Simple Swatching Of Watercolour Paints

Owning several shades of the same colour is not an uncommon practice.  I myself own a multitude of reds, blues and green and I can imagine many people owning several blues for painting skies and oceans or greens for landscapes, nature and leaves. This is when swatching paints become an important exercise ans paint swatches are a great way to understand your paints and use as a reference when selecting paint colours for any project.

Watercolour paints are particularly known for their diffusion, transparency and granulation when mixed with water. Creating swatches is one of the best ways to understand how the paint reacts when mixed with water and applied on to your paper.

Watercolour paints come in the form of concentrated pigments mixed with a binder (usually gum arabica) and put in tubes or pans. Once mixed with water, the pigments will begin to diffuse, creating transparent layers of colours. Sometimes while diffusing, these pigments will start to separate. This is particularly true when several pigments are used to create one paint. This separation is called granulation and creates beautiful effects in your painting.

Swatching paints can become very complicated very quickly. However, I have simplified this whole process and created this video guide to help you get started.



My supplies list here include:

  • 140lb/300gsm cold press watercolour paper
  • Number 6 round paintbrush 
  • Daniel Smith Tube Paints in the following colours
    • Opera Pink
    • Quinacridone Pink
    • Quinacridone Rose
    • Quinacridone Violet
    • Permanent Red Deep
    • Quinacridone Coral
    • Permanent Red
    • Pyrrol Red
    • Carmine
    • Organic Vermillion
    • Pyrrol Orange
    • Naples Yellow
    • Bismuth Yellow
    • Phthalo Yellow Green
    • Sap Green
    • Permanent green Light
    • Permanent green
    • Ultramarine Turquoise
    • Cobalt Teal Blue
    • Manganese Blue Hue
    • French Ultramarine
    • Prussian Blue
    • Indigo
    • Payne’s Blue Grey
    • Cobal Violet
    • Imperial Purple
    • Quinacridone Gold
    • Moonglow
    • Shadow Violet
    • Lunar Black

(The colours in the image may not match the actual colours due to digital adjustments and screen quality)

Please go ahead and experiment with your own paints.

I love hearing from my followers, so please leave me a comment below to let me whether this is a useful exercise you and how you went with your own swatching.

Have fun painting!