Some people say that watercolor is "naughty" and unpredictable. But it all comes with the practice and all we need to do is to start painting. So, we will help you with a few nuances to make the right choice of watercolor paints.
Watercolor paints consist of rubbed pigments and natural adhesives - gum arabic, casein, milk phosphoprotein, honey, dextrin, phenol.
When choosing watercolors we advise you to pay attention to the following:
1️⃣ Pigments(quantity, saturation etc.)
2️⃣ Type of cohesive material
3️⃣ Permanence or lightfastness
Lets look at pigments first:
🎨The smaller the pigments are crushed, the better the watercolors. There can be 1-3 pigments in the contents and eve more. To have clear and transparent work, it is advised to use one pigmented watercolor. At the same time don’t avoid using multi pigmented paints, since it is hard to get certain colors just by mixing the paints.
🎨You can find information about the pigments on the cover of the paint. Normally, it is represented as a code, where the first letter is P, which stands for pigment. The next letter (or next few) tells you the color of the pigment, or pigments if there are few of them.
🤍PW - white
❤️PR - red
🧡PO - orange
💛PY - yellow
💚PG - green
💙PB - blue
💜PV - violet
🤎PBr - brown
🖤PBk - black
🎨 The next character is a number, it tells you the number of the pigment. You can also see that the numbers are written with a semicolon. In general it tells you the ratio to the white pigment, specifically how much of it is in the paint.
🎨 Sometimes after the numbers you can see the series of the pigments represented by letters (A, B C) This is often found in Korean paints. The higher the letter the better quality the pigment, this means the watercolors with the letter A are of the best and highest quality.
❗️Be aware that the brands differ in the name and the contents of pigments.
It is also important to pay attention to the lightfastness. This is a measure of how well a paint stands up to the strains of time, and whether it is likely to fade after a few years. Less stable paints can lose their saturation or even disappear completely.
The lightfastness is labeled as stars and exist as
- not lightfast
* less lightfast
** limited lightfastness
**** good lightfastness
***** extremely lightfast
Apart from the stars for lightfastness you can also find squares which are filled to different levels for transparency. The rating generally ranges from “transparent”, to “semi-transparent” to “opaque”
The darker the square the less transparent the color is, hence more covering. The bleach helps to remove colored pigment, therefore, these types of paints are easier to be washed away. Also, they are recommended to be used at the very end of the painting process, when you are painting the final accents.
□/□ half transparent
The staining property of the paint
Paints can also have low, moderate, or high staining properties. This is a measure of how well the paint fixes to the paper. For example, a low staining paint will easily “lift off” the paper. Conversely, a high staining paint remains on the surface and is difficult to budge!
There are different brands. We always recommend to use professional paints, like Daniel Smith, Sennelier, Schmincke, White Nights, Winsor&Newton etc. (it is not an advertisement)
To sum up, how to understand whether the paints are of high quality?
When choosing or testing watercolors, take into consideration that
it should be transparent, easy to pick up with a brush and lay well on paper, without leaving streaks or spots on it.
it should be easily washable with water from the paper, and when dried, they should not get dirty or form a cracked layer.
you do not need to buy all the pigments you see in the shop. If you are a beginner, a 12-24 base color set would be more than enough.
Which brands of watercolors do you use? Which have you tried? What did you like and didn't like about them? Let's make a small discussion below.