Da Vinci Watercolor Review Professional Tube Paints Color Chart Swatch Cards Lightfast Tests
Da Vinci is an American paint company located in California. These professional watercolors are of the highest quality being similar to Daniel Smith in performance, but with a more affordable price tag. They do not have quite the selection of granulating or rare mineral paints as Daniel Smith, but they are one of my go-to brands for standard non-granulating colors. They offer watercolor, gouache, acrylic and oil paints. Their catalog is made up of over 112 colors, most of which are lightfast. You can find them online at Da Vinci Paint Co here, or at Blick Art Materials here.
Da Vinci watercolors have a high pigment load, smooth finely ground pigments, reliable quality and an affordable price range with the ability to get discounted 37ml paint tubes that are often the same price as other brands 15ml size. They also offer 8ml and 15ml standard sizes. Their earth browns are some of the strongest and beautiful in the world. After testing dozens of professional brands, none have come close to the beauty of their Burnt Umber PBr7, Terra Cotta PR102 and Violet Iron Oxide PR101. These colors are extraordinarily strong with a rich and varied value range and gentle granulation. Da Vinci also makes a very strong Nickel Azo Yellow PY150, which accompanies their Burnt Umber in my TOP RECOMMENDED PIGMENTS PALETTE (my personal "ultimate mixing set" guide of lightfast colors for building a multi-brand palette). Their PY150's deep masstone to diluted value range was vast and incredibly useful as a primary mixing yellow. The deep honey-brown color in their masstone was only rivaled by brands like Qor or Roman Szmal, however Da Vinci's performed better in wet washes and was more capable of controllable gradient blending.
While there are many pros to this brand, one of the cons is a slight glossy shine when using their watercolors too thickly. Their gum arabic ratio is just a touch higher than some other brands. This can cause a very minor need to use extra water when re-wetting these paints from dry. These benefit from using a mixing dish instead of trying to use straight from the pan (mixing on wet paper). "OPUS Vivid Pink" is their version of "Opera" containing a fluorescent dye. This neon color is always fugitive in any brand and I could find no warning of that on their website. It is useful for botanical art, as it more accurately replicates the super vibrant neon-like nature of floral pinks. They offer a few mica-based "iridescent" colors which are the only paints I do not recommend at all from them, since they are so easily mixed yourself with any of your transparent watercolors + a single jar of their iridescent medium (pearl white mica). They are not like Coliro / Finetec where the color reflected/shown on black paper is different for each color. Da Vinci's "iridescent" colors all have the same pearl-white mica sparkle.
In 2020 they added their own version of Daniel Smith's Moonglow (they call it "Artemis") which is a very close dupe using the same 3 pigments. Roman Szmal has done the same, but swapped Viridian PG18 out for Cobalt Green PG26. I wish that both brands had not also copied the lightfast information, which is incorrectly stated as max/LFI.
The problem with this color in all of these brands is the inclusion of PR177 Anthra Red. It's a pigment that suffers from being diluted, it's lightfastness is not as much of an issue in masstone. The original ASTM rating likely came from a sample that was not diluted enough to show major fading. Once this red is diluted in water or tints with other paints it's permanence becomes questionable. Past 6 months of nearby window light exposure signs of fading begin for Moonglow, and I expect this to be the same in Artemis. At the one year mark this was on par with ASTM rated LFIII-IV (known fugitive) paints.
Aside from the couple fugitive colors and their "iridescent" paints I wholeheartedly recommend this brand of paint if you are in the USA where they are easily obtainable. Even the Artemis and Opus pink colors, while fugitive and incorrectly labeled without warning (to those wishing to sell their art/hang it on a wall), are beautiful paints that perform well for personal use and print reproduction.
Swatch card color chart:
You can also see any of these colors side by side against the same pigment in another brand in the pigment database.
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