Kremer Pigments is a German company founded by chemist George Kremer in 1977. They pride themselves for their historical pigments and mediums, those that are used by paintings from Old Masters. They offer more than 1000 different pigments, but for this review I shall only be looking at their watercolour pan box sets.
I've been using this set exclusively for more than a month now, with some of the colours almost half full. It's a really interesting watercolour set compared to other sets that I've used such as the Winsor & Newton, Daniel Smith and Schmincke. I just feel that Kremer Pigment has its own characteristics.
The various Kremer Pigments watecolour pan sets
I'll be talking about the standard Kremer Pigments 14 full pan set that I'm using but there are also other sets that you might be interested in, namely the
- 8 full pan small set
- 14 full pan Earth colour set
- 14 full pan Landscape set
- 14 full pan Pearl luster set
- 14 full pan Illumination set
- 14 full pan Gold retouching set
I was choosing between the small 8 full pan set and the larger 14 full pan set and eventually settle for the latter. The small set box because there are pans for white and black, both of which I do not use. The 14 full pan set is great because there are three yellows, three reds, three blues, three earths and two greens. You have a lot of colour mixing potential with three sets of primaries -- usually 12 pan sets have only 2 sets of primaries plus 2 green and earth colours.
Kremer Pigments has quite a few unorthodox palettes for peculiar tasks. Anyway, to see what specific pigments those sets come with, just visit their respective links.
The standard 14 full pan set
This is a rather long box and weight comes mostly from the full pans of watercolours. There's some space between the rows of pans and you can fit either a Size 8 short handle brush or a waterbrush there.
This colour chart comes with the box.
When my set arrived, there were two colours that were harden to the extent that they cracked, namely Phthalo Green and Burnt Umber. It's not a big deal, as long as they don't fall out of the pan, I'm fine with them.
Below are the colours, and associated pigments, included in the 14 pan set. LF is the lightfastness with 8 being the best.
23310 - Permanent Yellow Medium, PY 154, LF 7 to 8
23370 - Pyramid-Yellow Medium, PY 108, LF 8
43300 - Titanium Orange, PBr 24, LF 8
23180 - Irgazine® Red DPP BO, PR 254, LF 8
23182 - Irgazine® Ruby DPP-TR, PR 264, LF 8
40510 - Venetian Red, PR 102, LF 8
40430 - Dark Burnt Sienna, PR 101, LF 8
45700 - Cobalt Blue Dark, PB 74, LF 8
45720 - Cobalt Blue Light, PB 35, LF 8
45750 - Cobalt Blue Turquoise Light, PB 28, LF 8
23000 - Phthalo Green Dark, PG 7, LF 8
44200 - Chrome Oxide Green, PG 17, LF 8
40400 - Italian Raw Sienna, PY 43, LF 8
40720 - Burnt Umber Dark Brown, PBr 7, LF 8
Below's a closer look at how the various colours mix.
With three yellows and three reds, you can get a nice range of orange and peach colours. For skin tone, I typically go with Titanium Orange with one of the reds.
These are the yellow plus blue and green mixes. If you want to mix your own greens, again three yellows and blues give a nice range. You can get bright cool yellow green to the warm greens.
Sometimes I would mix my greens from the primary colours, and sometimes I would just start from the convenient greens in this case Phthalo Green and Chrome Oxide Green.
These are the purple and mauve colours from mixing the reds and blues. Note that the blues are quite granulating, all three of them.
I usually mix grays from blue and earth colours. There's no Ultramarine in this set so the substitute is Cobalt Blue. For a light warm gray, I would use that with Raw Sienna. For a dark, intense gloomy gray, I would add it with Burnt Umber or Burnt Sienna.
The other way I mix grays is from red and greens. You can almost mix a black from Phthalo Green and Irgazine Ruby. Often, I would add reds to the greens to dull down the greens for foliage.
Phthalo Green and Irgazine Ruby are quite staining colours.
Below are some sketches coloured with this set.
Most of the grays on this piece are mixed from Burnt Sienna and Cobalt Blue. Note the granulating nature of Cobalt Blue for the sky.
The colours used are Pyramid-Yellow Medium, Irgazine® Ruby, Cobalt Blue Dark, Cobalt Blue Light, Phthalo Green Dark, Chrome Oxide Green and Italian Raw Sienna.
Shadow side of the building is a mixture of Cobalt Blue Dark and Raw Sienna to give a neutral gray. The sky is Cobalt Blue Light. Greens are mixed from Phthalo Green Dark, Chrome Oxide Green plus Irgazine® Ruby, with occasional Cobalt Blue Dark.
The colours are Permanent Yellow Medium, Irgazine® Ruby, Cobalt Blue Dark, Phthalo Green Dark and Burnt Umber Dark Brown.
Here's a close up of the temple above using a different set of colours, namely Titanium Orange, Venetian Red, Cobalt Blue Light, Phthalo Green Dark and Burnt Umber Dark Brown. The colour scheme is more muted.
Perm Yellow Medium, Irgazine Ruby Red, Cobalt Blue Deep, Phthalo Green Dark and Raw Sienna.
Titanium Orange, Irgazine® Ruby, Cobalt Blue Light, Phthalo Green Dark and Burnt Umber Dark Brown.
Venetian Red, Cobalt Blue Dark, Chrome Oxide Green and Italian Raw Sienna.
Permanent Yellow medium, Irgazine® Red DPP BO, Cobalt Blue Dark and Raw Sienna.
Pyramid Yellow, Venetian Red, Cobalt Turquoise Light, Chrome Oxide Green and Burnt Umber
With three sets of primary colours, you get more flexibility for mixing colours.
The pigments are also quite transparent. The more opaque colours are the Irgazine Red, Venetian Red, Cobalt Blue Light and Cobalt Blue Turquoise Light. Even so, most of the time, the black ink lines are mostly still visible under the watercolour wash.
The specific characteristics about Kremer Pigments that I find interesting is that the pigments are quite dense. Especially for Cobalt Blue Deep which you can see the pigments actually setting down when you wash your brushes. When water is added to the pigment, I noticed that many become powdery soft and you can pick up plenty of with the brush.
The downside of Kremer Pigments is they are quite hard to find. For the sets, you can order for Amazon. Once you depleted the pans, you would have to order new pans or tubes from Kremer Pigments online store direct. Prices vary depending on the rarity of pigments, of course. And since there's only one place selling, the price is pretty much fixed, but it's still competitive I would say with other brands.
Overall, I would say that this is quite an interesting set because of the high pigment load. 100% pure pigments, they said, and it feels like it.
I bought the set at US$80 on Amazon for 14 pans, which makes each full pan about US$5.70 which is much cheaper than getting them alone, plus you get a metal palette box. It's quite value for money considered I paid more money for less paints with Schmincke.
The Manganese Blue PB33 used for the sky and ground is not from Kremer Pigments.
You can see where they are sold from this list of Kremer Pigments distributors.
As for the sets, you can get them from Amazon:
Box set I is usually sold out quickly so if you see them in stock, get it fast! It's really worth the money. Just think about it, it cost USD $80 for 14 full pans (equivalent to 2 boxes of 14 half pans). Other brands are selling their 12-half pan sets at much higher prices!
If that 14-pan set is sold out. You might want to check out the 8-pan set however it includes white and black. It's still quite a good introductory set.
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