As a kid I actually learned to paint with tube watercolors, not with pans. When I was 7, my dad worked as a professor in Kyoto for a year and since then, his Japanese colleague would send my brother and me Sakura cray-pas and tube watercolor sets almost every school year until I was in high school.
#tbt – My beloved watercolor set from the 80s on top of my grade school drawing board. These guys survived years of termite infestations and government turnovers. ???? I think the paints can still be reactivated with water but 'd rather just keep them in storage for now. ? #showyourwatercolor #sakura
Later on I got acquainted with Prang and so I grew to love the convenience of not having to open tubes while painting.
I haven’t worked with tubed watercolor for years but a few weeks ago I stumbled upon local online art store Art Whale while Instagram-hopping. They carry beautiful paints like Korea-based Nicker fine art gouache (a.k.a. the brand that Ghibli Animation Studio uses), Japan-based Turner Colour Works Acryl Gouache,Peerless Watercolors (a vintage American brand known for bright colors in sheet form), and Shin Han Art Korean Watercolours. I was attracted to the latter the most so I immediately ordered seven tubes with some of my Art Mart earnings. 😉 I resisted from getting the set of 12 because I never use black and white anyway so I had to think hard about which ones I’ll get the most use out of.
TIP: If you’re planning on working with a limited palette too, consider getting primary and secondary colors since you can mix them to come up with other colors you’ll need. However, if you need a good starter set, I recommend getting the box of 12 or 24. You’ll get a lot for your money’s worth.
After placing my order, the tubes were delivered to my doorstep the very next morning by ArtWhale’s fabulous Kuki herself! How’s that for service? 🙂 She even gave me a very useful tip from her own experience — the binder of Korean colors is made from natural glue (the East’s equivalent of gum arabic) so don’t seal the tubes’ caps on too tightly because they will be difficult to reopen. Just close them tight enough so that they won’t spill.
Right after I got the colors I quickly made the painting above. Coming from working with pan colors, my first impression of Shin Han was that the colors were very intense which shocked me at first. I haven’t tried but I think they can be 100% opaque when applied thickly… I’ll get back to you on that.
So I made a mental note to squirt just a bit of paint into the palette which I proceeded to dilute with lots of water to get the consistency I needed. As you can see in the painting above and below, bright color + transparent effects can be achieved with just a teeny bit of paint. Very economical. 😀
I made this illustration (a portrait of Aoi Miyazaki) because I still had a lot of leftover Shin Han paint on my palette… and for portrait-painting practice. 🙂
Same reason for this next one below.
Most of the pigments in these paints are lightfast as well — the PDF guide in the Korean Shin Han site has lightfastness ratings beside the colors if you need help deciding which ones to choose. They also blend beautifully so employing the wet-on-wet technique is a joy with these paints. I posted a video on my Instagram where I’m using Shin Han so you can check it out to see it in action.