Review-Da Vinci Watercolor 12-Full Pan Travel Tin

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  • Recently, I earned enough DO points that I could get a free Da Vinci Watercolor 12-Full Pan Travel Set.  (You can find these sets in the Doodlewash shop).  So, today I’m reviewing this cool travel tin of Da Vinci watercolors that I got for free!  (The full review will go live at the Life Imitates Doodles blog 5:00 AM 11/14/17)


    Paints: hand-filled, professional, full pan, Made in USA).  There are six transparent colors, three semi-transparent, two semi-opaque and one opaque.

    Colors: Da Vinci Yellow ( Benzimidazolone Yellow), Hansa Yellow Deep, Da Vinci Red (Pyrrole Red), Alizarin Crimson (Quinacridone), Permanent Rose (Quinacridone), Phthalo Blue (Red Shade), Ultramarine (Green Shade), Sap Green, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Titanium White

    Tin: Enameled gray exterior/enameled white interior/two enameled white fold out palette sections

    Bag: My set also came with a fabric Da Vinci bag.  I’m not sure if that is always the case, or if I got in on a special.

    Note: I replaced the Titanium White with Cobalt Blue in my set, so I’m including the Cobalt Blue in the review.  More about that later.

    Look & Feel

    The Da Vinci Watercolor 12-Full Pan Travel Tin is enameled gray rather than the usual black.  It holds 12 full pans rather than the standard 18-24 half pans.  The metal is solid, with almost no flex or pop to it.

    The lid and fold-out wing are white-enameled for mixing.  There are four separate mixing areas in the lid and the fold-out mixing wing is beveled all around, except for the inner corners.  A small cut-out in the center helps you open it out.

    The bottom has a thumb ring to help you hold onto the tin while painting.  It could easily be removed, but this one lies nice and flat unless you deliberately open it for use.  The whole tin is very stable, and there is little to no rattling when you load your brush or mix your paint.

    There is no official standard size for either half-pans or full-pans. To give you an idea of sizes, from left to right:

    1) a 15 ml tube from which I already squeezed about 1 1/2 full pans;

    2) one of the Da Vinci full pans;

    3) an empty full pan – the size you get in most packs of empty full pans

    4) an empty half pan – the size you get in most packs of empty half pans

    At the price of this set, the full-pan is a good deal, and gives you a chance to try out the basic colors.  However, as you use up the paints you might want to buy a tube instead.  However, not all tube paint works well in a pan – it might be too runny or dry too hard.  Since I seldom use white, I bought a tube of Cobalt Blue – which I use often – to see how it set up in the pan.

    It dried to the same consistency, and re-wets the same way as the pan paints. If I didn’t know that I had squeezed it from the tube, I wouldn’t be able to tell it from the paints that came with the set.   This isn’t a guarantee that all the tubes would work well.  Pigments differ, but the consistency I’ve found makes me feel confidant enough that I’d buy tube replacements – at least until I got one that didn’t work.

    The set comes with a pre-printed chart with color name, pigment index number and transparency information.

    The colors on the pre-printed chart are close to the actual colors, but I still made my own chart.  My chart starts at a lighter value than the pre-printed chart because that’s the value I would usually start with.

    I also did a quick mixing chart.  The chart was too large for my scanner and chopped off the last square (white) at the bottom.  I didn’t use the Cobalt Blue in the mixing chart.


    To test for flow, lifting and transparency, I did a negative painting of leaves.  I didn’t worry about which colors I was mixing because I wanted to see which colors showed through, so the painting is a little muddy in places.  Having said that, I never got an area where I really felt there was severe ugliness happening.

    What I discovered:

    • The paints softened immediately,  ready to go with just a swipe or two of a wet brush
    • The paint moved beautifully in the water.
    • Some colors handled a bit differently than I’m used to.
      • Phthalo Blue and Permanent Rose (Quinacridone) reacted to water about the same as the other colors.
      • Ultramarine had little granulation.

    If you are used to Phthalos and Quinacridones that explode in the water and move wildly or Ultramarine that granulates, you might not like these paints as well as another brand.  But if you like more control, especially with plein air or urban skettching, you will be very happy with this.

    I took what I learned from the exercise above, choosing my colors for areas where I would lift for the feeling of light and ones underneath that would stain and leave interesting layers beneath.  I did use masking fluid to reserve the dew drops and I used a little of the cobalt blue.  I didn’t use any white, beyond that of the paper.



    The set has a good selection of yellows, reds, blues and earth colors. The majority of the colors are transparent. This is a good set for beginners, for more advanced water-colorists looking for a good set to carry, and for those who collect sets as much for the tin as for the colors.

    Other Reviews

    Scratchmade Journal


    Keep an eye out for a review by Kate Powell – she always brings a lively perspective to her reviews.


    Thanks for this review! I’m not sure if there are any sets in the DO shop because there was only one at the time I “purchased” mine. Now I’m Just waiting for them to arrive so I can play.

    That’s what happened after I bought mine, so it’s possible that another will become available eventually.  But meanwhile people can purchase one through the Doodlewash shop.

    Great review,covers all aspects..How cool is it that you got them free with points that added up from viewing and commenting on doodlewash,I love seeing everyone’s style of painting and how they use color,helpful and informative,a great place to hang out with a cup of coffee or tea..

    Great review.  I need to try Da Vinci!

    Thanks for the review Sandra. I may never reach enough DO points to get my own set, ( I keep getting distracted by other cool DO offers!)  but I do have some Da Vinci tubes that I’ve enjoyed using.

    I hear you Thomas,the review makes me want to try them too,I also want to try sennilier watercolors….😁

    Thank you, Pamela! I love that I get to have fun chillin’ with my favorite artists and I earn cool stuff for it, too! I’ve had my eye on this set for a while, so I was very excited to get it.

    Thank you, Tom! I think you would like them.

    Thank you, Susan.  I know what you mean about the distraction – Charlie’s been putting up some really awesome stuff!

    One of the things I wrote about in this review was the fact that the paint from the tube worked just like the paint I had in the pans.  I heard back from Da Vinci and this is what they said:

    “Thanks for the review. BTW, we only make 1 formula for each color. Da Vinci Watercolor pans are hand-filled with our tube paints. All colors are formulated to use straight from the tube or in pans – they won’t crack! Da Vinci watercolors will rewet easily when dried in pans so it feels like you’re working with fresh paint straight from the tube. Thanks again!”

    Great to know.  You can refill your pans from the tube, when your color runs out!

    Great review.  And the thing that makes my soul sing is that they are FULL pans — I personally hate half pans unless it is for a color like white or black which I rarely use.  So many don’t even offer the full pans!  I have a good review in me now… I just have to stop being a snot-machine!

    BTW, I prefer to fill pans from tubes because I hate full pans.  I like to do a 3/4 fill so on the run I can make a small “wash” in the full pan.

    Wish they’d add more sets… but I am now committed to buying the tubes.  Love Da Vinci and probably would have never tried them without Charlie and Doodlewash because I’ve been happy with DS.

    Well,I just ordered the set,(not with points,not sure how many you need and positive I’m not even close lol). They are on sale and I think at a very good price,I can’t wait for there arrival..I love having something to look forward too.😁😁

    I’m with you! I prefer to fill from tubes.  It’s cheaper in the long run and you have a wider selection of colors too.  I’m very happy with the colors that came in the set, but I’ll probably switch out the Alizarin Crimson eventually, because I don’t use it as much.  I’ll have to see if I can find some place that sells the size of full pan that Da Vinci has – though I just bought a 100 empty full pans that was only $14.95.  It’s taking forever for them to arrive, but at that price who cares!

    I don’t know if the set will even be available with DO points again, though Charlie will probably try to get it.  It’s well worth the regular price, though!  I look forward to seeing what you paint with it!

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