Book Review: The Magical City and learning to colour with Inktense

Ever since I watched the Speed Colouring of The Magical City with Derwent Inktense pencils (Hyde Park), by Peta Hewitt, I was intrigued with Derwent Inktense Pencils. I was in awe of the way the dull pencil shades would activate into vibrant hues with the touch of a magical water pen. For a long time, I held back buying more pencils. However, when Peta brought out her step-by-step tutorial series in The Magical City using Derwent Inktense Pencils I knew I had to give it a try.

Recently I have been practising and experimenting with Inktense pencils and I now feel more confident using them. The colouring experience with these pencils are much different to normal colouring pencils. They can be activated using a water brush, water-based blending marker or paint brush with water. The water makes shades more intense and is easily blended and create gradients.

Derwent Inktense Pencils are similar to water colour pencils, except they are made permanent when dried. This makes layering more effective. They can be bought loose or in fixed packs of  6, 12, 24, 36, 48 and 72. I prefer to use the pencils with the Pentel Arts Aquash Water Brush. However, I have also experimented with a Tombow Blending Marker, which is also very effective and better for paper that can’t handle water as well. Just note that the water can wrinkle the paper and the colour can bleed through if too much water is used. So always try your materials in the back of a colour book before painting with them. For a complete list of all the materials I used refer to the bottom of this post.


Here are a few things I have learned using my Derwent Inktense Pencils:

  • Start colours lightly and build with layers once dried
  • Smoother finishes and lighter hues can be achieved by brushing the tip of the water brush/marker/paint brush on the pencil before applying to the paper
  • The colours are quite dark, may need to purchase lighter hues in other brands
  • Don’t use too much water or it will bleed through!
    • Don’t worry it can be covered up when colouring page on the other side
  • Use pastels before using Inktense pencils
  • Use other colourist videos and pictures for inspiration
    • teach you with better technique
    • help you distinguish light sources and shading

The book that I have predominantly coloured in with Derwent Inktense Pencils is The Magical City: A Colouring Book by Lizzie Mary Cullen. Lizzie is a multi-award-winning illustrator, speaker and artist from London. She is known for her distinctive style of swirling pen-and-ink drawings of psychogeographic maps and urban ink illustrations. In 2015 she published her first successful colouring book, The Magical City. She then went on to publish The Magical Christmas: A Colouring Book (2015) and The Magical Journey: A Colouring Book (2016). For more information scroll down below.



To learn how to use my Inktense pencils I took a few tutorials to get me started. The first tutorial I took is by Australian artist and colourist Peta Hewitt aka La Artistino entitled Colour With Peta – Magical City – Paris. This is a four-part series that takes you step-by-step through colour selection and the technique of colouring with a water brush. Peta colours in real-time, explaining how she colours as she goes, before speeding up the video. This is the only video tutorial series Peta has made for this book. However, she did make another tutorial, Colouring Tutorial: How to use Inktense pencils. In this video she colours a couple of sections of the Eiffel Tower in The Magical City. She also has a complementing post for the completed picture, Eiffel Tower Completed. Peta has more YouTube videos of her speed colouring  Hyde Park, Coverack and English Village from The Magical City, posts on her website of completed pictures and a video of The Magical City. She also has made an early video, The Magical City. Walk through of the colouring pages, showcasing the book. On her website she  has completed colourings of Baker Street, Camden, Bruges, Mount Fiji, London (Skyline), The Great Wall of ChinaCoverack, Soho, Luxor,  Hyde ParkEiffel Tower and Little Moreton Hall

I was really happy how my picture came out.  The paper really didn’t wrinkle at all and it just looks stunning. I don’t think I’ve been able to do such a good job on another picture yet. I think the colours are so smooth and consistent because for I used the technique of brushing the wet brush on the pencil and then applying the brush to paper. I love Peta’s tutorials. They are really easy for beginners and more experienced alike.


This tutorial is from a two-part series by Ukrainian colourist, Elena Moskaleva from her YouTube channel, Coloring with Alena. They are entitled The Magical city coloring book – Fiji. Part 1 and The Magical city coloring book – Fiji. Part 2. This tutorial is more of a speed colouring. She does show most of the pencils she uses in each section, but I did have to guess for some of it. Alena has a huge collection of speed colouring videos using Inktense pencil to colour The Magical City, The Magical Christmas and The Game of Thrones. To view images of her work check out her Instagram account, Elena Moskaleva (@emoskaleva).

Although this tutorial was very fast paced I still enjoyed it. I loved her colour selection and the relaxing music. She did use as few pencils from other brands so I had to improvise with what I had. She used a might lighter blue for the sky, but I couldn’t find a pencil light enough in the Inktense range. I did find the pencil work in some sections was a bit scratchy but I like the overall effect of the vibrant colours.


This two part tutorial is by colourist Julie Bouve from her YouTube Channel, Julie’s Passion for Coloring. The videos are is entitled Colouring with Derwent inktense pencils and tombow blender – Imagimorphia and Coloured by Julie Bouve – imagimorphia – Inktense pencils + tombow blender – speed coloring. This picture is from Imagimorphia Colouring Book. She also has more speed colouring tutorials videos using Inktense pencils in a variety of books in her playlist Coloring with Derwent inktense pencils.

At the begining of each video Julie outlines the colours that are needed and which makes it easy to be prepared. Both videos are speed colourings and are very fast paced. So because I wanted to be perfect I did have to play and pause alot to figure out what colours she was using at times. I love how this picture turned out. The tombow blender was very effective and didn’t cause any bleed through or wrinkling of the paper. I love the colour scheme and the 3D effects of the colour gradients. I think I need to take a few more of her tutorials before I can nail this on my own.


Experimenting in The Magical City

Page 3  was done with Inktense pencils, Aquash Water Brush, white Posca pen and a dark blue Mungyo pastel. I’m happy with the colours, I just wish I put pastel in first. When I rubbed it in near the edges clung to the posts pen and tinted the dried Inktense pencil. I was also a little heavy with the water and had some bleed through from the largest star.


Page 4 was just done in with 4 Inktense pencils and Aquash water pen. Simply but nice.


Page 5 was done with Inktense pencils and a Tombow blender marker. I’m not happy with how I coloured this one. The colour selection is off  and I didn’t blend well or put in nice colour gradients. I think I need more training with tombow marker. After completing this picture I bought a few lighter hues in Faber-Castel Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils in Pink, Sky Blue, Turquoise and Cream.


Colouring solo in Magical City

Page 6 and 7 are of the London Skyline. I was a bit intimated by the image and decided to use the colour scheme by Peta Hewitt from her website, London. Her pages were done in Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils. It was really helpful to see where the light sourcing and shading should be and fun to use different pops of colour. It’s not perfect but overall it looks interesting and completely different then how I would normally colour.


For page 8 the theme is the colourful town of Camden in London. For my colour scheme  I used photos online for inspiration. I also used Peta’s version of Camden to help me distinguish where the light sources should be. I love how this picture turned out. Again it’s not perfect, but it’s any improvement.

The theme of Page 9 is Baker Street, home of Sherlock Holmes. Again I used some images online for inspiration and took a peek of Peta’s rendition of Baker Street to know where to put light sources and shading. I used a limited colour scheme of greys and hues of the primary colours. Very happy with this one.

Page 10 is of The Shard building from London. This was just a quick one with pastel and fairer shades of colour. For lighter shades I used a few of Faber-Castel Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils.

Page 11 is of the famous Picadilly Circus, the road junction and public space of London’s West End. I used these images for inspiration and a very limited colour palette. I also used some Faber-Castel Albrecht Dürer Watercolour Pencils for lighter shades. For a smoother consistency, I brushed water brush on the pencils before applying to paper. I am really happy how this one turned out.


I hope you enjoyed seeing my progress using Inktense pencils. If you are interested in the materials I used they are as follows:

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