Kuretake Gansai Tambi by Zig Watercolor Review and Lightfast Testing 1 Year Fugitive Results


In 2015 the Kuretake Gansai 36 color set became one of my very first watercolor pan sets I ever owned. It was a great place for me to start, and my fond memories of this paint set made me jump at the new 2019 updated 48 color set. The pastel additions to this set are sure to be a hit with illustrators, but I mostly enjoy these for rubber stamped card making. They have made packaging improvements over the years and the set feels luxurious. The new colors are wonderful additions, filling in the missing gaps of their previous color selection perfectly. This box is stunning, much like opening a fancy box of chocolates. It would make a gorgeous gift to a crafty person who casually paints. As a student/crafter grade paint without pigment ingredients, it is priced accordingly lower than this size of pan set would be in a professional grade paint.


 Kuretake gansai tambi 48 color chart set new 2019 pastel selection big pan palette watercolor review

They are a modern take on a Japanese traditional paint, that works just like watercolor, but actually uses a slightly different type of binder. This version is vegan (unlike the old animal-glue binder gansai). A downside to these paints is that if you use them very thickly/without enough water you can get shiny spots after they dry on the paper due to a build up of the glossy binder.


If you would like to buy any of the supplies I used in this video, the affiliate links are below. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I've also included links to the waterproof inks, pens, brushes and papers I use in most of my video reviews. For watercolor, gouache or ink painting, I use small round brushes by Princeton. Heritage series is ideal for a sharp point, small details and snap. Their Neptune series is a synthetic imitation squirrel hair, which is a very soft brush with an amazing ability to hold a lot of water for washes.


I recommend 100% cotton Arches Cold Press watercolor paper. For the best price, I usually get it on Blick here.



Note to professional artists: AS WITH ANY FUGITIVE ART SUPPLY, YOU CAN USE THESE TO CREATE LOVELY ARTWORK, BUT I SUGGEST PLANNING TO SCAN THE ART FOR PRINTS / DIGITAL REPRODUCTION. This set is not very lightfast, with just about half of the colors fading over time. While the paints are definitely suitable for crafters and hobbyists, I would not recommend them for professional use (original art sold to be hung on a wall).

Lightfast test Kuretake Gansai 48 color watercolor set fugitive fading uv light sun

While this was a beautiful and affordable set, it did not come with any pigment information. I was hopeful that it would be overall more UV stable than this, because my first set (purchased over 5 years ago) didn't suffer from nearly this much fading. It was one of my favorite paints when I was a beginner, especially for card making, paper crafting and home decor projects. The large pans and affordable price let me feel free to practice and make mistakes. With that fond memory, I eagerly purchased the newly expanded color selection.


At one year the fading proved extreme, roughly LFIII to LFIV in about half of the colors in this set. The red, orange, pink and purple colors are the most fugitive. I was actually quite surprised that the indian red (normally a stable PR101 red iron oxide pigment in most brands) was actually made of a fugitive red-brown mixture, and that the maroon which resembled a stable perylene was also made using an even less lightfast red pigment. Gold darkened which is unusual for a mica based metallic, sun exposure resulted in a deep value hue shift similar to the bluish-gold. It's not all bad news though, some of the colors that were fugitive in older sets are now made with more lightfast pigments. The most notably improved color being number 57 turquoise. About 21 of the 48 colors appear to be lightfast LFI, which could be used in art to sell. Sadly this brand is unreliable about sticking to the same ingredients over time. They may decide to change things up again in future sets, this test was done on a set made in 2019. With no pigment ingredients listed you may not be able to tell which will fade in your set without your own testing.

Kuretake Gansai lightfast test all 48 color pan set fugitive fading sun light test 

Something has changed in their manufacturing over the years. My old set of 36 didn't have as much fading in the reds, but the new set has every single red, pink and purple show signs of fading within 6 months. Typically lightfast colors show no change in indirect window lighting for over 1 year. For reference, the majority of my 260+ Daniel Smith watercolors have been in the window for 2 years with no fading. It appears that Kuretake Gansai is best used for illustration projects meant to be scanned for print reproduction. It's also acceptable for painting practice, color theory, sketchbooks, card making and other indoor craft projects. I would not sell artwork made with these paints (especially without a note on how to care for fugitive colors). I expect any art hung on a wall in a well-lit room/with nearby windows will fade over time.



Unfortunately, things have changed in Kuretake's ingredients or manufacturing techniques in the past 5 years, but for reference here is my original lightfast test for the 36 color set.

Kuretake Gansai 36 color watercolor tambi set japanase paint review lightfast test

 Kuretake gansai tambi 36 colors lightfast test fugitive fading colors in sun uv light

These are beautiful and affordable paints for anyone from card makers to beginners and could definitely be used for color theory and sketchbook practice. I just wish we could persuade Kuretake to share their pigment ingredients and throw in some general lightfast ratings so we knew what to expect!

You can find the 36 color set here:


Note: this page contains affiliate links. All product opinions are my own. I am committed to honest reviews showcasing both the pros and cons of each product. I have not received payment from any brand for a review. I earn a commission from sales made through this web page's clickable banners or links to Amazon, Arteza, Scrapbook, Jackson's or Blick Art Materials websites.