Review: Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolour

Roman Szmal Aquarius watercolour was launched in 2019 so it can be considered a new brand especially when compared to other popular watercolour brands. At the time of this review, the watercolour range has 180 colours. You can see the full list (PDF) here and all the colours and box sets on Jackson's Art (UK). And you can see all the colour swatches on Jane Blundell's blog post with additional comments.

Aquarius watercolour is made in Poland and are not easily available. The only place I know that sells these are Jackson's Art. And it's difficult to find more information because the company website is not up yet. So the company is just marketing from their Facebook page and through sponsoring artists with free watercolour sets, as is the case with my review.

The watercolour paints are only sold as individual full pans or in box sets where there are either half or full pans. The company does not sell the paint in tubes.

According to the marketing, most colours are made with single pigment paints. The paint is made with high-quality gum arabic and glycerin, linden honey, distilled water and pure pigments. Every pan is hand filled and labelled with watercolour paper.

Since honey draws moisture from the air, the pans will not dry completely even after weeks. The paint will always have the glossy exterior.

The pans in the watercolour boxes aren't wrapped with watercolour paper though. But thankfully, the pans are dried nicely and are solid so they do not run. Some of the paint did stick to the mixing palette for this box set that I have.

At the time of this review, there are 13 box sets available. The box above is the TRAVEL box set and these are the colours included:

  • Aquarius Yellow PY168 #304
  • Pyrrole Scarlet PR255 #319
  • Aquarius Red PR214 #323
  • Mineral Violet PB29/PV19 #334
  • French Ultramarine PB29 #221
  • Phthalo Blue (RS) PB15:6 #225
  • Sap Green Light PY110/PG7 #252
  • Aquarius Green PY150/PBr25/PB29 #346
  • Venetian Yellow Earth PY43 #107
  • Burnt Sienna Monte Amiata PBr7 #250
  • Caput Mortuum PR102 #239
  • Cyprus Burnt Umber Deep PBr7 #130

I'm not sure why there are product numbers over 300+ when there are only a total of 180 colours.

Unfortunately, the packaging box does not have information regarding lightfast, transparency and staining quality. You'll have to go online to find the watercolour chart (PDF) to find all those details. Most of the colours have high to excellent lightfast ratings.

These are the colour swatches I've created from the 12 colours. The quality of the paint is good and the colours are vibrant. Most colours rewet well except for, not surprisingly, the earth colours. You can click the picture above for a larger view.

Here's a mixed media sketch drawn with pen, ink, markers, coloured pencils and painted with Roman Szmal watercolour. The colours look good.

All 12 colours are quite transparent which means they are great for painting over line art. The watercolour flowed and settled nicely. I did not sense anything amiss while painting.

The colour selection for this set could be better though. More specifically there's only one yellow. Having warm and cool yellow would be nice. Aquarius Green isn't as useful as a vibrant Phthalo Green which I find more useful for mixing. Phthalo Blue (RS) is considered a warm blue and there's already another warm blue which is French Ultramarine. I feel like they have one earth colour too many.

Anyway, if you don't like the colour selection for the TRAVEL box set, there are 12 more watercolour box sets to choose from, with 5, 12 and 24 colours.

The most versatile set for mixing colours is probably the "BOTANICAL: IZABELA WOLSKA-KUSMIDER SET OF 12" priced at £49.30 on Jackson's Art currently.

But this set uses a 48 half pan metal box so it's not as compact and portable compared to the smaller 12 half pan box.

The colours in this box are

  • Aquarius Yellow PY168
  • Permanent Yellow PY139
  • Quinacridone Gold PY150/PO48
  • Benzymidazole Orange PO36
  • Permanent Red PR170
  • Permanent Alizarin Crimson PR176
  • Quinacridone Magenta PR122
  • Quinacridone Pink PR122
  • Dioxazine Violet PV37
  • French Ultramarine PB29
  • Phthalo Blue (Red Shade) PB15:6
  • Cobalt Cerulean Blue PB36

The most versatile watercolour set for mixing colours will have the most number of primary colours (yellow, red, blue). So a set with e.g. 3 x 3 primary colours will be more versatile than one that has 2 x 3 primary colours. That's how I look at colour selection when I'm in an art shop looking at a watercolour box without having done any prior research online.

This set is versatile because it has 3 yellows, 1 orange, 4 reds, 1 violet and 3 blues. Note that there are no earth colours such as Burnt Sienna, and no greens.

Interesting colours

Golden Yellow PY181 #352 aka Benzimidazo Golden aka Benzimidazolone Yellow is a Monoazo of Benzimidazolone range of reddish yellow pigments suitable for plastics applications. This is a rare pigment to use for watercolour.

Scarlet Red PR166 #321, Azo Red PR144 #211, Ginger Red PR290 #368, Ultramarine Pink PR259 #215 are uncommon red pigments.

There are four Ultramarines, all PB 29, namely Ultramarine Light, Ultramarine Intense, French Ultramarine, Ultramarine (Green Shade). PB72 used for Aquarius Blue #412 is uncommon.

Roman Szmal has Lazurite (Lapis Lazuli), Vivianite (Blue Ochre), Malachite. These colours are quite pale as expected.

Update after 2 months

This was painted two months after the sketch further up and I noticed the Caput Mortuum PR102 #239 had become difficult to rewet.

The other colours still look lovely and vibrant, even on this watercolour sketchbook with yellowing paper.

Here's another sketch on the same paper.


The quality of Roman Szmal Aquarius watercolour is good and they have a large range of colours. These watercolour paint provide good value for money and are worth trying out as the pricing is quite attractive. Prices for the individual full pans are noticeably lower than those from Schmincke and Winsor & Newton.

If you want my recommendation, I suggest these colours:

  • Aureoline (Hue) PY151
  • Golden Yellow PY181
  • Transparent Pyrrole Orange PO71
  • Pyrrole Scarlet PR255
  • Aquarius Red PR214
  • Cherry Quinacridone Red PR209
  • Phthalo Blue (Green Shade) PB15:3
  • Ultramarine Intense PB29
  • Cobalt Coelin Blue PB35
  • Sap Green PY150/PG7
  • Yellow Ochre PY43
  • Transparent Red Oxide PR101

That's 3 sets of primary colours, a green and two earths.


Roman Szmal Aquarius watercolour pans and sets are available on Jackson's Art (UK).

If you have intention to buy them, consider using the affiliate link above to support my channel. I earn a small commission at no extra cost on your side.

The first number in the number of paint color indicates price level. All of the 100s cost the same, the 200s are the next price level etc.

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