Notes on Materials — Watercolor Sets

Wow that last post was pretty wordy, but the bottom line is, I thought I’d put one kind of watercolor paper in my Moleskine mod, but it was another. Still hot press, and still Fabriano Artistico, but bright white instead of off-white and 50% heavier. Good news is it still managed to fit in the book and it works fine.


On to the subject of watercolors. I have two Windsor & Newton sets. I bought the smaller one first, but then I bought the larger one so I wouldn’t have to mix colors as often.


The smaller one didn’t have any browns, grey, or black, and so I found myself mixing those pretty often [edit: it has two browns!]. The larger one has a good number of colors which still can be mixed if I choose, lending itself to an even broader spectrum and allowing me to work a tiny bit faster. It also has a good amount of palette space, which is nice. But when I took this to Sketchcrawl 15 on Aug. 25th, it was a little cumbersome. It didn’t fit in a pocket, and so I had to bring a bag, and it just made it a little more difficult to watercolor on the go. It was easier sitting, but standing proved more of a challenge. Picture this:


So when I went out to Santa Monica about a week ago, I took the smaller set with me and it was much easier to use standing up. Much much easier! See here:


And another plus is everything fit in my pockets! I was wearing cargo shorts, which helped some. If I were a lady or man-bag-guy, I could put it in my purse, but on that day I was cargo-shorts-guy. I also found that since I’ve been using watercolors more readily, I’ve gotten a tiny bit better at mixing colors, and so I didn’t mind mixing my browns, greys, and blacks. In fact, I felt those tones turned out a bit more interesting. A little richer maybe and infused with a little more color, so they could be warm or cool, depending.

So. Conclusion? I’m really happy with this combination of supplies for sketching out in the field. It’s my sketch-kit on-the-go.


(Shown here are my modified Moleskine Daily Planner turned Watercolor Sketchbook, Windsor & Newton Cotman Sketcher’s Pocket Box watercolor set, 0.9mm Pentel Twist-Erase mechanical pencil, and small Pentel Japan Waterbrush Pen.)


(The only things that would complete this picture are a few paper towels and my Kuretake Brush Pen)

I’ll still use my larger set at home and as I continue to be more familiar with colors, I may end up swapping out some of the pans in my small set for ones I like better. The small palette space may still be a bit limiting, but that can be remedied somewhat with the wipe of a damp paper towel and… practice.

6 Responses to “Notes on Materials — Watercolor Sets”

  1. 1 Akiko

    great info. I am always curious of other people’s set ups.
    By the way, when you upload your images, do you take a photo or do you scan? I’ve tried both but a lot of times, the colors are totally off or the pencil drawings are washed out..

  2. 2 Lee-Roy

    Thanks Akiko. I’m constantly searching and testing out new supplies, and enjoy checking out other people’s recommendations, too.

    All of the images in this post are photos. The detail of the painting was taken on macro setting with a couple of lights focused on it and I have to say that the colors came out a little more accurate than the scan, but I usually scan and probably will continue to. Scans aren’t always right on. I try to just get them close enough by tweeking the levels either with my scanner software or in photoshop. Usually just little bumps to increase saturation and contrast and just eyeball it until it looks good or right or close-enough. With drawings, at least with my scanner, when I scan them on grayscale, they usually scan darker.

  3. 3 martha

    Great post, Lee-Roy! It’s so fun to see what you’ve been trying out. The grouping of the various materials are very helpful as they show the proportional scale that you’re talking about. And they’re just cool photos too! Finally, I love your little kit: I can see it works very well for you.

  4. 4 Lee-Roy

    Thanks, martha! Thanks for the kind words and thanks again for sharing your “Moleskine Reloaded” project. I’m enjoying having it as a part of my sketch kit!

  5. 5 xavior

    what ink do you use in the kuretake pen?
    if non stock, what converters have you tried?

    great post btw =)

  6. 6 Lee-Roy

    I use Rapidograph Ultradraw with a Lamy converter. I just followed the recommendations of Clay Butler here:

    The converter works fine. After a while, however, it developed a little crack where it connects with the pen. I may have pushed it on too forcefully, or it’s just a stress fracture from extended use. Just be aware that may happen eventually, which can cause leaks, but it’s a fairly cheap fix…

    Good luck and thanks!

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