The Pentel Aquash tin set of 10 watercoloring crayons currently available in the USA is a fairly compact package that holds a medium waterbrush, sharpener, cleaning sponge, and 3 small round wells for depositing crayon shavings and making washes. The crayons have a good pigment load producing fairly saturated layers dry and wet. While it is a convenient choice for sketching on-the-go, it is also significantly larger than the Bijou box and my most compact watercoloring kit.
Pentel Aquash waterbrush chosen art tool of ninjas and sketching aficionados everywhere (or at least it should be if more people were aware of its virtues and convenience in the field). For a really thorough and informative post on waterbrushes check out Russell Stutler's website.
If a ninja had to indulge his creative urges while sneaking around, these clever tools might just do the trick. They would allow to stealthily color and paint watercolors in tight spaces like an airplane cabin, car interiors, and isolated students' desks outside the teacher's field of vision... just kidding! simply hamming it up for the camera after finding some of my shuriken souvenirs in a storage box.
Dry color chart drawn on Moleskine watercolor paper.
Both artists' watersoluble crayons are harder than regular kid's wax crayons, but they are still bound to soften and break in warm hands during prolonged drawing sessions. To prevent that the wider Neocolor II crayons could be used with a pastel holder like the Intus 8, but I have not found any holders for the narrower Aquash crayons.
While I can squeeze up to 18 different color crayons in this compact Neocolor II tin set, the larger Aquash tin set can only hold 10 crayons and has a larger footprint because its plastic molded tray also holds the extra watercoloring tools and mixing wells. Thus it is a good choice to grab-and-go in a hurry, for it contains everything you might need to work on a small watercolor journal on the spur of the moment. When having more time to prepare and packing a full art backpack, I tend to pick up the former since it provides a larger color palette in a smaller package.
The Neocolor II crayons feel smoother and have a heavier pigment load that dissolves with less effort into more saturated opaque washes while the Aquash crayons yield paler washes in general.
For this coloring demo, I used a Hand Book Artist Journal and the Pentel Aquash set of 18 watercoloring crayons that I got a few years ago from a Kinokuniya stationery store in the West Coast.
Dry colored image: Coloring outlines were drawn with the Sakura Pigma Sensei 1.0 mm pen and a Kuretake #13 brush pen loaded with a waterproof ink Platinum cartridge. Then colored with the Aquash crayons.
Using the firmer nib of the large Pentel Aquash waterbrush, the dried crayon marks were selectively dissolved leaving some areas untouched to convey some reflections on the monster skin surface. This waterbrush requires more hand pressure to squeeze water through the brush nib which allows more control when blending smaller areas at a time.
The watercoloring crayons can also be used like neat watercolor pans with the aid of a handy Kuretake waterbrush.
Taking advantage of the steady water flow and softer nylon brush filaments of the large Kuretake waterbrush to create some painterly cloud effects in the background.
Finished demo with these 2 Kaiju ready to face each other: Butterlfy-Lorikeet hybrid versus Classic Dragon. Was a tad traumatized after my visit to Butterfly World where a lorikeet tried to take out a chunk from the back of my neck in an unprovoked attack. But I digress, the Pentel Aquash watercoloring crayon sets make fairly effective field sketching and coloring kits though they are a tad larger than the most compact kits available. The Aquash tin set of 10 crayons would make a fine present for the budding artists in your list this upcoming holidays. Since replacement crayons are not readily available stateside as open stock, I would recommend refilling this starter set with Neocolor II crayons. Just remember not to leave them in the car in a hot weather climate, for they are likely to soften and melt like any wax-based product.