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SUPERIOR Watercolor Review Master Level Pans Tubes and Student Sets + Kuretake Gansai and Paul Rubens knock off Artsy Artify Tinge
Superior is a watercolor brand from China. The factory that produces this paint also re-brands the sets with different labels for other companies to distribute. Which means you may find the same sets under names other than Superior, such as Artsy, Artify, Tinge, Dainayw, Xileyw etc. written on the boxes that otherwise look the same.
I have really mixed feelings about this. Some of their products appear to be knock-offs / look-a-likes / dupes of other brands popular sets. They are sometimes more affordable, yet the quality is unreliably hit or miss.
While I loved the accordion folding set I got from them (reviewed further down the page) I really disliked the "master level" paint sets that appear to be attempting to copy Paul Rubens.
These sets by Paul Rubens are much better:
The "master level solid water color" sets come in 24 or 48 pans (dry) as well as a large box set of 24 tubes. These paints can be found on Ali Express for worldwide shipment from a variety of sellers (search "superior watercolor") but I got mine from Amazon USA here:
Accordion Folding Watercolor Review Paint Set 58 Colors Travel Field Sketch Artsy Artify Superior brands from Chinese manufacturers.
Both Artify and Superior have branded this product as a "58 Assorted Colors Professional Travel Mini Portable Pocket Watercolor Field Sketch Set." However, I would note, that this is too large for pockets, but ideal for backpacks or suitcases while not being too large to hold.
A shockingly nice watercolor set that re-wets amazingly fast with an intense pigment load. If it weren't for the absence of pigment information, I would wholeheartedly agree with their professional quality claim. The mid-range price tag makes them a great option for watercolor beginners or professionals, being priced far below most pro grade paints.
Paints are thin and do not completely fill the white pan inserts. Due to this space, there should be no issues with paints sticking to each other when the case is closed. I do not recommend using excess water, as these re-wet easily. Also, I do not consider all "opaque" pigments "chalky". There are a couple ways to define chalk. To some people that's opaque, but as a distinction across quality of watercolors, chalky often means an undesirable texture (rub off on your fingers after dry due to bad binder/gritty/literally chalk filler/like a sidewalk chalk powder). These are not chalky in that negative way, rather the pastel colors are opaque due to high quality smoothly ground titanium white pigment.
A note about Prussian Blue (any paint made using the ingredient PB27). Unfortunately Prussian always fades in sun, but recovers in shade. I realize that most artists trust ASTM lightfast ratings, but I advise caution because their testing methods are limited (they do not often distinguish between masstone and diluted, even when a pigment has been proven to fade in lower % tints or mixed with water instead of white). Manufacturers who are aware of the issue may mark it as LF I /max lightfastness due to it's ability to regain color after being removed from light. Paint should not need to be taken off the wall for a nap in a dark corner for it to be considered lightfast.
Every Prussian blue watercolor I've tested in every brand including Daniel Smith, Mission Gold, Paul Rubens, W&N and these off brands like this Chinese brand have all faded with UV exposure within 1-3 months. This is generally a fault with the ingredient, PB27. Fun thing to see though, is if you put it in a shady drawer for a week the color will almost regain full strength. This is the only variance between brands, is how MUCH it will recover AFTER the shade. Overall, PB27 is a very unique and interesting pigment, but one that is not reliably stable. It is likely that the original rating came from some one who collected results and let them sit in the shade before comparing them, or decided that since it was able to recover it was OK. To me this defies the logic of a "lightfast" rating, if it isn't ALWAYS stable in light, I consider it fugitive. I avoid this pigment if planning to sell a painting, as you never know if the buyer will hang the painting in a well lit room (the art will fade from window lighting).
As Chinese manufacturing steadily grows in the quality art supply field, you may notice several sets by different brands that look extremely similar. What happens is that often a single factory will sell the paints they make to multiple companies, simply adding a different logo or packaging type with a different name.
This is not a new thing in the art world, but it creates a lot of confusion. For example, Nevskaya Palitra (the Russian St. Petersburg factory since 1934 who makes the well-loved brand "White Nights" watercolor) also re-brands their paints as "YARKA St Petersburg" for the ultimate set imported by the Jack Richeson company to the USA. This is not the same as the "Yarka" children's paints without the "St. Petersburg" title. Learn more about that on the White Nights page here.
Similarly, Superior brand has a wide variety of sets that look like other brands paints. For this accordion set, you may also see companies like Artsy and Artify brand selling what appears to be the exact same set (same colors, color order etc.) but with a different logo or color of carry case.
Also available in smaller, 38 color sets:
Lately Superior (sometimes listed under "Dainayw") and Artsy have also started copying the Paul Rubens glitter paints. There is some speculation about if those are indeed the same manufacturer OR they are just knock offs made to look very similar. I will be comparing these sets in the future. For a trusted quality, I can definitely recommend the original Paul Rubens glitter (mica metallic) watercolor set, see the review here.
The mica based glitter metallic paint sets mentioned above can be found on Amazon below. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Check out how these colors compared to other brands in the pigment database. I put each swatch card up against the same pigment ingredient from multiple manufacturers.