Review: Daniel Smith's Primatek Watercolor Set


Primatek is a series of watercolours from Daniel Smith that are made from natural mineral pigments and sometimes semi-precious stones. Many of the names of the colours in this series are really difficult for me to pronounce. LOL.

Currently, there's a total of 38 colours in the Primatek series. If you want to check out all their colour swatches, you can find it on Jane Blundell's website. You can also read more about Primatek at Handprint.com.

The Primatek colours that I have are from the Daniel Smith Introductory Primatek set. The colours included are Rhodonite Genuine, Jadeite Genuine, Amethyst Genuine, Mayan Blue Genuine, Hematite Genuine and Piemontite Genuine. Each tube is 5ml.

Instead of pigment code, like PY175 or any alphabets and numbers, you'll see the name of the pigment instead.

Note also the series number on the tube. Series 1 is the most affordable and Series 5 is the most expensive. Some of these Primatek colours are from Series 4 and 5. If you get the 15 ml tubes, they can be really expensive! Best to try them in smaller tubes first before you get the large tubes because who knows, you may not like the colours.

Below are the colours swatches I've created from the six colours.


Rhodonite Genuine is as pink as it can get. You usually get pink by diluting other reds. With Rhodonite Genuine you can get pink in concentrated form.


Jadeite Genuine's tinting strength isn't that good. You need a lot of paint to build up the colour. And notice how the pigments can tend to stay together.


Amethyst Genuine is a vibrant colour with high tinting strength. A little paint goes a long way.


Mayan Blue Genuine is another colour with low tinting strength. You will need a to use a lot of paint to build up the colour. Notice how the pigments stay together as well, and they can almost block out the white of the paper. This is a really beautiful shade of blue.


Hematite Genuine looks like some dried charcoal bits suspended in water. Notice that the wash is quite thin? Even thought the colour is suppose to be black or at least a dark colour, you can still see the white of the paper very clearly.


Piemontite Genuine is a nice shade of brown. But compare to other earth tones like Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Van Dyke Brown, Transparent Brown, it doesn't look that special on its own.


Here's a sketch I coloured with the six colours, and also another Primatek that I have, Sodalite Genuine (top right and bottom left).


This green was mixed with Mayan Blue Genuine and Hansa Yellow Medium, a really versatile neutral yellow. The resulting green is a bright yellow green. The mixture is quite patchy though because of Mayan Blue Genuine. If you want an even and flat wash, you have to be more careful and laying down the paint.


Rhodonite Genuine can mix with Hansa Yellow Medium to produce a nice orange.


Interestingly, when you add more Rhodonite Genuine to Hansa Yellow Medium, you can get a rather nice red colour.


One of the main characteristics of Primatek colours is the granulating nature of the paints. Depending on the subject matter that you paint, you may or may not want granulating. For example, when painting hand, granulation may make the hair look puffy. So if you want smooth silky hair, perhaps using non-granulating paints would be a better choice. Same with painting botanical art. Sometimes too much texture can distracting, such as the sketch that I've painted.

When exploring Daniel Smith Primatek colours, you have to consider the tinting strength also. For colours with low tinting strength, such as Maya Blue Genuine, you can use up the colour very fast and it will be quite costly to buy tubes after tubes. But if you want a specific look that no other paints can give you, you can certainly consider Primatek.

Also note that Primatek colours are more muted compared to other colours. So you can actually use the colours strength from the tube without any mixing. They won't look out of place, as compared to for example a Phthalo or Quincridone colour.

If you also use Primatek colours, let me know your favourite colour/s. I would love to learn about your experience with them, especially when it comes to mixing with other colours.

If you want to get yourself this Primatek set to try, you can get it at Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de | Amazon.fr | Amazon.es | Amazon.it.

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