Choosing a Travel Watercolour Set

Cotman Mini Plus Travel Watercolour Set Review:

Near the top of my packing list when we travel is my Winsor and Newton Travel Watercolour Set. Here’s a short review for anyone looking to pick up a pocket-sized watercolour set for travel or outdoor adventuring.

Cotman Mini Plus Watercolour Set Review

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Many years ago we were at the start of another travel adventure, this time heading into the deep South of New Zealand. We wandered into a small art shop on a side street in Dunedin, and this was where I decided to buy a travel set of watercolour paints and a travel sketchbook. From memory there were only two options to choose from, but this little set stood out in terms of its compact size. I’m glad I bought it as it has stood the test of time. The set has travelled with me overseas, gone to almost every corner of New Zealand and withstood my attempts to sketch in some pretty inclement weather.

Cotman Mini Plus Watercolour Set Review

The Colour Range

The set contains 8 colours which by most standards is fairly limited. However over the years I have managed to mix almost every colour I have ever needed. I do remember one occasion where I struggled to get exactly the right light pinks and mauves of the lupins at Lake Tekapo, but I was still able to make a suitable substitute. The colours in the set are: Lemon Yellow Hue, Ultramarine, Cadmium Red Pale Hue, Alizarin Crimson Hue, Cerulean Blue Hue, Viridian Hue, Yellow Ochre and Burnt Sienna. These can be replaced when used, or swapped out for other colour squares. If you don’t have a huge sketchbook and are making small sketches, these squares last a long time.

Cotman Mini Plus Watercolour Set Review

The Brush

The brush tucks into the lid of the set. This is very convenient and has meant I haven’t lost a brush yet. The brushes are also like little transformers as the brush comes apart and the head of the brush hides inside the handle. I have bought a couple of replacement brushes as naturally over time they do wear, but these can be found online and are a perfect match for the original brush. Do note that the size of the brush is limiting and is not great for large washes, so I carry a couple of extra brushes of different sizes in my bag too.

Cotman Mini Plus Watercolour Set Review

The Box

The container itself doubles as a palette. The paint tray is designed to lift out and turn and click on sideways to double your palette space, but I find that a bit fiddly and sometimes my paint squares go flying when I am trying to lift it out. I have ended up just using the underside of the lid as my palette space. I have also added a small sheet of plastic food cling film that I put over the paint squares before I close the lid, and a small square of paper towel that sits over the used palette area. I found that if I didn’t do this I would end up with paint mixing everywhere and a general mess when I opened the box next time. The box does not come with a water supply so I just carry a small plastic jar with a lid (a mini shampoo bottle can work well).

In Summary

Despite a few limitations (reduced colour range, small palette size, and only one brush size), I would still recommend this set to others considering purchasing a watercolour set for travel. If you’re someone heading out into remote places and you need to keep things small and light, then the compact size of this lightweight set by far makes up for any of the limitations I have outlined.

Some examples of pen and watercolour sketches I have made using this set can be found on my About page.

Other Travel Watercolour Sets to Consider:

Winsor & Newton Professional Water Colour Field Box

Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colour Paint Sketchers’ Pocket Box

Jerry Q Art Premium Water Colour Travel Pocket Set

Features:
– 12 half pans
– Water container included
– Travel brush
– 2 Palette areas
Features:
– 12 half pans
– Travel brush
– 1 Palette area
Features:
– 12 half pans
– Travel brush
– 2 Palette areas

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