Saturday, May 7, 2016

Tranquil or Vivid? Pick Your Mood

Tombow Irjiten Colored Pencils Review

by Tim Jeffs

Barred Owl Colored Pencil drawing 

Being an nature artist that works extensively in colored pencils, I have to admit, I have never used Tombow products before, but I'm always game to try new colored pencils. So when Tombow asked me to review their latest products I thought what better way to really test them out than to do a drawing exclusively using them. With my most recent drawing of a Barred Owl, I'll explain my experience drawing with these pencils in depth. 


Irojiten Colored Pencil Set, Vivid

Irojiten Colored Pencil Set, Tranquil

The pencil I used on this drawing were the newly released Tombow Irjiten Colored Pencil sets. 2 sets to be exact. The Vivid and Tranguil Adult Coloring Sets. Each set comes with 12 colors, a sharpener, and a sand pencil eraser. 

My first impression is that these sets have a very nice grouping of colors. With only 12 pencils each, each set is thoughtfully arranged into 2 distinguished palettes. The Tranquil set includes lighter soft colors and the Vivid has brighter, intense, and darker colors. For this drawing I used both sets. I picked a subject where I could try both sets on one drawing. Because of the softer colors of the owl's feathers, I drew the majority of the time with the colors from the Tranquil set, but used the darker colors from the Vivid set for my owls bold eyes, which require a deep dark look.

Fit and Feel

The round shape and the smooth enamel finish sat very nicely in my hand. I draw for long periods of time and tend to squeeze my pencils tight, and they remained very comfortable over long stretches of drawing. This drawing took around 40 hours to complete, and these pencils never bothered my hands or fingers during this long period.

Testing the Tips

I love detail. Extreme detail. My drawing style consists of very fine lines, so I prefer pencils that hold a very sharp point when they are sharpened, and won't break under pressure. I'm pretty hard on my pencils, and have a heavy hand, and I was pleasantly surprised how strong the lead was, and how sharp the tips remained. They never broke in my electric pencil sharpener, and always sharpened to a very fine point. As I drew the fine lines of the feathers, I found the sharpened tips remained sharp for long periods of time before I needed to re-sharpen them. They are not quite as hard as Primacolor Verithin pencils, but I would say they come in a very close second. And unlike the Verithins the color was more vibrant and laid down much easier.

Coloring Basics

I found the color blending of the pencils smooth, and layering down and building up colors easy to achieve. The eyes of my owl are extremely dark, and I found slowly building the dark blues and reds up was very easy to do. And unlike other pencils, I didn't run into any waxy build up. The Tranquil set was perfect for the softer colors of my owl feathers and body. With a wide variety of pastel colors that blended nicely to create a soft fluffy and feathery look.

Since I own and use a reliable electric pencil sharpener I didn't use the hand sharpener that was included in the set, but it's a nice addition for someone who needs one. The sand eraser came in very useful. I liked how it worked so much that it replace the eraser I've been using for years, which wasn't as effective.

Finished Piece

Over all I was extremely happy drawing with these 2 set of pencils, and they were the only pencils I need to complete this drawing. I will definitely continue to use them on future drawings, and recommend them to the novice colorist or the experienced artist.


Tim Jeffs is an American artist best known for his intricate and highly detailed drawings of animals. He has received global attention for his artwork, and his artwork has sold worldwide in more than 15 countries. Using only black ink pens and colored pencils he continues to bring animals to life through his ongoing series of portrait illustrations. His drawings capture even the smallest details of each animal’s fur, skin texture, and patterns. His artwork and his love of animal conservation has lead Tim to help raise animal awareness and research funding for well known organizations and conservation groups.

His works can be seen at:

A book of 50 of his animal drawings has been published and is available as an adult coloring book through Pomegranate Communications, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.
Intricate Ink Animals in Detail. Coloring book, 108 pages with 50 animal images