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.
- 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
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.
The waterbrush brush is typical, with plastic bristles, cap and a barrel to hold water.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 …
… black paper! This is fairly rare with watercolors.
I’ll discuss this more in the performance section.
The Pan Paints
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Faber-Castell Creative Studio Portable Watercolors Set of 48
- Faber-Castell Creative Studio Portable Watercolors Set of 36
- Faber-Castell Creative Studio Portable Watercolors Set of 24
- Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Artists’ Watercolour Markers – 5 Assorted Colors
- Hahnemuhle Nostalgie Hardcover Sketchbook – 8.3″ x 11.7″ – Portrait Orientation
- Hahnemuhle Watercolor Book A5 (5.8×8.3 inches) 200gsm Landscape
- Stonehenge Aqua Black Cold Pressed Watercolor Pad
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.
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