Thursday, 26 July 2018

Daniel Smith half pan watercolour sets.

I've been asking Daniel Smith paints to create pan colours for many years, as they are a far simpler way for people to get started in artist quality watercolours than buying tubes. It takes time and care to create pan colours, but finally, earlier this month, it was announced that they would introduce 6 half pans sets, which will be available in September (early October more likely). You can see the information on Doodlewashed here.

At this stage, Daniel Smith won't be creating open stock pans.

Rather than individually wrapping each half pan and packaging them up, they have also created a rather nice compact palette that was designed to hold 15 half pans. This will be included at no extra charge - a bonus - with each set, along with spare empty half pans. For the 15 colour set a second empty palette with 15 empty half pans will be provided!

Here's the new palette!

Daniel Smith hand-poured watercolour half pan set of 15 - Ultimate Mixing Set.

The largest set, pictured above, is my 15 colour Ultimate Mixing Set, including the new DS colour Jane's Grey that anyone who's been reading my blog is familiar with. It also contains Buff Titanium, Hansa Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Gold, Pyrrol Scarlet, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Quinacridone Rose, Ultramarine, Cerulean Chromium, Phthalo Blue Green Shade, Phthalo Green Blue Shade, Goethite, Burnt Sienna, Indian Red and Raw Umber. The recommended retail price of this set will be US$114.60.

The Ultimate Mixing Set painted out - though due to technical difficulties producing the pans,
Permanent Alizarin Crimson will replace Pyrrol Crimson in the pan set.

Book cover using all the Ultimate Mixing Set colours.

I have created a book showing thousands of possible mixes - see a preview of the eBook here. It is also available as a hardcover or softcover with premium matt paper, or a softcover with standard paper.

The Daniel Smith Ultimate Mixing half pan set paint out, showing the new quinacridone hue, permanent alizarin crimson and the new Daniel Smith Jane's Grey.

You can mix any other colour with this set, but it is not intended as a limited set so a bonus empty palette box with an additional 15 empty half pans will also be included so you can add others you use a lot. I work with these colours as my basic palette, but add other convenience colours to speed up the painting process. These colours can be made with those in the set for harmony, or may be colours that can be mixed but add extra characteristics. Examples are Undersea Green (made from Ultramarine and Quinacridone Gold - both colours already in the set) and Sap Green (made from phthalo green and quinacridone gold - both in the set). Or I might add Raw Sienna (which can be created as a hue using Quinacridone Gold and burnt sienna) or Perylene Green (which can also be created as a hue with Phthalo Green and Permanent Alizarin Crimson). Other favourite extras are burnt umber (a mix burnt sienna and ultramarine) and the extraordinary Primatek pigments that add wonderful granulation.

The next set is the 'Sketcher' set, which is Liz Steel's watercolour starter set. It includes Hansa Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Rose and Ultramarine - a fabulous basic triad also included in me Ultimate Mixing Set. You can get an idea of how versatile this mixing triad is from this chart of three-colour mixes.

A basic mixing triad of Hansa Yellow Medium, Ultramarine and Quinacridone Rose can create an extraordinary range of colours. Daniel Smith Watercolour.

Also included are Mont Amiata Natural Sienna, Cerulean Chromium and the absolutely gorgeous Transparent Red Oxide, providing an earth yellow, a non-staining cool blue and a bright and granulating version of a burnt sienna. This set will be packaged in a 15 half pan palette with 9 empty half pans.

The Daniel Smith Sketcher half pan set

All the 6-colour sets will have a Recommended Retail Price of US$55.31.

The four remaining sets will be Colours of Inspiration sets. They will also come in a 15 half pan palette with 9 spare empty pans.

Pink Rose, Jane Blundell. Daniel Smith Watercolours.

'Colors of Inspiration' has a mix of purples including Wisteria, Lavender, Rose of Ultramarine, Moonglow and Shadow Violet along with the lovely Australian Primatek colour Serpentine Genuine - a really unique granulating set.

I really love DS Moonglow - it is a three pigment mix of ultramarine, anthraquinoid red and viridian. It makes a really interesting background colour to florals as the crimson particles float and the viridian granulation is lovely. Shadow Violet is similar but has an orange in the mix rather than the crimson so is even more grey.

Rose of Ultramarine, Moonglow and Shadow Violet were all used to create the background for this rose study.

The Daniel Smith Colours of Inspiration half pan set.

Congregational Church Hunters Hill with
green apatite genuine in the gardens.
Jane Blundell

'Floral - Cottage Gardens to Botanicals' has some great colours for painting florals. Quinacridone Gold, Quinacridone Rose and Phthalo Blue Green Shade make a wonderful primary triad; Cadmium Yellow Medium Hue gives a mid yellow, Cascade Green (created for painting the Cascade mountains) and one of my other favourites, Green Apatite Genuine, make up the rest of this set. I've used that in the foreground of this sketch of a lovely sandstone church. It is an extraordinary pigment as it can be used very diluted for soft grassy effects or strongly for deep olive greens.

The Daniel Smith Floral - Cottage Gardens to Botanicals half pan set.

Untitled abstract watercolour. Jane Blundell.

'Blues  - Serene to Dramatic' set has a mix of dramatic blues and blue-greys including Sodalite Genuine, Sleeping Beauty Turquoise Genuine, Lunar Blue, Payne's Blue Gray, Cerulean Chromium and Indigo. This was developed with thanks to Julie Karlsson from Sweden.

Working with a range of colours that are very close can be very rewarding. Sodalite Genuine, Cerulean Chromium and other granulating beauties were used to create this study.

The Daniel Smith 'Blues - Serene to Dramatic' half pan set.

Untitled abstract watercolour. Jane Blundell

'Earth - Desert to Mountains' set - contains the amazing Buff Titanium, Raw Sienna Light, Bronzite Genuine, Venetian Red, Burnt Sienna Light and the extraordinary Lunar Black. This set was recommended by the lovely artist Brenda Swenson, who's blog provides wonderful insights into art materials she enjoys and who's work in pen and watercolour is well worth looking at.

I love using these very granulating pigments for abstract studies. Here you can see the interplay of buff titanium and lunar black with earth reds.

The Daniel Smith Earth - Desert to Mountains half pan set.

Daniel Smith half pan watercolours: Earth - Desert to Mountains set in the specially designed palette.

So what will you do with the empty pans? They can be removed and mixed around as desired. Or they can be filled with tube colours, or watercolour sticks that you already own or choose to add. (Each DS watercolour stick can be cut up to create 5 half pans of colour.)

I have written before about filling pans and half pans from tubes here (and also partially filling them at a slope here) but will add the basic information again as there are few key points to keep in mind.

1- Shake the tube well. You don't know how long it may have been sitting around or perhaps exposed to different temperatures during transportation and the heavier pigments may drop to the bottom leaving gum Arabic on the top. Shake really well and open with care away from your clothing just in case the paint comes out a little too enthusiastically! I hold the tube at the bottom widest part and am ready so give a gentle squeeze if the paint comes out too fast - a gentle squeeze will suck a little back in again.

2 - Label the half pan with the colour name, pigment information and brand (if you use more than one brand) with a permanent marker.

3 - Fill in parts - ideally 1/3 at a time. If gum Arabic comes out, put the lid on a shake again. Stir with a toothpick, blunt needle or other fine point to get the paint into the corners of the pan and allow to dry. Top up with the next third and stir and dry again. The DS pans are hand-filled in 3 or 4 pours - this allows the paints to dry really evenly without cracking. When making your own it is best to do it gradually as well.

It is best to air dry the pans. I put them on a windowsill with the palette open, not closed.

4 - Once dry, arrange in your palette in a logical order. Make a chart and write out the colours you have included.

When painting, there is not need to spray Daniel Smith paints with water to reactivate them - they will rewet at the touch of a brush.

The paint used in the DS half pans is exactly the same as in the tubes, so when empty, the pans can be re-filled with tube colours.

Do have a look at the Doodlewashed page to see all the original announcement, but note that due to technical difficulties the Blues set will be slightly different to what is shown there and won't include Blue Apatite Genuine due to technical difficulties with creating pans with that pigment.

Happy painting!


  1. This is great news! I love Daniel Smith colors, but I really prefer pans to tubes. I have been buying mine from a shop on Etsy that fills half pans from the tube paints and resells them, but it will be nice to be able to buy pan colors directly from Daniel Smith.

    1. I prefer pans too as that is how I started. But I buy half and whole empty pans in bulk and fill them myself from Daniel Smith tubes as I love Buff Titanium and their Primateks. I prefer not to mix manufacturers so use Daniel Smith tubes so I've always been filling my own pans. It's not that difficult. I've even mixed my own to match a color not available, like the Holbein Tyrian Purple from last month's 30x30 challenge.

      I do have a set of Winsor and Newton half pans and Schminke but find I just don't use them any more.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Congratulations, Jane! This honor is well-deserved! I wish Daniel Smith was also rewarding you monetarily -- you've done so much for their brand! :)

  4. I am so excited about the Daniel Smith paint palettes. I’m unable to drive and the nearest watercolor store is over an hour away. I love the ease of pan sets.

  5. Jane,
    Love your post on the new pan sets by Daniel Smith! Its nice to have a friend who is as excited about paints as I am.
    Looking forward to the day to can paint and chat about pigments in person!
    Happy Painting,

  6. Why the switch from Pyrrol Crimson to Permanent Alizarin Crimson? It doesn't seen to be based on cost as they are both series 2 colours but the 'PAC' does go against the original single pigment ethos of the book.

    1. It was purely for technical reasons - they were not able to produce the pans successfully using pyrrol crimson. I suggested Permanent Alizarin Crimson as a suitable substitute since it is almost exactly the same hue so will mix in the same way. Since Quinacridone Gold is also no longer a single pigment, the set is no longer purely single pigment colours so I was fine with that change. The book remains single pigments plus Jane's Grey but the alternative colours will mix in the same way.

  7. This is great news--more watercolor supplies to acquire!

  8. Congratulations Jane!!! How wonderful is that???!!! Jane's Grey and the beautiful Ultimate Mixing Daniel Smith colours set. WOW!