most from your set with our top tips!

From graphite and terracotta to black and deep browns – the Derwent Shade and Tone Mixed Media Set is full of earthy colours sure to inspire. The colour and product selection particularly suits life drawing, landscape studies and tonal paintings. Plus, everything is packaged in a sturdy plastic box – making it easy to transport to your classes or painting trips! The set includes the following:

  • 7 Inktense Paint Pans (Mars Orange, Sanguine, Venetian Red, Sepia, Sepia Ink, White, Black)
  • 2 Graphitint Paint Pans (Autumn Brown, Graphite Grey)
  • 2 Tinted Charcoal Pans (Burnt Earth, Burnt Embers)
  • 1 Pastel Shades Paint Pan (Storm Grey)
  • Drawing Pencil in Terracotta
  • Onyx Pencil in Dark
  • Graphic Pencil in B
  • Mini Waterbrush
  • Sponge
An portrait painting by Jake Spicer is photographed alongside the Derwent Shade and Tone Mixed Media Set.

With such a broad selection of products you might be wondering how to best use them in your artwork. Our top tips should give you a great starting point to discover how to incorporate this versatile set into your artwork!

Test out the colour selection in portraits or life drawing studies

Swatches from the Derwent Shade and Tone Mixed Media Set.
Swatches of each of the colours from the Derwent Shade and Tone Mixed Media Set. From left to right, top to bottom – Mars Orange (Inktense), Sanguine (Inktense), Venetian Red (Inktense), Sepia (Inktense), Autumn Brown (Graphitint), Burnt Embers (Tinted Charcoal), Burnt Earth (Tinted Charcoal), Sepia Ink (Inktense), Graphite Grey (Graphitint), Storm Grey (Pastel Shade), White (Inktense), Black (Inktense).

The products and colours in this set take inspiration from the traditional Conte Palette. This palette makes use of warm, earthy shades (like Burnt Earth, Autumn Brown and Venetian Red) and brighter colours (like Mars Orange and Sanguine). It’s a historic palette, favoured by the Old Masters – this set allows you to get the same feeling in your artwork but in a more contemporary format. It’s a really versatile palette that is fantastic for artists taking life drawings or experimenting painting skin tones of all shades.

Build up layers of translucent colour with Inktense

Layered washes of Inktense Mars Orange, Sanguine, Venetian Red and Sepia. Where the layers of colour intersect, the more intense the colour.
Layered dilute washes of Inktense in Mars Orange, Sanguine, Venetian Red and Sepia.

The translucency of Inktense allows you to build up successive layers that allow details to radiate from beneath. Inktense washes are permanent once dry – so you can endlessly layer colour to create washes with more and more vibrancy without reactivating the layers below. The more translucent the layer, the more detail will show from beneath. Try painting and layering shapes to see what happens to overlapping colours or layer over pencil marks.

Combine Inktense, Pastel Shades, Tinted Charcoal and Graphitint

Two cartridges containing the pans from the Derwent Shade and Tone Mixed Media Set rest on a background painted with washes of colour from the set.
The different colours and paint types in this set combine to form a broad mixing palette.

All the pans included in this set are fully intermixable, allowing you to create an extensive palette of colour. Each of the different paint types – Inktense, Pastel, Tinted Charcoal and Graphitint – has it’s own unique painting properties. Try mixing different types in different proportions to see what effects they create in your mixes. Add a touch of Graphitint for extra granulation, drop in a little pastel shade to add opacity or create a pop of colour with Inktense.

Use a textured surface to make the most of granulation

Washes of Graphite Grey, Autumn Brown and a gradated wash of both mixed together on textured watercolour paper. A wash of Autumn Brown is also painted on a rough sheet in the centre of the image.
Swatches of Graphite Grey (left), Autumn Brown (right) and a gradated wash of the two (centre) on NOT watercolour paper. A wash of Autumn Brown is also painted on Rough watercolour paper (bottom).

You can create beautiful textures by taking advantage of the granulating properties of Graphitint paint pans. To make the most of this effect it is best using Graphitint on NOT (Cold Pressed) or Rough watercolour papers. These papers have peaks and troughs on their surface. The little dimples in the paper collect the fine graphite particles, which settle and dry to create a mottle effect. The patterns and textures granulation creates can be particularly useful in landscape and seascape painting.

Create wispy greys with Graphitint

A sponge is used to lift colour from a wet wash of Graphitint Graphite Grey to create wispy greys.
Use a sponge to lift a wet wash.

Graphitint colours are fantastic for creating texture. While your Graphitint wash is still wet, lift a little colour with a tissue or sponge to lighten the wash.

Try erasing your colour once dry

Two circular swatches of Graphitint Autumn Brown and Pastel Shades Storm Grey, witha rectangular swatch of Graphitint Graphite Grey below. The swatches are dry and an eraser has been used to lift colour.
A soft white eraser has been used to lift colour from swatches of Graphitint Autumn Brown (left), Pastel Shades Storm Grey (right) and Graphitint Graphite Grey (bottom).

Both Graphitint and Pastel Shades create semi-permanent colour once dry. Use this semi-permanence to your advantage by lifting colour with an eraser. A soft white eraser, like the Technique Eraser in the Derwent Speciality Eraser Pack, will gently lift colour from your paper. This is a useful technique for creating wispy, foggy textures, adding in highlights or creating interesting lighting effects. This technique is most effective on smooth paper.

Explore opacity with milky washes of Pastel Shade

Bold strokes of Derwent Inktense paint cover a sheet of watercolour paper. Blobs of Storm Grey Pastel Shade has been layered over the top in various opacities.
Both dilute and concentrated mixes of Storm Grey Pastel Shade are layered over the top of stroke of Inktense colour in Mars Orange, Venetian Red and Sepia Ink.

Pastel Shades are opaque and behave like a traditional gouache paint in thick applications. Their opacity means you can layer them over other colours and they will show very little of the colour or detail beneath. Try diluting the Storm Grey pastel shade into a wash and apply it over areas of your painting. Add successive amounts of water, and paint out each mixture in a different area. You’ll be able to see that the more watery the wash, the more detail you’ll be able to see of the layers beneath. Use the paint at its thickest to create opaque grey details.

Use washes of Antique White to lighten

Dilute washes of Inktense Antique White Inktense Paint have been layered over dried circular swatches of Inktense SepiaInk and Sanguine paint.
A dilute wash of Inktense Antique White has been painted over these dried, circular swatches of Inktense Sepia Ink and Sanguine paint.

The pan of Inktense Antique White is quite opaque and chalky. Mix it with very small amounts of water to create a gouache-like paint that you can use in thick applications for opaque, even coverage. You’ll find that it will cover almost all the colours in the set. Use it in a more dilute mixture to create milky washes that retain translucency. These thin washes are great for quickly lightening an area.

Explore hatching techniques in graphite

A Derwent Graphic Pencil rests on a background of pencil hatches and shading. A dilute wash of Inktense colour has been painted over the top of the pencil lines.

You might dismiss the Derwent Graphic B pencil as just a run-of-the-mill graphite pencil, but it really adds some great versatility to this set. It is just soft enough for easy shading and general sketching and is perfect for building up tones. Try using it with some hatching techniques to create the illusion of depth. If you’re new to hatching, try some of the techniques from our 9 Easy Pen and Ink Techniques for Beginners blog post. You can apply almost all these techniques to the humble graphite pencil.

Use Onyx to create the deepest blacks

A Derwent Onyx pencil rests on a piece of paper covered in black strokes of pencil.

Onyx is Derwent’s deepest, blackest pencil. Use it to build up shadowy, dark shades – even deeper than those you can create with the Graphic pencil. Use the Onyx and Graphic together to create a range of tones in your studies to bring depth and contrast to your work.

Layer paint and graphite pencil together for interesting effects

Two paintings made up of broad strokes of colour and expressive pencil marks. For the painting on the left, paint was applied over pencil. For the painting on the right pencil was applied over dry paint.
Try layering paint over pencil (left) or pencil over dry paint (right) for different effects.

You can combine all the paints and pencils in this set to create some really exciting mixed media work. Try creating some linework, or experiment with some mark making techniques using the Derwent Graphic pencil. Once you’re finished, layer paint on top of your paint to see how your marks change. Your pencil drawing will look different depending on the opacity of the paint you use. Both Inktense and Graphitint will allow some of the detail to show through, while the opaque Pastel Shades will show much less. Graphitint’s granulation will also add some textural interest. Try swapping it round and add pencil on top of dry paint.

Create expressive marks with the Drawing Pencil

A Derwent Terracotta Drawing Pencil is photographed on a sheet of paper. The paper is covered with expressive pencil strokes in a rich brown colour. Paint has been layered over the pencil strokes.
Try adding pencil marks to bring together your Shade and Tone paintings.

The Terracotta Drawing Pencil is a fantastic tool for creating expressive sketches. The shade is complementary to the other paints and pencils in the set. You’ll find that it will add extra depth and dimension without clashing. This pencil can also be layered over paint for detailing, mark making or to add texture.


Buy your Derwent Shade and Tone Mixed Media Set today or view the rest of our Derwent Paint Pan Sets.

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