I have been thinking for a while of doing some reviews of watercolour paint manufacturers and decided upon Lukas, the comparatively little known German company, as the first. Why Lukas? Essentially because I think this is a company with a combination of quality and price that may be hard to match. I do realise this is arguable with personal preference a factor, and availability is not as widespread as many of the competing makes, but if you want a good quality product at a very keen price then read on.
The standard 24 ml tube which is the only tube size Lukas offer. Note the comparison with a Schminke 15 ml tube.They also have half and full pans.
The four Lukas paints I have which are Turquoise, Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Yellow and Permanent Orange. The Turquoise (PB16) and the Orange (PO71) are two of the more interesting colours in the range. Note the greens made by mixing the Turquoise with the two yellows. I shall be posting a separate piece comparing the Permanent Orange with the Schminke Translucent Orange, both the same PO71 with this pigment only on offer (as far as I can tell) from these two.
Lukas are an established German company who have been making watercolours and other mediums, founded in 1862 by Dr.Fr.Schoenfeld, hence the name of the artists quality watercolours LUKAS Aquarelle 1862. The range was reformulated a few years ago prior to which, in 2004, the Handprint site reviewed them.and damned them pretty thoroughly, fugitive pigments, too many brighteners and fillers etc etc. However in 2006 Bruce added a note saying the range had been reformulated in 2005 with a slight increase in numbers to 70 and a large increase in single pigment paints. To quote him
"All the paints I highlighted as fugitive in my 2004 paint tests and some of the dubious convenience mixtures have been discontinued. The replacement pigments...... are of excellent generic light fastness in fact Lukas now conform to the conservative pigment choices common to other manufacturers..."
Bruce finished by saying he had not tested the new paints and signed off with a fairly negative comment as if he was disinclined to give them a second chance, although he does say past standards are not necessarily a true guide as things can and do change.
Now to the range which comprises 70 colours of which 69% are single pigment paints. The 7.5 ml tube has been dropped and 24 ml is the standard size plus half and full pans. It is a fairly conservative one compared to the likes of Daniel Smith, Schminke, Holbein and Winsor & Newton but read on. With the number of colours available then Daler Rowney, Graham, Maimeri, Bloxx and Rembrandt, who offer a similar number are probably fairer comparisons. We are talking here about a comparison involving a combination of quality and price. All the basic shades are well covered and as highlighted already, slightly unusual choices like Turquoise and Permanent Orange are there together with Green Yellow (PY129). There are 12 greens, half single pigment paints and a good selection of reds (11) plus purple and violet. The blues are extensive and include Manganese Blue (PB33). Note: Although Manganese Blue is still listed Rui says the true PB33 has been discontinued so the formula may be different.
The only strange choices, in my opinion, are some of the earth shades. Burnt Umber and Raw Umber are three pigment mixes, while Neutral Tint is four. Personally I steer clear of multi-pigment paints, although there are exceptions, especially amongst Daniel Smith paints.
How do Lukas compare in price to other artists quality makes? The short answer is very favourably with cost per ml well below most others. This is partly due to the 24 ml size which is being currently sold at prices cheaper then the 15 ml, 14 ml in the case of Winsor & Newton, of other makers. It is true that Rembrandt also offer a 21 mil,and Winsor & Newton plus Da Vinci 37 ml in a limited range of paints. The complete Lukas range is on offer in 24 ml in two price series..
Where can you get Lukas paints? The only two UK sources I have found so far are Great Art www.greatart.co.uk/ and Lawrence of Hove www.lawrence.co.uk/ . Great Art supply from Germany but have a UK telephone number and website. Current prices are £6.25p and £9.25p, Lawrence are a similar price but have an offer of a further 20% off if you buy six tubes. Lawrence charge £4.99p carriage while Great Art offer it free if the order exceeds £39.
I now come to something of a mystery. I originally obtained most of the information above from the Lukas site www.lukas.eu/ This no longer appears to be active and the only reference which comes up is www.lukasamerica.com/ which seems to be part of Jerrys Artarama, a mail order art supplier. What does this indicate? Have Lukas changed ownership and will it affect future supplies? If anyone has any information please let me know. There is a lot of information including pigment information and colours on Jerrys site and, according to a contributor on Wetcanvas, you can download a pdf which seems identical to the one I originally downloaded from Lukas. She also gives the link. I actually clicked on it and it worked so if you Google Lukas watercolour paints the link to Wetcanvas should be there. Then scan the posts until you get the relevant one.. Those on Wetcanvas who had used Lukas were quite complimentary. Note added 08/01/13: If you click on the link to lukasamerica (Jerrys Artarama) then follow watercolours through Acquarelle 1862 you'll discover the pdf downloadable file. Jerrys appear to have sole franchise on Lukas.