REVIEW: Four New QoR Mini Half-Pan Sets

QoR Artist Watercolors, manufactured by Golden Artist Colors, has launched four new half pan sets in the popular mini tin. Each set is based on a popular theme in today’s market – Intensity, Granulation, Urban and Reflection.

Each set includes six half pans of QoR color, six empty half pans, and a silicone insert in a sturdy metal tin. The silicone insert has three wells, and the tin’s lid has nine wells in different sizes, so there is plenty of room for mixing colors.

Look & Feel

These mini-pan sets are a handy travel size, 3.25” x 4.4” x 0.63” (83 x 112 x 16mm), easy to fit in a pocket or bag.

There’s lots of flexibility for customizing the set up. The silicone insert is removable as are the empty half-pans. You can remove the empty half-pans make room for a small travel brush or remove the insert to make room for 24 half-pans.

Each set comes with a blank color chart so you can make swatches of the colors. The chart fits inside the tin so you can easily identify what the colors are and what they look like on paper.

The full pans are generously full, mounding above the top of the pans.

There are six empty pans so you can add other colors to the tin or you could move the pans around.

I’m rearranging the six colors that come with the set, three on top and three on the bottom. This gives me some room between colors so there won’t be as much possibility of contamination.  I also find it convenient to add water to the empty pans. That way if I want to re-moisten my colors, I have water right there.  I use a syringe to add water and also to remove left over water if I want to pack up and go.

Each tin has a label on the bottom listing the colors inside as well as health warnings. The tins come in cardboard boxes with the same information as a well as photos of each color.

The Sets

There is some overlap of colors between sets. Both the Intensity and the Granulators sets contain Cerulean Blue Chromium. Cobalt Teal is in both the Granulators and the Urban sets.

Pigment Key::

ASTM LF: I Excellent, II Very Good, III Fair, NA Not Yet Tested

GOLDEN LF: EX=Excellent, I=Excellent, VGD=Very Good, II=Very Good, FR=Fair

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) is the standard for official ratings of lightfastness, but it can take years to get those ratings. That is why some colors have an EX or VGD, and others have a I or II (ATSM).

Intensity set

The QoR colors in this set were selected for their ability to create bright, clean mixtures.

Color Characteristics:

  • Hansa Yellow Light, PY3, Lightfastness: II, Transparent, Semi-Staining
  • Transparent Pyrrole Orange, P071, Lightfastness VGD, Transparent, Staining
  • Quinacridone Magenta, PR122, Lightfastness EX, Transparent, Staining
  • Dioxazine Purple, PV23, Lightfastness: EX, Semi-transparent, Staining
  • Cerulean Blue Chromium, PB36:1, Lightfastness: I, Semi-Opaque, Non-staining, Granulating
  • Phthalo Turquoise, PG7/PB15:3, Lightfastness: II, Transparent, Staining, Granulating

All the colors in this set are intense. It has the three primary colors, yellow, red, and blue. The orange and purple are secondaries, and the turquoise is a tertiary color.

Note: Primary colors in pigment are red, yellow and blue and, in theory, all other colors could be mixed from them. A secondary color is one mixed from two primary colors. A tertiary color is mixed from one primary and one secondary.

Some colors are warm – the yellow and orange. The others are cool – the red, blue, purple and green.

Four of the colors are transparent, one is semi-tranparent, and one is semi-opaque.

The Cerulean Blue Chromium and Phthalo Turquoise are granulating colors (see the sky below).

Overall, a nice mix of colors that work well together to create vivid paintings.

There Must Be Raspberries

My test using-into-wet showed all of the colors have good dispersion, spreading easily. The orange and magenta spiked the most, moving the farthest in the water, but they even out as the paint dries. The blue and purple moved the least but still spread nicely.

Surprisingly the phthalo turquoise spread easily, but moved slowly with little to no spiking.

Summer Tanager. Photo reference by GeorgeB2 on Pixabay

While my first test showed how intense the colors are, I wanted to show that they also create soft and delicate color.

Granulators Set

This is the set for artists that love that pebbly, granulated look.  

Color Characteristics:

  • Ultramarine Pink, PV15, Lightfastness: I, Semi-Transparent, Non-staining, Granulating
  • Ultramarine Violet, PV15, Lightfastness: I, Semi-Transparent, Semi-staining, Granulating
  • Ultramarine Blue, PV15/PB29, Lightfastness: I, Semi-Transparent, Non-staining, Granulating
  • Cerulean Blue Chromium, PB36:1, Lightfastness: I, Semi-Opaque, Non-staining, Granulating
  • Cobalt Teal, PG50, Lightfastness: EX, Semi-Opaque, Semi-staining, Granulating
  • Cobalt Green, PG26, Lightfastness: I, Semi-Transparent, Semi-staining, Granulating

Four of the colors are semi-transparent and two are semi-opaque.

They all have good movement, with little spiking.

The colors work very well together. I do have to say that I would have liked a yellow, though I wouldn’t want to give up any of the six in this set. I’ll probably add a yellow ochre or something similar after trying out some color mixes.

I’ll confess, this is my favorite of the sets, because of the granulation, and because … well… purple!

Magic Falls. Reference photo by ichhabs on Pixabay

The colors are all non-staining or semi-staining, and I did quite a bit of lifting and splattering with water in this painting to get the look of spray and water-worn rock.

Urban Sketch Set

This set of granulating and non-granulating colors is good for creating a wide variety of bright color, neutrals and textures.

Color Characteristics:

  • Benzimidazolone Yellow, PY154, Lightfastness: EX, Semi-Transparent, Semi-staining
  • Quinacridone Red, PR207, Lightfastness: EX, Transparent, Staining
  • Cobalt Blue, PB28, Lightfastness: I, Semi-Opaque, Semi-staining, Granulating
  • Cobalt Teal, PG50, Lightfastness: EX, Semi-Opaque, Semi-staining, Granulating
  • Van Dyke Brown, PR101, Lightfastness: I, Semi-Transparent, Staining, Granulating
  • Payne’s Gray. PB15:3/PBk7/PV19, Lightfastness: I,I Semi-Opaque, Staining

This set has a mix of characteristics. One of the colors is transparent, two are semi-transparent with three that are semi-opaque. Three are granulating.

There are three primary colors, one tertiary and two neutral, earth colors.

Note the granulating colors Cobalt Teal, Cobalt Blue and Van Dyke Brown.  Even mixed with other colors you get the granulation. This is a great for the textures of various building materials.

You can mix a variety of greens .

The big surprise to me was the Quinacridone Red. The pigment PR207 is considered a coral color. In its darker values you can get an orange tone, but the tint is a cooler pink.

The colors all disperse nicely, moving well but none spike terrifically.

This painting looks great in real life, but in the scan, the Cobalt Blue is too sharp and dark, making a focus where I didn’t want them. No matter how I scanned or photographed this painting this happened. (This can happen with Cobalt Blue of any brand).

I wanted the building to the left and the person by the car to be part of a mid-ground, and the blue was too intense for that.

I considered repainting, but I thought I’d fix it instead. More about that, coming up in Reflective Set section.

Palar Bear Napping.  * Photo reference by Cairomoon on Pixabay.

I decided to do a second painting using only the Cobalt Blue and Payne’s Gray, to see if I had a similar problem. I didn’t!

This guy was kind of an accident.  I spilled a bunch of masking fluid and want to use as much as I could, so I quickly grabbed some paper and started drawing with the masking fluid. It’s so light that I couldn’t really see what I drew and had to guess.  I thought my bear would be really wonky, but he came out much better than expected.  This story has nothing to do with QoR paint, other than it worked beautifully, but I think it makes the bear even sweeter looking, lol!

Reflective Set

This set has opalescent and metallic colors that will add a shimmer to any painting.      

Note how different the colors look when painted on white and when painted on black.

Color Characteristics:

  • Iridescent Gold (Fine),  Semi-Transparent, Granulating
  • Iridescent Pearl (Fine),  Semi-Transparent, Granulating
  • Iridescent Silver (Fine),  Semi-Opaque, Granulating 
  • Interference Violet,  Relatively-Transparent, Granulating
  • Interference Blue, Relatively-Transparent, Granulating
  • Interference Green, Relatively-Transparent, Granulating

Wondering why the pigment information wording is different?

The colors in this set come from coatings on mica particles. They can’t be read on a spectrophotometer, so they can’t be given a lightfastness rating. Interference colors are described as ‘relatively-transparent’.  I’m not sure why that is, but I think it’s because the colors change so much given the lighting and angle.  

The iridescent colors will look much the same color in any light but might show up better in brighter lights.

The gold and silver are metallic and pearl is opalescent.

Iridescent colors seem one color in some lights and the opposite complimentary color in others. So, violet can seem yellow, blue can seem orange, and green can seem red.

The interference effect is similar to the rainbow effect seen when you have a light coating of oil on water.

Painted directly on white paper, the non-mica complimentary color(yellow, orange, red) is more likely to show. On black paper or over darker paints, the interference color (violet, blue, green) is more likely to show.

But the light, the thickness of paint and the angle of viewing also make a difference.

The photo above was taken of the colors on white paper in the light from an overcast day.

I took this photo on a bright day with the colors at a slant and you can see the difference in color.

Remember the problem with Cobalt Blue showing up too sharply in the scan of the Urban colors? I added some Interference Violet over that blue. I also decided to add some  Iridescent Silver (Fine) to the background.

Shown above in two different lights, the Interference Violet cuts down the sharpness of the blue, and shows in almost any light.  The color is more appropriate to a mid-ground intensity even in the scan.

I also added some Iridescent Silver to the buildings in the background. It shows up in real life, but not in the scan. I had to take a photo of the painting on a slant to get it to show.

I painted this rooster on black paper. When painting on black, you need to be sure to have the right light while painting so you’ll know how much color is showing.

The finished work showed up well in the scan, but as you can see from the image, it looks quite different depending on the light and the angle.

What is unique about QoR

QoR watercolors are made with an Aquazol binder. It is more archival than gum arabic, which is acidic, so your colors will have a longer life.

The watercolor have excellent glazing qualities and won’t crack.

You can mix QoR watercolor with other brands, though I would always test a mix before using it in a painting. I would do this, no matter which brands I was using.

Links of Interest


QoR WATERCOLOR REVIEW: QoR Mini Palette, Watercolor Grounds, And More!

TUTORIAL: How To Paint With QoR Iridescent Watercolors TUTORIAL: How To Paint With QoR Iridescent Watercolors



I received four mini half-pan sets from QoR watercolor ( for the purposes of this review. I received no other considerations, though this post may contain affiliate links which help support the Doodlewash community. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.


Recommended4 recommendationsPublished in Art Supply Reviews

16 thoughts on “REVIEW: Four New QoR Mini Half-Pan Sets

  1. Nice review, Sandra! Though I have, and occasionally use, several different brands of watercolors QOR are my go to watercolors and have been for several years. Love everything about them!

    Sparkling Heart
    • sandra-strait
  2. Thank you for another great review! We appreciate how you put materials through the paces so we know how they would work in real life 😉

    Sparkling Heart
    • sandra-strait
  3. Fabulous. I had no idea they had come out with some more mini-palettes. Nice variety. I have the original 12 pan one (I think it has 12). Not keen on the redundancy but am really interested in the Reflective set now that I know it exists, thanks to your timely review.

    And I did get a tube of the QoR YInMin blue after your review in 2020.

    Sparkling Heart
    • sandra-strait
  4. Thanks for this review Sandra. I always love your reviews and invariably learn something or gather new inspiration from them. Thanks again.

    Hugging Face
    • sandra-strait
  5. Great review Sandra, I love your accidental bear. I love Qor’s fine gold in tube, I have the original mini pan set 10 colors I think, I use it for travel. My favorite color was their sap green in that pan set, I bought a tube to replace it & for some reason pigments were not the same. I wish you could buy replacement poured pans, but I don’t think they sell them. I have about 20 tubes of QoR, I rarely use them with other brands, they are a bit pushy, but I’m a intermediate watercolor painter. I Love the way you sorted & categorized the information, made it very easy to follow & understand.

    Sparkling Heart
    • sandra-strait
    1. Thank you, Dena! I’m glad you found the review helpful! QoR doesn’t sell single half-pans, but you can refill yours from tubes (although if you are like me, you end up with paint in your hair, on your clothes, on the furniture and some actually in the pan, lol!).

Leave Me A Comment!

%d bloggers like this: