What the color samples mean and how they are made

color sample

I have started by describing the properties of the colors with the help of color samples. Five different for each color. I will describe how the color samples are made and what they show.

Because all watercolor papers have different properties and the colors behave differently on different papers, all samples are painted on the same paper. I have chosen Saunders Waterford 140lb (300g) rough for the samples.

Hue, value range and transparency

watercolor Hue, value range and transparency
Venetian red is an opaque color.

Sample no. 1 shows the dynamic range of the color, from dark to light. The two black lines at the top show how transparent the color is.

The color test is done as follows: I start by placing a black line on the paper with a black, waterproof marker, then I paint with intense (just a little water) paint over the line and thin it out gradually so that it becomes lighter. I try to make the color as dark as possible at the beginning and as light as possible at the end.

When the paint has dried, I draw another black line next to the first one. The difference between the two lines determines how transparent the color is. If you can not see any difference, the color is transparent. If the difference is considerable, the color is opaque.


Backruns, blooms
Quinacridone Rose gives nice blooms

If the paint has the ability to bloom or not is tested by painting a surface with the paint and letting it almost dry, it should be so dry that it no longer shines, Then I put a drop of water in a corner of the sample, if the paint blooms, then it is immediately shown with a lighter surface where the water was placed and a pattern of pigment between the water and the dry color. This is a blooming and occurs when wet paint is painted on an almost dry surface. Some colors bloom easily, others do not bloom at all.


´watercolor piant Staining
French Ultramarine is not staining

To measure how much the color sticks to the paper, I paint a sample, let it dry completely. Then I take a Cotton swab (cotton bud) soak it in water and pull five times with “appropriate” pressure over the sample. When this is done, I soak up the remaining water with kitchen paper. The result shows how big the difference is, the bigger the difference in color the less it stains. Only a small difference indicates that the paint is staining.

Wet on wet

watercolor Wet on wet
Soft and nice transition with Lemon yellow in wet on wet

I wet the sample surface and let the water rest for a while until it is “moderately” wet. Then I put a drop of paint on one side of the sample. The paint will float in water, how much and in what way describes how the paint works wet on wet.

Hard edge and granulation

watercolor Hard edge and granulation
A clear edge but not granulation from Quinacridone Rose

A hard edge appears around a painted surface when painting with certain colors. Granulation is the property of certain colors to form “lumps” so that the paint looks grainy when it has dried. This color sample is painted with fluent color, both properties are shown more clearly if the color is applied generously to the paper. When the paint has dried, the result shows whether it leaves a hard edge or granulates.

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