Monday 10 April 2017

Winsor & Newton Watercolours - full range

My first watercolours over 35 years ago was a small Winsor & Newton Cotman sketching kit that I still had until my car was broken into and it was taken about 10 years ago. I'd changed the colours over to professional colours by then but I rather liked that palette and it had been all over the world with me...

Winsor & Newton started in England in 1832, and is one of the most famous watercolour brands, usually available throughout the world. They are available in whole and half pans as well as in tubes of various sizes. Some even come in extra large 37ml tubes :-)

Here is the full range of 96 current colours. There are also swatches of some of the limited edition watercolours that have been released from time to time, and some that have been discontinued.

The swatches have been photographed and colour matches are ok but not perfect. I'll note in my comments where they are way out. The most difficult to match are the warm yellows and orange-reds.

PY53 is not a powerful pigment so generally looks quite soft. I prefer the other stronger cool or lemon yellows such as Winsor Lemon or Winsor Yellow as a cool to mid yellow on the palette.
Winsor & Newton Watercolours - Lemon Yellow, Bismuth Yellow, Cadmium Lemon, Winsor Lemon, Winsor Yellow.

I rather like the Transparent Yellow of this row, and PY150 is a lovely mid-yellow pigment that is absolutely transparent. Turner's Yellow in interesting - it has more of a slight yellow ochre pastel look to it than it appears here - picture the look of a cad deep mixed with a little white.
Winsor & Newton Watercolours - Lemon Yellow Deep, Aureolin, Transparent Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Pale, Turner's Yellow.

These yellow are all much more orange-yellow than they appear - I just can't adjust to make them look right. Winsor Yellow Deep is made with an excellent warm yellow pigment and is a great choice for a warm yellow in the palette.
Winsor & Newton Watercolours - New Gamboge (now made with PY150 + PR209), Cadmium Yellow, Winsor Yellow Deep, Indian Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Deep.

Here is a sample of the new formula for New Gamboge. It doesn't have the magic of the beautiful but discontinued PY153. If you find an older version, do pick it up. It's a beautiful pigment.
Winsor & Newton Watercolours - New Gamboge updated version.

Cadmium Orange and Winsor Orange are more orange then they look here and Winsor Orange Red Shade is more or a warm red. Transparent Orange is one of the most beautiful single pigment oranges I think - along with Schmincke Transparent Orange and Da Vinci Benzimida Orange Deep and Daniel Smith Transparent Pyrrol Orange.
Winsor & Newton Watercolours - Cadmium Orange, Winsor Orange, Winsor Orange Red Shade, Transparent Orange (Limited Edition Colour), Bright Red (discontinued).

 Scarlet Lake is probably the best warm red option in a W&N palette.
Winsor & Newton Watercolours - Cadmium Scarlet, Scarlet Lake, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Red Deep, Winsor Red.

 I like Winsor Red Deep for a good strong crimson. These swatches are closer to reality. I never use Alizarin Crimson but I do think it is helpful that is is still manufactured, as long as it is clearly marked as fugitive.
Winsor & Newton Watercolours - Rose Dore, Quinacridone Red, Winsor Red Deep, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Alizarin Crimson.
Permanent Rose is great as a mixing rose or even as a primary red. W&N are the only manufacturer to still make genuine Rose Madder, and I'm glad it is still available to see what it looks like though it is fugitive so should be protected from light.
Winsor & Newton Watercolours - Sanguine Red (discontinued), Permanent Carmine, Permanent Rose, Rose Madder Genuine, Opera Rose.

 Quinacridone Magenta is a perfect choice for a CYM palette.
Winsor & Newton Watercolours - Quinacridone Magenta, Permanent Magenta, Cobalt Violet, Permanent Mauve, Quinacridone Violet.

I like the granulation of PV15 Ultramarine, though it is not a strong mixer. I was really surprised to see this pigment in the rather amazing Smalt Blue limited edition colour.
Winsor & Newton Watercolours - Ultramarine Violet, Winsor Violet (Dioxazine), Smalt Blue (limited edition), Indanthrene blue, cobalt Blue Deep.
French Ultramarine is a palette staple. Winsor Blue Red shade and Phthalo Sapphire are very similar - both phthalo blue red shade colours.
Winsor & Newton Watercolours - French Ultramarine, Ultramarine (Green Shade), Cobalt blue, Phthalo Sapphire, Winsor Blue Red Shade.

Winsor Blue Green Shade is often known as phthalo blue green shade - a lovely choice as a cool blue in a palette.
Winsor & Newton Watercolours - Antwerp blue, Prussian blue, Winsor Blue (Green Shade), Cerulean Blue Red Shade, Cerulean Blue.

Cobalt colours are expensive, but add so much lovely texture. I particularly love Cobalt Turquoise. (Note as of 2018 Cobalt Turquoise is a two pigment mix of PB36 and PB28. )
Winsor & Newton Watercolours - Manganese Blue Hue, Phthalo Turquoise, Cobalt Turquoise Light, Cobalt Turquoise (now made with PB36+PB28), Cobalt Green.

Winsor Green and Winsor Green Blue Shade are the same thing if they are made with PG7. Also known as phthalo green blue shade. Viridian is a similar colour but more gentle and not staining.
Winsor Green (Blue Shade), Winsor Green, Viridian, Winsor Green (Yellow Shade), Terre Verte.

I love Perylene Green for the shadows in foliage and am rather fascinated by the granulation and opacity of PG17 though I've never really explore this pigment.
Perylene Green, Oxide or Chromium, Hooker's Green, Permanent Sap Green, Olive Green.

Green gold is useful for the look of sunlight shining through foliage.
Winsor & Newton Watercolours - Terre Verte (Yellow Shade), Green Gold, Naples Yellow, Naples Yellow Deep,
Yellow Ochre Light .

The Raw Sienna is a mix which is a shame as raw sienna PBr7 is a a lovely pigment. I like the yellow ochre and the lovely granulating Yellow Titanate.
Winsor & Newton Watercolours - Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, Yellow Titanate, Gold Ochre, Quinacridone Gold (genuine - discontinued)

Magnesium Brown is rather fun. Schmincke has just released a colour using this pigment too. Burnt Sienna is a gorgeous burnt orange colour. I prefer PBr7 burnt siennas but this will mix in a similar way to make greys with ultramarine.
Winsor & Newton Watercolours - Quinacridone Gold, Gold Brown (limited edition), Brown Ochre, Magnesium Brown, Burnt Sienna.

W&N Indian red is a fairly well behaved version of this colour. It can be rather wild and a little crazy, (which can be fun, but more difficult to control). Indian Red Deep is an interesting red-brown pigment made by a few other manufacturers. 
Winsor & Newton Watercolours - Light Red, Venetian Red, Indian Red (limited edition), Brown Madder.

Raw Umber one of the colours which is produced as either this mid-toned colour or a dark cool brown colour depending on the manufacturer. I prefer the deeper version as a dark cool brown is not easy to mix.
Winsor & Newton Watercolours - Potter's Pink, Perylene Maroon, Perylene Violet, Caput Mortuum Violet, Raw Umber.

The very chocolate-coloured Dark Brown was a limited edition colour.
Winsor & Newton Watercolours - Burnt Umber, Vandyke Brown, Dark Brown (special limited edition), Sepia, Indigo.

W&N Mars Black can be seen here - it is the most granulating black, made with PBk11. 
Winsor & Newton Watercolours - Payne's Grey, Neutral tint, Ivory Black, Lamp Black, Mars Black

I don't tend to use black or white watercolours much but they are important, as are some greys for convenience.
Winsor & Newton Watercolours - Charcoal Grey, Davy's Grey, Chinese White, Titanium White.
This post was updated in June 2017. I am very grateful to Winsor & Newton Australia who presented each member of the Australian Watercolour Institute with a gift package including a paint dot card with the full W&N range. I was finally able to add the missing 5 colours :-)

As always, please let me know if I have made any errors.
Happy painting :-)


  1. Nice to see them all. Thanks for doing this and the additional comments.

    I don't use the tubes (except for a vintage tube of their New Gamboge) because I prefer the Daniel Smith because it rewets better. I like to use pans so I either use Daniel Smith or I have the Winsor and Newton pans. The pans don't have nearly as many color choices as the W&N tubes so it is nice to see the colors.

    I ended up with quite a selection as I love the heavy enameled boxes the W&N pans come in but I end up with repeats of a lot of colors I don't necessarily use often. I have been able to order whole pans from the UK which extends my color choices nicely. I too am disappointed in their raw umber.

    In general I really like their line of pan paints. That's what I started with and used until a few years ago so. Pelikan watercolors from Germany circa 1969. The Winsor and Newton professional grade are quite a step up from them but the feel of using the pans is the same.

    I have never gotten used to using fresh paint from tubes on an open palette so I always put my Daniel Smith in half or whole pans. I like to be able to switch them in and out easily. I think it wastes less paint and allows me more options.

    I have some Schminke pans too. I think I'll go back and check out those posts.

    1. W&N are the only manufacturers who use a different formulation for their pans and tubes, as far as I know, though I believe some heat their pans a little which is interesting - I even have a W&N one that was perhaps over-heated! It's certainly deformed.

      I work from dried paint in pans/palettes almost exclusively - the only time I use wet tube paint is when painting a really large area where it is simply faster to start with the wet tube colour to make enough for a whole wash. That canvas was 6'x6', which is not something I use regularly!

      One of the joys of watercolour is, after all, its portability. And one of the reasons I fell in love with DS paints is the ease with which they rewet. I never pre-wet or spray them before use; just touch them with a damp brush and paint.

      The W&N pans do rewet better than the tube colours that have been allowed to dry in the palette, unless you add glycerine.

      I think Schmincke make all their colours in both tube and pan form. With the new additions they have really filled some gaps in their range. I'll be posting up some suggested palettes in many different ranges...eventually.

    2. I have quite a lot of the Schmincke half pans but I just don't use them. I use my Daniel Smith the majority of the time with the Windsor and Newton pans occasionally. (When a class specifies Windsor and Newton.) I never got used to using the paint straight from the tube. The Daniel Smith took a bit to get used to because it rewet so easily. My old Pelikans I had to drop water in and then wait a bit for them to soften. The Windsor and Newton aren't that bad but I do have to spray them and wait a bit. I love the range of the Daniel Smith. They are the only ones with Buff Titanium and I love their Primatek colors. I've been experimenting with their iridescent and duochrome line too.

  2. Thanks so very, very much for these posts. I find it very useful to see the samples side by side with the pigment information, etc. Thanks also for your comments - very helpful for me as a new-ish watercolorist. [Side note: I use mostly WN tube colors in my palette and have found them easier to re-wet than the DS. I guess it's just what you're used to...]

  3. I've had a fresh pan of Winsor and Newton Prussian blue for about a year - only used a few times. I found it really weak the first time I used it and didn't use it after. Then I was doing a swatch today and I used it, really wet it and scrubbed it about to get some thicker application, and it was full of little gritty particles like sand. Have you ever come across this before in this or any paint? The bits don't re-wet into paint or anything, it just looks gritty. (I did then dig down quite deep for colour to see if it was contamination, it wasn't).
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful blog.

    1. I've had EXACTLY the same problem with the W&N Prussian blue! I found it weak and gritty and really could not get the colour to pop at all - especially when compared to the luscious creaminess of indigo.

    2. My Prussian Blue pan was a nightmare at first, it was like I was using a brand for children compared to the tube paint. Slowly though after a few attempts the pan seems to have come to life, I still make sure to wet it generously a couple of minutes before I want to use it just in case though. It's just silly when their Cotman Prussian Blue pans work better :-/

  4. The Cobalt Turquoise by W&N is made with two pigments:
    PB28 and PB36
    according to their web site and on the tube I have.

    However, DickBlick lists it as single pigment and here too is listed as single pigment. Also, a brochure i request from them lists it as a single pigment. I I wonder which is the latest formulation.

    1. It can be very hard to know. The sample I have shown here was from a single pigment tube as far as I know. Maybe they received a very green batch of PB36 and had to add the Cobalt blue to it? I would think the W&N website would be the most up to date information so it may of course have changed to a two-pigment mix. The W&N dot card Cobalt Turquoise (which I guess is PB36+PB28) looks the same as this probable single pigment sample.

    2. Hi Jane,

      Thank you for your response. I contacted W&N and they confirmed it contains two pigments. Below is the email I received from one of their global product experts:

      "Hi Nikola,

      Thank you for your interest in W&N.

      I can confirm that Cobalt Turquoise contains two pigments--PB28 and PB36.

      Kindest regards,"

      I love your website!

    3. Thank you Nikola - I have added that information into the Blog post.

    4. It was single pigment until around 2005 when production moved to France and the packaging changed. I have zero clue why they did it, it makes no sense to me.

  5. Thanks for the great post. Just by the way, the W&N Cerulean Blue (RS) is also PB35, like their Cerulean Blue. I have both (in tubes) and I love them. Wonderful granulation and flocculation. I don't like the Chromite version PB36 in other brands at all - it just doesn't have the beautiful characteristics inherent in PB35. And yes, the older version of Cobalt Turquoise, which I have, is PB36, the newer version is made from two pigments - PB28 and PB36.

  6. Does anyone know of a site with swatches of the other colours that were discontinued in 2005 but that aren't here? Cobalt Green Yellow Shade (which is beautiful, I have a small amount), Nickel Titanium Yellow (the only deeper hue version known to have been produced), Purple Madder, Blue Black, Thioindigo Violet and Genuine Gamboge are ones I'd like to see.

  7. Thanks so very, very much for these posts. I find it very useful to see the samples side by side with the pigment information, etc. Thanks also for your comments - very helpful for me as a new-ish watercolorist. [Side note: I use mostly WN tube colors in my palette and have found them easier to re-wet than the DS. I guess it's just what you're used to...]

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  8. Hi Jane, i have a question.
    which is the best replacement for the PR101 Brunt sienna??
    Its Magnesium brown or Brown ocher ??

    1. It depends why you are replacing it. I prefer to use a PBr7 burnt sienna rather than a PR101. If you want a more earthy burnt sienna colour, you'd be better to switch brands to a single pigment PBr7 burnt sienna (or Maroon Brown in Schmincke). My preferred PR101 is the Daniel Smith Transparent Red Oxide, which is a very similar colour to the W&N burnt sienna, but with amazing granulation. If it is granulation you are after, magnesium brown is certainly interesting for that!

  9. I found an older tube of my mother's WN paint, probably from the 1990's or early 200's. It's called Scarlet Vermilion, 095, Series 5. I can't find any information about this color in an internet search. Can you provide me with any? I can't wait to try it-it looks like THE shade for painting spring vegetation (buds, willows) here in the desert Southwest. Thank you.

    1. I am not sure, but I think it would be mercuric sulphide PR106. Doesn’t sound like a pigment I’d want to use!
      Scarlet Lake is a nice warm red for that purpose. I prefer the PR255 but W&N doesn’t make a red with that.

  10. Thanks for your reply. I painted swatches of all of the old colors in the collection and this paint did have a distinct “cinnabar” color-kind of a burnt orange tinge. I’ll separate the tube from the others and take it to a testing lab and if it’s positive for mercury they can help dispose it safely. I was rather disturbed that it did not have the code printed on the tube as required.
    The tube was quite full so I don’t think mother used that color much. I have lots of other reds and can search for a similar color. I'm not restricted to just W&N colors.

  11. Winsor & Newton watercolours were a staple during my formative years. One colour I have rediscovered is Light Red (Natural Iron Oxide PR102). Mixed with French Ultramarine it will separate on wet paper in a most glorious way. I believe they changed the recipe a while back so not sure if I have the old or the new tube.
    What would be the equivalent in Daniel Smith? If you go by pigment then there are several options but two I have Transparent Red Oxide and Quin Sienna seem to be quite close (but when mixed with FU, produce a different warm blue/grey and do not separate on wet paper). Your considered opinion on this would be so welcome. Thank you :-)

  12. The closest in Daniel Smith would be Roasted French Ochre as it is the same pigment, but it is not as bright as my sample of the W&N Light Red. The closest I can think of to match that would be Aquarius English Red Light - also made with a natural earth PR102. It is more saturated but a similar beautifully rich orange earth.

    1. Ah, yes RFO is a really nice earth too... I have the DS dot sheet so went and did a test, there is a bit of separation when used with F. Ultramarine so that looks promising. On the shopping list! Looks like Roman Szmal is not available in NZ and for consumables like watercolours, I try to stay with local suppliers. Thank you for your help, much appreciated as always :-)

    2. Whilst looking through the Maimeri watercolour range I noticed they make "Pozzuoli Earth" which is Iron Oxide PR102, Inorganic. Do you think the fact it's inorganic means it is unlikely to behave the same as the organic version? W&N Light Red almost curdles when mixed with FU. It's a fascinating 'magnetic' reaction to see on paper. Thank you.

    3. Follow-up... Pozzuoli Earth behaves almost identically to Light Red with FU. Beautiful separation. It has a hint of a blue undertone compared to Light Red but hardly noticeable when dry. I'm pretty happy with the result :-)

  13. How can I buy the half pans of Charcoal Grey. None of the on line art stores like Blick or Jerry's list it. Also didn't Winsor & Newton once make a warm grey.

    1. Try the UK store - they ship worldwide.

  14. Do you know if the watercolors shown in the Namil Art videos are Winsor & Newton?

  15. Thank you so much for the detail explanation and knowledge share. Would you do a detail study and share of gouache. Thank you.

  16. Hi Jane - Thank you for all the very helpful information you provide. I enjoyed watching you talk with Rob Sketcherman on the USkTalks recently, and since then I've been trying to build a palette. It is mostly Daniel Smith and Schmincke. However, I have Winsor Newton Cotman Purple Lake and really like the color. Do you happen to know of any professional color (any brand) that is similar? I can't tell by looking at swatches online and I know you've sampled so many colors...

    1. I happen to have that Cotman Purple Lake and I agree it's hard to match. In my own collection, PR 122 is the closest. Schmincke Pure Magenta might be the closest match.

    2. I agree. I tried WN Permanent Magenta which is a PV19 purple like Purple Lake, but it was much duller, especially in mixes. I think Quin Magenta PR122 is closer.

    3. Thank you Jenn and Logan! I didn't realize anyone had responded. I'm happy to hear others like Cotman Purple Lake. I will give PR122 a try.

  17. How is it done, that two colors with the same pigment PR101 look so different? I mean Indian Red and Caput Mortuum Violet?

    1. It is complex. It can depend on many factors - what other minerals are present, whether it has been heated or treated, where it is from. PR101 is the worst 'multi-personality' pigment. It can be a transparent burnt orange, a burnt Sienna, a burnt umber colour, a Venetian red, Light red, Indian red, caput mortuum...You have to read the name of the colour as well as looking at the pigment number to know what you are getting.

  18. Jane, thank you! I’ve been trying to find information on WN 720…and cannot seem to locate any info. Do you know anything about it? I recently bought a set of WN at an estate sale and it was included. Thanks in advance!

    1. What colour is it? Many of the old paints don't have labels but if I know if it is a red or a brown etc I may be able to help.

    2. It may be a phthalo green - it's between Winsor Green BS and Winsor Green YS...

  19. Hi Jane,

    I want to start by just thanking you for everything you share, teach, and beautifully create. I have been following you before I even discovered an intense passion for watercolor, I was drawn here by a beginning interest in pencils. It was after encouragement from friends/family that I tried some watercolors, despite the horrible quality of paint I had I immediately became enamored with the process and wanted to know more and more.

    In the beginning I clumsily began to collect various products due to different recommendations and before I knew it I had a bit more than I intended... Ooops. So I recently started to organize and found myself back at your blog to help with putting my colors in order. I love that you have provided so many various swatch charts! They have been incredibly helpful.

    This actually is my first inquiry out of everything I was already able to put in order and it regards the Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolours, Aqua Green, Cobalt Green Deep, and Chromium Black. I didnt see that in your chart or mentioned anywhere (I apologize if I just missed them) and was really curious as to your take on them. Are they nice colors or a waste of money,lol? Where would they fit on the color chart? Do you have examples of them somewhere I may have overlooked?

    I bought them as a set (classic newbie mistake, haha) and haven't had to use them, but can't stand the thought of them going to waste. So I thought I might reach out and see if you could help me any. If you would like any more information from me please let me know.

    I still feel so new at everything, but have some basic knowledge, so I appreciate all the help/advice I can get. Look forward to hearing back! Thanks

    1. I can tell you about Aqua Green - it's a phthalo color that looks like a cross between Winsor (Phthalo) blue and green. It looks a lot like Daniel Smith Phthalo Turquoise. It's greener than WN Phthalo Turquoise. It's similar in hue to the darker Cobalt Turquoise, but more tinting, staining, transparent and non-granulating (like a phthalo color).

      I think it's very beautiful and handles nicely, but it's easy to approximate by mixing Winsor blue and Green.

  20. Is the gold brown discontinued? I can't find it in any store.

  21. Hi Jane,

    Thank you very much for sharing all of this, it's really helpful. I want to switch from Nevskaya palitra to Winsor and Newton but I'm not sure which 12 colors would be good for beginning. I would be very thankful if you could suggest me some. Also I'm still thinking about DS, but I don't like granulation so it's hard to decide.
    Thank you in advice!

  22. I tested many Winsor & Newton colors in a south-facing (maximum sun) window for around 7 months. And the test began right before a scorching summer. The swatches were suspended an inch or two away from the window and faced directly at the sun. I was absolutely shocked to find that Opera Rose BARELY faded at all after the 7 months. There was a teeny tiny difference but only in the tinted part; the masstone remained the same and did not change at all or lose its fluorescence at all. A huge lesson was learned here for me. I used to absolutely obsess about lightfastness when choosing paints. After realizing that Opera Rose did not even fade at all after 2500+ hours of direct sun, I have really relaxed myself when it comes to worrying about the issue. Sure, professionals should pick the most durable paints possible; but again, if Opera Rose can last- then any color will be okay. Plus, no one hangs their paintings inside of a window facing outward.

    One more thing.... Another reason Opera Rose doesn't bother me specifically as a color is because even if it loses its fluorescence, the PR122 will remain behind which is still a vivid magenta anyway.

  23. Hi , Thank you for all the references. Now they make cadmium free yellow and red . Maybe you want to update it .

  24. All of my Winsor newton Cotman watercolours are vintage and were made in England. I wanted to know how different are the new Chinese formula vs the French formula vs the English formula.

  25. This is beautifully done - thanks for posting :)

  26. I love the Smalt that has been added to the W&N line. The name confused me, but it is identical to Schmincke's Ultramarine Violet that was previously the only source of that bluish shade. It's not a great mixer, but has a nice granulation and is great for shadows and cloudy skies.

  27. It would be really interesting to know your 12-colour watercolour palette suggestion with this brand. Could you share your choices with us?