Watercolour Pan Sets – Why Choose Schmincke?

In this post let’s discuss the advantages of watercolour pan sets as opposed to tubes.

Watch the video above for insight into selecting the right pan set and learn practical tips for making your compact watercolour travel set.

What are advantages of pans vs. tubes?

Watercolour painting is one of the most popular painting techniques. It fascinates beginners as well as professionals. The wide range of options creates ever more challenges to choose new subjects. Watercolours are “aquarelles” (aqua = Latin for water). They are composed of finely triturated (ground) pigments, a binder such as Gum Arabic, and a small proportion of a wetting agent. They are soluble in water and remain so after drying. Are you new to watercolours? See more notes: FAQ About Watercolours

Tips for choosing the right pans

While most stores primarily sell watercolour in tubes, The Paint Spot champions watercolour pans and pan sets. Here’s why:

1. Pans are generally less expensive than tubes, so it is more affordable to start with a pre-made pan set. Then you may refill with tube colours as needed.

2. Pans are easier to use because you have immediate access to the colors. You don’t have to put your brush down, open a tube of paint, and squeeze a little colour out.

3. Choose half pans for small studies and paintings. Your brush size determines the pan size. Full pans allow you to use larger-sized brushes.

4. Painters prefer pans for field sketches, visual journals, and plein air painting because of their compact and portable nature.

“When my son was young, watercolour was the ideal media for small quick paintings. My Schmincke set is like a studio of colour in the palm of my hand. It was easy to set up and pack up with little mess. 
It allowed me to keep making art while juggling work and family”      - Kim Fjordbotten

5. Artist-quality watercolour in pans are quickly started by re-wetting with water from the mist of a water spritzer or a drop water from pipette or syringe.  Then it is easy to pick up rich colour with a wet brush. There is no need for scrubbing at the colour causing harm to the paint brush. Some of us may recall scrubbing at a dry pan colour from a child’s tempera set.

6. You can make watercolour pans yourself by squeezing your tube colour into an empty pan. We suggest trying Schmincke Akademie Watercolour pan sets or White Nights Watercolour Pan sets instead. 

Professional factory-made pans of watercolour stay put. The colour does not crack, pop-off, or get lost. This means less waste of precious paint. The colors are also arranged in a logical order for ease of use. We also stock the artist quality pan sets in Horadam Watercolours. 

What makes Schmincke watercolour pans unique?

Schmincke Horadam watercolours are created with their time-honoured process – the same process Schmincke has used since 1892! Schmincke Horadam watercolours have all the properties watercolourists want: rich uniform colour, even application, easy lifting, and excellent flow. How does Schmincke manufacture it’s Horadam Aquarelle watercolours? Each pan receives 4 successive pours of liquid watercolour, with 2 to 6 weeks drying time between pours. Why? The best watercolour pans require this special lengthy production process, rather than cheap, quick processes like pressing paint plus filler into pans (you’ve seen those pans with the paint sunk in the middle and those pans with hard-to-lift, wishy-washy colour). A total production time of 3 to 5 months ensures that you get the maximum amount of watercolour paint in each pan, so that when you touch your wet brush to the paint you get the maximum amount of rich colour right away. By the way, you will find the same quality of paint in Schmincke tubes; Schmincke believes artists should be able to refill their pans from tubes, if they want. Whether you prefer pans or tubes, you will love the outstanding quality of Schmincke Horadam watercolour.

In addition to traditional techniques such as wet-on-wet and glazing painting, more modern mixed media techniques are also gaining popularity in watercolour painting. A large number of watercolour mediums are available which extend the range of use with many creative techniques on different grounds. Finally, special watercolour fixatives ensure that the watercolours are not only protected but also retain their colour, strength and brilliance.

Schmincke takes the guesswork out of selecting colours

The pre-determined colours in a pan set are a great way to start. You can always swap colours here and there to customize your own palette according to subject matter, moods, or style. The colour selection in the Horadam and Akademie watercolour sets provide artists with a workable palette to produce the largest range of colours. Due to the high number of single and double-pigment colours, mixtures produce colours of exceptional brilliance and purity. You can try every colour by purchasing a dot card colour chart. Read more notes:  The colour concepts in the  Schmincke Horadam Watercolour Sets:

What is the difference between student quality and artist quality?

Schmincke has two watercolour lines to suit professional artists and serious beginners. The Paint Spot stocks both in sets. Horadam is also available in open-stock tubes or pans. We encourage beginners to buy the Akademie set and upgrade to Horadam watercolours as needed to replenish a colour. In practical application, the pans of Horadam will last longer and go further than Akademie due to the higher concentration of pigments. Artist quality can be diluted further than student quality. We must stress that Akademie is still a very, very good paint for serious beginners.

More Links to help watercolour artists:

Tips For Using Masking Fluid  – This post has a video with a side-by-side comparison and lots of colourful images to show masking fluid in action.

Mediums for Watercolour   – The Paint Spot carries a wide range of watercolour mediums, grounds, and additives. Visit our web page to read all about them.


Kim Fjordbotten (June 2020) As the owner of The Paint Spot, Kim Fjordbotten is passionate about helping artists use materials and make art. She is available as a speaker and educator for teachers and art associations. The Paint Spot offers exhibitions, workshops, and beautiful art materials to inspire your creativity.

Notice you are not bombarded with advertising while sourcing this information. Please help us by purchasing your art supplies from The Paint Spot. We really appreciate your business and it means we can keep making educational posts for free.  Thank you.

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