Thursday 7 March 2019

Roman Szmal Aquarius watercolours

Last year I received a number whole-pans of watercolour from Poland. They were samples of some of the colours Roman Szmal was working on for his watercolour range. He has now launched them and it was a real pleasure to paint them all out. They are now available from Jacksons in the UK - here is an affiliate link. They are also available here or here and are very affordably priced. You can read more about them on his Facebook Page.

This range is 140 full pans with mostly single pigments but also a few rather lovely mixes. They were fairly consistent to rewet though I am sure he is still making adjustments with the exact binder to pigment and honey ratios. I don't know if tube paints are being planned but in many ways I hope not - sometimes it's nice to see a company totally specialise. These are very high quality and full pans are great for brush access.

The pans are individually wrapped with hand-painted watercolour paper labels so there is no mistaking what the colour will look like. I loaded a video of unwrapping one on YouTube here. The colour chart also had hand-painted swatches. Wonderful!

It's great to see one of my favourite colours appear in this range - Buff Titanium. Nickel Titanate Yellow is often a very weak pigment that is difficult to rewet but this version was good to use. The cadmiums are finely ground and very clean.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Chinese White, Titanium White, Buff titanium, Nickel titanate Yellow,
Cadmium Yellow.
This range of cool yellow are all very similar.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Bismuth Yellow, Hansa Yellow Light, Lemon Yellow,
Isoindolinone Yellow Light, Aquarius Yellow.
This range of mid yellow are also very similar.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Aureoline (Hue), Cadmium Yellow Pale, Benzimidazole Yellow,
Hansa Yellow Medium, Indian Yellow (Hue).
These are brighter and more orange than they appear here - lovely warm yellows.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Nickel Azon Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Deep, Hansa Yellow Deep,
Permanent Yellow, Isindolinone Yellow Deep
These are also brighter than they appear here - the oranges are clean and clear with Benzimidazole being an almost perfect mid orange and Pyrrole Orange just headed to a warm red.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Permanent Orange, Brilliant Orange, Cadmium Orange,
Benzimidazole Orange, Pyrrol Orange.
This range is also similar with some interesting pigments. My favourite is PR255.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Scarlet Lake, Anthraquinoid Scarlet, Pyrrole Scarlet,
Cadmium Vermilion, Scarlet Red,

These are lovely bright mid reds.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Naphthol Red, Pyrrole Red, Azo Red, Permanent Red, Aquarius Red.

Pyrrole Rubine is my favourite pigment for crimson reds.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Cadmium Red, Cadmium Red Deep, Perylene Maroon, Anthraquinoid Red,
Pyrrole Rubine.

Quinacridone Red is my favourite cool/primary red option.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Cherry Quinacridone Red, Permanent Alizarin Crimson,
Naples Yellow Reddish, Flesh Tint, Quinacridone Red.

Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Magenta, Quinacridone Pink, Quinacridone Violet, Perylene Violet,
Cobalt Violet Light.

It is good to see very nice versions of these gentle violet pigments. The Dioxazine Violet is not the usual PV23 but PV37.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Ultramarine Pink, Manganese Violet, Ultramarine Violet,
Cobalt Violet Deep, Dioxazine Violet.
Mineral Violet separates in a lovely manner.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Mineral Violet, Lavenda, Shadow Violet, Prussian Blue, Indigo (Hue)
Indanthrone Blue is a bit grainy but deep and rich. The three ultramarines are slightly different.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Indanthrone Blue, Ultramarine (Green Shade), French Ultramarine, Ultramarine Light, Cobalt Blue.

Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Phthalo Blue (Red Shade), Cobalt Coelin Blue, Cobalt Cerulean Blue,
Royal Blue, Sky Blue.

Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Phthalo Blue (Green Shade) (PB15:3), Ocean Blue, Phthalo Turquoise,
Cobalt Teal, Viridian.

Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Cobalt Turquoise, Transparent Turquoise, Green Earth,
Chromium Green Oxide, Phthalo Green (Blue Shade).

Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Phthalo Green (Yellow Shade), Cobalt Green Light,
Permanent Green Light, Sap Green, Hooker's Green.

I really like these neutralised convenience greens.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Aquarius Green, Olive Green Light, Deep Green Gold,
Green Gold,
Olive Green Deep.
These yellow earth colours are very similar so it would be interesting to explore them more in mixes. I like the Transparent Gold Ochre and the Gold Ochre.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Naples Yellow Light, Transparent Gold Ochre, Venetian Yellow Earth,
Natural Sienna Light, Gold Ochre.

There are a lot of yellow earth colours to choose from. I haven't figured out which I prefer...I like the Yellow Ochre and Naples Yellow deep in this set. PBr24 is great for this colour.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Yellow Ochre, Naples Yellow Deep, Veronese Yellow Earth,
Natural Sienna Mont Amiata, Italian Raw Sienna.
Mummy Transparent Red is a lovely earthy orange.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Ochre Havana, Transparent Yellow Ochre, French Ochre, Red Ochre,
Mummy Transparent Red.
It's a nice version of Quinacridone Gold.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Quinacridone Gold, quinacridone Burnt Sienna, Veronese Red Earth,
Pompeii Red, English Red Light.
Roman had sent a sample of Burnt Sienna that didn't make it into the 140 colour range though I think it is lovely so have shown it here.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Terra Pozzuoli, Italian Burnt Sienna, Burnt Sienna (sample only),
Transparent Oxide Red, Venetian Red, Quinacridone Maroon.
English Red deep is the closest to an Indian Red - not as opaque though.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - English Red Deep, Transparent Brown, Mars Red, Caput Mortuum,
Burnt Umber was also a sample that didn't make it into the range. The many versions of raw umber are not hugely different. I think I'd choose Cyprus Raw Umber and Cyprus Burnt Umber for this useful warm and cool dark brown pair.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Cyprus Raw Umber Brownish, German Raw Umber Greenish,
Cyprus Raw Umber,  Cyprus Burnt Umber Light, Cyprus Burnt Umber, Burnt Umber (sample only).

Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Transparent Oxide Brown, Brown Ochre, Sepia, Cyprus Raw Umber Deep,
Van Dyck Brown.

Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Cyprus Burnt Umber Deep, Przybysz's Grey, Payne's Grey,
Perylene Green, Roman Black.

I like the Aquarius Black here more than the Roman Black shown above or the Mars Black. PBk11 is wonderful for granulation.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours - Vine Black, Ivory Black, Neutral Tint, Mars Black, Aquarius Black.

These last swatches are of some other samples Roman sent. He didn't have enough pigment to make the PR88 part of the range, though you could make this colour with Quin Violet or Manganese Violet with a touch of Magenta or Quin Pink. The ECWS is known in Poland as 'Nebula of Stars'. Now that's a name! The Hematite Oxide Red is rather lovely but wasn't included as it is so close to the 'Hematite' above. 
PR88 sample, Special ECWS sample, Natural Sienna from Ardeny Sample, Burnt Umber sample,
Hematite Oxide Red sample.

I've asked Roman where these full pan watercolours are available and here is the list so far.

They are available world wide through Jacksons in the UK - here is an affiliate link to the site. 
They are widely available in Poland.
In the Nordic region, they are available from 
In Italy or if in Milan
In Madrid from three Madrid's art shops.
In Barcelona from
In the rest of the world from
From Roman Szmal's Facebook Site here

2020 update
An additional 25 colours are now available. I'll be rescanning the full range into a new blog post.

Happy painting!


  1. Wonderful! Thanks a lot for you fine work. Strange that the producer uses mostly PR 102 instead of PR101 even for English red and Caput Mortum. Usually it is the other way round.

    1. Hi Jane! Your swatches are fabulous as always! I know Aquarius watercolors too, I've had a chance to test them here in Poland and I think they are brilliant. I'd like to refer to the previous comment about PR102 and PR101 pigments. The PR101 pigment is usually used, as it was stated, so the fact that the producer decided to use PR102 pigment here is, I assume, well-thought and unusual in a very positive way. I find it really interesting and unique, we have a chance to see something new. A range of earth tones in Roman Szmal's paints is really stunning. I've never seen so many browns, and even though I don't use them a lot, because I paint mostly flowers, I am in awe of how many versions of brown we have in watercolors (I think Natural Sienna Monte Amiata is one of my favorite!). In general the quality of these paints is excellent. I love the fact that beside all common colors from which I can build my regular color palette there are also many unique colors and all of them are in the same brand. Not to mention that most of them are single pigments, which is great.

  2. Oh! It was such a positive surprise to see this brand on your blog, because I was considering to tell you about them myself ;)

  3. So useful! I have purchased some of them and this helped me a lot

  4. Hello... I've followed the links that you provided and they send only to Poland and three other lands in Europe. Any idea if I can find these watercolours somewhere else where they send to whole Europe? Thank you.

    1. You can find them at now.
      They carry the full range and all pan sets.
      More affordable than Jackson's and deliver to whole Europe

  5. Please have a look here, you can find the colors.

  6. All colors in

  7. the pigment info for Phthalo Blue (Green Shade) has me at the edge of my seat

    1. Hmm - I've added it to the caption. It's PB15:3.

  8. Looks like arte.miranda site does not ship to the US. I spent about a hour filling my cart with goodies then went to check out and no option for US. Any other suggestions as to where we can buy from the US? Thanks.

    1. The USA option is there, but for some reason, it's between Ecuador and Egypt. The list like it's in alphabetical order, but it's not. It will then ask you to pick either FedEx Economy or Priority, International Trucket Post(which I guess is Google's translation for Spanish postal service with tracking, and UPS Express.

      What did you wind up choosing? Szmal paints and... Escoda?

    2. Oops... Just realized something: the US is between Ecuador and Egypt because that's where it belongs in Spanish (Estados Unidos, abbreviated EE. UU.)

  9. Hi
    Love that you swathed these paints.
    Do you think the Ochre Havana PY43 is a good substitute fie Goethite?

    1. Ochre Havana looks similar in colour but nothing else I have ever tried matches the amazing granulation of Goethite for depicting sandstone and beaches.

    2. Thanks for the reply, which I missed until now. Apologies for that.

      Good news, Jacksons now stocks Roman Szmal !

  10. Hi Jane, one can also buy them (in Europe and I guess elsewhere) here:
    They are very nice, offer a very good price round this time. With google translate one can easy see how they handle shipping costs etc. or send an e-mail.

  11. Hi Jane, love your site, it is so helpful to learn about all the brands and colours. I am very interested in trying these paints. How much do they granulate? I am a fan of Daniel Smith because of the granulation and wonder how much this brand granulate, as its an attribute I enjoy, thank you

    1. You can see on the swatches that many granulate nicely. But of course only granulating pigments will granulate. They don't tend to granulate as much as the super-granulating DS colours like Lunar Black and Lunar Earth and Goethite etc, but they behave nicely. Rich and highly pigmented, and rewet with ease. The only issue I have had is that some have too much honey so stick to everything, however Roman says he's fixed that.

    2. thanks so much for your reply, I really appreciate it. Your site is amazing and so helpful, thank you

  12. Thank you so much for introducing me to these paints. They look beautiful! And really great prices at (I never heard of them before and can't get over what great prices they have on a lot of paints!).

    I was wondering how you think these compare to the (also handmade and I think also fairly new?) Isaro watercolors that you reviewed a little while back. Thanks so much!

    1. There is a much greater colour range and the RS colours, and these are only available in pans (and perhaps soon half pans) rather than tubes. Both paint out nicely.

  13. Greetings Jane. Are these considered "Artist grade" paint? How do they compare to St. Petersburg White Nights?



    1. Yes certainly. I prefer them to the White Nights as the lightfast properties are more consistent and the colours often richer.

  14. I live in the US and ordered one of their paints from Jackson's, unfortunately I never received it.

  15. In Germany they are available at
    (Site available in several languages)

  16. The ECWS special sample appears to be the same as Przbysz's grey: PB29/PR177/PG26. Perhaps in a slightly different proportion. It's hard to tell as I have not seen ECWS firsthand, but based on your excellent swatches, I would say they are identical.