Thursday, March 24, 2016

Distress Crayons - Part 1

Hey everybody - I hope you've had a wonderful week so far.  I've had LOADS of people e-mailing asking if I've tried or if I was going to do a review of the new Distress Crayons.  Well I finally have some so here you go -

If you've not seen them before here's what they say: " Distress Crayons - Water-Reactive Pigments. DC's are formulated to achieve vibrant coloring effects on porous surfaces for mixed media.  The smooth water-reactive pigments are ideal for creating brilliant backgrounds, watercoloring, and more.  Color directly on to surface and blend with water.  Layer with Distress Inks or Stains for more possibilities."

They range anywhere from $10-15.00 for a set of 6 crayons.  At this time there are 3 sets of 6 available.  

O.k. so I thought I'd start off by just testing them on a few different types of paper to see how they react.

First I tested it on a common plain cardstock (Neenah Index cardstock) to see how it reacted.  I just scribbled on 3 (approx.) 1" squares - the first I smudged with my finger, the center I left untouched (more on that later) and the third I tried to "watercolor" with a brush and water.  As you can see the smudged example is pretty but frankly the pigment doesn't go very far.  I'm not impressed at all when you try to move it with the water.  

I left the center as a test - I wanted to see how long it would take for it to dry if left untouched.  I colored these at 9:00pm last night then this morning at around 9:00a.m. I rubbed my finger over it.  You can see that it still smudges and smears.  I tried it again shortly before posting this (1:58 p.m.) and it still smudges a bit.  So I'd say it takes a good 24 hours to dry if using it straight w/o doing anything else to it.

Next I tried it on Ranger's WC paper.  Again, smudged it looks pretty cool.  This time for the watercolor I used a Niji waterbrush - thinking that might make some sort of difference.  Nope, still leaves the original mark highly visible.

It still smudged on the watercolor paper after 12 hours as well (and at 2:00p.m.).  

So then I tried it on a gessoed surface because I've heard it works best on this type of surface.  So I prepared a piece of cardstock with a smooth coat of Gesso and a rough textured coat.  Going on I like the rough coat much better.

LOVE how it looks smudged on the rough coat - not so much on the smooth coat.  It looses it's color a bit but it did go much further as opposed to plain cardstock or watercolor paper.  I then tried to watercolor it with a waterbrush.  Again, (to me) it looked better on the rough coat but that may be because more of the medium was left behind in the crevices so there was more color to begin with.

After the watercoloring had a chance to dry it's not very impressive on the smooth at all.  It's difficult to get a nice smooth looking color.  Love the rough coat though.  Again, tried to smudge the two spots of color that were left untouched - 12 hours - still smudged, 18 hours - still smudged. 

There is a set that has neutral colors including Antique Linen (light brown) and Picket Fence (white).  I thought it would be interesting to see what they looked like on black cardstock.  This is the Black from the Distress Cardstock set.  It's weird - the white almost disappears when both smudged and watercolored.  I don't know where it goes but you loose most if not all of the color.  The Antique Linen is a bit better - but it's not a nice look once the watercolor has dried.

I must say it goes on smooth, VERY smooth - like warm butter or lipstick that's set in a hot car on a summers day.   I'm thinkin' that may be a good thing or it may be a bad thing.  I used the green to color the 6 - 1" squares and it used over 1/2 the tip.  I'm guessing that you'd go through a color pretty quickly if you were working on a very big piece.

Tomorrow I'm going to be sharing how it preforms next to Gelatos and Prima's Oil Pastels.  If you'd like me to test it out on something specific, please let me know.  If I am able I will most certainly do so.


  1. Great experimenting, Roni.
    I have them and like them!!

  2. Thanks for sharing your experiments! Mine just arrived this week too. Have a happy Easter!

  3. Thanks Roni. At the moment I am not sure if I will or won't. I love the colours in the bright set but I will enjoy reading how they compare to the Gelatos. From what you have shown so far I have to admit I'm not too impressed lol! Very grateful for your experiments hun Karen x

  4. Thanks for sharing your results. I also experiemnted with the distress crayons, and got similar results (altho I didn't do a rough/smooth difference with the gesso.) I also tried it on tags treated with homemade mod podge (equal parts white school glue and water), glazing medium, and embossing paste. The gesso had the best results, but I wasn't impressed with even that. I sure hope you have some better results with other mediums, as I really like the idea of the crayons! (Will stick to Prima and my old Stampin' Up watercolor crayons for now).

  5. Thank you, Roni, for this honest assessment. Will be staying tuned for the gelatos comparison. That giant sucking sound you hear is my usual weakness for Tim stuff parting me with my money, but not with these. Haven't felt the need to acquire and as I have ton of gelatos, neocolor 2's, artbars, yadayada, I don't see me changing now. xoxo

  6. thank you so much for this information :) cool post! so far I'll stay off the crayons, I think...

  7. Thanks so much for experimenting for us, I appreciate the honest test and am not impressed, won't be buying these. Can't wait for the next comparison. : )

  8. I am so glad you did this review because I have been really wondering if I needed to purchase these. Will check out your next post.

  9. Thanks for doing the experimenting for us. Appreciate an honest opinion of someone who's art I admire. Have to say that so far I'm not impressed. I've got other things that (at least now) seem to do the same job better! Certainly don't need to spend money on things that will go in a drawer and never see the light of day again!

  10. Thanks for sharing your findings.

  11. Thank you for doing this experiment. I had wondered how they might work and, so far, I'm not impressed enough to go buy them. Looking forward to your next post.

  12. Bought the Brights set but not sure I like them any better than my Gelatos which I have a bigger color selection.

  13. Very helpful. Like others, I don't think the results warrant the investment.


Thanks for your thoughts and comments!