I recently got these Talens opaque watercolours, also labelled as gouache. They’re a student range – the kind used in schools. I was curious – are they like the Caran D’ache gouache tins or more like the sets of cheap watercolours I have?
I don’t yet have the Caran D’ache gouache set, so I set about comparing with my other cheap watercolour sets, as well as my Winsor & Newton designer gouache.
At just under 10 euros, they are a little more expensive than what I paid for my Koh-i-Noor and Artist’s loft style paint sets. I really like the tin though – we all know I love tins!
Interestingly, you can pop out the paint cakes. They actually sell replacements (there are more than 12 colours available). I love the concept – much better than a cheap irreplaceable plastic set. Here, we have replaceable and removable pans AND a metal tin.
The paints dry up quite fast and look quite granulated in the mixing well. No big deal though – many paints look like this when dry and these did re-wet nicely.
The colours are nice and bright and seemed to go down really smoothly. It’s only when they dry that they start to look a bit chalky. This is the same effect I got with my other, aforementioned cheap paint sets.
Don’t expect too much from mixing colours. I have the 12 set (plus white tube) and I could only really achieve dull shades of mixes such as green and purple.
I found the white problematic. It was pretty gloopy and hard to mix into a smooth, milky consistency. Add too much water and it’s not opaque enough…
On brown paper, the colour is even less opaque. They almost look pastel-like, don’t you think? The white on the far right is Winsor & Newton designer’s gouache – much more opaque!
A green mix and yellow (top two of the three lowest swatches) also show vibrance and opacity. It’s worth mentioning that I re-wetted them on a palette that had dried colours on it – so I wasn’t using them straight from the tube.
Let’s compare with the Koh-i-Noor and Artist’s Loft style sets. I say style because I got the Koh-i-Noor one in Tiger, unbranded, but it is essentially the same set, and I got the other one in Hobbycraft here in the UK – but it is the same as Artist’s Loft!
The addition of other media works equally well. I think it depends on how thickly you have laid it down though. When I used the Koh-i-Noor style set to paint a mushroom pattern in the summer, the addition of gel pens and colour pencil took some of the chalky paint up!
Out of the three, the Artist’s Loft green went down the smoothest and most opaque. Take that with a pinch of salt, though – different colours from different sets probably behave very differently, so we shouldn’t assume that the whole of that set is better.
- Great tin and removable/replaceable pans
- Bright, fun colours
- Comparable quality to similar sets
- Dries less vibrant and a bit chalky-looking
- Not opaque enough to be classed as “gouache” – acts more like watercolours
- Mixes are a bit dull
- White hard to mix and very gloopy
See me using the Talens gouache pan set in this week’s YouTube video…