Friday, 21 December 2012

Caran D'Ache product review

Last week I was lucky enough to receive these two gorgeous sets of Caran D'Ache artist's materials through my letter box.  

So, excitedly, I spent a day or two having a play with them and trying out various mark making techniques.  It's always nice for me to be able to spend some time really indulging in the physical process of drawing - sure I draw a lot on my graphic's tablet, it can be easy to get caught up in the convenience of it; but it's never quite the same as the 'realness' of using materials like the these (and the joy of being away from the loud hum of my laptop!). 

Okay first up is the pack of 'Neocolor I' pastels. Here's an illustrated version of my first impressions when using them (if you can't read my writing, basically it says very nice texture/colours and brings out that experimental inner child). As you can see, I tried out a few different mark making techniques, in particular how the colours work together (layered etc) and using more precise marks.

I think these are fab, I really do. They made me feel very free and experimental with my work - which is something that's easily lost when working on professional projects.  I think these are great for idea generation, colour mapping and character sketching (although keep a sharpener on hand for tiny lines, they blunt quite quickly).

Now, let's talk Prismalo watercolour pencils.
I haven't used watercolour pencils in a long while, I had a stint at uni of trying them out but often felt that I was "using them the wrong way". To be honest though, I don't think that there is a wrong way to use any art materials, but I do think that these need a certain amount of experimentation before you find the way that works best for you. I haven't, however, tried these Caran D'Ache Prismalo pencils before - let's try 'em.

As with the pastels I tried out various techniques (some of which are noted in a wee leaflet in the tin): wet brush on sketch, pencil on wet paper etc.  You can use these to produce a range of styles -  a combination of pencil texture and paint works well for characters, more painterly as watercolours and the pencil line on wet paper gives a great effect for more naive and bold styles.

The range of colours here is ace, and obviously you can mix them up to your heart's content. I did particularly like that the watercolour effect brought a sense of life and movement to the characters but I think these work very well for still objects, patterns and background illustration too.

I do think that with these I need a little more time to work out how they would work best with my style of illustration as I don't usually use watercolours. As I said, there's so many options for technique here - I'm looking forward to finding the best way to integrate it. At the moment I've been using these for some storyboarding for a new book I'm illustrating and it's working well!

These are very pretty and great quality. Can't wait to play with them more!
Let me know what you think! Fancy trying them for yourself?

Note: I received these packs as samples for review from Caran D'Ache. I wasn't paid to write this (hey, you know I've got integrity!) and this is my honest opinion.