Review: Holbein Artists' Watercolor

This review is written by Erwin Lian (website | Instagram), an artist from Singapore

I am fan of Holbein Artists watercolors and was first introduced to the HWC 12 color set few years back.

Since then, I have became a fan of their pigments, mainly for their intensity and mix.

According to the manufacturer, no Ox-Gall was used, so dried pigment won’t get all crusty when re-liquefied. Because of this, you can “lift” easier. Personally, I like how ‘smooth’ Holbein pigments dries.


Holbein pride itself for its high pigment load and no usage of Ox-Gall. That means that you can re-liquefy your dried pigment and they won't be crusty. The pigment do remain brilliant.


The HWC 12 color set comes in small tiny weeny tubes of 5ml.

Compared to other professional pigments that I have used (I haven’t used every brand), their pigments held on to intensity well but dry “smoother”. Having said that, there is a major drawback to this brand. Holbein don’t offer many granulating choices. If granulation is what you are after, you will need to introduce other brands into your mix.


Here’s a review of the HWC 12 color sets (tiny baby tubes)

There are 12 colors in this set. Actually, I would consider it more like 10 colors since black and white aren’t really colors. Out of the 10 colors, you have the warm and cool variant to each hue. For the reds, you get Crimson Lake & Vermilion. For the blues, you get Cobalt Blue and Prussian Blue. For the greens, you get Permanent Green and Viridian. For the yellow, you get Permanent Yellow Light and Yellow Ochre. Lastly, you get Burnt Umber and Burnt Sienna for the earth tones. Though not my personal choices of colors, it’s a wonderful starter set for anyone venturing into watercolors. For experts? You may want to pick your own colors.


Graded wash of the 12 colors. (I skipped white here) The colors are vibrant and they painted themselves smoothly.


Wet-on-Dry. Flat wash dries smoothly. (Color used: Cobalt Blue and Crimson Lake)

I recommend including the trusty Ultramarine and Cerulean blue in your collection. As with all pigments, light fastness, staining quality and transparency all varies. Do remember to check the vendor’s paint chart for more information. Personally, I love the way Holbein pigments respond to water. It disperses color smoothly and paints itself beautifully when it dries. Wet-on-dry layers dry smoothly and the same can be concluded about wet-on-wet layers.


Wet-on-Wet paints itself smoothly with varies concentration of pigment.

Here’s my personal colors years after my first set.

A while ago, through a friend’s recommendation, I stumbled over a store that held Holbein stocks from the 80s (with price stuck in the 80s as well). It was a no brainer for me = I ended up hoarding a bunch of Holbein pigments.....

Holbein offers a total of 108 colors to their transparent watercolor family. Here are some few unique colors that some Artists swore by for this brand:

Opera (note that this color is only Moderately Durable), Royal Blue (Absolutely Permanent), Peacock Blue (Permanent)

I do have other brands in my colors set and time and time again, I love trying out different pigments. Holbein just happen to be a dominant brand I use. All artist grade pigments are great and its just a matter of personal preferences and experiences when it comes to these.

Here is a painting done predominantly with Holbein pigment with a little granulating blue mixed in from Daniel Smith.


Here's a Holbein watercolour chart provided by Rebecca Nelson. Colours from top to bottom are

  • Crimson Lake
  • Vermilion
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Perm. Yellow Light
  • Perm. Green
  • Viridian
  • Cobalt Blue Hue
  • Prussian Blue
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Burnt Umber
  • Black

Availability

You can find Holbein Artists' Watercolor on Amazon and Jackson's Art Supplies (UK) and Utrecht Art Supplies (USA).

Holbein Watercolors are available at these links below:
Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de | Amazon.fr | Amazon.it | Amazon.es | Amazon.co.jp

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