Watercolor Review: Shin Han Professional Korean Watercolours

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. 

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.

shin han art professional korean watercolors

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. 😀

shin han art watercolor review

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.

A photo posted by Cynthia Bauzon-Arre (@arncyn) on

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.

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“Split Screen” – a little wordless comic I made in 2004

Way back in 2004, Arnold and I were part of a Yahoo Group called “Hey! Comics” led by our good friend Ramon de Veyra. It consisted of a bunch of (mainly) non-mainstream-comic readers which made the mailing list a convenient outlet for friendly discussion about recent reads.

Since there were writers & artists in the group, Ramon thought of putting out an anthology of *our own* works. I had never drawn & written a comic before save for a cheesy application letter to an ad agency after graduation.1.  I wanted to leave that expertise to Arnold but Ramon insisted that I try too. Arn encouraged me as well and advised me that perhaps I should draw from personal experience. So I came up with “Split Screen.” I don’t want to reveal too much but it’s basically a story about finding closure and moving on from a painful past. (In other words, #hugot) 🙂

split screen comic by cynthia bauzon arre

It’s only 3 pages long and it has no dialogue so you can click on the image if you’d like to view it in full. I do hope you can let me know what you think of it. 🙂

* By the way, I found Ramon’s blog entry about the comic’s launch from July 2004. Reading it felt like traveling back in time…

** This was previously uploaded in Multiply but since that site is now gone, I thought I’d place it in my portfolio in time for Free Comic Book Day on May 2. )

  1. That company DID NOT hire me, by the way lol[ back]
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I'm Cynthia Bauzon-Arre, a Filipino watercolor artist & graphic designer. I live in QC with my graphic novelist husband Arnold and our friendly marmalade tabby Abbas. This blog has been chronicling my life, likes, and loves since 2001. [ more ]

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