Guest Post: Haravanda on Eastern and Western Watercolors

Hello there! I’m known as Haravanda but you can also call me Hara for short! I create comics such as Peach Please! as well as collecting watercolor supplies for studies. Today I'm going to talk about how watercolor manufacturers from different parts of the world have a different choice of palette and characteristic.

This won’t be much of a walkthrough but more of a comparison post between different watercolor brands testing on some characters for my mini comic.

Let’s get started!


Exhibit 1! For the first character, I figure since she’s a brawler girl who likes traditional dye color, I decided to go with Yarka St. Petersburg Professional (also known as White Night or St.Petersburg) which is a Russian branded manufacturer which alternates between artist and student grade due to their branding as “professional paint” while mostly selling pans instead of tubes. The binding is made with honey so the colors do melt a lot between travels but this was one of my go to color set whenever I want to do a more muted palette. With the exception of red hues, most are desaturated colors which weren't the result of the lack of pigment but more on the fact that many were more fugitive/mixed color. Price-wise, however, they are a bit more expensive than Cotman (due to import) but have a very decent set for those who want to start out with more dusted or classical palette.

Hello old friend

I usually use a rounded 02 for painting, a flat brush for mixing and a bigger rounded brush for spreading water around a large surface since I tend to work pretty small. The Poo-Pourri bottle on the right side was repurposed into spraying water to keep the paint wet while painting and I also recycled my ice cream jars into water containers. For the paints, I mixed Quinacridone Lilac, Ultramarine and Payne’s Gray for the purples, different mixes of golden Deep and Claret for the red tints and plain Oxide of Chromium for the green. There is a clear difference that the more color got mixed, the more muted and dark the color became. Yarka’s main highlights were it’s red and blue hues which make sense considered that arts that depict sea and old, red bricks architecture are very popular amongst many Russian artists as well as the tendency to focus on a more realistic and nostalgic tone. 


Mijello Mission Gold

For the second character, I debated on getting a more vibrant orange and pink color. I figured it is a good time to give my Mijello Mission Gold mini set a chance to shine. Mijello comes from a South Korean manufacturer who takes pride in creating vivid paint pigments which are very well reflected in their selections. From the sample set of 24 I’ve received, with the primary Lemon Yellow, Viridian, Cerulean Blue, Permanent Red also comes with Bright Opera, Peacock Blue, and Red Brown. On the same token Mijello Mission Gold is judged to be more compatible with poster/print work rather than permanent work to hang on a wall due to their lower level of lightfastness. Mijello colors are generally sold in tubes and have a very creamy consistency right out of the tube that hardened with times. As an import, Mijello can be a price step if you’re used to Cotman, Van Gogh or Sakura Koi but their colors definitely worth every penny.  

Credit to my seller for her wonderful hand labeled mini boxset


For this illustration, I shaded the darkest part of the girl’s skin with Prismacolor brown watercolor pencil as the base as well as part of the line work to add some warmth. I diluted the Yellow Orange and Sap Green for the character’s clothes and painted a light layer of Yellow Ochre with Rose Madder underneath for skin shade then adding some Red Brown to darken her complexion. The pink hair is a mix of Bright Opera and Rose Madder. Even with a lot of mixing, the colors did not become desaturated like Yarka and stayed very bright and warm. The way the paint behave also makes a lot of sense since the South Korean boom in art supplies comes with the development of industrial art such as posters, comic and product decor.

Holbein Artist Watercolor

Drum roll! Here’s tonight’s star: Holbein!

Some of you might have stumbled against a rack of Holbein in an art store, some might have heard of it and some might want it. Holbein is a brand of art supplies and paint which originated in Osaka, Japan. Their brand of gouache and watercolor is known to be expensive on a student budget; their watercolor line is also divided between Holbein’s regular line and Irodori Antique, which has a color selection that is closer to the antique Japanese palette. What makes Holbein specials compares to other watercolor brands is their special range of bright, pastel colors such as Shell Pink, Bamboo Green or Lavender but they also have in my opinion an excellent range of blues. Since the paint typically comes in tubes and I’ve learned that panned set tends to be more expensive, I’ve squeezed some paint into pill boxes to keep around rather than just wasting them on the palette and risk accidental blending (again, prop to Hino for the tip).

I’ll  have to confess that I am a sucker for marine theme clothing as well as my love for Holbein’s Marine Blue so this was a lot of fun to paint. Before anything, I went over the pencil lines with blue lead to make the linework blends in better with the paint. I leave the Marine Blue as is while mixing of Naples Yellow and Rose Madder for the girl’s skin tone. For the hair’s olive hue, I did a mix of Permanent Green No.2, Burnt Umber, and Yellow Lemon while adding some Yellow on the character’s tie and yo-yo. Out of the three set, I would vote for Holbein as the one with the easiest skin tone mix, which is I think is a reflection of the need born from manga art and daylight landscape’s popularity in Japan.

From Left to Right: Holbein, Mission Gold, and Yarka

There are many other watercolor lines out there and one of the easier ways to see how each manufacturer differs from each other is to test them out by putting the swatches side by side which is an expensive and time-consuming process. That's why I’ve made my own palette chart for those of you who wants a clearer comparison so you won't have to. I also included some watercolor pencils because why not?

Watercolor chart and country of origin

(pardon my ink smears):
Winsor and Newton Cotman: UK (student grade) - Derwent: UK - Rembrandt: Netherlands - Yarka: Russia - Mijello: S.Korea - Kusakabe: Japan

Kuretake: Japan (student grade) - Marco Raffiné: China - Sennelier: France

Holbein (test sheet 1-2): Japan

From what I can see, I think a lot of Western paint manufacture prefer to focus on strong primary color with pure pigment resulted with very deep red, yellow and ultramarine which also meant to be more permanent for fine art. Meanwhile, Eastern manufacturers prefer to create a wider variety of color with really bright selections but resulting with a more questionable level of paint permanence, which makes a lot of them perfect for prints and reproductions. Again this is just my own theory on said subject but who knows? Maybe there are Eastern paint makers who like to produce deep pigment paints and Western brands like Daniel Smith who create 90+ colors with different paint properties.

If you’re new to the whole watercolor scene or are familiar with the medium and trying to figure out where to go next, I hope this article helps. Also a big thank you to Becca for calling for submissions, I love talking about art and watercolor.



You can find me here:



Website (Check out my comics!)


Tumblr ( I occasionally write fountain pen reviews and pen 101 here)


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