Metallic Watercolor Showdown! Comparing lots of brands!

Hi friends! After I posted a review of Paul Rubens metallic watercolor last week I got a lot of questions about how they compare to other brands I have used in the past. Rather than rely on my faulty memories or biases between brands I might have in my head I decided to swatch them all out and really see how they compare under the same conditions. The info is in this video

Since I felt the info in the video was a bit hard to digest I posted photos as well. Here are the sets in order of appearance with affiliate links used if I have them.

Paul Rubens Metallic set of 24 $50 These were my favorite for color selection, quality and packaging however they were one of the pricier brands and the small half pans can be hard to use a large brush with.


Hobby Lobby / Prima $10-$24 per set of 12-24 colors. These paints combined quality and value. The large pans made it easy to work up a lot of paint and the colors with rich, creamy and opaque. Some of the colors looked similar on black but all-in-all a solid value!


Twinkling H20s ($3-$4 each or $14-$30 a set of 6 depending on size of pot)  ***These prices vary widely as does availability of the product. You might need to scrounge around on etsy or ebay to find deals if it is something you are really interested in. I did not pay this much for the colors I have, I got them in sets on clearance years ago. They are a bit too rich for my blood now. These are best for white paper as they do contain vivid, bright transparent color but they have a harder time standing out on black. These are best when you want glitter and color on white paper.


Ken Oliver liquid metallic inks in bottles $23 set of 6 or $4.50 each. These liquid metallic watercolors can be used fully concentrated and thinned down. since they are inky you can do some fun techniques that may be more difficult with a solid color, you can brayer to color on a paper and drag tools through it of press a stamp and twist to create cool shimmering patterns.


Jack Richardson large pan watercolor $4 per pan These were OK, they are very similar to other colors in sets. This would be a good option if you only need one color for a large project so you don’t want to buy a set with colors you won’t use.


Schminke Aqua Bronze: (these retail for around $20-$30 but amazon has them for $54 each! they are a bit hard to find unfortunately, I did find a great selection at Jackson Art in the UK for $9.23 each and they ship worldwide) I think this is an interesting product and probably the most reflective of all of the ones I reviewed today. I suspect this product is a lot cheaper in Europe where it is made. I like mixing this in wet washes in watercolor paintings when you want a strong shock of metallic color. This is best to mix up as needed and not dried in pans. It can look like gold leaf when applied in a smooth coat.


Blick liquid watercolor $3.87 per color, 6 colors available Also available by Sargent Art on Amazon in a set. This is fun to mix with watercolor as paint or to make your own metallic shimmer sprays with.  A versatile product that is a good value!


Komorebi (8 metallics in a set of 40 watercolors) $36 (was $24 but Amazon increased the price on this set) you can get just metallics in larger pans too. Consider the 40 color set with 8 metallics if you want a nice student quality paint with a nice variety of standard, neon and metallic shades. The regular colors are nice for the price and the metallics are great!


***(best value) NIJI set of 16-21 colors $2.60- $3.90 a set. These offer a great variety and decent quality. They are very opaque on dark but they are not as reflective as the Paul Rubens set and you don’t get as much in a pan. Even though they are a bit chalky they still pack a punch and would be the perfect product for the occasional user.


Prima Shimmering Lights $20. Personally I am disappointed in this set. I found the colors pretty chalky and they were ho-hum on black. The vintage palette may appeal to some users though and they would add a subtle shimmer when mixed with other paints.  I think there are many better options that are more versatile. Maybe they are right for you?


Homemade metallics from LA color Eyeshadow (tutorial) These were fun and cheap to make and are pretty decent, plus if you have a dollar tree or family dollar around (or shimmer eyeshadow at home you don’t want) they are easy to obtain!


Handmade watercolor from pigments from Xanadu Art Studio (tutorial). I think these were some of the most opaque and colorful metallic watercolors in the bunch (of course I might be biased since I made them LOL!) so if you are up for a project you might want to give it a try. They won’t be cheap to make tho as the pigments can be pricey!


Turner tube metallic watercolors $6 for 15ml.  These were not my favorite but if you prefer a tube paint they might be right for you. They offer a subtle color and shine when added to watercolor paintings.


Yarka full pan watercolors: $3.45 per pan. These paints are available in 6 shades of gold, silver and copper and are very opaque and glitzy on black. They will fit in a standard watercolor tin so you can mix them with the colors you have for more variety.


Well, there you have it! There are other sets on the market and if you have one of them and are happy with it then use it. Otherwise I hope this comparison helps you find the paint that meets your needs for a price you are comfortable with. Thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!


10 thoughts on “Metallic Watercolor Showdown! Comparing lots of brands!

  1. Thanks again for another watercolor comarison/review.

    Moving forward to 2019…
    Would you please, please, please review Inks (not ink pads): India inks, acrylic inks and watercolor inks, etc… I’m talking about DrPH Martin, Windsor Newton, Daler Rowney, Speedball, etc..?
    If you have done this already, please send a link to video.
    Thank you.
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t have any of those, I had a swatch card of them but they didn’t knock my socks off so I never purchased the tubes. Sorry I am not or more help.


  2. Thank you Lindsay – this will be very helpful with my hand coloured Gyotaku fish prints. I am trying to reproduce the same amazing colours that I see when I SCUBA dive with the fishes on my prints, and metallic watercolours are great for capturing the sparkly scale look that I am after.


  3. Thanks for the comparison. The best quality really does cost more.

    I have the Niji and a set of 20 of the Jack Richeson metallics from Dick Blick. I also have a few Twinkling H2O’s, but while they looked like you were getting a good amount of paint, each one was hollow, which was a little disappointing. I enjoy playing with the shimmery color.

    Try mixing a little of any of the pigments like Brusho or Color Burst with some of the Dick Blick Metallic Liquid Watercolors. Doesn’t work that well on black card, but it’s lovely on white.


  4. hi Lindsay, thanks for taking the time to make the video AND the blog post. I typically watch product reviews on YouTube instead of reading them, but I honestly found your video head-spinning. (Just this one. I’ve really enjoyed other videos by you. 🙂 ) It was a lot of information, but where you lost me was switching back and forth between the different pre-swatched papers.

    Thus, I was super glad to hear you say that you were going to write a blog post. That video brought be here, and I’m super happy that it did, bc WOW – you have so much on your blog! 🙂 A treasure-trove to stumble across. 🙂

    In the end, I really did need both the video and the blog to get a good idea of what brand I might try. You were right that seeing the shimmer of the different paints “live” on video when you tilted the paper back and forth was key.

    Thank you for doing such a thorough review of so many options at once! You saved me a lot of time and money, and I’ll be back for another video and read. 🙂

    All the best!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I just wanted to thank you for this great overview! I needed a good set of metallic watercolors for a class, and I wasn’t interested in the $90 set they recommended. So I thought, Lindsay will know! Searched your site, and ended up with a Prima/Art Philosophy set from Hobby Lobby. It was $15, and I had a coupon. Score! Appreciate you SO much! I can always trust your recommendations.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for your review! can I ask what kind of black paper you are using? Is it watercolour paper specifically, or just any black paper? I’ve only been able to find black paper in sketchbooks (120gsm) but I think it might not work.. Any tips?


    1. I used cardstock for the swatches but you can get black watercolor paper by stonehenge that is lovely


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