Rembrandt Watercolor Review, Color Chart, Lightfast Test for Tubes, Pan Sets, Special Effects Water Colour
Rembrandt is the professional watercolor line by Royal Talens made in the Netherlands. You may also know their company by the well-loved Van Gogh student grade paints they produce. Both lines are made from high quality pigments, typically using only the most lightfast of colors and standard gum arabic binder. Both come in 10ml tubes (larger tubes available in certain colors) or dry pans individually and in sets. In the Rembrandt line you will find some of the more expensive pigments like genuine cadmium and cobalt colors, as well as a higher pigment load than their Van Gogh student range. Overall this is a just "good" quality brand with a medium to high price tag depending on the color compared to other pro grade paints. While Rembrandt is definitely professional quality, it has only just above average performance in this category. It doesn't quite beat the intensity, consistency or catalog selection of the bigger companies like Schmincke or Daniel Smith, nor can it beat the price tag of Roman Szmal.
Rembrandt's selection has been quite standard (a little boring) for a very long time. Like Winsor and Newton, there's a decent amount of similar colors throughout the range. It's easy to overlook their tiny selection of rare pigments (which used to include the problematic PG19 Cobalt Green until recently discontinued). There are a couple particularly notable ones to check out still, such as PBr8 (which I couldn't find anywhere else) and PBk26 (which, as of 2021 a pigment I only also found in the very similar MaimeriBlu "Neutral Tint"). For many years there were no unusual custom convenience colors in their catalog. No trendy color-separating or otherwise visually interesting mixtures to compete with other brands beginner-friendly (no-mixing required) options.
With the exception of Oxide Black PBk11, many of Rembrandt's "granulating" colors are actually quite gently minorly granulating. This could be a good or a bad thing depending on artist preference (I personally love heavy granulation texture and the dynamic mixtures that result from using them, but not everyone appreciates this effect). Rembrandt tends to lack texture, especially compared to the heavily granulating, flocculating, textural paints of Daniel Smith or Roman Szmal.
Rembrandt makes 3 types of Cerulean Blue (regular, deep and greenish), all of which are less granulating than Daniel Smith (shown above). Their PV14 Cobalt Violet is nice, but slightly cloudy and less eager to granulate than Winsor and Newton's version (as shown below in the same amount of water on Bee Cotton #140 Cold Press paper).
Because their Viridian, Ultramarine Blues and Cobalt Turquoise are very smooth / finely ground, they are not ideal for dynamic textural mixtures that PG18. PB29 and PB28 are usually known for. In 2019 they advertised that the French Ultramarine was new and "improved" by getting this pigment from a new source increasing it's granulation. I tried it in 2021 and compared it with a very old pre-2018 pan...and did not see improvement. If you're looking for a highly granulating PB29 I highly recommend Schmincke's French Ultramarine instead. I like White Nights Ultramarine Deep for a medium granulation or Schmincke's Ultra Finest for little to no granulation.
This could be part of why they don't have many unusual mixtures, as it is more difficult to replicate your own DIY Moonglow using Rembrandt's super smooth Viridian Green than other brands:
In 2019 Rembrandt started releasing a variety of unique pan sets, adding about a dozen new colors (mostly modern ones that are already common in other brands), new "dusk" convenience mixtures and metallic colors. The dusk colors are made with common normal pigments like Magenta PR122 or Phthalo Green PG7 mixed with their granulating Oxide Black (also known as Lunar Black, Black Iron Oxide or Magnetite PBk11). While these may not appeal to seasoned artists who are used to mixing colors, this finally put them into some level of popularity amongst those who are intrigued by the color separating textures. These perform very similarly to Daniel Smith's "Lunar Blue".
Perhaps the most interesting recent addition to their catalog was the finely ground glass (not dusty or chunky enough to be a health concern) "spark" colors and mica-based interference colors. Some of these chameleon / flip-flop / color-shifting specialty paints are ideal for animals and insects with iridescent wings. My favorite was Spark Pink. Here is my video covering the glass and mica special effects box set, color chart swatch cards and demonstration painting:
Lightfast test results: LFI / BW8. Completely lightfast. The mica and glass "special effects box" with chameleon and spark colors are completely UV stable. These are great for art to hang on your wall or to sell. Overall, as a company, Royal Talens is really good about carrying the most lightfast pigments available.
I'm not surprised by these perfect results with no fugitive colors after having similar good results with most of the Rembrandt and Van Gogh line (including the beautiful Van Gogh metallic and interference pocket box - which I recommend as a cheaper alternative to the Rembrandt standard metallic colors).
There are very few questionable pigments used in their watercolor line. When choosing Rembrandt or Van Gogh watercolors, Amsterdam acrylics or inks, you're more than likely to have gotten a lightfast paint that is totally suitable for artwork to hang on a wall or put up for sale.
One of the more modern additions, PO64, was advertised as UV stable from the pigment manufacturer. It appears Rembrandt has mistakenly added this fugitive color to their watercolor line, likely just assuming it to be stable and not double checking it first. I say this because Royal Talens is normally a very cautious company about lightfastness, but unfortunately my tests have shown that PO64 is extremely fugitive when diluted. This pigment is unusual, being bright but not neon-looking in normal lighting, yet having a fluorescent glow effect (reflecting light) under UV blacklight. Unlike Opera Pink that contains a separate fluorescent dye in the mixture with a pigment (usually Magenta PR122 + BV10 or BR1 a dye additive) it appears that PO64 itself is fluorescent.
There are rare cases where naturally fluorescent pigments can be lightfast (such as blue apatite and the unusual PB15 variant Daniel Smith calls "Manganese Blue Hue") but in this case PO64 is not lightfast. It starts to show fading in as little as 2 weeks with major fading before 3 months (a very short time compared to lightfast paints). It is stronger in masstone and does not appear to be flagged for lightfastness issues in any of the brands that added it to their catalogs in the past few years (including Schmincke, White Nights and Roman Szmal). I advise avoiding all paints made with PO64, including Rembrandt's "Brilliant Orange".
There are 120 colors in the Rembrandt professional watercolor catalog. I'll be swatching all of the colors I own and sharing them below. One of my favorite colors by Rembrandt is Ultramarine Violet:
Ultramarine Violet is a beautifully soft granulating purple made from PV15. Not very many companies offer this pigment and surprisingly even some of the mega main brands (like Schmincke) only have a darker blue-leaning mixture of PV15/PB29 instead a pale purple single pigment PV15. This particular version has a subtle color separation visible with salt or excess water backruns/blooms. Salt seems to expose a more blue color while water seems to dilute it towards pink. It is not quite as freely granulating or deep valued as Winsor and Newton's version, but I appreciate both for how different they are (W&N is very uniform, no pink diluted range or blue salt reaction, just all deep purple):
Two unique pigments:
Greenish Umber PBr8 is a very rare manganese brown pigment not typically offered in watercolor. It is lightfast and should not be confused with NBr8, a natural peat soil based Vandyke Brown which fades. While this pigment is slightly weak, particularly when compared with PBr7 Burnt Umber, it does have a special color separating effect that can be brought out in wet washes or with the salt texture trick. It can look like a cool brown, separating from warm brown with flecks of grayish deep brown-black. This can be particularly interesting in forced back-runs / blooms / cauliflower wet to dry washes. If you're a collector of rare pigments, or can appreciate subtle pale browns in landscapes or botanical work, this may be of interest.
Spinel Grey is a rare deep black color made from pigment PBk26 that I have only seen in one other brand - MaimeriBlu (their "neutral tint" watercolor is nearly identical, no major variation between them). PBk26 Manganese Ferrite Black pigment is a true black, with very little warm or cool bias. I definitely suggest checking it out if you are a fan of black pigments, as this is an incredibly deep rich matte black that instantly goes to a pitch-black masstone strength with no notable dry shift in just one layer. In the swatch card you can see that adding a second layer after dry really doesn't make the value go any darker. It's a great ink-replacement for solid black areas that look very smooth with no granulation. The fine particles flow off a wet brush with ease, making it an ideal watercolor equivalent for a solid matte gouache-like background. A tiny bit can be added to almost any color to help tone it down, much like neutral tint. If I were trying to represent deep, pitch black, like a hole or tear into darkness - this is the one I would reach for. Unlike the common PBk7 Lamp Black, there is no tendency to slightly lighten or change texture while drying.
Rembrandt watercolor swatch cards:
Swatch card template available for download here, or get the rubber stamp here. Swatch cards were painted on Legion Black or Arches Cold Press 100% cotton watercolor paper. Paper and brushes are available at Jackson's or Amazon here:
The affiliate links are to places I have purchased my art materials. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
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.