St Petersburg's White Nights watercolours are affordable entry level paints suitable for beginners and students. These watercolours are made in Russia.
There are many box sets available, ranging from 6 to 48 pans. There are only 59 colours in the series.
Shown above is the 12-pan set and 24-pan set. The 12-pan set is relatively compact but the 24-pan set is huge with lots of mixing area. Additionally, the 24-pan set has more space to fit in 12 more pans.
Here's how the 12-pan set compare to the common 12-pan metal box.
I bought my 12-pan set on eBay at US $24 which includes shipping. You can find these watercolours quite easily, even on Amazon.
Colours included in the 12-pan set are
- Cadmium Lemon - PY35 - LF3
- Cadmium Yellow Medium - PY35 - LF3
- Yellow Ochre - PY41 + PY1 - LF2
- Cadmium Red - PR108 - LF3
- Carmine - PR170:1 - LF3
- Ultramarine - PB29 - LF3
- Blue - PB15 - LF3
- Emerald Green - PG7 - LF3
- Green - PG8 - LF2
- Umber - PY43 + Br7 + Bk7 - LF3
- Burnt Umber - PBr7 - LF3
- Neutral Black - PR187 + PB15 + Pbk7 - LF3
9 out of 12 colours are single pigment colours so that's great because it means colour mixtures don't turn to mud easily. The multi-pigment colours are Yellow Ochre, Umber and Neutral Black.
Colour selection is quite good. There's a warm and cool version of each primary colour, two greens, Yellow Ochre, two earth tones and a black.
As for the lightfastness, I don't have the means to test for that. So you just have to take it from St Petersburg's word that they are lightfast.
Here's the colour swatch. The colours are quite intense.
Several colours are not transparent, namely Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Yellow Medium and Cadmium Red. So if you mix with those colours, your mixtures will not be transparent too. The rest of the colours are relatively transparent.
Here's a colour wheel painted with cool colours. You get yellow green, intense purple and muted orange. Notice how opaque Cadmium Lemon can get. If you mix green from that, your greens will be opaque.
This colour wheel is painted with warm colours. You can get bright orange, muted warm green and mute mauve.
To get skin tones, you can mix Yellow Ochre with Carmine.
To mix grays, you can use either Ultramarine with Burnt Umber. Because Ultramarine is granulating, this gray mixture is good for dark clouds or textured ground.
For a cleaner gray, you can use Carmine with Emerald Green. There's no granulation. I usually use this mixture to make foliage darker.
Overall, I like the colour selection in the 12 pan set. Note that the pans are full size pans. The pans are also sold separately if you run out of paint. You can also buy standard size empty full pans and they will fit in the pan holder.
One thing to note when cleaning the box is make sure you clean the bottom part of the cover that's close to the hinge. There could be water trap there and when you close the cover, the water will drip out and make a mess — happened to me several times when I forgot to clean the box properly.
Below are three sketches coloured with White Nights. Click to view them larger.
Overall, this is a set that's really value for money even if the box set is not as cheap compared to Winsor & Newton's Cotman.
It may not be the most appropriate set for pen, ink and watercolour sketches, or those painters who like glazing and transparent watercolours. So you have to know the limitations of opaque colours and work with them. Anyway, you can always replace the opaque colours with transparent ones as the box set is so affordable.
The single pigment colours helps when you want to mix vibrant secondary colours. You can get bright oranges and purple. For greens, it's best to use the two greens that are provided as Cadmium Lemon and Cadmium Yellow Medium are both not transparent. The only problematic colour is a mixed orange because that's going to be opaque.
So to conclude, it's worth a try because it's affordable. I like the large pan sizes.
Check out other watercolour sets I've reviewed at http://www.parkablogs.com/tags/watercolour-set
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