The Cotman Compact Set comes with 14 halfpans:
- Lemon Yellow Hue (PY 175)
- Cadmium Yellow Hue (PY 97, PY 65)
- Cadmium Red Hue (PR 149, PR 255)
- Cadmium Red Pale Hue (PY 65, PR 265)
- Alizarin Crimson Hue (PR 206)
- Purple Lake (PV 19)
- Ultramarine (PB 29)
- Cerulean Blue Hue (PB 15)
- Viridian Hue (PG 7)
- Sap Green (PY 139, PT 36, PR 101)
- Yellow Ocher (PY 42)
- Burnt Sienna (PR 101)
- Burnt Umber (PBr 7, PY 42)
- Chinese White (PW 5)
$23.10 on Amazon and $22.86 on Dick Blick.
Let’s Talk about Student Grade Versus Artist Grade Watercolor
Cotman is Winsor and Newton’s student grade line of paints. But what does that mean exactly?
Less Pigment, More Binder
Student grade paints generally have less pigment and more binder and artist grade paints. That means that the colors are often less intense or saturated than the exact same pigment in an artist great paint.
In addition to using more binder, student grade paints can also use lower quality binders, which make the painting process a bit more frustrating.
This can also make student grade pigments more chalky and dull. If you have pan or cake watercolor sets, like the Cotman Compact Set, student grade paints may be harder to re-wet and take more scrubbing to get pigment.
But They Are Cheaper, Yay!
Artist quality watercolors are pretty pricey. I have paid over $10 for a single tube of paint! That’s half the price of this entire 14 pan set!
The exact same compact set using Winsor and Newton’s artist grade watercolors costs $99.46 . That’s almost $77 more expensive than the Cotman line set!
Because they are cheaper, student quality watercolors might be easier for watercolorists On a budget to start with. However, some artists recommend only using artist grade paints, and simply buying fewer of them in order to spend less money.
The Cotman Line
Let’s look at the Cotman line itself. There are 40 colors in all, which you can see in a color chart here. Winsor and Newton also provides a detailed list of all the paints with their properties here. I’ll be looking at each of those aspects below.
Fewer Single Pigment Paints
The majority of the paints in the Cotman line are not single pigment paints. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s much easier to mix bright, clear colors when you are using single pigment paints.
When too many pigments mixed together, the colors tend to be dull and brown. Using single pigment paints means that when you are mixing a red and yellow paint, you know that you are only mixing two paints. If you are using paints with multiple pigments, you could be mixing together three, four, or even eight pigments without even knowing it!
That’s a surefire way to get into trouble while mixing your colors.
Of course, if you don’t mix colors too much, then this shouldn’t be a problem.
Out of the 40 colors, 19 of them are single pigment paints. In the Cotman Compact Set, eight of the 14 pigments are single pigment paints.
All but one of the paints in the Cotman line are considered Series 1 paints. What does that mean?
Manufacturers often label their pigment Series 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5. Series 1 paints are the cheapest, and Series 5 paints are the most expensive.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are worse pigments, just cheaper. For example, most earth colors (burnt umber, yellow ocher, you know, the brown ones) are really cheap because they are literally made out of dirt.
One positive aspect of this is that student grade paints, and these Cotman paints, are often less toxic than artist grade paints. Pigments like cadmium are more expensive and are not often used in student grade paints.
I personally don’t paint with toxic pigments, so I have to be careful when selecting my artist grade paints.
Only 18 out of the 40 Cotman colors are considered to have the highest lightfastness rating as assigned by ASTM international.
What does that mean?
Lightfastness is how likely the paint or pigment is to fade when exposed to sunlight. Most student grade paints have lower lightfastness then artist grade paint. That means if you hung a painting you made with paints that are not lightfast, it would probably fade over time and lose its vibrancy.
If you are just painting in a sketchbook, lightfastness probably doesn’t matter very much. That if you ever plan on selling your art or displaying it, you should probably pay attention to the lightfastness of your pigment.
And finally, a note on the packaging. The packaging for Windsor and Newton’s Cotman line is exactly the same as it is for the artist line. So be careful, because it’s really easy to get them mixed up!
Testing it out
So, how does this thing actually work out when you’re using it?
The palette is made out of plastic, which has its good and bad points. It’s great because it’s light and durable. Also, plastic doesn’t rust.
It’s not so great because, especially in the beginning, plastic is not a really good material for mixing on. The paint kind of blobs together and makes it difficult to see what you’re doing properly.
The pans are basically normal half-size pans. The only problem here is that they come out really easily because they are loose in the palette.
Don’t be surprised if you open up your pallet and the pants are all over the place.
This palette is a very good size for traveling. It could be a little bit smaller, but the size allows you to have a ton of mixing area.
The Cotman set is comfortable to hold in your hand and it also lays on the table very easily.
Basically, the format is great!
The color selection of the Cotman set is really good. You get a warm and cool of each color, which is basically what you need to mix a ton of colors properly. It also includes purple, which can be difficult for beginner watercolor painters to mix.
The one thing is that I’m not sure why there is a white included in the set. I can only guess that they are including it to cover up mistakes or something like that.