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!



Can Reviews Really Be Unbiased?

Hi friends! I was listening to a TED talk a couple of months ago and the presenter was talking about how food can taste better when we are on vacation or having a good time. He said you can order the same food or take home a bottle of wine that you enjoyed on vacation but it just doesn’t taste as good as it did when you first tried it. It seems that the mood we are in when we are trying something for the first time can heavily influence how good we perceive it to be. I think we can perceive art supplies to be good or poor depending on our mood as well. That is just one of the ways we can be biased in our product reviews. I will go more into that as well as other ways product reviews might be biased in today’s video!

So we discussed unintentional bias as well as intentional bias or I should say a conflict of interest but there’s more…

Another reason that I didn’t mention in the video is the rise and popularity of hate/rant videos. Honestly it didn’t even cross my mind when I recorded this because I don’t think it’s fun or funny to destroy someone’s business for clicks, views and entertainment but unfortunately many on YouTube do. Titles like “I hate these paints” or “this product’s is a rip-off” or “I got scammed”  get lots of views. Often I see reviewers try a product knowing full well that they are not going to like it just so they can rant and rave about it or they try a complex product for the first time on camera and get frustrated and deem the product worthless. I read comments like “I’m so glad I didn’t spend the money on that!” or “I was going to buy that but not now” and if the product truly is bad that’s fine but more often than not the reviewer has not taken the time to learn about it. These “salty” reviews are so popular and I don’t think the youtubers making them think about the consequences of their actions. I think honesty is the best policy and if there are problems with a product let people know but only after making sure you are using it correctly.

There have been times where I have had a company ask me to try a product and see what I think and when I noticed a problem with it they changed the product and improved it. If I was to rant online about what I didn’t like a fledgling company could go under and we would never see how a good idea could flourish into a great one.

Unfortunately honesty and integrity doesn’t always get the views. It’s not as fun to listen to facts as it is to see someone get all wound up. This makes me sad. On the bright side there are still many talented artists on YouTube that do very unbiased reviews: Steve from The Mind of Watercolor, Marty from Owings Art, Denise from In Liquid Color, Teoh from Parka Blogs and so many more! I say this because I want to be sure you can ascertain whether a reviewer has been serious about testing a product and reviewing it or has a different agenda. The rise of the “drama channel” has infiltrated the art world and lots of people enjoy those videos. Just think about facts vs entertainment. I try to do both but not at the expense of the education and information I am trying to convey.  Nobody can be completely unbiased when we all have preferences and opinions as well as fluctuating moods when trying out products but we can avoid being willfully misleading. I love to watch reviews, I love learning about new products and seeing if what I have already is similar to the new thing on the market. I actually look for reviews on products I own to get excited about using them again!

Why do you watch reviews?  Information, entertainment or both? I think as long as you take them with a grain of salt and maybe look at the past reviews of a person before trusting them completely (so many drama-rant channels) you can figure out what’s what. Thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!

2 Reviews for the price of 1! Let’s look at beautiful Paul Rubens watercolor paint!

Howdy friends! I recently received the Paul Rubens (named for the painter, not PeeWee Herman LOL!) standard and glitter watercolors sets of 24 half pans and I was going to put them all together in the same video but realized that it would be very long so I have separated them. This post conains affilate links which means if you click through and make a purchase I may earn a small comission at no additional cost to you, thank you.

First up let’s look at the regular watercolors:

This set of Paul Rubens watercolors were sent to me for free by LightWish on Amazon and they sell for $38.99  *Note a set of 12 is also offered for $25.99 in similar packaging.


  • Beautiful artist grade colors that all unique making a useful palette
  • Pigment info is provided and most colors are single pigment and use tried and true pigments
  • The packaging is high-end and beautiful (perfect for gift giving)
  • The paints rewet well and have a smooth and consistent application
  • Good price for artist grade


  • The pink packaging may not appeal to all customers

Bottom line:
These a beautiful high quality paint and the high-end packaging and reusable palette make it a beautiful gift or a craft room staple HOWEVER I think the Pretty Excellent paints are just as good if not more transparent and vivid and you get 36 for $20 in the pretty excellent set vs 24 for $39 in the Paul Rubens palette. They don’t disclose the pigment info in the pretty excellent set but many of the colors looked identical but that could be that the cheaper colors were in that set while the more expensive colors were in the PR set. The packaging obviously is more high-end and expensive and I think that accounts for the price difference.

As for the Paul Rubens 100% cotton watercolor paper it is fantastic, as good as Arches for half the price.

Now on to the glitter watercolors!

This set of Paul Rubens glitter watercolors were sent to me for free by LightWish on Amazon and they sell for $49.99. *Note a set of 12 is also offered for $29.99 in similar packaging.


  • Beautiful colors that are quite opaque, all colors are unique from one another and they show up on black and white cardstock.
  • The packaging is high-end and beautiful (perfect for gift giving)
  • The paints rewet well and have a smooth and consistent application
  • The glitter colors offer a gorgeous sparkle and there metallics give an opaque luster, there is a good assortment of each.
  • Color are arranged in a palette so you can access them all at once (rather than having to uncap small jars like twinkling H2Os) and since the case is not air tight I don’t think moulding will be an issue but I’d still let them dry out fully before putting them away.


  • The pink packaging may not appeal to all customers
  • At nearly $50 they are a bit pricey
  • Small pans may prove difficult if you are trying to work up a lot of paint with a large brush.

I promised a viewer that I would swatch out my Twinkling H2Os that I mentioned in the video and post it to my blog but then I also got asked about the NIJI metallic watercolors that I had recommended in the past so I ended up swatching out EVERY metallic watercolor I had (which is an obscene amount of paint to be honest) and I made a new video, a metallic watercolor showdown if you will, comparing all of them. That blog post and video will come out next week and I will have photos of all the swatches on white and black paper as well as price info so you can see what is worth the money for the type of work you do. It was a really interesting experiment because I was sure my twinkling H2Os would come out on top but that was not the case and a very cheap set was really worth it’s salt! Even as someone who reviews a lot of products and tries to be completely unbiased it is funny to see how faulty our memory can be about products and how we can be wrong about quality unless things are swatched side by side in the same conditions. Anyhow, that video is filmed and will come out next week so be sure to come back and check that out and if you want to make sure you don’t miss it subscribe to my blog (there is a button in the upper left hand side of this page.)


Here is a photo in the misdst of my scientific swatching, glamerous, huh?

Bottom line:
These Paul Rubens Glitter Watercolors are a beautiful high quality paint (just like the standard watercolors) and the high-end packaging and reusable palette make it a beautiful gift or a craft room staple if you want to add glimmer to many projects. It might be a bit much (expense) for an occasional user who just want a bit of bling from time to time. For occasional users the Prima metallic watercolors (the round pans I showed) may be more suitable and budget friendly. Where the colors are not quite as nice the effect is pretty darn close so if you are looking for metallic watercolor choose the kind that suits you best. You can find the standard prima ones here and the pastels here for about half the price in less impressive plastic packaging (however the large pans are easier to work the paint from in my opinion. That said, quality wise -and I can say this will full confidence after swatching out my entire collection of metallic watercolors today- the Paul Rubens metallic watercolors are the highest quality metallic watercolor paint I have ever used. They are the most pigmented, the colors look unique from one another on black and white paper and there is enough color to them to shimmer with color on both papers. Also the variety of pearl and glitter colors in the set is great, not a color is wasted or too samey. As a consumer you need to consider whether these subtle improvements in quality are worth the increased price tag. I recommend you keep an eye out for my comparison of metallic watercolors coming soon! Happy crafting!

Do you hate cutting intricate dies?

Hi friends! The other day I was wandering through a big box craft store and saw a die cutting accessories that piqued my interest. It claimed that it would help intricate dies cut cleanly. I decided to give it a try because it if solved the issue that my 12-year-old Big Shot has with cutting theses kinds of dies it would be totally worth the price!


Today I am reviewing the Chrome Precision Base Plate from Sizzix. It is designed to apply a bit more pressure and bite to lacy intricate dies so you can cut them easily and cleanly with fewer passes in the die cutter. See how it works in the video below.

Supplies featured in the video (affiliate links used)

Things to consider before investing in a chrome precision base plate:

  • This works the same as the old precision base plate so you don’t need to replace it unless it is worn out/warped. The Chrome version purportedly never needs to be replaced.
  • Use this with the tabbed platform and not with the magnetic platform as I did because the pressure could break the magnets (advice from a viewer)
  • Once you use a die with this cutting plate you will need to continue to use it with this plate as it slightly dulls the blade so it will forever need the bite of the chrome plate to cut. This is not a big deal if you plan on keeping the die, but if you plan to sell it you might not want to use it with this plate. That said etched dies like these wafer thin dies cut more with pressure than sharpness so I don’t know if this is really a big concern. If you can’t get a die to cut properly in the first place it is a risk worth taking for me, but I would not cut dies on it that you don’t need to such as basic shapes.
  • I have also heard from a viewer that this can warp your dies but they will still cut fine. I did not have this problem but it might be because my machine is on the loose side.

For me the Sizzix Chrome Precision Base Plate was totally worth the money. I have shied away from using intricate dies after having such a hard time cutting the beautiful Cheery Lynn doily die I bought many years ago but now I can enjoy that die as well as others! Maybe it will be helpful to you as well. Happy crafting!

Arteza Expert Watercolor Pencil Review

Hi friends! I have been getting requests to review the Arteza Expert Watercolor pencils. I decided it would be nice to get this review up before Thanksgiving in case there are some really good Black Friday sales to take advantage of (you never know!)


I have really enjoyed working with these watercolor pencils, they feel softer and creamier than a typical watercolor pencils but they sharpen well without breakage. It’s not what I expect from a budget priced product. Then again I have been pretty impressed with Arteza’s line of products over all. Arteza gave me a 10% off coupon code FRUGAL10 to share with you if ordering off their website but I also recommend checking Amazon before ordering to make sure you get the best deal. You can check out these pencils in today’s video review.

Price-$35 for a set of 72 in a reusable tin
Quality- Vivid colors that layer well
Lightfast info provided
Leads are strong and seemed well centered sharpens well

You can’t buy individual colors so if you use one up you will need to replace it with another brand or buy a new set


Supplies: Affiliate links used: Watercolor pencils and paper from Arteza *Use coupon code FRUGAL10 for 10% off if shopping on the Arteza Website.

The paper I used to demonstrate was their premium cellulose super-affordable student grade paper. They just came out with a 100% cotton Expert version that I haven’t tried yet.  Let me know if you would like a review of the new paper. Thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!

The best watercolors $20 can buy?!? Pretty Excellent Watercolor Review!

Hi friends! Don’t you just love it when a product exceeds your expectations? I really wasn’t expecting much when I ordered this $20 set of Pretty Excellent watercolors from Amazon a couple of months ago. I had some  money left on a gift card and I loved the color and size of the tin and I fully expected I would be discarding the paint to fill with other pans but boy was I wrong! The paints are beautiful!


It took me a while to review these because I was trying to find something wrong with them. I used them on cards, bookmarks and small paintings and the jewel like colors are rich, clean and vibrant with no shift in color, fading or chalkiness. The lightfast ratings on the box were really good too with 19 out of the 36 colors being absolutely permanent and the remaining ones moderately lightfast. The amount of paint is typical half pan size (I pulled out the insert to make sure the wells were deep.) I contacted the seller Lightwish to see if these paints were the same as the Paul Rubens paints I had seen reviewed a lot lately and they said “Yes, they are the same as the Paul Rubens brand paint. But they also have some difference.” I think the difference is probably the packaging as the Paul Rubens paint comes in a higher end metal tin with individual plastic half pans and a chamois cloth and fancy gift box. If you were looking for a better buy on the Paul Rubens it seems this would be the set. If you were looking for an inexpensive travel set or a gift for an aspiring watercolorist I highly recommend this Pretty Excellent brand one. Watch the video to see them in action and for more information!

Pretty Excellent brand watercolors Review (Affiliate links used)


  • Price: $19.98 for 36 half pans of watercolor *no removable plastic half pans, they are poured in the plastic insert.
  • Bright clean transparent colors
  • Colors mix cleanly
  • Lovely tin/palette
  • Comes with a waterbrush or you can use the storage slot for your favorite brush
  • beautiful smooth colors finely milled
  • According to the back of the box 19 colors are absolutely lightfast and the remaining color were moderately lightfast but no pigment info is provided in English.


  • All the info except color names is in Chinese so if there is pigment info available I can’t read it LOL!

Bottom line, these are an amazing value for the price. There is no chalkiness even in mixes. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to use watercolors and ins’t concerned with pigment composition (urban sketchers, art journalers, scrapbookers, cardmakers) or beginners who want the experience of painting with a high quality transparent watercolor without the high-end price tag. I was really pleased to hear that the pretty excellent paint was the same as the Paul Rubens paint at a much nicer price as the 24 set of Paul Rubens is $39 and you get 36 of the Pretty Excellent paints for $20 in a less fancy tin which suits me fine.

The only downside on these paints is not knowing what pigments are in them. If you take them at their word about the lightfastness they are an incredible value. Keep the back panel of the box to refer to that info if you want it. I hope you found this review helpful and til next time happy crafting!

Review: NEW Premier by Nicole Watercolors from AC Moore

Hi freinds! Today we will look at the Premiere by Nicole watercolors available at AC Moore. Currently they are available in store only but they plan to stock them on their new shopping website soon. I went shopping with my friend Kathy yesterday and saw that these watercolors were on sale 4/$10 this week so if you have a shop locally and you are interested in them after seeing this review you might want to grab some on sale. The Menta brushes by Royal and Langnickel were also 4/$10 if you were looking to grab some.

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These paints are sold individually for $3.99 (regular retail price) and there is a nice selection of colors available. They also have a watercolor pad and brushes in the line. I would rate all of these products student grade and they are priced for the student or hobby market. BTW here are the swatching stamps I used to make the mixing chart. Watch the video below for my in-depth review.


  • Nice variety of colors available
  • Colors dry down well without cracking
  • Dry paint rewets nicely.
  • Glazing is possible


  • No pigment or lightfast information available
  • Some of the colors I received are quite “samey”
  • Some colors were a bit streaky
  • Some colors mixed got a bit chalky

Review: These paints initially reminded me a lot of the Cotman line from Winsor & Newton in the colors, texture and the way they dried down. At the end of the video I compared the exact colors from Premiere to the swatches of the full like of Cotman pans I have and the similarities are striking almost like they were made by the same company. Cotman paints retail for $4.89 a tube but cotman paints contain pigment info wich is a big plus in my book.

They also reminded me of Royal and Langnickel tube paint which is a steal however the R&L paint has an odor and I know some people are bothered by that even though it is faint. R&L paint will crack if dried down so I recommend using that fresh from the tube or adding a bit of glycerin in the wet paint.


These paints will perform very similarly to any other student grade paint however without pigment info and lightfast info available I would not recommend them over other brands that offer that information at the same price. If you want to get a few tubes to try I recommend sticking to a very limited palette of Permanent Rose,Intense blue, and Cadmium yellow as you will get very nice clean mixes and vibrant colors. I think those colors may be single pigment. I think that if you like Cotman watercolors you will like these as they are nearly identical but I’d wait for a sale which luckily ACMoore has often. The paper is quite smooth and reminds me of Canson XL. It is a wood pulp paper and very affordable (about $5.88 for a 9″x12″ pad of 30) I personally like it for rubber stamping and watercoloring those images, it is a great buy for that. The brushes are your standard golden taklon and a bit stiff for my liking in watercolor and will make you watercolor look more streaky. For the same money you can purchase the Menta brushes by Royal & Langnickel also sold at AC Moore. *Reminder both the Menta brushes and Premiere paints are on sale this week at ACM!

Thanks to ACMoore for sending these to me for review. They are very similar to Cotman and I’d give them a try if on sale and you are in need of student paint. Happy crafting!

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