Schmincke Liquid Charcoal Review Compare to Nitram Fusains and PBk8 Watercolor
Schmincke Liquid Charcoal is available in three types. All of them are lightfast, nearly pitch black in masstone and categorized as the pigment PBk8. They vary slightly in color temperature based on the type of material turned into charcoal. By burning grape seeds you get a cooler, blue leaning black. Cherry pits result in a warmer color, near-brown, while peach stones have nearly no bias (close to neutral black). You can find them to purchase worldwide on Jackson's here. (This product was released March 2021 and during it's introduction may be temporarily out of stock or have url changes, if that first link has moved try here or see the individual colors: Grape Seed Black, Cherry Pit Black, Peach Stone Black.)
Video review, swatching and demonstration painting:
Schmincke makes this formula without the addition of flow additives, such as ox gall (which are found in their Horadam watercolor line). These paints easily dilute and are capable of streak-free washes, but unlike fast dispersing watercolors (like Qor), these paints stay exactly where you put them. The liquid charcoal paints come in larger tubes, 35ml instead of 15ml, and are a vegan, all natural product. It can be re-wet from dry and is suitable for pouring into half-pan trays for convenience or travel. The particle size is small and this paint can be used just like watercolor, but it has a very matte finish like gouache. I noticed a slightly speckled appearance, which appears to be tiny dots of burnt plant matter that will not smooth out in wet washes. Perhaps best described like a super fine black pepper powder. This can leave texture similar to Lunar/Mars Black PBk11 in mixtures with other colors. If you can appreciate this texture, they work remarkably well mixed in with any other watercolor brand, such as this shadow-violet-like shadow color using Daniel Smith's Cobalt Teal and Sennelier's Quin. Red:
Schmincke liquid charcoal swatch card color chart:
Nitram Fusains Liquid Charcoal and Roman Szmal's Vine Black watercolor are both similar products. Unfortunately my Nitram tube had some minor binder separation and does not appear to be aging well. There are some odd ingredients, like talc powder, which I assume is a filler for texture, but may have made this tube go bad. There's a chalky, dull white dusty layer that appears after drying. The paint was streaky and unpleasant to work with.
Roman Szmal's Vine Black watercolor was very nice, looking almost identical to Cherry Pit Black on the warm brown-leaning side of black. This paint has honey in it and was very sticky in the pan. This paint can be very problematic for those in humid climates, such as Florida, lakefront property, parts of Asia and South America. Roman Szmal's pans always arrive so sticky that they adhere to the release paper packaging. Unfortunately, even after putting them in a freezer to be more solid, a wax layer sticks to the glue-like paint causing a good portion of the top layer of paint to be disposed of due to contaminated waxy particles. Because of that, I overall prefer Schmincke's charcoal products more.
Find all of these products made with PBk8 pigment, as well as other charcoal powders, paints and drawing materials on Jackson's online art store:
If you'd like to see how these paints compare to other black pigments, check out the swatch card pigment database.