These coloured pencils from Derwent are very soft. I'd say they are about a 7B or 8B in terms of softness. For those who remember the discontinued brand "Karisma" (or Prismacolor in North America) they are similar to those, but a little softer and not so brittle, and they don't burnish in the same way as Prisma/Karismas. However, because of the softness of the lead, they too can suffer from internal breakages (though not on the scale of Karisma/Prismas) and they need to be treated with care. They're not fragile and are definitely sturdy pencils, but if they are sharpened with a bad quality pencil sharpener, or dropped on a hard floor, the lead inside can shatter. Therefore, if they are treated with kindness, they will last a long time and will be useable down the last stub. They are also quite crumbly when the lead is sharp, due to their softness, so this can cause smearing if care isn't taken. The best paper for these pencils is, in my opinion, something toothy (the grain/surface of the paper that is slightly rough) I have used these pencils with smooth bristol board and they don't perform so well. Rougher paper takes better advantage of their soft leads and results in rich, deep colours. I think it's best to blend them slowly and carefully. They're not suited to fast, hard, burnishing techniques.