Daniel Smith “Ultimate Mixing” Half Pan Set Review

Have you been looking for a small travel set you can use to paint almost any subject, mix hundreds of colors, and that utilizes all the characteristics of watercolor pigments?

Daniel Smith Ultimate Mixing Set Half Pans Closeup - Doodlewash

As soon as I heard about the six new half-pan sets from Daniel Smith, I was eager to try them.  They sent me the Ultimate Mixing Set for review, but I have also bought three of the other sets.

Daniel Smith’s Ultimate Mixing half-pan set has fifteen colors chosen by Jane Blundell to create a universal watercolor set that you can carry in your pocket!

So, you can paint vibrant art with bold colors…

Alebrijes Illustrations by Sandra Strait - Doodlewash

… or subjects in muted earth tones.

Rocks Watercolor Painting by Sandra Strait - Doodlewash

And what about the characteristics of watercolor? They are represented with pigments that range between transparent, and opaque, granulating and non-granulating, staining and non-staining, a range of tinting strengths. There are colors that are high-key, low-key, high-intensity, low-intensity, bright, earth, modern and Old Master. All of the pigments have a lightfast rating of excellent.

What do all those terms mean? In essence,  you can paint bright works that glow with light, or paintings that are dark and muted to suit the subject. You can get that pebbly look that comes from granulation, or use the wild movement of , or control your work with colors that strictly behave. In short, you can paint almost anything using these 15 colors.

Woman Watercolor Painting by Sandra Strait - Doodlewash

The range of colors that can be mixed with these pigments is staggering.  Jane Blundell has even written a book with 49 charts showing the mixed colors.

Woman's Profile Watercolor Painting by Sandra Strait - Doodlewash

Each color was chosen, not just for its hue, but for its flexibility in mixing with other colors. If you’re interested in learning to mix colors, this would be a perfect set for you. After weeks of playing with it, I’m still discovering more colors that I can mix.

There might be colors in this set that you don’t care for, but may find to be a wonder for mixing other colors.

Mother and Child Watercolor Painting by Sandra Strait - Doodlewash

As an added bonus, you also get an extra container with 15 empty half-pans with this set.  You can keep it aside, in case you damage your filled set, or you can fill it with other paints.

The half-pans in both boxes are removable, so you have the option of moving the pans around or moving into another palette. .

Daniel Smith Half Pan Travel Box

There is a bit of a trick to opening the plastic case. <You need to put your thumb in the indent …

Daniel Smith Half Pan Case How To Open Step 1 - Doodlewash

… and then hold at the corners while pulling the lid up.

Daniel Smith Half Pan Case How To Open Step 2 - Doodlewash

So, here’s the question you are probably asking yourself.  Is this set for every one?  Of course not! 

Half-pans are too small for larger brushes, so if you use them on a regular basis you won’t want to use half-pans, period.

I’ve stressed that this set has a mix of characteristics.  Some people have a style that relies on specific characteristics, such as transparency or granulation.  A set with a little bit of everything won’t be their cup of tea (or paint, as the case may be).  If you don’t know what you like in the way of paint – this is a good set to help you explore and find out.

Some people won’t like the plastic case.  Partly because it is plastic, and partly because the lid does not lie flat.  Some people want a larger mixing space.  It is easy enough to move the half-pans into another palette.  

I tend to mix visually through glazing, or by letting colors run together on the paper, so mixing space isn’t as important to me as to some. Personally, I like the case.  It’s neat and compact.  I can fit all four of mine into my travel bag.  When my mother was in the hospital recently, and I only had a folding type chair to sit in, I could hold this palette in one hand and the sketchbook on my lap, and paint with little trouble.  Definitely not a set up I’d want to use often, but completely doable.

If you buy the set, keep in mind that you are buying for the paints, and may or may not end up using the case.

Daniel Smith Half Pan Case Doesn't Lay Flat - Example

The colors and characteristics of the set are:

  • Buff Titanium – PW6: 1 Semi-transparent; non-staining; granulating
  • Hansa Yellow Medium – PY97 Semi-transparent; low-staining
  • Quin Gold – P048/PY150 Transparent; low-staining; granulating
  • Pyrrol Scarlet – PR255 Semi-transparent; medium-staining
  • Perm Alizarin Crimson – PR177/PV19/PR149 Transparent
  • Quinacridone Rose – PV19 Transparent; medium-staining
  • Ultramarine Blue – PB29 Transparent; medium-staining
  • Cerulean Blue Chromium – PB36 Semi-opaque; low-staining
  • Phthalo Blue GS – PB15 Transparent; high-staining
  • Phthalo Green BS – PG7 Transparent; high-staining
  • Goethite (Brown Ochre) – PY43 Semi-transparent; low-staining; granulating
  • Burnt Sienna – PBr7 Semi-transparent, non-staining, granulating
  • Indian Red – PR101 Opaque; medium-staining, granulating
  • Raw Umber – PBr7 Semi-transparent; low-staining; granulating
  • Jane’s Grey – PB29/PBr7 Semi-transparent; low-staining; granulating

Jane’s Grey is a brand-new color, a convenience mix of Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna. Currently, it is only available in this set.

Ultimate Mixing Set Swatches by Sandra Strait - Doodlewash

Daniel Smith’s Ultimate Mixing set is a flexible, compact set suitable for both beginner and advanced artist.

Daniel Smith Artists Materials was founded in 1976. They are known for their unique range of colors, including the mineral-based Primatek line, and for being the first to manufacture Quinacridone pigments into paints. They currently offer over 250 colors.

Tools used:

Disclaimer:

Daniel Smith Artist Material sent me an Ultimate Mixing Half-pan set for the purpose of this review. I received no other considerations, though this post contains affiliate links which help support Doodlewash. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Recommended7 recommendationsPublished in Art Supply Reviews
22 Comments
  1. Jodi Ballenger 3 weeks ago

    Awesome review, Sandra. Very informative and useful.

  2. Mary Roff 3 weeks ago

    Wonderful review! Thank you for all of the information!

  3. Priscilla DeConti 3 weeks ago

    Thank you!

  4. alklineart 3 weeks ago

    La petite Palett also has a great mixing tray for travel.

    • Author
      Sandra Strait 3 weeks ago

      Is that the eye-shadow palette or Jane Davenport’s palette?

  5. Bekki Page 3 weeks ago

    Enjoyed seeing your creations and hearing your opinion on these new sets. Happy holidays!

    • Author
      Sandra Strait 3 weeks ago

      Thank you, Bekki! Between this set I got for review, the sets that I bought, and the DS paints I already have, I have all of the sets and I love them all!

  6. Laura H 3 weeks ago

    Thank you for your thorough review. You graciously listed the pros and cons and identified that each artist would have a different perspective of each. Thank you again for taking the time to do this. And by the way–cool art!

    • Author
      Sandra Strait 3 weeks ago

      Thank you so much, Laura! I truly think there are very few ‘bad’ art supplies, just a wide range of target audience. I love helping people decide which supplies are the right ones for them.

  7. luji 3 weeks ago

    شكرا ساندرا

    • Author
      Sandra Strait 2 weeks ago

      You are welcome, luji! These reviews are a pleasure to do.

  8. Judith Bevilacqua 3 weeks ago

    Thanks Sandra, I love your honesty and the specific way you show the strengths/weaknesses of the product. This looks like a fun mix for experimentation and travel use….the the color palette looks luscious.

    • Author
      Sandra Strait 3 weeks ago

      Thank you, Judy! I’m enjoying exploring the possibilities.

  9. Sandy 3 weeks ago

    I really appreciate your review. I bought the basic Daniel Smith set of six a week ago and have been playing around with them. It might be good to add this set to my ever-growing color collection. (it’s been noted as a ‘disease’ among watercolorists. LOL) Along with the paint, I also splurged on a couple sable brushes. Putting paint in a simple square and making it do what I want was fantastic! I was so excited; my cat probably thought I was crazy but, as you noted, it’s part of being artistic.

    Anyway, I will definitely see where this set is available in my area.

    • Author
      Sandra Strait 2 weeks ago

      Sandy, somehow I missed your comment earlier. I apologize, and thank you for the compliment. I, and my 20-some palettes of watercolor agree about the collecting ‘disease’!

  10. Marie Bock 3 weeks ago

    Thank you for your review. I bought the primary colors not too long ago. This looks like a fun set! The images were very helpful in getting an idea of the colors.

    • Author
      Sandra Strait 3 weeks ago

      Thank you, Marie! The primary colors set is a good one too!

  11. debsmart 3 weeks ago

    I’m going to find this review very helpful! I just received 2 of the half pan sets for Christmas (Blues and Florals) and I’m looking forward to having fun! Your description of the colour characteristics will be very helpful.

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