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. 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!

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.

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.

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 next set is the Sketcher Set, which is Liz Steel's basic watercolour starter set. It includes Hansa Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Rose and Ultramarine - a fabulous basic triad also included in the Ultimate Mixing Set - and Mont Amiata Natural Sienna, Cerulean Chromium and Transparent Red Oxide, providing and earth yellow, a bright and granulating version of a burnt sienna and a non-staining cool blue. This set will be packaged in a 15 half pan palette with 9 empty half pans. 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.

The first has a mix of purples (Wisteria, Lavender, Rose of Ultramarine, Moonglow, Shadow Violet) and the lovely Australian Primatek colour Serpentine Genuine.

'Florals' has great colours for painting florals - Cadmium Yellow Medium Hue, Quinacridone Gold, Quinacridone Rose, Phthalo Blue Green Shade, Cascade Green and one of my other favourites Green Apatite Genuine.

The blues  - Serene to Dramatic - will have a mix of dramatic blues and blue-greys including Sodalite Genuine, Lunar Blue and Cerulean Blue. More to be announced soon.

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.

Daniel Smith half pan watercolours: Earth - Desert to Mountains set.

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 and allow to dry then 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 the colours painted out, but note that due to technical difficulties the Blues set will be slightly different to what is shown and won't include Blue Apatite Genuine.

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.

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  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,