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Review: Classics Watercolor Set from Prima Marketing

This is the third Prima Marketing watercolour set I bought on Amazon. I've already reviewed Tropicals and Decadent Pies.

The main thing that attracted me was the affordable price. Each set sells from around USD $15 to $20. At that price, with other brands, you usually just get an empty box.

I like the metal box because there's enough space in the middle row to put in additional pans. There's no metal holding them down so it's best to put some Blu-tack beneath the pans to prevent them from falling out and moving around.

Prima Marketing sells five sets current. The other two are Shimmering Lights and Pastel Dreams. I won't be reviewing the other two because the colours are more pastel-like and hence have limited mixing potential.

These are the twelve colours. There aren't any information regarding the pigment, names or lightfast ratings on the box or on their website. So here's what I think these colours are, when compared to other brands,

  • White
  • Rose Madder
  • Pyrrole Red
  • New Gamboge
  • Hansa Yellow Medium
  • Sap Green
  • Cerulean Blue
  • Ultramarine
  • Dioxazine Violet
  • Burnt Umber
  • Gray
  • Ivory Black

The first thing I don't like about this set is the inclusion of white, black and gray. These are colours I don't use. When used to mix with other colours, they make other colours feel dead.

The Rose Madder-like colour is quite bright. I'm pretty sure that's not going to be lightfast.

What I find lacking in this set is a nice strong blue and cool red, something like Phthalo Blue and Permanent Alizarin Crimson. Without the strong blue, it's difficult to achieve dark greens that look like Phthalo Green. So painting dark green foliage is difficult with this set.

I would like to have Yellow Ochre for mixing skin tones quickly but it's no included. However, the combination of Yellow, Purple and Red was able to produce good variations of skin tones too.

In this sketch above, for the foliage, I used Phthalo Green from the Tropicals set to provide additional variation to the trees in the background. The dark background areas are painted with black.

Click here for a larger view of the sketch. I accidentally added a glaze of black onto the girl's face and it seriously affected the chroma of the shadow skin colour. Shadows mixed from complementary colours are more interesting as you can still see the underlying colours if you don't mix too cleanly.


For the low price it's selling at — I bought mine at USD $16 — I think it's still quite worth the money, even if it's just for the box. However, if you want a more versatile palette for colour mixing, I suggest getting the Tropicals set instead.


It seems that these box sets are currently sold only by the US branch of Amazon. Here are the links to the different sets: Tropicals | The Classics | Decadent Pies | Pastel Dreams | Shimmering Lights