Luís Simões, travel sketcher around the world
Daler Rowney Aquafine Travel Set (12 Half Pans)
Daler Rowney Watercolours
Daler Rowney has put out a box of 12 mini-watercolours, with a small brush for those who like to sketch on their travels. If you’re like me and appreciate sturdy, lightweight and very easily storable gear, then you’ll really enjoy this series of watercolours with vibrant colours and quite a good mix.
For this review, I tested the watercolours for a month, in Urban Sketching mode. In other words, sometimes I put them down on the floor as well as on the notebook. I carried them all day long on walks in the city and in nature. I tested them in dry and wet weather and with different brushes. My opinion and final assessment is reflected for use in street sketching and not in a controlled home environment.
Because it’s a compact plastic case, its light that there’s no inconvenience in taking it along on a walk. The plastic is quite sturdy and the lock has never opened on the bag by accident. After a month of use, it gained on the outside some scratches from having been put down on the ground.
The three compartments for mixing colours are quite reasonable for dividing colours between shades. The brush that comes with the box is well attached, but the same cannot be said for the little pans. Sometimes they stick to the lid and fall off when I open the box.
There are 2 compartments next to the watercolours which I believe are for putting water in. I have never used them as I prefer to use a small tank that I take water in to clean wider brushes.
Although it’s a small brush, it felt like it didn’t stick properly when I put the brush in the compartment. In addition it seemed to deform the plastic a little with the pressure.
It’s quite easy to clean the box and, as it’s made of plastic, it won’t rust! The parts can all be separated for better cleaning. However, I don’t recommend opening the compartment that holds the watercolours often, because it will lose its resistance to closing. On the lid, the mixing zone, the white colour absorbs the colours that we leave uncleaned and becomes a bit grimy. Of course, as you would expect, it doesn’t change the colours at all when you mix.
For those looking for saturated and vibrant tones, the 12 colours included are perfect for creating very rich colourful sketches. In my case, as I like more neutral tones I did some mixtures with the burnt sienna, ultramarine and magenta tones. The pigment quality is very good, the mixtures between pigments are excellent and even in a dry environment, it was easy to remove pigment.
I usually draw in A5 notebooks and make wide strokes to paint the sky or make the first watercolours. As I tested the brush on the street, the wind or hot weather caused the hair to dry quickly. Hence I used it more for details where I needed little water. But Daler Rowney have really good brushes and the Aquafine No. 4 brush, which comes with the box, is just a small sample of their quality.
What I missed
One detail is that the case does not have a finger rest to hold it and, because it is smooth, it slides easily from the hand. My backup was to use a clip to hold the box and thus hold the notebook. But if you’re doing a two-page drawing, then the problem arises.
What I liked
What I liked most about this Daler Rowney watercolour set was the compact and elegant shape of the box. The pigments were a nice surprise, especially when it comes to blend them. Because it’s so light, it went into my small bag of drawing supplies for travel in conjunction with another box with less saturated tones.
I dare to say that because it’s such a lightweight set, I might choose the 24-colour box on a long-haul trip, to have more colours ‘on hand’.
Daler Rowney Watercolours
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The Daler Rowney Aquafine 12 half pan travel watercolour set is an ideal box for those just starting out in the world of watercolours. Its size makes it very practical and the quality of the plastic is resistant.
- Not very resistant fittings
- No finger rest