Pretty Excellent MeiLiang Watercolor Review - Best affordable paint set for beginners and card making!

I confess, I'm an art supply junkie. I've been playing with paints and pencils since I was a kid and over the years I've gone through a great deal of art supplies. Many of them could not compete with the high quality of this set. If you are interested in watercolor painting - this is the single BEST DEAL on the market. I only wish it was released years ago to have saved me all the money I spent on lesser quality artist materials!

 Pretty Excellent MeiLiang watercolor paint set 36 color chart review affordable beginner cheap

It's also the watercolor set I would recommend to anyone who has always wanted to TRY watercolors, if you're a crafter making art journals or greeting cards, or even wanting to help a child cheaply upgrade from Crayola/Prang kids grade sets to their first student grade set. Heck, it's so good that even I, spoiled by my artist grade Daniel Smith, Schmincke and Mission Gold paints, still managed to be downright IMPRESSED by this set. At a small fraction of the cost of other paints (you can get this set of 36 colors for the cost of 2 tubes of artist grade paints) it performs almost as well.

I say almost as well as the best artist grade paints for two reasons: One, is all the colors are fairly staining. This can be true for any watercolor brand for certain colors, but this was the majority of them. Now, this can be a good thing for people who like to glaze, as it creates stable bottom layers for going over once the previous layer is dry. It is not good for people who like to use the LIFT method (erasing with a damp brush). However they do otherwise perform well with wet washes, pigment load and the pans are incredibly easy to rewet with a damp brush.

Pretty Excellent MeiLiang Watercolor set review painting color chart swatch rose floral 

The other minor issue is that the color chart was confusing (badly translated) and several colors appear to have optical brighteners (or dye filler). While all colors resulted in beautiful clean mixes, they are not all single pigments and a couple of the colors are not lightfast. If you're familiar with Mission Gold and Qor watercolors, these rival them in vibrancy and intense colors. Some people prefer things muted and natural, or want to use watercolors in a very light pastel tone sort of way. Winsor and Newton Cotman's watercolors are less pigmented than this set, and less vibrant, but they are overall more lightfast. More on lightfast testing coming soon, but so far it appears only 4 of 36 colors are showing any issues.

Pretty Excellent color chart 36 watercolor paint set MeiLiang Amazon review demo

 Watercolor swatch color chart Pretty Excellent MeiLiang paint 36 set travel tin

That being said, this is a remarkably inexpensive set rocking 36 colors in a beautiful tin WITH a travel water brush. It is ready to throw in a purse/backpack and take on an adventure. Personally, I just use it to have a convenient set to paint with when I'm limited on time. There is no need for a separate palette and tubes. Nothing to clean up or set up, just a beautiful set to sit down and CREATE with!

 Pretty Excellent watercolor color chart correct NOT THE ONE FROM BOX

CORRECT COLOR CHART ABOVE - Is different from the one on the back of the box on the physical product. Two colors are different, highlighted on the chart are the ones you will receive instead. A minor issue, mostly because the ones they show you when you order online are actually correct. It's only the box in person and the written codes on the blank chart inside the box that are confusing.

This is the only set most kids, students or crafty adults would ever need to do impressive watercolor paintings. The color selection is robust, with plenty of slightly different colors for mixing new colors (ideal for getting that warm or cool hue just right). With permanent rose and a variety of blues (that thankfully is not limited to ultramarine commonly found in cheap sets) you'll be able to mix other purples long after your purple pan runs out.

Professional artists who sell their work may require greater control over knowing pigment ingredients, an entire line of lightfast paints or the ability to restock colors individually via tubes. Though, the artist grade version of "Pretty Excellent MeiLiang" is "Paul Rubens", which is a little more creamy (just the right amount of gum arabic and low amount of fillers) and shows all pigment ingredients. The Paul Rubens set is on-par with my Schmincke, Rembrandt, non granulating Daniel Smith and other high end paints for a fraction of the cost of those brands.

For everyone else, this set could last you through many many projects and give you the quality needed to not be discouraged. (No one likes wondering "Is it the paint, or is it me?") As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. You can find this set, an affordable paper option, and the Paul Rubens professional quality upgrade, on Amazon through the link below. 


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  • Mercy - June 05, 2022

    Is pretty excellent good for an intermediate anime artist who wants to scan their work as prints instead of selling them? Also is pretty excellent lightfast?

  • Xixi - May 02, 2020

    Replying to the folks above about the watercolor swatch paper, it is printed on the corner of the swatch card in Chinese: Paul Rubens 300gsm / 140lb 100% cotton paper.

  • Kimberly Crick - March 21, 2020

    I suspect they manufacture their own swatch card paper for just that purpose. In future sets of theirs sadly they have changed it to a thinner white paper that is not nearly as nice. So I have a feeling they don’t offer that specific paper as pads.

  • Jean - March 07, 2020

    Hi! Any chance you know exactly what paper was used for the swatch card? I am so in love with it! I reached out to Light wish with same question but all they did was send me the website link with all the Paul Rubens papers…I had already bought the block with the ballerina on top, but it’s nothing like the swatch card was, creamy yellowish and the paints look so beautiful and kind of granulating on it….any chance you know 🤞🤞??thanks!!

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