A Watercolour Comparison

This post is basically a result of a question I’ve been asking myself almost constantly lately–which watercolours do I love more?

Now, we all know I’m a huge lover of my Farber Castell watercolour pencils. They’re so pigmented, so versatile, so lovely. But then I got a set of W&N Cotman colours for Christmas, and I’ve been loving them equally hard.

So which set is better?

It was time for a comparison. I got out the sets and tried to find the exact same colours, but of course they didn’t share the same hues. So I did the next best thing and found similar shades. Sure, I failed miserably in some cases, but it’s the idea that counts. 🙂

I started with the pencils.

The first image is before water was added and the second after.

As you can see, the pigment is incredible. I realise the gradients are a little splotchy in places, but had I added a second layer of colour, they’d have been perfect. You read that right–this is a single layer of colour. And it’s that saturated.

They dried in half the time the watercolours did, so I could have applied a second layer to show you the result if I weren’t so lazy. Sorry. 😛

I find that it’s easier to control how the pigment flows when I’m working with the watercolour pencils. When I had too much water on my brush, I created splotches. But when I used less water the gradients were smoother.

Next, the Cotman set.

This is a single layer of colour. The gradients aren’t smooth and the pigment isn’t that vibrant. But okay, watercolours are all about layering, right? So this result was to be expected.

I applied a second layer, spent a lot of time on smoothing out those gradients, and the result was much better.

Still not perfect, but you get the idea. Add another layer and the colour would be super vibrant.

If you’re after a softer, more ethereal end result, the Cotman set would be better. You get to softly layer colours until you reach the opacity you’re looking for.

If you want to finish a painting faster, if you want more control over how the colours flow, the watercolour pencils are the answer.

Here’s a side-by-side shot for you.

When I use the two sets together in an artwork, I find I get the best of both worlds. Here’s an example of the results.

I tend to paint the base layers of colour with the Cotman set, then pull out the watercolour pencils for detail work, darkening, or flashes of saturated colour.

Yes, we’ve reached the end of this post and I don’t have a definite this is better answer for you. I personally use the pencils more often, but that’s probably just because of the variety of colours available. I don’t have to mix to get the shade I want. I’ve also had them longer, so I’ve figured out more of their secrets. Still, the Cotman set is really cool. I fully intend to learn all its secrets too.

Do you have a preference when it comes to watercolours? Please share.

Until next time.



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