Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Albrecht Durer Watercolour Pencils

There are many brands of water-soluble pencils, but these are my favourites of the readily available ranges. They are great colours - very natural - and fairly lightfast. There is a shift in colour when you wet them but not as crazy as some pencils. They behave well and dilute nicely.

I've had a lovely boxed set of Albrecht Dürer watercolour pencils for almost 30 years and use them mostly in conjunction with other media - watercolours in particular. The current range is 120 pencils and I thought I'd draw and paint them all out to show how they all look since the colour charts can be hard to tell. I've taken screen shots of the colour chart from the Faber-Castell website to enlarge them here. I'll show the colours in the same order. 

The sample are drawn on Arches 300gsm hot pressed (smooth) paper - not what I usually use as I prefer cold pressed. The right side of each swatch has been brushed over with water then the pencil drawn through the damp section to show its full wet strength.

The Faber Castell Polychomos pencils, which are also gorgeous to use, are the same colours with the same numbers, which is very helpful!


Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - White, Ivory, Cream, Light Yellow Glaze, Cadmium Yellow Lemon.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Light Cadmium Yellow, Light Chrome Yellow, Cadmium Yellow, Dark Cadmium Yellow, Dark Chrome Yellow.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Cadmium Orange, Orange Glaze, Dark Cadmium Orange, Light Cadmium Red, Scarlet Red.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Pale Geranium Lake, Deep Scarlet Red, Deep Red, Middle Cadmium Red, Permanent Carmine.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Dark Red, Magenta, Madder, Alizarin Crimson, Pink Carmine

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Rose Carmine, Fuchsia, Middle Purple Pink, Light Purple Pink, Pink Madder Lake.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Light Magenta, Light Red-Violet, Red-Violet, Crimson, Manganese Violet.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Violet, Purple Violet, Blue Violet, Mauve, Delft Blue.



Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Dark Indigo, Indanthrone Blue, Prussian Blue (replaced with Helioblue Reddish, which looked slightly different), Helioblue Reddish, Cobalt Blue.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Ultramarine, Light Ultramarine, Sky Blue, Cobalt Blue Greenish, Phthalo Blue.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Middle Phthalo Blue, Light Phthalo Blue, Bluish Turquoise, Prussian Blue, Helio Turquoise.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Cobalt Turquoise, Light Cobalt Turquoise, Cobalt Green, Deep Cobalt Green, Hooker's Green.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Dark Phthalo Green, Chrome Oxide Green Fiery, Phthalo Green, Emerald Green, Light Phthalo Green.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Light Green, Grass Green, Leaf Green, Permanent Green, Permanent Olive Green.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Pine Green, Chrome Oxide Green, Juniper Green, Olive Green Yellowish.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - May Green, Earth Green Yellowish, Earth Green, Chromium Green Opaque.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Caput Mortuum, Indian Red, Caput Moryuum Violet.


Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Burnt Carmine, Dark flesh, Medium Flesh, Light Flesh, Cinnamon.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Pompeian Red, Venetian Red, Sanguine, Burnt Ochre, Terracotta

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Light Yellow Ochre, Naples Yellow, Dark Naples Ochre, Green Gold, Brown Ochre.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Bistre, Raw Umber, Van Dyke Brown, Nougat, Burnt Umber.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Burnt Sienna, Walnut Brown, Dark Sepia, Wrm Grey VI, Warm Grey V.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Warm Grey IV, Warm Grey III, Warm Grey II, Warm Grey I,
Cold Grey 1.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Cold Grey II, Cold Grey III, Cold Grey IV, Cold Grey V, Cold Grey VI.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils - Payne's Grey, Black, Silver, Gold, Copper.

I have three other pencils from my original 80 colour set from the late 80's or early 90's that are no longer available - 138 Light Violet, 147 Light Blue and 148 True Blue.

Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils
Light Violet, Light Blue, True Blue.


There are many numbers that are missing altogether now. Whether they have ever been created or are around somewhere I don't know - please feel free to comment below.

Missing numbers are 114, 116, 122, 150, 164, 195-198, 200 - 204, 206 - 216, 218, 220 - 222, 224, 227 - 229, 232 - 234, 236 - 245, 248, 253 - 262, 265, 268 - 270, 272 - 274, 277, 279, 281 and 282.



9 comments:

  1. I have this set of pencils. I was torn between several brands when I was trying to choose which watercolor pencils to buy and I settled on this set. My Grandmother sent me a set of Faber Castell colored pencils when I was a child and I still have them and the metal pop open box they came in. I haven't done a lot with them yet but wanted a set for when I get the urge to experiment so I don't have to wait.

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    1. I still have my set of 72 Derwent pencils from when I was 7 or 8. Some pencils from my 80 colour set are down to just 5cm long now so they are well used. Others hardly touched - that's the problem with buying a set rather than choosing the colours you know you'll use :-)
      I often use them with watercolours, either adding them over the top or drawing with a coloured pencil rather than a grey so they disappear when watercolour is added.

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  2. Okay, I am officially an art supply nerd now. Well, actually I have been one for all of my life, but the joy I feel reading your posts reinforce the fact. Thank you for all you do.

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  3. I'm a art supply nerd too. I have all these watercolor-pencels (and the colors they are out of the colkection) and all the polychromes too. I like Faber Castell. I have alsow all the Charisma pencils too.
    From Derwent I have the Colorsoft and the Inktense compleet. I like your blog and look every week of there are new post, normal for my watercolorpaint colors and mixing but now alsow for color-pencils.
    Greetings from Holland, Juliette

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  4. Thank You for Your colour chart. I think the numbers You wrote below doesn't exist. Here is a link that shows what is available from FC : https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.faber-castell.de/-/media/Faber-Castell-new/PDF/de/Farbtabelle-A-G.ashx&ved=2ahUKEwjgvdj3uNzbAhUJJVAKHddgB0oQFjAAegQIAxAB&usg=AOvVaw3UeVuZpT4y3DVr7nsAHZyI I've got these pencils as well as Derwent Inktense and some very old Faber Castell Goldfaber Aquarell. I love them all.

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  5. Thank you for this post Jane! I also use colored pencils for my work and used to use the full set of Faber Castell polychromos and a few Albrecht Dürer, enjoying their color range and handling qualities. I put them under a lightfastness test along with the watercolours I use to make sure they were as reliable as the labels claim, and unfortunately they performed VERY poorly overall. Nearly all the reds and violets faded very badly within 2-3 months of summer sunlight exposure, and more surprisingly, also some blues and browns, and yellows. To give you a comparison, many colours faded as quickly or even faster (especially the pink shades) than the alizarin crimson watercolour sample that I had exposed along with them.... So I guess we still need to be very cautious about what the brands claim about the permanence of their products...

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  6. Something to note is the magnus range has a small selection of the main line’s colors, but different lightfastness ratings. They’re fatter pencils, with fatter cores. Probably better if you’re using them as convenient pan watercolors. No idea if the color formulas differ between the magnus and the regular size. Also more convenient if you have physical issues that make fatter tools work better.

    I can’t tell the two lines apart in performance on paper, and I haven’t done lightfastness tests for myself. But very few of the regular line colors have the best lightfastness rating, and quite a number of colors that you’d expect to be sturdy if the name matched the pigment aren’t listed as the best rating. Even quite a few of the blues are less fast than you would expect based on name. So I definitely wouldn’t expect them to be suitable for work you intend to sell.

    I’ve been living out of suitcases for the past two months so I’ve been getting my color fix with these. It’s easy to keep things tidy, and you can get a nice gamut out of a very tiny selection of colors. And they work well on toned paper. So I’d definitely suggest them as a step up from a kiddie watercolor set or an improvement on kid quality colored pencils. And they’re a lot nicer to use as real watercolor than many sorts of pan colors. The sets are very expensive, but buying a mixing complement pair or three isn’t expensive at all.

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  7. As far as the missing numbers are concerned, I can confirm that 232, 233, 234, 263, 264, 266, 267, 268, 270, 272, 273 and 274 are still available, as I bought them 5 or 6 weeks ago. For the 139 Light Violet and 147 Light Blue, I was able to find them in the FC Art Grip Watercolour pencil line. I was also able to find 147 Light Blue in the FC Goldfaber Aqua. I don't know if the Goldfaber replaces the Art Grip Collection. And for those missing the 139 Light Violet in the Polychromos pencils, the Classic collection (red box and tin) pencil 339 is the same color. I don't know about lightfastness though; but it sure is pretty!

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