Item: Mozart Komorebi Japanese Watercolour Paint Set (40 Colours).
RRP: £22.99 from Amazon (plus P&P) or £22.99 (FREE P&P from Mozart Supplies).
I have not used watercolours regularly, so I was interested to review this product from the point of view of a complete novice. I have bought much cheaper watercolours in the past, just for ‘doodling’, so I wanted to know what it felt like to use a more expensive collection.
The paints are presented in a nice tin box, which closes with a definite ‘click’ and I feel confident it could stand upright in a bag all day, without any spills (especially if you take care to replace the cardboard sleeve after use). The addition of the plastic sheet which goes in between the paints themselves and the lid is also a good idea to further ensure the paints stay put (it could even double as a mixing surface if needs be). :
So, on to the colours themselves.
Firstly, it’s a good idea to fill in the handy swatch card provided in the pack, as the colours look very different on paper to the way they do in the pans.
I filled in the swatch provided by mozart and also created my own, using the Mozart A4 Linen- Bound Hardback Sketch Pad, beause they also look different on white paper compared to the off-white paper of the swatch card provided.
The colours themselves are intense, rich and can be watered down quite considerably without losing any vibrancy. Some previous reviewers commented that they found the colours slighty thicker and with less ‘flow’, but having played around with various amounts of water, I found that I can get them to behave like western watercolours.
The feel when using the paints is very smooth and silky, unlike the grainy and watery feeling I get when I’ve used cheaper watercolours.
The Neon colours in the collection are very interesting! My first impression is that I can see how they could be used to add a coloured highlight if washed over a base colour, but we’ll investigate that further when we get to mixing. I was a bit disappointed with the Neon Blue as it isn’t as `zingy’ as the other neons.
NOTE – If you make a mistake with the Neon Orange or Neon Blue it’s impossible to lift off with a wet brush or paper towel like you can with some other colours!
Now to the Metallic colours. These take a little more water to activate than the other colours, but they still feel silky and fluid in use. I think these might be good for adding shimmer to mattes of the same hue, but again I’ll test that theory when we coming to mixing colours.
For the mixing test I decided to organise my tests in the following way:
* Matte with Matte Primary Colours (CRIMSON, ULTRAMARINE, BRILLIANT YELLOW).
* Matte Primary colours (CRIMSON, ULTRAMARINE, BRILLIANT YELLOW) with Neon equivalent (NEON RED, NEON BLUE, NEON YELLOW).
* Neon Orange, Blue and Green with Metallic Bronze, Blue and Green.
I split these further into ‘wet mixes’ and ‘wet on dry base’ to see if the colours behaved differently and if so, how.
MIX TEST RESULTS
Primary Matte ‘Wet’ Mix – Purples, Greens and Oranges come out muddy or insipid, and I think the purples provided in the set would suffice, as you can darken or lighten as desired without losing richness of colour.
Primary Matte ‘Wet on Dry’ Mix – This produces a slightly stronger colour, but I still think the Gamboge, Orange, Grass Green and Violet available in the set are best, and again, can be lightened or darkened to suite the project (although I did note that depending on colour ratios, the combination of Brilliant Yellow and Ultramarine produced a rather nice ‘teal’).
Neon/Matte ‘Wet’ Mix – Matte colour tends to overpower it’s neon counterpart, but if you get the mix right, particularly with the yellows – it produces a nice cheerful yellow, somewhere between the Brilliant Yellow and Lemon Yellow in the set.
The Crimson/Neon Red wet mix was a bit of a non-event but I can see how all of these neons could be used with matte paints to good effect in a gradiated wash, for example in a sky.
Metallic/Neon ‘Wet’ Mix – The Blues and Orange/Bronze Mix were muddy and dull. The Green mix was slightly better, retaining the vibrancy of the green, producing a ‘minty’ green with a slight lustre. Not a colour I’d go out of my way to produce, though.
Overlay ‘Dry Base’ Mix – I will address all colours in one segment here, as they behaved in the same way. Again, I wouldn’t go out of my way to mix the colours produced by this method, as the metallics overpower the neons, regarless of the ratio of colours.
Lastly, I used the paints on one of my many colouring books to get a better idea of their perfomance on a proper design. The colours I used where:
Metallic Red Ochre
I also mixed Hyacinth Violet, White, Crimson and Neon Pink to create a pink for the berries.
VERDICT – The metallic collours are very shiny when dry and also very opaque, covering a few mistakes I made with a matte colours very well.
• Beautiful, rich matte colours and moderately useful neons.
• I like the fact you can make colours as opaque or transparent as you want without losing the richness of colour.
• Neon Blue lacks ‘zing’ and is more like the ‘Prussian Blue’ in my Crawford and Black set, so I would rename it as such.
• I’m not sure how useful the metallics would be for everyday use and would probably recommend they were taken out of this kit and replace with some useful matte colours like a rose pink, a limey ‘spring’ green and a scarlet.
• If I could change one thing about the set as it is, I would set out the colours in spectrum order and number them 1-40 on the swatch card provided so that you can select your colours at a glance if you just want to take a small selection if, for example you’re painting ‘on the go’.
• Moving away from the paints for a second, I’d love to see the neons available in the Mozart Single Brush Pen set as I think they’d be really useful in terms of the colour ‘loading’ techniques that the brush pen set allows.
ADDITIONAL NOTE: At the time of writing this review, I don’t know if the colours in this set will be available individually once you run out. If I find out, I’ll ammend this review to include that information.