Sunday, 6 January 2013


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 and Lawrence of Hove . 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 This no longer appears to be active and the only reference which comes up is 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.


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Mick Carney said...

Another large delivery to Chateau Ward. Your recent talk of maybe moving house seem destined to see you looking for larger premises with attached laboratory to store your paints and accommodate your experimentation.

Thanks for the efforts you make on our behalf and am looking forward to seeing what you have to say about comparative tests, maybe they will tell you something about amounts of pigment in the various makes.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks Mick. I don't think I shall delve too much into comparative tests. I've actually had these Lukas paints for a while. The colours seem strong and brush out well. According to Handprint percentage of pigment in various colours varied considerably. I'll have to search the site again to pick up on what was written.

Yvonne Harry said...

An interesting read. Thanks Peter.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for commenting Yvonne.

Anonymous said...

Good morning Peter,

seeems Lukas now has e new site....

There you'll find some information....but the pigment information is missing...

Greets, Beate from Germany

Peter Ward said...

Hi there Beate. Thanks for the information I'll certainly follow this up.

Rui said...

Hi Peter,

Apologies for only replying now but as you know I no longer can reply from the office and time is in very short supply at home due to the long working hours.

In November I spent few days painting with Ernst from WetCanvas and it was eye opening on watercolour landscapes. He is just brilliant. When we returned to Munich before flying home I managed to go to a couple of art materials shops: Kremer Pigmente and another one which still had in stock a couple of Manganese Blue full pans, they are now in my stock boxes.

If you want Lukas catalogue it can be found here (in German):

Their website is here as you mentioned:

Another store where these paints can be found is towards East London, near Brick Lane, called Atlantis Art Materials.

I have just checked their new colour catalogue and Manganese Blue is no longer mentioned.

This leaves only one manufacturer of this beautiful colour using a single pigment PB33, as far as I know: Old Holland which I think has two shades but I recall preferring the lighter one. DaVinci in the USA also manufactures this colour using PB33 and PB15 (Phthalocyanine Blue).

Kind regards,


Peter Ward said...

Welcome back Rui. I missed your informative comments. I know about Atlantis but have never dealt with them as they are expensive on most things compared to Jacksons. I'll follow up the web addresses.

Tim Ross said...

I have been using Lukas watercolors and gouaches for some time now. I suppose there are better products out there and if you truly are a world class artist you may discern major differences. But for me... a fairly adept artist who is making a reasonable living painting watercolor pics... I don't see any reason to venture away from Lukas... they are really great paints for the price. I'm a happy Lukas camper. By the way... Lukas is now a house brand at Jerry's Art-a-rama. And that's fine with me.... Jerry's is a great art company.

Peter Ward said...

Sorry Tim I've just picked up your comment. I agree Lukas are excellent value for money.

Jeff Langley said...

Hi All, only just spotted this Lukas link, & thought I might add my twopennyworth (for what it's worth!)based on Lukas usage for quite a few years. At the outset let me say that I'm definitely not Sir William Russell Flint re-incarnate! I do however, love watercolour & have been struggling with it for a lot of my adult life. Searching for cost effective quality paint, & I've tried many from Cotman to Holbein, I came across Lukas, & despite the Handprint write-down, decided to give them a go. Absolutely brilliant! I would challenge any watercolourist to find a comparable brand for anything other than colour range! On my painting desk I have a small colour reference chart, a la James fletcher Watson, which resides in our conservatory 24/7/365, enjoying what sunshine this Sceptered Isle provides. After probably in excess of 6/7 years, there is NO deterioration. I know this is only a comparatively short time in the life of art, but it's hardly protected & molly-coddled either. I've learned to live with the oddly composed few colours, siennas etc., & add more unusual hues from other makes (Italian Brown Pink anyone?), but I've also enjoyed the benefits. Brilliant value, amazing re-usability (they re-wet like nothing else), durability, colour strength etc., etc., & on top of all their benefits, the U.K. supplier, T.N. Lawrence, are a delight to deal with (no, I'm not on the payroll!). I really would recommend anyone who does not have money to burn, & needs to sensible-ise hobby expenditure, but still get superb quality to try Lukas a.s.a.p., & you'll not look back!

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for comments Jeff. I agree entirely Lukas are hard to beat for quality and price. You can also get them from Great Art who don't charge for postage if the order exceeds £35.