Sketchbox is has reliably been one of my favorite art subscription boxes, will this one continue the trend?
Full disclaimer: I was not provided any free boxes by any art subscription companies; everything was paid for by me, out of my own pocket. My opinions are my own.
To start off, lets check the products and if Sketchbox’s appraisals are correct. I use a combination of Blick and Amazon to check the price – if one does not have the product, usually the other does. These are not affiliate links.
Derwent Chromaflow, set of 12 (Custom picked): $19.30
Holbein Colored Pencils, 2: $3.26 each
Holbein Meltz Color Pencil Blender: $8.85
Princeton SNAP Round Brush, Size 2: $1.87
SketchBox Coldpress Pad, 4×6; Unknown as Sketchbox specific, but probably around $9.00
A little different than Sketchbox’s estimates, this box comes to a total of $45.54. I pay $40.00 for the box, including shipping. The box itself (premium) is $35 dollars/month, so is still worth the overall price, in my opinion, if you like to experiment with different art supplies considering these are – ideally – curated to all work together.
Sketchbox has included these colored pencils in the past, being a joint effort on Derwent and Sketchbox’s part, but I believe the colors are different from the past boxes. I am unsure at this time what the ‘Basic’ version of this month’s box contains, as of this writing it isn’t for sale on their Past Boxes page, but be sure to check it in case they do add it.
If I had to guess, I’d say the Holbein pencils are probably not included in the basic box – Holbein is, to my understanding, one of the most expensive colored pencil brands. A Faber-Castell Polychromos cost $2.65 each, while a Prismacolor Premier cost $2.69 each, this is nearly a dollar more than my go-to colored pencil brands. If you look at sets of 12, the Holbein set is going to be nearly forty dollars, whereas Faber and Prisma are both under $20. These are definitely higher-end pencils, and I’m excited to try them.
The colors for my Holbeins were Juan Brilliant and Pink – enough to work with a very fair skintone. I’ve needed skintone appropiate pencils, and while this is VERY limiting, it is better than nothing, I suppose, and I’m not going to turn down a luxury product. The sketchbox-derwent pencils were a variety of bright colors: Black, Pink, Orange-Red, Yellow-Orange, Yellow, Yellow-Green, Bright Green, Turquoise, Light Blue, Dark Blue, Light Gray, and Purple (not the exact color names). This selection was actually quite challenging, as there isn’t a proper red-red nor a brown, meaning I had to cheat just a tiny bit in my piece as I needed a much more red-red than provided. Furthermore, no inking product, eraser, or pencil were provided – I used these to sketch out my test piece, and don’t mind that Sketchbox didn’t provide them. However, if you are i need of these supplies, another box might be better suited to you.
Due to my over-abundance of sketchbooks, I did not use the one provided, but instead my trusty Canson Mixed Media, which does well with most things I throw at it. I’ve used Colored Pencil liquid blender before, but I can never get enough of techniques for blending, so how did it all go?
Holbein was always sold to me as the best of both world for colored pencils. They are oil-based but blend like Prisma’s wax-based pencils – and to be sure, these blended very well. It was very smooth and gave a quick lay down, even when blunt. The Holbein’s were the highlight of this box – the rest was average. I have plenty of colored pencils, and while I appreciate adding these strange colors to my list, as my color choices do tend to stray from bright colors, nothing is really special about the other products. A brush is a brush for this medium, and the blender, while works, is no different from my Zest-It blender, though it lacks the citrus smell. Due to the very quick laydown of these pencils, I fear I overestimated my sketchbook’s tooth, and in doing so, may have muddied colors a little more than I intended. They also wore down the tooth of the paper quickly, despite the white patches, I found it difficult to lay any more color on top once blended. However, overall, the colors all worked well together, all worked with the solvent, and the Holbein’s did live up to expectations. I’m considering purchasing more skin tones from them to get achieve creamy consistency.