Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Holbein Artist Watercolour

Holbein from Japan has been making watercolour since the early1920s. They don't contain any ox-gall, animal products or dispersing agents so are easy to control. They claim that the pigments are more finely ground than in other ranges and describe themselves as "a European style transparent watercolor which preserves the brush handling qualities inherent in Japanese watercolor techniques". They generally rewet beautifully from the samples I have received so can be used fresh from the tube or dry in the palette.

The colour chart shows 108 colours, without the pigment information. They are available in 5ml and 15ml tubes and some pan colours. Note in this range there are only a possible three stars for lightfastness.
The colour chart also shows a series of symbols
T = Transparent,
N = Non stain
E = Easy lift
H = hard lift
X = granulating
B = Semi transparent
O = opaque
S = Staining
I = intense.
I've added this information to the swatches, though sometimes it seems contradictory.

The pigment information isn't included on the colour chart so I've had to search around for that and do the best I can. Some don't look right to me so are in pencil.
Update - I found a link to the pigment information here so have updated the pigments in the captions. Many of the problem fugitive colours have been reformulated :-)

And finally - I have tested less than half of this range but decided to include the empty swathes simply because the pigment information is hard to find. I'll update over time. They are arranged according to the Holbein 2017 colour chart.

I always avoid PR83. The other less lightfast pigment, PT23, has been removed.
Holbein Artist Watercolour - Crimson Lake (not shown but now replaced with PR177+PR122+PV19), Permanent Alizarin Crimson (not shown but now PV19 + PBr25), Carmine, Rose Madder (not shown), 
Quinacridone Red (not shown).

Holbein Artist Watercolour - Pyrrole Rubin (not shown), Perylene Maroon, Pyrrole Red, Quinacridone Scarlet, Scarlet Lake (not shown).

Holbein Artist Watercolour - Opera, Brilliant Pink, Shell Pink, Cadmium Red Purple (not shown),
Cadmium Red Deep (not shown).

 This is a really orange version of PR108 in Cadmium Red Orange!
Holbein Artist Watercolour - Vermilion, Vermilion Hue (not shown but now made with PO73 + PR254 + PY110), Cadmium Red Light (not shown), Cadmium Red Orange, Brilliant Orange(not shown).

Holbein Artist Watercolour - Permanent Yellow Orange, Cadmium Yellow Orange (not shown), Cadmium Yellow Deep (not shown but now made with PO20+ PY53), Cadmium Yellow Light (not shown but make with PY35), Cadmium Yellow Pale (not shown but made with PY35).

Holbein Artist Watercolour - Cadmium Yellow Lemon (not shown but made with PY35), Imidazolone Lemon (not shown), Imidazolone Yellow (not shown), Gamboge Nova (not shown but now made with PY154+PY150+PY110), Permanent Yellow Light (not shown) but now made with PY74+PY83).

Holbein Artist Watercolour - Isoindolinone Yellow Deep, Quinacridone Gold (not shown), Permanent Yellow Deep (now made with PY74+PY83), Aureoline, Permanent Yellow Lemon (not shown).

Holbein Artist Watercolour - Lemon Yellow, Naples Yellow (now made with PY35+PY42+PW6), Jaune Brilliant 1, Jaune Brilliant 2, Greenish Yellow.

Holbein Artist Watercolour - Olive Green, Leaf Green, Permanent Green #1, Permanent Green #2 (not shown now made with PY74+PY53+PG7), Cobalt Green (not shown).

Holbein Artist Watercolour - Viridian (not shown), Cadmium Green Deep (not shown but now made with PY35+PG7+PG18), Cadmium Green Pale (not shown now made with PY35+PG18), Hooker's Green (not shown now made with PG7+PY110+PY150), Bamboo Green.

Holbein Artist Watercolour - Viridian Hue, Emerald Green Nova (not shown), Compose Green,
Sap Green (not shown but now made with PY150+PG7+PR122), Terre Verte.

 Marine Blue is very beautiful :-)
Holbein Artist Watercolour - Green Grey,  Shadow Green, Phthalo Blue Red Shade (not shown),
Phthalo Blue Yellow Shade, Marine Blue.

Holbein Artist Watercolour - Horizon Blue, Turquoise Blue (without PY3), Cobalt Turquoise Light, Peacock Blue, Manganese Blue Nova.

Holbein Artist Watercolour - Compose Blue, Verditer Blue, Cerulean Blue (not shown), Cobalt Blue,
Cobalt Blue Hue (not shown).

 Both ultramarines are rich and gorgeous.
Holbein Artist Watercolour - Ultramarine Light, Ultramarine Deep, Prussian Blue (not shown), Royal Blue, Indigo.

 Cobalt Violet Light is now made with PV14.
Holbein Artist Watercolour - Lavender, Permanent Violet, Mineral Violet (actually made with PB29+PR122+PB225), Cobalt Violet Light, Bright Violet (not shown).

Holbein Artist Watercolour - Bright Rose (not shown), Lilac (not shown), Quinacridone Magenta (formally Rose Violet),
Mars Violet (not shown).

 These earth colours are nice. Less granulating than some brands.
Holbein Artist Watercolour - Indian Red, Imadazolone Brown, Light Red, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber.

Holbein Artist Watercolour - Raw Umber (not shown but now made with PBr7 + PY42), Raw Sienna (now made WITH PBr7 + PY42), Yellow Ochre (not shown), Yellow Grey (not shown), Umber (not shown).

Holbein Artist Watercolour - Sepia (not shown), Ivory Black, Lamp Black (not shown ),
Peach Black (Now just PBk6) , Neutral Tint.

Holbein Artist Watercolour - Van Dyke Brown (not shown but this is the real vandyke brown pigment), Payne's Grey (not shown but now PBk6 + PB15+ PR122), Davy's Grey (not shown), Grey of Grey, Chinese White (not shown).

Holbein Artist Watercolour - Titanium White, Gold, Silver, Compose Green 3 (discontinued), Permanent Red (discontinued)

Holbein Artist Watercolour - Permanent Green #3

There is a lot to add here, but hopefully it's helpful!

Use the search button to see other watercolour ranges.

Happy painting!


  1. I've been waiting for your thoughts on these. I bought a 30 tube set for a really good price on Amazon when I recently got back into watercolors. I bought it before reading about pigments and many in the set are multi-pigments mixes, not their single pigment colors. I was really disappointment by the yellows but really pleased with the blues! Mineral Violet is a color I read about frequently online. I enjoy using it, but my tube lists PB 29, PR 122, and PBr25. Thanks for your awesome blog!!

    1. Yes I have changed the pigments for that colour in the caption on the bottom - the sample certainly didn't look like PV15!