Schmincke Horadam Watercolor Review Color Chart, Lightfast Test + Super Granulating, Limited and Special Edition Swatch Cards
Schmincke Horadam Aquarell is a professional quality watercolor paint from Germany. They have a huge fan base as one of the leading manufacturers of watercolor, gouache, acrylic and oil paints as well as real metal powders and other mediums. All of the products I've tried by Schmincke have had a very high quality, but also a pretty hefty price tag. Part of this is location, as these paints are quite expensive after importing when compared to other brands here in the USA. I recommend shopping around for the best price (I often find the best deals at Jackson's UK which ships worldwide) as these are absolutely well made paints worth seeking out.
Schmincke also makes an " Akademie " student grade watercolor without ox gall, but it's very expensive for a student line so I have not invested in them. The Horadam pro line of watercolor is not vegan, it contains ox gall usually obtained from the gallbladder of cows. This is not super common with modern watercolors (some brands like Winsor & Newton and Roman Szmal also do this). It contains cholesterol which is mainly used to increase flow. Even with this additive, I find these paints to be very well behaved, sometimes surprisingly staying where you put them. Schmincke says there is just enough ox gall to make sure the pigment particles dissolve well in water. They have a high pigment load you'd expect from a pro grade watercolor and generally re-wet easily from tube or self-poured dry pan. There is a huge range of 140+ permanent catalog colors, as well as over 30+ limited/special edition colors which were released over the course of 2020-2021.
If any of the "super granulating" colors stop being made in the future, don't fret - they are easily replicated by combining the single pigments on the label (ie Glacier Green PR233, PG50 is simply Potters Pink PR233 mixed with Cobalt Turquoise PG50. You can stir a drop of each together in a pan if you'd like to recreate this convenience mixture). By combining multiple granulating colors, or a granulating color with a non-granulating (texture and no texture) pigment, a color-separating effect is created in wet washes.
They offer several unique colors, my personal favorite being the heavily granulating Mahogany Brown made with the rare pigment Pbr33. They have a strong deep version of Potter's Pink PR233, which I could only find from a few other major brands worldwide including Daniel Smith, Winsor & Newton and MaimeriBlu. The pale, lighter pinks from AGallo or Roman Szmal are not as granulating or strong for use in color separating mixtures. Like Viridian PG18 or Cerulean PB35/36, Potters Pink is a slightly difficult pigment that requires an extra moment of pre soak in a pan. If you live in a very dry climate, adding a drop of vegetable glycerin stirred into your pan before drying should help it retain moisture.
LIGHTFAST? Which colors are fugitive or will fade over time? Schmincke mostly offers lightfast paints, but there are a few colors that are intentionally fugitive (but still offered due to popular artist demand like opera pink or alizarin). There are a couple rating mistakes, including the fact that Magenta PR122 is more lightfast than advertised, but also that PO64 Saturn Red is very fugitive despite being rated highly.
---------------LF TEST RESULTS AND SWATCH CARD FLIP THROUGH VIDEO COMING SHORTLY------------------
Schmincke puts out a lot of special holiday sets, limited edition wood box or metal tin collections such as this:
You can check to see which colors are currently available to purchase at Jackson's website here.
Amazon also carries their dot card for the permanent catalog
(the 140 color dot card does not contain limited/special edition/super granulating colors):
In early 2020 Schmincke released 15 special edition granulating colors with the themes: galaxy, deep sea and glacier. These are convenience mixtures of pigments prone to color separation and granulation texture. There was some general confusion online about the term "Super Granulating" (as marketed on websites like Jackson's art supplies) from the German description "supergranulierende" which Schmincke explained as meaning "normally granulating colors take on a new appearance when 2 or more are used at once". For example, in glacier green "super" is their way of saying you can see teal and pink, instead of normally only getting one color at once. Some expected this to mean abnormally strong granulation, but it's really normal granulation simply adding subtle color separation.
Jackson's should have clearly elaborated upon what Schmincke meant in English in a way that didn't set unrealistic expectations. To be fair, these ARE mixtures of Schmincke's most granulating pigments, exactly as if you had mixed them yourself. None of the paint tubes say "super" anywhere, and all of the swatch representations online appear to be accurate.
These are subtle and do not compare to the dramatic granulation or color separation of some of Daniel Smith or Roman Szmal's colors. I do not believe these are similar enough to be compared to Daniel Smith's mineral or primatek paints (made of completely different rare ingredients) or their color separating mixtures that contain non-granulating colors (which have strong masstones due to using phthalo blue in cascade green, or the pv19 violet in royal purple). These are different enough to be like comparing apples to oranges in this situation. Instead, appreciate these for what they are - mixtures of mostly opaque cobalts and earth browns. PG50 Cobalt Turquoise, PBr33 Mahogany Brown and PR233 Potters Pink being the real stars of this show. I do wish they hadn't made so many similar blue mixes with ultramarine pb29 though, because these were the most bland, least color separating ones of the bunch:
November 2021: "HAZE" theme set was added to Jackson's (here). These colors are meant for misty obscure landscapes with fog or transitioning light. I found this addition to be underwhelming. Most of what I loved about the initial releases was color separation in addition to granulation texture. These all have texture, but 3 of them have little to no color separation in wet wash or salt reactions. I will get the most use out of Haze Pink, but at this time the colors are not available individually or in 15ml tubes instead of tiny 5ml - so I'll be sticking to mixing my own using PB36 and PR233 in the future:
In January 2022 there were 15 new super granulating colors added, 5 colors per theme of desert, shire or volcano. They also decided to make these a permanent part of the Schmincke catalog, offered in 5ml sets or 15ml individual tubes and half pan options. There is now a 40 half pan set for the super granulating collection.
The most exciting part of this release is the introduction of two new single pigment colors - an extra heavy texture Cadmium Red PR108 called Volcano Red and a rare granulating yellow PY159 (slightly more textural, but slightly gummier and hard to re-wet than Winsor & Newton or Kremer's versions).
The colors in all 3 sets in this release ended up being great for beach scenes (some colors look like water, foliage and sand). There is a little recap on Volcano and how Volcano Red and Yellow are important single pigments needed to recreate the mixtures in Desert and Shire sets in this video:
Swatch cards for SHIRE, DESERT and VOLCANO:
In "limited" or "special edition" sets, Schmincke often includes alternate mica based metallic colors that are not part of their permanent catalog. Some helpful convenience mixtures like Ocean Grey or Ice Blue have become available individually as 15ml tubes. There have also been several rare mineral releases in smaller 5ml tubes. I did not buy the opalite or green porphyry in 2017, but Lapis Lazuli (natural ultramarine blue) came back in 2021 as well as the recently discovered YnMin blue pigment PB86:
Swatch card color chart for their 140 permanent color catalog below:
These hand painted swatches on Arches cold press watercolor paper display details on how these paints perform, pigment ingredients, wet on wet wash, salt reaction, lifting, opacity, staining, lightfast ratings, masstone to diluted range under bright scanner bed (direct) light:
Where to buy?
You can find some of these paints on Amazon USA, but art shops like Jackson's are likely to have the best price. I use affiliate links and banners for all products. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you :)
If you'd like to see the swatch cards organized by color, to compare them to other brands check out the pigment database. I have separated each brand's paints to show them side by side with other examples of the same pigment.
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