REVIEW: Faber-Castell Creative Studio Portable Watercolor Set

Faber-Castell has a wide range of art supplies, including their Creative Studio line. Aimed at college students and young adults who don’t need professional supplies, this line provides quality for the beginner to intermediate artist. 

I’m reviewing the 48-color set, a great set for those who want the convenience of portability and a full range of colors.

Creative Studio Watercolor Palette 48 colors by Faber-Castell


  • Size: 1 x 7.5 x 7 inches
  • Weight: 15.8 ounces
  • Palette: Plastic
  • Type: Solid pan paints
  • Number of colors: 48 (also comes in sets of 24 and 36)
  • Features: 6 mL refillable water brush pen, synthetic sponge, detachable lid, bottom ring for secure hold, wedge shaped cap on waterbrush for scraping effects


Faber-Castell Creative Studio Watercolor Set – Look and Feel

The Set

Interior view of Creative Studio Watercolour Palette

Available in sets of 24, 36 and 48.

The palette case is made of sturdy plastic with plenty of room between the pans so you can slop around without contaminating other colors by accident.  It’s easy to clean, too.

The lid opens and shuts smoothly.  It seals tightly enough that it won’t come flying open by accident.

The set includes a watercolor brush and a sponge. Really, all the basics you need for an outing.

Water brush included with Creative Studio Palette Faber-Castell

The waterbrush brush is typical, with plastic bristles, cap and a barrel to hold water.

Watercolor Water brush Tip close up

The waterbrush has bristles that separate for a wider range of effects. Although pristine white when new, they stain quickly.  It is only a stain though, and will not affect the colors as you paint.

View of Watercolor waterbrush closed

The cap has a triangular-shaped wedge that can be used to scrape paint for special effects.

The size fits nicely in my small hand, but may be too small for some people to paint with comfortably.

I like using larger brushes, and so waterbrushes are too small for my personal preference. They are so handy though, that when I’m out and about, or don’t want an open container of water that can spill, I’ll use one. All waterbrushes are very similar, but what I look for are bristles that don’t come loose, a seal that doesn’t leak, and an even flow of water.

I gave this brush a pretty good work-out and no bristles came loose, and I had no water leaking where the brush screwed onto the barrel. It took me a while to judge how hard to squeeze to get the amount of water I wanted. I did find that I only had to squeeze occasionally. Water fed through to the bristles keeping them damp for quite a long time. Usually, I was changing color often enough, that squeezing to clean kept the brush just the way I wanted it.

Did I mention that a waterbrush is a handy thing? You fill the barrel with water, attach the bristle portion and squeeze gently to release water.  To clean the bristles, squeeze more water while running them over a cloth or paper towel.

The barrel for this waterbrush holds 6 mL of liquid. I say ‘liquid’ – water is the most common thing, but if you are painting outside in winter weather, many artists use vodka that won’t freeze! Yes. You can paint with vodka, if you’ll leave it for painting rather than drinking it, lol.  I’ve never tried it so I’m not sure how well it would work.

The brush is small and very portable, but if you intend to paint for any length of time, you’ll need to bring water in another container.

Creative Studio Watercolor Set Interior and Close-up Faber-Castell

The lid comes off the palette, so it will lie flat for mixing colors. You open the lid to a ninety-degree angle, pull it to the left so the hinge slides out of its socket, and lift it free.

Faber-Castell Creative Studio Watercolor set Lid Unhinges for mixing

Once removed the lid can be laid flat for easy color mixing.

The sponge is a good size and is pretty much the standard synthetic material you would find in a set like this.  They can be used to dab wet paint on the paper to create foliage and mottled effects or blot up spilled paint.

On a personal note, I seldom use these sponges. I would have preferred more space for the waterbrush so that it could be carried assembled, and full of water.  I’m sure many would disagree and feel a sponge is essential.

Creative Studio Palette Handle

A plastic ring on the bottom of the palette helps you hold on while standing.  It’s large and made of the same plastic as the palette.

Faber-Castell Creative Studio Watercolor Set – The Colors

Faber-Castell Creative Studio Watercolor 48 color chart

Faber-Castell has a matching system where colors are the same across all their media, so the colors in this set will match their colored pencils or markers.  The colors are not labeled by name on the box or plastic set but there is a list in the pamphlet that comes with the set.

Some of the names surprised me.  Crimson looks more like a wisteria to me, for instance.  Names aside though, it’s a lovely assortment of colors, with all the basics, some fantastic *convenience colors, earth colors, four metallic colors and four fluorescent colors.

*convenience colors are ones that you could mix yourself, such as green, orange and purple. Having them pre-mixed is convenient because you’ll have the exact same color every time.

The colors are a mix of transparent and opaque. They are intense – that is, not bright necessarily, but they can give you anything from a light tint to a deep, dark color.

What really surprised me was that you can get amazing results on white paper, but the colors also work beautifully on …

Creative Studio Watercolor Set on Black Paper Painting Example

… black paper!  This is fairly rare with watercolors.

I’ll discuss this more in the performance section.

The Pan Paints


Watercolor Pans Paints Closeup Faber-Castell Creative Studio Watercolor Set

The paints themselves are solid, in pan form.   They fit securely in the pans, and even after taking them on a vacation trip, and thumping the palette around, none of the pans came loose.

The paints are very consistent in quality and intensity.  The metallic and fluorescent colors seemed waxier and slightly less intense.  Not that the color isn’t bright, just that you need more of it to get darker color.

The paints move well on the paper and cover well.  They re-wet easily.

I think the biggest difference between these and professional paints is that you do need more paint in your paint to water ratio, the fact they’ll go chalky in some cases (I discuss this more below), and I wasn’t able to get really juicy dripping color.

In some ways, these paints reminded me of gouache.


I felt that I was reviewing the whole set, so I used the watercolor brush exclusively for my examples.

Painting Waves In Watercolor Using Creative Studio Palette

For my first painting, I was on vacation at the Oregon coast and decided to try catching some waves.  Mostly I wanted to see how the colors flowed, blended, and lifted so I kept it fairly abstract, allowing me to concentrate of those things instead of detail.

I also used the wedge-shape on the brush tip, to create some of the flow of the waves. I was able to get slightly different effects by the angle that I held it.  If you look at the areas of darker green (except for the very bottom), you can see some of the effects I got.

This is somewhat of a mixed media, because I used a Faber-Castell’s Pitt Artist pen for the writing, and a black Albrecht Dürer Artists’ Watercolour Markers for the lines.

I mentioned in the look and feel section that you could get both transparent and opaque effects.  In the painting, above, you can see the transparency. I did the writing first and painted over it, and the writing shows through.  In the middle left side, you can clearly see layers of blue, pink and orange.  By waiting until one layer was dry, I could get this effect rather than having the colors blend (this is called glazing).

For the rhino, I both blended and glazed. I started with a thin wash of Lt. Yellow Ochre.  Once dry, I used a thin wash of crimson in the darker areas. Continuing in this fashion, I applied layers of violet, and ultramarine, repeating these layers until some areas of the painting had six or seven layers.  The color remained clear and you can see some of the colors beneath the top layer. You can even still see some of the pencil marks from my original sketch.

Now look down at the ground to the side of the rhino’s foot.  It has somewhat of a chalky look.  I did this by applying the color thickly, and adding more color areas that were still damp.  You can see more of this in the pink/orange of the background.  It isn’t unpleasant, more of a different texture, giving a sort of bright cartoon coloration.  That’s the way in which these colors make me think of gouache.

As soon as I thought gouache, I thought about trying these colors on black paper. I’m glad I did because they work beautifully.

For this painting, I fussed and fussed and fussed. I fussed until the paper started to show signs of wear and tear.

I wanted to show how you could layer over colors again and again, just as though you were using acrylics.  But even once dry, you can re-wet paint and lift some of the color if you desire.  If you add more color while the paint is wet, it blends (and lifts away if you aren’t careful with the amount of water).  If you let the paint dry completely, you can paint over it.

As with all watercolors, there is color shift.  That means when you first paint your color seems brilliant and dark.  Then it dries and is lighter, and often duller.  That is because water is brighter than paint.  The higher the amount of water is to the amount of paint the brighter it will seem and the lighter it will be once dry.

The color shift was less than I expected, especially for this level of quality.

I used one of Faber-Castell’s black Albrecht Dürer Artists’ Watercolour Markers to restore some of the black areas because it’s easier to draw lines with a marker than with a brush.

Watercolor Painting Landscape On Black Paper Example

This is a similar painting without all the fussing.

Faber-Castell Creative Studio Watercolor – Overall

Faber-Castell Creative Studio Portable Watercolors are solid, pan paints that come in sets of 24, 36 and 48 colors.  The palette is a sturdy plastic with a removable lid for mixing colors.  It includes a waterbrush and sponge.  The paints re-wet easily, with a range of transparent to opaque colors.  In the 48 set, you have all the basics plus several fabulous convenience colors, four metallics and four fluorescent colors.

The set is portable, sturdy and good quality, formulated for the young adult and student who doesn’t need professional grade colors. The 48-color set, in particular, is great for the beginner to intermediate artist who wants to play with a full range of colors.

About Faber-Castell

Founded in 1761, Faber-Castell is one of the oldest industrial companies in the world. Forty-four years ago, Faber-Castell USA acquired Creativity for Kids from Phyllis Brody and Evelyn Greenwald. Creativity for Kids was based on the notion that the ‘turkey syndrome’, where kids drew turkeys based on their hand print, was too representative of what was being taught. Those turkeys were easy and cute, but didn’t foster the sense of uniqueness that is vital to art. Faber-Castell USA continues to provide quality, innovation and thoughtful products for children, to help create that sense of uniqueness. 

Related Reviews

REVIEW: Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Artists’ Watercolour Markers


Disclaimer: I received a Faber-Castell Creative Studio Portable Watercolors Set of 48 from Faber-Castell USA for the purposes 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.

Recommended2 recommendationsPublished in Art Supply Reviews

31 thoughts on “REVIEW: Faber-Castell Creative Studio Portable Watercolor Set

  1. Hello Ms. Sandra,

    Thank so so much for this review. I LOVE your reviews. Being an absolute beginner, I make it a point to read your reviews because you not only give thorough information about the product you’re reviewing, but also because you explain so many terms. You never assume that your reader is an experienced artist like yourself and don’t take any term or concept for granted. Thanks a lot for that!

    If ever you compile a book on the ABCs of Watercoloring, I’ll definitely & gladly invest in it. 🙂


    1. Thank you, Mugdha! I’m glad that my explanations are of help. I remember how confusing it was when I first started watercolor. So often, the terms describe something very simple, but it all seems difficult when you don’t know the meanings.

  2. Great review! It’s great that some companies have less expensive alternatives for artists that don’t need to spend on expensive professional grade paints but don’t want to paint with very inferior paints which can be difficult to use.

  3. Thanks, Sandra, I too am surprised by the results on black. And I have wondered why these kits have sponges. Hahaha! I had no idea for sure. I usually just ignore mine.

  4. Well this look like a great travel set! I don’t like to mix colors when I am on the go. Normally I’m not in one spot long enough for it to dry in the pan and may not be able to replicate it later. Thanks for another fine review!

    1. Thank you, Lori! I don’t often mix colors on the palette, preferring to glaze or blend on the paper. I like having the convenience colors because it is easier to get consistent results when you are mixing that way.

    1. I can understand that, though I don’t consider these ads. There are links at the bottom so you can look at the product on Amazon. I don’t like to put a price in the review, because they can vary from store to store and over time.

  5. Amazing Review as usual… When I see a review by Sandra Strait, I know is a must see… Me personally use the Albrecht Dürer watercolor pencils in my watercolor art in the finishing stage of the process, it helps a lot to accent details in the project. That’s how I achieve cat hair in my watercolors… The watercolor pencils Albrecht Dürer are amazing, but they are professional grade. These watercolor sets are not bad at all for being Student Grade by the way, but I wonder how is the lightfast on this ones?

    1. Thank you, Walt! That’s a fabulous compliment. I wouldn’t expect the lightfastness to be great. I have two rule of thumbs about non-professional quality watercolors. A professional label doesn’t guarantee lightfastness, but if it is non-professional, lightfastness is going to be spotty. The other one is that companies want you to know all the good points of their product, so they’ll tell you what they are. Nothing was said about pigment information or lightfastness in the informational pamphlet. I’ve left the ocean waves painting I did out where it gets direct sunlight for a good portion of the day, and it hasn’t faded any, but it’s only been about 3 weeks since it was painted. I do know sets where I would have already seen fading, so these are not in the lowest end of lightfastness. That’s the best I’ll give these in that regard.

  6. As always a great review. I have sworn off buying any more art products (for now) but try to always catch your reviews as there is always a good technique hit to be picked up along the way. Thank you 🙂

  7. Hola, Sandra! Gorgeous art work and gorgeous paints! I LOVE black paper of any kind and I LOVE gorgeous colors! So beautiful and a wonderful review!

  8. Sandra, such a nice review! They looked like a lot of fun! What are your thoughts on refilling such a nice size travel palette. Are those almost full pan size?
    Your rhino is an icon! If a rhino can be lovely, this one is! Thanks for all the work that went into all that fun!

  9. Such an interesting paint set, perfect for young artists who travel. The brush is cleverly developed. Thanks for a thorough review and lovely examples created with this set. I especially love the Pacific along the Oregon coast.

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