Review: Sennelier 12 Half Pan Watercolour Set

Sennelier 12 half pan watercolour set
Sennelier is a French company founded by Gustave Sennelier in 1887. During its business, it was patronized by artists like Cézanne, Gauguin, Monet, Bonnard, Soutine, Picasso, Modigliani, Kandinsky, Chagall, and Dali.

Sennelier's range of watercolours consist 98 colours, available in half pans, full pans, 10 and 21 ml tubes.

For the travel sets, they are available in 8, 12, 14, 18, 24, 48-pan sets. The one that I bought was the 12 half pan sets. Getting a set with too many pans can be confusing.

The colours included are shown below. The number is the product number for for each colour. LF1 means it's extremely lightfast.

  • 501 Lemon Yellow PY3, transparent, LF2
  • 675 French Vermilion PR242, opaque, LF1
  • 689 Alizarin Crimson PR209, PY83, PR179, transparent, LF2
  • 635 Carmine PV19, transparent, LF1
  • 917 Dioxazine Purple PV23, semi-opaque, LF3
  • 315 Ultramarine Deep PB29, transparent, LF1
  • 326 Phthalocyanine Blue PB15:3, transparent, LF2
  • 899 Forest Green PBk7, PG7, PY42, semi-opaque, LF2
  • 805 Phthalo Green Light PG7, PY153, transparent, LF2
  • 211 Burnt Sienna PBr 7, transparent, LF1
  • 703 Payne's Grey PV19, PB15:1, PBk7, semi-opaque, LF1
  • 440 Warm Sepia PBr7, PBk7, semi-opaque LF1

The pigments wets well. They are honey-based. The honey acts as a preservative and also as an additive to give additional brilliance and smoothness to the paint. The bonding agent is top quality Kordofan gum arabic.

Sennelier 12 half pan watercolour set

Sennelier 12 half pan watercolour set

Sennelier 12 half pan watercolour set
Here's the colour chart. If yellow is ignored, it seems to me that the chart looks a bit dark. I guess that's because there's only one yellow.

There are three colours that I think are not necessary.

The first is Dioxazine Purple which has a lightfast rating of 3 which isn't good if you want your artwork to last as long as possible. This set comes with three reds and two blues which can mixed a much wider range of purple than what the single pan of Dioxazine Purple can produce anyway.

The other two are Warm Sepia and Payne's Grey. They are nice to have but not necessary. I use them sometimes without mixing for tonal sketches. They are fun to use that way.

Below are the colour wheels. At the bottom of the wheel are the browns and greys mixed from the three colours.

French Vermilion is an intense red. It's a nice primary red to have.

Sennelier's Ultramarine is the least granulating when compared to other watercolour brands I've used.

The darkest mixture comes from Phthalo Blue and French Vermilion. To make other colours darker, you've to add Payne's Gray.

A sketch using some lousy paper which does not do justice to the pigments.

Here I've used Lemon Yellow, Carmin, Ultramarine Deep and Burnt Sienna. Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna can become quite a dark mixture as well, as shown by the shadow area of the man on the right.

Here I've used rather light washes.

Colours used: Lemon Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Phthalo Blue, Forest Green and Warm Sepia.

Here are the red and green mixtures.

Forest Green is almost like the Phthalo Green in other brands. When mixed with reds, it gets neutralized into a dark mixture.

Phthalo Green Light is the yellow green. It mixes with red to a brown or warm olive green.

Paper: Arches coldpress

Paper: Arches coldpress

Paper: Arches coldpress

Paper: Daler Rowney Aquafine Hot Pressed

Paper: Arches coldpress

Paper: Daler Rowney Aquafine Hot Pressed

Paper: Strathmore 300 Series watercolour paper

This video shows how Sennelier paint is created.


Overall, I think it's a good set just that some colours aren't really necessary to me. The colours included don't have much granulation which is something that I like so I felt the the resulting mixture at times are less exciting than let's say Winsor & Newton and Kremer Pigments sets.

As a set with artist grade watercolour pans, their price is slightly cheaper than Winsor Newton and Schmincke.

Definitely check out other watercolour sets that I've featured on the blog.


Find more reviews at Dick Blick Art Materials (US) | Jackson's Art (UK)

It’s crazy you say this is your least favorite set because this is some of my favorite work from you and some of the prettiest shade palettes. I really like it! You are a great artist btw. I came here to see your review on prima decadent pies and got lost in your quality reviews. Enjoy your blog.

I think, you've taken price series for a lightfastness rating. if i'm correct all the colours in your sennelier set is of highest lightfastness (three stars) rating.

I bought a 24 sennelier 24 half pan set and some colors, pigmnt to filler ratio is very can feel the brush scratching wile mixing color. I have a way cheaper set which have far better pigment to filler ratio.i personally hate my sennelier 24 half pan set and wont recommend any one to buy.

Sometimes I get hypnotised with your reviews.
I've half pan set of 24 and always felt adding more shades to it. After your reviews, I'm ready to explore various colours with permutations and combinations of my palette. But for now, I'm taking print of your swatches btw.

just got my sennelier l'aquarelle 24 french metal set today and I'm soooo satisfied with its quality, I wonder if you have any thought about wider color range from Sennelier because I think I've just fallen in love with this brand. it glides like butter, very smooth, color is really vivid, vibrant, yet transparent, I think it's really perfect for glazing technique. one thing that I like about it is I think the honey in it, I can easily rewet and blend.

Thank you for this really comprehensive colour study on the set. I'm still figuring out its qualities and this is super helpful.

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