REVIEW: Van Gogh Black Watercolor Paper And Metallic, Interference Watercolors

Ready to add a little magic to your watercolor game? Royal Talens just released black watercolor paper as well as opaque, metallic, and interference watercolors that shimmer and shine for their Van Gogh line. Whether you’re hand lettering or painting galaxies, the Royal Talens Van Gogh specialty line opens up a whole new world of possibility.

Van Gogh Black Watercolor Paper

Van Gogh Black Watercolor Paper Product Shot

I worked on the A4 (8.3 x 11.7”) 12 sheet pad of 360 gram (140#) fine-grained black cellulose paper. The pad is bound on the 11” side with padding glue. The paper is internally sized and acid free. A glossy foldover cover and heavy cardboard backboard protect and support the interior paper. An A3 sized pad is also available.

Butterfly Painting on Black Watercolor Paper

Van Gogh black watercolor paper performed to or above the expectations I have for high quality 140# cellulose multi-media paper.

  • Did not buckle, even when heavily wet. Paper curls when soaked, but flattens when dried.
  • Fast drying, even on drippy, humid days.
  • Excellent with pens and pencils, including dip pens for hand lettering.
  • Easy lifting of color. I used a Princeton Neptune to soak the area I wanted to lift with clear water, agitated the paint with two or three passes of the brush, and then blotted.
  • Only pilled when paper was scrubbed to force failure.
  • Easily released both masking tape and fluid (ok, THAT surprised me!).
  • Minimal fading when forced (2 x 3 sample taped to dash of my car for 10 days in June)
  • Both sides were identical.

Van Gogh Specialty Colors Pocket Box

Van Gogh Metallic and Interference Colors Pocket Box

Van gogh offers a unique black palette box with half pans of all 12 of their metallic and interference colors. The interference colors appear white in the pan, but the drips around the edge onto the black palette reveal their full color. The inner mixing tray is still white, but can be popped out to use the black lid as a mixing area if desired. All colors mixed seamlessly with the series 1 colors.  Colors appear strongest when viewed at about a 45 degree angle.

Metallics On Van Gogh Black Watercolor Paper

Metallic Watercolours Painting Swatches on Van Gogh Black Watercolor Paper

The Van Gogh metallic paints rewet easily and give the appearance of foil when applied in cream consistency. As I thinned the wash, they changed to a micro-glitter shimmer. Once the paint dried I could not transfer any color or glitter off my paper by rubbing a finger over it. I was impressed with how well the metallics performed in hand lettering tests on both black and white paper. Although listed as semi-opaque, they are fully visible on both black and white paper. I enjoyed each color– Silver, Light & Deep Gold, Bronze, Copper, and Graphite as much as the similar colors from leading competitors like Coliri and Gansai Tambi. All of the paints are four pigment blends including PW 6 (Titanium White),15 (pearlescent tin oxide), and 20 (mica) as well as the coloring pigment (Pbk 11 or PR 101). All six are lightfast and mixable with other Van Gogh series 1 and 2.

Interference Colors On Van Gogh Black Watercolor Paper

Interference Watercolours Painting Swatches on Van Gogh Black Watercolor Paper

The six Royal Talens Van Gogh interference colors have a pastel holographic appearance that only reveals the color on dark surfaces. These paints are also considered semi-opaque, and their formula results in a harder pan consistency than the metallics or Van Gogh Series 1 Half pans.   The Van Gogh interference pans also performed well in my hand lettering tests. Fully visible on black paper, the washes disappear almost completely on light or white except for an iridescent shimmer when viewed at an angle. The pigments listed are PW6, 15, and 20, and once again all six are lightfast. Interference colors are available in white, yellow, green, red, blue, and violet. No glitter transfers once the paint is dry.

Royal Talens also popped an open stock half pan of their new Van Gogh Opaque White into my package and I loved it. I’ve kept a dried blob of Designer White Gouache in the brush holder on my palettes for years, and this is every bit as opaque and much easier to rewet.

My box was also filled with several other goodies:

A white Van Gogh watercolor block (cold press fine, cellulose, 140#),

Van Gogh Shades of Nature Pocket Box and Watercolor Paper

One of the new themed Van Gogh watercolour pocket boxes, Shades of Nature,

Van Gogh Dot Card Close Up View

A dot card for the entire 72 color Royal Talens Van Gogh watercolor line (not currently available for purchase online),

72 Color Dot Card

And a catalogue (you can view it here online) with scanned swatches and pigment info for the complete line as well as a listing of all available Royal Talens Van Gogh products.

The Series 1 Van Gogh paints perform as expected based on my review last year. The three Azo yellows are now semi-opaque rather than transparent, and eight other colors were upgraded to single pigments. Van Gogh has released several themed sets, and individual colors can also be purchased as tubes.  The tube formula has less gum arabic and more brightener, but dries down into pans well.

Watercolour Swatch Samples
Silver reflects and appears at a different angle than the rest of the paints.  It is closer in value to the Graphite in real life.  Thanks to Sandra Strait for creating a great way to show paper textures using colored pencil.

The new white Royal Talens Van Gogh watercolour paper block was intentionally designed for multi-media artists and is suitable for pencil, pen, colored pencil, gouache and watercolor. They also list charcoal and acrylic, which I don’t use and didn’t test. I preferred the paper for ink and watercolor with a touch of colored pencil or additional ink for details and tone. Performance characteristics matched those of the black paper. One of my favorite uses of the specialty paints was to add subtle details or sparkle to traditional paintings on white paper.

So how about you? Do you enjoy colors with a bit of sparkle and shine? Have you used or are you curious about black watercolor paper? Talk to me in the comments!

All of the products mentioned above were provided to me free of charge by Royal Talens North America in exchange for my honest opinion in a Doodlewash review. I did not and will not receive additional compensation or product for this review, although sales from affiliate links will help support the Doodlewash Community!

Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in Art Supply Reviews
15 Comments
  1. Walt. F Pierluissi 4 months ago

    Interesting.. Van Gogh is actually one of my favorites, and having a little spark in paintings is interesting subject that I should try. Not sure about the black watercolor paper, although I have use black background with acrylics, I am not sure about watercolors. But I will give it s try also. Thanks for your review.

  2. Author
    Bekki 4 months ago

    I love Van Gogh paints, too, Walt! The metallics were suprisingly fun on white paper. The interference created the best effects on black paper, but added a shimmer and whisper of color to white subjects on white paper.

  3. Shawnee Charles 4 months ago

    Wow , I just in awe of what this company did for their artists. I love the idea of black paper and glimmer paints . I am a compete newbie so I would love to give this a try. I mainly try just swatches and abstract flowers. Thank you for sharing your review.

    • Author
      Bekki 4 months ago

      Thanks for dropping by to comment, Shawnee. I’m pretty excited about the upgrade to this line, too 😁

  4. Sandra Strait 4 months ago

    Excellent review! Your examples are amazing! I’m ready to go out and buy those new paint sets. I love those palette boxes of Van Gogh’s. They’re among my favorites.

    • Author
      Bekki 4 months ago

      Oh, yes! This was my first time using the smaller palette boxes, and I’m in love. I especially like removing and washing off the mixing wells in the sink

  5. Eve McHugh "Sqwiffy" 4 months ago

    Enjoyed your review. These look great & of like to try them but can’t justify buying more paints. I’m trying to use what I have! I do have a set of Komorebi paints which include 8 metallic pans and they are fun to use. I’ll have to wait for the best birthday Christmas to ask for any others.

    • Author
      Bekki 4 months ago

      Thanks, Eve! They were fun to play with–looks like black watercolor paper and metallic paints are the summer 2019 trend!

  6. Miriam 4 months ago

    I love Van Gogh watercolors looking forward to trying the new line plus the black paper.

    • Author
      RebeccaNH 4 months ago

      They are great metallics. I ran a comparison with the Finetec/Coliri and found they performed at the same level. They outperformed box craft store metallics by a mile.

  7. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 4 months ago

    I didn’t think I’d be interested in metallic paints but this lesson makes me want to try. Thank you for the details about how you worked with everything. The butterfly painting is really beautiful, Bekki, so gorgeous on the black paper.

    • Author
      RebeccaNH 4 months ago

      Yes! These were a stretch for me, too 😁. I particularly enjoyed mixing a little sparkle into regular colors–like gold into raw sienna to make beach sand.

  8. Robert J. Coleman 4 months ago

    Wow, those effects are amazing! I have used some Daniel Smith’s similar paints for special effects but this paint set and paper are really different. Gotta fire up the Amazon account!

  9. Author
    RebeccaNH 4 months ago

    Thanks, Robert! The black paper helps specialty paints like these pop. Have fun!

  10. mlaiuppa 4 months ago

    Wow. Another company releases another black watercolor paper. When it rains it pours.

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