Watercolour Palette Review - Prima Watercolour Confections Vs Winsor and Newton Cotman Palette
If you've been following me on Instagram for a while, then you'll probably notice a watercolour palette crop up time and time again. It's the 'Classics' palette, from Prima Marketing Inc's 'Watercolour Confections' range. As the first palette I invested in I've always had a soft spot for this set, but it recently occurred to me that I've never explored much further, and I decided to put my beloved Classics set to the test! Coming up against the Classics palette is Winsor and Newton's Cotman Sketchers palette. I wanted a compact set that could still be portable, and this seemed to fit the bill perfectly, providing 12 colours, the same amount as a Prima set. I decided to break down each of the key characteristics I feel are important to a watercolour set, scoring each brand marks out of 5 for each section, and then overall. TIN
As we’re looking at compact sets, these palettes should be designed with travel in mind.
All Prima palettes are encased in a metal tin, with a fold out area for blending, as well as a secondary mixing area being available in the lid. The tray holding the watercolours has room to add extra pans if desired, and also lifts out completely, which is great if you want to clean your palette! The little D ring build into the base is ideal for travel artists, and overall they have a traditional feel that really appeals to me.
5 out of 5 W&N The W&N palette is made of hard wearing plastic, which works well, if a little uninspiring visually. The lid again doubles as a mixing area, though with no second fold out area, there is less room to mix colours. There’s also no space to add any pans, you would have to switch a colour instead. This palette does come with a metal travel brush, which is very high quality, and really convenient too! This addition pushed their score up by 1, if it hadn’t been included I would have rated the tin 3 out of 5. 4 out of 5 COLOUR RANGE PRIMA
At at first glance, Prima’s 12 colours appear to be a good selection, and I especially like the inclusion of Black and Grey as well as white, making it easy to produce tints, shades and tones of the colours you’re using. See ‘how to add detail to watercolours’ for more on this.
However after swatching the palette, I realised that a lot of the colours have quite neon undertones, which I don't tend to aim for in my work, as it is often based on nature. I have always preferred to blend colours rather than use them straight out of the palette, and I had been overcompensating for this, neutralising colours and often blending my own shade rather than choosing to use Prima’s version. 3.5 out of 5
W&N It was only after colour swatching this second palette that I realised just how much overcompensating I’d been doing! The W&N colours are earthy, rich and feel much more natural overall. I found myself doing less blending, as the colours were so lovely to begin with. The only drawback is no Black pan is included, so I would keep a Black on hand, or switch one of the colours for a black.
4.5 out of 5
I hadn’t given much thought to the pigmentation of my paints prior to this, but looking at the two swatch charts there is a significant difference in how pigmented the colours are. It felt harder to pick up strong colour quickly with the Prima watercolours, and they quite quickly dried up had had to be refreshed. I found myself really working the paint before feeling like I’d picked up enough colour, and this shows on the chart - working at the same pace as the W&N swatches I clearly couldn’t pick up as much colour.
2.5 out of 5
I was shocked by how quickly I picked up A LOT of colour from just brushing the pan lightly a few times. The paints are very rich and for this price range, are excellent quality. They also blended seamlessly and the pans stayed wet / tacky for longer.
5 out of 5
The Prima Watercolour Confections palettes are all within the £17.00 - £20.00 range. The tin definitely contributes to this price, but it adds some useful benefits. The palette is extremely durable, probably down to the fact that the paint has to be worked a little to really pick up lots of colour. (After a year I had only just started to run out of paint!) I do however feel disappointed by the lack of pigmentation, and the colours themselves have an artificial feel that I couldn’t shake off without doing a lot of mixing.
3.5 out of 5
The Cotman sketchers palette is available for £11.00 - £13.00, and is very competitively priced. In terms of quality and colour, it blows closely priced competition out of the water! Artists seeking a more thorough colour range might be frustrated by the lack of space for extra pans, but the key is that the selection you’re given mix to create a thorough range of colours, and I really didn’t feel like I was missing out. I would have to add black to my set, adding another £2.50 to the price, but even considering this I’m still very impressed with this small but mighty palette.
4.5 out of 5
Watercolour Confections are ideal for artists looking for a pre mixed palette, with a mix of colours they know will work well together. The Classics palette is a good starter kit for artists who are happy to blend and experiment with colour mixing, but some of the colours are a little lacklustre and neon when used on their own, and require working to get maximum pigment out of them.
3.5 out of 5
The Cotman Sketchers palette is ideal for beginner and pro artists alike, with a carefully curated selection of colours that leap off the page and have a high, rich colour pigmentation, whilst keeping travel and compactness in mind. With the addition of black, you have everything you need to work on the go!
4.5 out of 5
The Winner is the Winsor and Newton Cotman palette! If you've tried either of these palettes let me know your thoughts on them in the comments!