I have concentrated on artist quality watercolours, but occasionally there is a product in the student range that is worth exploring. I really like the Etchr watercolour sketchbooks and enjoy the innovation of this company. I have included their Mini Palette on my website. The Etchr watercolour set is described as a 'premium student' set. It was launched on Kickstarter and is now available through the Etchr Lab website.
Student sets often contain hues made up of mixes of cheaper pigments, so that each colour can be priced the same. They don't often contain a lot of single pigment colours and they often have a lesser pigment load so can be difficult to work with - weak or difficult to activate. This set has 20 single pigment colours, so when offered a set to try, I was very interested.
I was sent the boxed set with the palette, watercolour paper and felt-tip pens. The 24-colour half pan set comes with a printed colour chart you can fill out yourself. The half pans are wrapped with pigment information, lightfast ratings and a note about transparency. I found some of the pigments very surprising - - some I haven't come across before, some are not usually found in a student range. The biggest surprise was the cadmium and cobalt pigments. These are usually only found in the series 3 or 4 professional ranges as they are expensive pigments. To see them in a student range is quite exceptional.
You can't buy individual colours or tubes, only the full set. But that can simplify the process of getting started with watercolours for some people. You can also very easily swap out a half pan with a different colour or a different brand, or refill an empty pan with tube colour later.
The set is well balanced around the colour wheel, with a warm and cool yellow, two oranges, three reds and a magenta, a purple, four blues, a turquoise (although it isn't a turquoise in my set, which I believe is a mistake), three greens and five earths. There is also a black and white - colours not necessarily used by professional watercolorists but very common in student sets.
I found many of the transparency ratings odd, especially Simply Red, which is made with a cadmium red pigment so would normally be opaque, and Sky Blue, a phthalo blue which would normally be transparent. So I added a black line to the swatches before painting them and you can see how transparent or opaque each colour actually is by whether it covers this mark or not. Clearly, some of the ratings are incorrect - as you can see below.
|Etchr Watercolour set of 24 half pan colours|
Transparency ratings aside, most colours painted out brightly and cleanly. I would consider renaming some of the earth colours to better represent what we see - Umber Brown is more of a Burnt Sienna hue and Burnt Sienna is more of a Burnt Umber Hue. I rearranged them in the palette and have painted them out in a more logical order.
This set is certainly worthy of the label Premium Student set. For more insight, watch my YouTube video painting out the full set to create this chart.