Mission Gold Watercolor Review, Pans and Tube Sets, Lightfast Tests, White Class Gouache Hybrid by Mijello, Differences Between Product Types.
Mijello brand makes several types of watercolor paints and empty plastic palettes in South Korea (distributed worldwide through Chartpak). Mission Gold Class is the professional watercolor line, which is available in blue box sets and individual tubes. The gold colored "pure pigment" boxes indicate that only the paints made with just a single pigment per tube are included. While the blue box sets are still pro grade in terms of pigment load, but be aware that there are many redundant multi-pigment convenience mixtures in those sets (including several fugitive colors). There is a Mission Silver Class student grade, which has less pigment load, more binder and less lightfastness, more use of dyes and fugitive pigments. Mission White Class is a watercolor-gouache hybrid aimed for "designer" use. This is similar to ShinHan's PASS range, both of which use bright fugitive pigments with the goal of being able to transition (pass) from opaque to transparent with just a bit of water. White Class is ideal for print reproduction, product illustration and personal/sketchbook work where access to any color, even neon bright fugitive dyes, is desired.
Price vs competition: You can find the best prices for Mission Gold as tube sets on Amazon or Ebay, averaging just a few dollars per color (about 1/3 to 1/2 the price of buying individual tubes). While the colors are available in individual tubes from art supply stores like Blick USA here or Jacksons UK for worldwide shipping here, they have much higher prices which drastically reduce the "worth it" factor for buying Mission Gold. I generally only advise buying their sets if you're just starting a collection and want to get a large number of colors at a lower price than buying individual tubes from other pro brands like Holbein or Sennelier. If you're just putting together small collections or gathering colors one by one, than a reasonably priced, mostly lightfast, pro-grade brand like Paul Rubens (review page here) or White Nights (review page here) may be more economical.
2021 Opinion Update: I can no longer generally recommend this brand. I would only selectively recommend the sets for those who it would save a lot of money (if you're thinking about buying many of the colors individually from a more expensive brand, such as common phthalo blues/greens or quin reds/violets from Daniel Smith). I can also understand wanting to check out the rare PBr29 and PV102 (though Roman Szmal has just added the rare brown to his catalog, so PBr29 is no longer exclusive to M.Gold). Overall competition has gotten better over the past 5 years. Roman Szmal is a great brand, but White Nights has also been improving their lightfastness and offering more and more single pigment options for very cheap. I re-purchased a pure pigment set as well as some individual tubes from 3 separate art supply vendors. Nearly all of the newer Mission Gold tubes I bought had problems with excess binder, liquidy paint that would not set up in the pan (never dries) and some weak colors. I believe the quality of Mission Gold has gone down sometime in the past 4-6 years between purchases.
In late 2021 I also purchased the new style of pan set from Mission Gold. I wanted to check that the quality is still high before recommending the pans (my tube sets have lasted many years without me needing to check in on new products from this brand). They recently changed the way the pan sets looked, replacing the old case that had paints oddly upside-down when the lid was closed. It seemed like pans would fall out or drip after painting, so that dissuaded me from trying it before. The pans used to be oversized (60% larger than a standard half pan), but now they are just normal half pans like most sets from other brands. The case now latches more securely and has extra mixing areas that rotate out on a metal peg. The white trays do get stained and watercolor beads up when mixing (as expected for plastic).
-video about the new triple pans watercolor sets coming shortly-
Some reasons I do not recommend the PAN sets: Unfortunately the name "triple pans watercolor" may sound misleading if taken in reference to the size of the pans. It's not really clear what they intended by this. It appears to be a description for the 3 improvements they've made to the container (securely latch, a guard panel to keep pans from falling out and mixing plates that move for left or right handed use). They could be referencing the paint being poured several times between drying phases during production (but it says 2 to 3 pours per color, so not always "triple" poured). It sadly also warns that pigments shrink and they don't fill them again after those 2-3 times, so you will receive partially filled half pans!!!. Some companies make sure their pans are totally filled to the brim, accounting for drying shrinkage so I think this will disappoint some buyers. This is a pretty small amount of paint to begin with, but some have dips accounting for about 10-20% of the tiny 16x18x10mm pan.
Missed opportunity for improvements? The new 12 pan set has one particularly fugitive color preventing me from being able to 100% recommend it to pro artists who sell their original art. At about half the price of Mission Gold's pan set, Paul Rubens provides a much nicer single pigment, lightfast, non granulating purple (dioxazine violet PV23). That's superior to Mission Gold's odd, subtly granulating, 3 pigment mixture including the fugitive PV3. Since the M.G. set already has a PB29 and PR122, so you could mix your own granulating/color separating purple mix, a smooth PV23 would be a far more versatile swap. I was bummed out to see they didn't replace this color, but instead kept the 12 set as the same selection as the old set. MG could have made improvements like properly labeling "hues" and swapping the fugitive color out for a single pigment lightfast one, but instead they focused on making the pans more secure for travel. The 24 and 48 sets have SO many similar convenience mixtures (rows of greens, blues and browns that you can barely tell apart at a glance). A focus on single pigments would have made for clean color mixing and superior lightfastness.
The pan sets are no where near as good of a value as Mission Gold's tube sets, nor as economical as Paul Rubens or White Nights pan sets. Since the tubes re-wet so well from dry, it would be worth it to DIY your own palettes using empty pans (bonus - you could choose if you want to use full size pans instead, better for larger brushes). Keep in mind that each 15ml tube can fill a half pan at least 4 times even after shrinkage (so a 32 tube set can fill over 108 half pans). That being said, if cheaper brands are not available in your area, Mission Gold pan sets are not the most expensive option out there (Schmincke and Winsor & Newton both make pretty darn expensive pan sets considering their use of basic common pigments). If you want unusual pigments, rare minerals or color separating effect paints you may be more interested in Daniel Smith or Roman Szmal's pan options instead.
Swatch cards from the 2021 "triple pans" 12 color set:
Pros: High pigment load and incredibly easy re-wet. Seriously. Compared to nearly every other brand on the market, Mission Gold has an amazingly good formula for just touching the paints with a wet brush and pretty instantly getting a good pigment load. If you've worked with hard to re-wet watercolors in the past, I definitely recommend taking it easy with the scrubbing as you can definitely use up more paint than intended with this brand by accident. This goes for both the tubes squeezed out to dry in a pan, or for their pre-made pan sets. I have some left over paint chunks in palettes that are now over 5 years old and have been re-wet periodically over the years - to this day they still re-wet as well as the day I poured them. They are not quite as sticky or fluid as M.Graham or Sennelier's tubes can be when poured to dry. I've never seen a gooey mess with these, but caution is recommended for any brand of honey based watercolors if you want to travel with these in an extremely humid environment.
Pros or cons? For better or worse, these paints have a LOW FLOW / DISPERSE RATE. This is intentional and similar to other asian made paints like Holbein, ShinHan and gansai. It could be good for precision/control/realism, poor for large area washes or abstract work. These paints do not wildly flow across wet washes, offering the artist some higher degree of control than brands like Daniel Smith, Rosa Gallery or Roman Szmal (and especially when compared to the crazy flow of Qor by Golden). I'm very excited that the 48 pan set features the gently granulating Cobalt Black PBk27, but not enough to recommend most of the other colors in this pan set. This slightly textural, neutral black PBk27 is also in the pure pigment 32 tube set though or available individually if you can find a seller (sadly Blick/Jacksons don't carry every color). I'm very hopeful that due to this rare color becoming available in pans now it may become easier to find (pan refills).
Cons: There are several confusing color names that are not properly noted as "hue" (meaning a look-alike for what that name normally is associated with on an ingredient level). For instance Viridian is actually PG7 Phthalo Green a staining color instead of Viridian the pigment PG18 a granulating and easily lifting color. Same for Cerulean which is normally a granulating PB36 in other brands, but instead is a Phthalo Blue PB15:3 here. This is a good example of why it's better to learn pigment code numbers instead of color names. This could cause issues with beginners who need a "cerulean" for a watercolor class/tutorial, but instead struggle with a more staining and non-granulating blue instead. These are great pigments, commonly found in other brands too, they just don't follow standard naming practices. This also gets confusing in the browns, where Burnt Umber is a mixture of 3 pigments that is not the more common single pigment PBr7. Other popular pro-grade brands do this type of thing sometimes too, like Schmincke mixing PR101 and a black pigment together for "burnt sienna". If comparability between brands is important to you, it's a generally good practice to check the pigment number code to understand what ingredients and staining/lifting/granulating/LF properties you're buying. That way you won't be disappointed by the name/title of a color vs what it's actually made of (much like checking if something sweet is made with sugar vs corn syrup on a food label).
Lightfastness: Within the Mission Gold line there are some colors that are not as lightfast despite being rated as such (a common problem in any brand for these colors). Be wary of colors containing the fugitive pigment Prussian Blue PB27, Anthra Red PR177 and a few multi pigment mixtures using the particularly UV sensitive PR112. They also offer a several colors that are appropriately marked as fugitive, such as Opera Pink (a neon pink that contains dye) and a clear blue-violet that uses PV3. Aside from those there are many, highly lightfast, excellent quality paints in the Mission Gold line. You will find the highest percentage of lightfast and useful mixing colors in the "pure pigment" box set.
Other pigment notes and choice limitations: Brand lacks granulation and does not offer Cadmiums. There's also no PG18 Viridian or PR233 Potters Pink this brand, which is a shame since their easy to re-wet binder formula would be nice for these problem pigments. I use M.Graham's Viridian to provide me with an emerald-like granulating and easily lifting green (great for DIY Moonglow replicas or intentionally color separating mixtures). There is a Cobalt Green deep version PB36 in the Pure Pigment set that may do a similar job, just slightly darker. PBk27 Cobalt Black is another great reason to pick up the 34 tube Pure Pigment set, as this rare pigment may be brand exclusive (I haven't found another one yet). It is subtly granulating and softer than Mars/Black Iron Oxide PBk11, similar to tourmaline or hematite mineral blacks from Daniel Smith. For color separating mixtures the Cobalt Turquoise PB28 in this set is also lovely, but not very textural. Be aware that this color is sold individually as a mixture to some countries (Jackson's UK offers it as a PB28, PY3, PW6 mixture instead of just single "pure pigment" PB28).
OLD INFO: The following info is from my initial review page created several years ago which may contain redundant facts I wrote in the past. I'll be sorting through this in the future and updating the lightfast tests after the sun does it's job around mid 2022.
Lucky for me, Mission Gold was my first large set purchase of watercolor tube paints about a decade ago when I started my watercolor journey. This Korean paint from the company Mijello (later sold to Chartpak for distribution to other countries) has set the bar very high in regards to quality for price. The biggest concern with these paints is the tendency to have misleading names and some complex mixtures of multiple pigment ingredients. They do have plenty of single pigment colors though, and enough generally awesome performance to look past these issues.
On average, when you buy this brand in sets instead of individual tubes, the per-tube cost breaks down to a third of the price of other professional paints like Daniel Smith. While I personally love Daniel Smith, I'm glad I got this Mission Gold set first so I could narrow down just which colors were worth spending more on D.S. tubes. If you're looking for tube paints (which are the most economical way to build dry pan palettes that you can refill over time) look no further.
Mission Gold has many of the basic, non-granulating, non-specialty mineral colors covered. In their pure pigments set they also expand to offer Cobalt Turquoise, but overall the thing they are lacking are pigments like cerulean, potters pink, and gemstones/minerals like ground up tigers eye, hematite, bloodstone, sodalite etc. that you can mainly only find in Daniel Smith's range. For the basic primary mixing colors like magenta, yellows and non-granulating blues, Mission Gold paints are one of my favorite brands. They offer vibrant, clean colors with finely ground pigments comparable to other top quality brands. There is no reason to spend a lot more on common colors like Phthalo blue and greens (pb15, pg7, pg36 etc.) when Mission Gold offers them so cheaply in sets. Single tubes is a different story, those are VERY much more expensive individually, where their price becomes comparable to Daniel Smith.
Their single pigment colors mix very well, creating vibrant clean secondary colors when mixed. If you want to tame them down a bit, mixing neutrals is easy with some color theory practice (start by mixing complementary colors or blue + brown to make grays and black). All of them dilute well with water to pale pastel-like colors. The warm browns were lovely for making rust effects and the salt reaction for texture was dramatic. I loved using them with permanent resist or a clear glaze pen by Sakura, then layering multiple colors on top of each other, as all of them glaze beautifully.
I have read some artists complaints about this brand being too vibrant, too staining, but this is sometimes a misunderstanding of which pigments are in this set. For instance, all brands of phthalo blue or green are insanely strong, like marker colors. This brand in general uses many high chroma, non-granulating, high staining colors that are bit less prone to having notable wet-to-dry shifts (dull fading as a color dries) compared to brands that use a lot of granulating earthy colors (such as Caput Mortum and other red iron oxides or single pigment umbers).
* This set is the Asian market version. It comes in several different color selections for distribution in other countries. I have gotten the set shown here multiple times and it has always been the original Korean version which does not include a black and white color. I can not guarantee that will always be the case, some sets marketed to other countries have different selections, so be sure to look over any listings.
I used the above set in this video for the animal artists collective.
I also added a touch of mica glitter watercolor by Paul Rubens on top of the Mission Gold base colors.
Early in my lightfast testing at only 4 weeks, the most fugitive colors become apparent in this chart:
1 YEAR UPDATE = Long term tests also showed slight fading in "burnt sienna" and "light red" bringing the questionable color count to 6 in this set. This is due to the pigment PR112 being fugitive. You can look for PR112 as an ingredient to avoid. However, both PB27 Prussian and Indigo have recovered their original color state once removed from light exposure (stored in shade for 3 months). This is a natural UV reaction of iron salts common to all brands of Prussian paint. I personally prefer not to use Prussian watercolors since I don't like the idea of taking my painting off the wall for a nap here and there.
--- LIGHTFAST TESTING UPDATE NOTE 10-2021 ---- I am currently re-testing several hundred colors from tests I performed between 2016-2018 before I found out how important it is to test the diluted range. Pigments fade at different rates when in masstone (full stregth) vs diluted (with at least 50% water). I will update these test results in the future, but have noted the problem pigment code numbers on the swatch cards and in text earlier in this review.
Mijello also makes a pure pigment set where you can get some of their colors that are specifically a single pigment ingredient per tube. No surprise mixes here! This is also a good way to find a few of the more expensive pigments not found in their other sets. Their green gold color along with a perylene maroon are some of the perks of this set being great for florals. This set overall uses very stable lightfast pigments, and is less prone to fading or muddying colors due to complex mixes of multiple colors. While not as amazing as far as amount of paint in the first option, the deal is still quite good at 24 colors at 15ml large tubes and 2 bonus colors (black and white) at 7ml tubes for a total of 26 colors.
I recommend the gold box version of the pure pigment set (which is the Asia distribution one) as it includes the beautiful cobalt turquoise color. You can find that here:
Be aware that depending on where you buy this, there are different versions for different countries. This listing also says pure pigment, but when you look closer it's a blue box version (the preview is outdated) and the color list does not include cobalts. Many of the colors are the same otherwise, just a few have been swapped out for non-toxic alternatives. Some countries have certain rules for labeling toxic paints like cobalts and cadmiums, so USA stores in particularly tend not to carry those colors.
Option #3 ---------------------------------------------------------
I've also tried the Mission WHITE class, which is not to be confused with their SILVER student grade line. The Mission White is a hybrid of gouache and watercolor, with opacity and extremely vibrant colors including some fugitive ones, made specifically for illustration. This set is ideal for capturing any possible color, rather than just natural more lightfast ones. Think painting neon signs and logos. Each color can be diluted to work similarly to regular watercolors for washes, but thicker layers can be used similarly to gouache for final touches.
More about this set coming soon.
Mission WHITE swatch cards: (HYBRID watercolor-gouache semi opaque colors). Note, this set is like "designer gouache" (like Winsor & Newton or Daler Rowney) which contain vibrant dyes meant for digitally scanned work such as product packaging, prints, magazine/book illustration. They should be expected to be fugitive.
--- Mission White swatch cards coming soon ---
Mission Silver (Student Grade):
-color chart coming soon-
These pan sets are too expensive for the lesser quality pigments they used. If you are considering one of these sets, and do not care about lightfastness, I would instead get the much much cheaper Miya HIMI set. ---
Mission Gold (Professional Grade) Swatch Cards:
Mission Gold can also be found individually at Blick or Jacksons. I use affiliate links. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you :)
If you'd like to see any pigment compared to the same color in another brand, check out the pigment database where the swatches are organized by color.
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