Sketching Stuff Watercolor Pan Set Review Lead Image

REVIEW: Sketching Stuff™ Watercolor Pan Set from Da Vinci Paint Co.

The new Sketching Stuff™ Watercolor Color Pan Set was curated by Charlie O’Shields and is available from Da Vinci Paint Co.

Wait! Charlie O’Shields? Sketching Stuff? Isn’t Charlie the founder of World Watercolor Month, which happens every July? And the World Watercolor Group on Facebook, and isn’t he the author of seven Sketching Stuff™ books? Doesn’t he put out a free bi-weekly Sketching Stuff newsletter that contains a challenge exercise as well as being a fun read?

Why yes! He is and does, and this watercolor set contains the colors that he uses for the illustrations in his weekly Doodlewash ramble.

I say all this, not just to compliment Charlie (though he deserves compliments) but because you can look at any of his work in any of these places, and have a good idea of the colors you get with this Sketching Stuff set. 

Sketching Stuff Watercolor Pan Set – Look and Feel

Sketching Stuff Watercolor Pan Coloring Set Interior View

The colors are based on the 12-color system he has used for over 2,000 such illustrated rambles. Charlie chose the colors, but these paints are made by the Da Vinci Paint Co., which are professional quality. I’ve used these paints for several years, and never had one that disappointed.

Although the pigments vary according to their source, with different properties such as granulation, staining, and opacity, the quality of the paints remains the same. Da Vinci paints are always vibrant, easy to rewet, and have a beautiful flow. Labeling is good, so you always know what you are getting. That makes these paints good for any level of experience.

Best of all, the prices are highly competitive when compared to other brands of similar quality.

The set comes in a white metal tin with a Sketching Stuff Coloring Set logo. That’s handy for quick identification when it’s piled up with other tins. It is small and light enough for carry. It’s also sturdy and well-made. The hinges work well, and the tin is balanced, so it doesn’t wobble around when you are using it.

There is also a set featuring samples dots that’s also available so you can try the colors.

Sketching Stuff Coloring Set Watercolor Pan and Charlie O'Blue watercolor Tube

The star of the show is ‘Charlie O’Blue’. Charlie worked with the Da Vinci Paint Co. to create this non-toxic alternative for Cobalt Turquoise (tube does NOT come with set). But what about the other colors? This set of 12 includes 3 reds, 3 yellows, 3 blues and 3 secondary colors, all non-toxic. In other words, it contains pretty much everything you would need to mix all the colors you might need.

Sketching Stuff Coloring Set Watercolor Swatch and Mixing Example Sheet

You might think with such a bright color set that neutrals would be a problem. The set comes with a pre-printed chart that shows the colors and some of the mixes that you could make.

I use a LOT of neutrals because I paint animals so often. Knowing I’d go through a lot of Charlie O’Blue,  I sent off and bought an extra tube, so I could keep that pan filled. It is such beautiful blue, and it creates fabulous neutrals. It’s also a great highlight color to make your darks spark!

It isn’t just the fact that you have reds, 3 yellows, 3 blues and 3 secondary colors that makes this a great mixing set. The colors mix beautifully, so it’s hard to create mud. There is a mix of warm and cool, transparent, opaque and semi-opaque — usually this does make it harder to mix clear colors. But this set has truly well-balanced colors.

The fact that not all the colors are single pigment, and are variety of transparent, semi-opaque and opaque are the only qualities that I think might make some people unhappy with this set. Some people prefer all transparent, all opaque or all single pigment.

Even though the Sketching Stuff set comes with a chart, I made my own, both because printed colors are never quite true, and so I’d could paint them  on a paper size that would fit in the tin, for future reference.

Painted Swatch examples

The Properties:


  • P=pigment, W=white, Y=yellow, O=orange, R=red, V=violet, B=blue, G=green, Br-brown, Bk=black
  • LF = Lightfastness 1=Excellent 2=Good
  • TR=transparent, OP=opaque, STR=semi-transparent, SOP=semi-opaque, ST=staining, GR=granulating
  • TR = Transparent
  • SEMI-TR = Semi-transparent
  • SEMI-OP = Semi-Opaque
  • ST = Staining
  • GR = Granulating

The Colors Are:

  • Red (Quinacridone Red; PR209), LF 2, TR
  • Light Red (Vermilion Hue; PR188/PO62), LF 2, STR
  • Dark Red (Terra Cotta; PR102), LF 2, SOP
  • Yellow (Hansa Yellow Medium; PY74), LF 2, TR, ST
  • Pale Yellow (Yellow Ochre; PY43), LF 2 /SOP/GR
  • Gold (Gold Ochre; PY42/PY83), LF 2, STR, ST
  • Blue (Ultramarine, Green Shade; PB29), LF 1, TR, GR
  • Light Blue (Charlie O’Blue; PB15:4/PG7/PW6), LF I, OP, ST, GR
  • Dark Blue (Indigo; PB27/PV19), LF 2, TR, ST, GR
  • Orange (Benzimida Orange; PO62), LF 1, STR
  • Pink (Opus; PR122/Red Dyed Polymer), NR, STR, ST
  • Light Green (Leaf Green; PG7/PY65), LF 2, TR, ST

Examples using Sketching Stuff Watercolor Pan Set

Painting example inspired by Charlie O'Shields

I mentioned earlier that Charlie has a Sketching Stuff newsletter. Each one contains a challenge. The last newsletter came out while I was working on this review, and I decided I’d use it for an example.

Normally, when I take his challenge I put my own spin on it. This time, I followed the exercise from one of his Sketching Stuff activity books, pretty much exactly. I’m not as good as Charlie, but if you follow his work, you can see his style reflected in this example.

Painting example using Sketching Stuff Watercolor Pan Set

For the second example, I did one of my loose and lovely free-for-alls. I get my paints nice and juicy, swamp my paper with water, and just drop runny glops of water all over. Once dry, I look to see what appears, and add some detail. See how the Charlie O’Blue stands out? Yet, it’s also in the sky mix and in the black mix.

You can see how intense all the colors are. Even with pan paints, it was easy to create flowing, juicy mixes that moved across the paper.

Landscape Painting showing neutrals and darks

With the last example, I used less watery mixes, with the same intensity of color. My purpose here was to show the beautiful dark mix I could get using Charlie O’Blue and the Terra Cotta. It practically glows even though it’s a near-solid black.

Example Watercolor Paintings

I’ve been using this set now for over a month, and I’ve used it a lot. It’s worked well for every subject I’ve painted — landscapes, animals, food, flowers. Bright color, neutral, dark. This is definitely an all-around set of high-quality professional paints.

Sketching Stuff Watercolor Pan Set – Overall

The colors in the Sketching Stuff Watercolor Color Pan Set from Da Vinci Paint Co. were chosen by Charlie O’Shields and are based off the 12-color system he has used for over 2,000 illustrations.

Da Vinci Paint Co. makes high-quality, professional paints, and this set has that same level of quality. The paints are excellent, and the tin they are in is well-made, sturdy and balanced.

The colors are also well-balanced with 3 reds, 3 yellows, 3 blues and 3 secondary colors. They are vibrant, mix beautifully, and create fabulous neutrals and darks.

An excellent all-around set for artists with every level of experience.


Links of Interest

Outside Links of Interest


I bought the Sketching Stuff watercolor palette from Da Vinci. Neither Charlie O’Shields nor the Da Vinci Paint Co. asked for a review. I liked the set and felt others would like to know more about it. I received no other considerations, though this post may contain affiliate links which help support Doodlewash. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Recommended5 recommendationsPublished in Art Supply Reviews

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