Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pentel Aquash Watercoloring Crayons Review

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.


mmtrujilloa said...

This a very cheerful review, I just laugh and enjoy reading it.
I haven't try the Pentel Aquash Watercoloring crayons but like the Neocolor II very much, specially for art journals, I like the texture, the saturated colors and the way they flow with the waterbrush. (Yesterday I made a color chart in a moleskine scketchbook and here I found this review, how cool is that!)
Why do you and the ninjas prefer the Pentel Waterbrush over the Kuretakes?

B2-kun said...

Glad you enjoyed the review. It is not that I prefer one type of waterbrush over the other, for I actually carry both Pentel Aquash and Kuretake Niji waterbrushes (plus a Chinese AquaFlo waterbrush version that I picked up on a whim) in my daily sketching kit. The Aquash waterbrushes have firmer brush heads that retain their point well and release water more slowly. The Kuretake nylon filaments are more flexible resulting in a "floppier" brush head that does not keep its sharp point as well and releases water more easily with less pressure. I would recommend trying them both to see what fits your style best. I use mostly the medium and large round sizes and large flat Niji waterbrush while my smallest waterbrush seldom gets used. The important thing to remember is to store them dry and empty to prevent mold growth during extended periods.

mmtrujilloa said...

Beto thanks for the very quick response. Shouldn't you be sleeping now?
I have try the Kuretake Niji and Kuretake ZIG H2O which only differ on the size of the barrel. I mainly use the big and the small rounds and I don't like the flat very much.
I haven't try the Pentel but I might try them, by the sound of it they could work better if I don't want to much water.

Biffybeans said...

My Neocolor II are breaking & it's upsetting me. Can teh Intus holder hold small pieces of the Neocolor?

B2-kun said...

I do not like how quickly the crayons seem to break when used for long periods in the Florida heat, but the Intus certainly eliminated that problem. The Intus 8 can sure hold fragments of Neocolor II, but if you rather get the Caran D'Ache Fixpencil 0012 check out:

Anonymous said...

Nice review. I just got the 84 set of the Neocolors, and was wondering how the cheaper brands measure up. I also got a few water brushes, one being the Aquaflo - which has never really worked well, can't seem to get the water to come thru to the bristles. Any suggestions from those of you who use these brushes regularly? I have 2 Kuretake brushes, and they both work fine.

B2-kun said...

Congratulations in getting such a complete set of probably the best and most pigmented watersoluble artist crayons! That should sum up my humble opinion of this superb coloring tools. For waterbrushes, I would recommend sticking to Pentel Aquash, Kuretake, or Niji waterbrushes for their quality construction and reliability. They do have some slight handling differences and sometimes they are sold under different trade names. The Aqua-flo brushes that I trrie either had poor flow or too much flow of water, so I gave them away. To get the most of your Neocolor II crayons you might want to invest in a crayon holder like the Caran D'Ache Fixpencil 0012 or an Intus equivalent size. Happy coloring!