Saturday, 10 March 2018

ShinHan Watercolours ?

The feature I did on Korean Watercolours,  although a while ago, still seems to be regularly scanned. Recently someone posted on it saying, in effect, that I was misleading people. This gentlemans argument -  with the moniker of pbasswil, at least it wasn't 'anonymous' -  seemed to be that ShinHan offered three ranges and only one was actually considered 'artists watercolours', even though all three are described as 'watercolors' by ShinHan. Who is misleading who?  The other two weren't even watercolours I was told.  His final bit was 'Don't muddy the assessment  by calling them ShinHan 'watercolours' , just call the pro line 'PWC', ignore the lesser ranges, and no one will get confused.' I must confess my hackles rise slightly when I get this sort of post as all the confusion is due to the way ShinHan have marketed them. Read the post on the piece as I don't want to quote it in full. He did say ShinHan were partly to blame in the way that they were marketing these products, but said the one I  reviewed was actually the wrong one even though called 'Professional' watercolours.

Premium - what does this mean?

Is this the same as the above?

What are these?

PWC Extra Fine Artists Water Color - this I believe is the top range although I can only count 70 colours here.

This is the range in order of priority from the ShinHan Website.

1. PWC Extra Fine Water Color. 84 colours. Jacksons Watercolour catalogue says 72 listing each one and including pigment information.

2. Professional Water Color. 30 colours.

3. Shami Water Color.  24 colours.

They use the American spelling of color by the way.

Being somewhat bemused by the critical post in effect saying I had reviewed one of the others. I contacted Jacksons sending them a copy and asking if they could clarify which ones they actually sold. A few days later this is the reply from Julie Caves at Jacksons:

I can confirm we previously stocked the ShinHan Special Watercolour SWC and a few years ago switched to the ShinHan Premium Extra Fine Watercolour PWC. A few colours that sell the most slowly are still in the SWC, as they sell out we are replacing them with the PWC and eventually all colours will be in the PWC. Our website says which is which. Because of your e mail we are adding the words Extra Fine to the product name to clarify it. If it has been a while since you tried the ShinHan you might want to try it again now that we are stocking the highest grade.

When first launched I did buy one colour and a painting friend another. I did say at the time that this was  a very small sample but they were awful. At least two painting friends from my art group subsequently bought the 32 piece box offered by Jacksons and are quite happy with them. Seeing the paintings produced they do seem rather opaque, to my eyes at least. They are  cheap compared to the leading makes. I think they have the PWC type.

Looking at the PWC as currently offered I make the following observations. There are a number of fugitive paints, PR83 Alazarin Crimson is used in four paints and I think at least two dyes, Bright Violet BV11, and Opera BR1. These are fugitive. White is added to 15 paints, something I'm not keen on at all as it makes the paint cloudy and opaque, while my experience with other paints with white in them is that they solidify in the tube after a while. I know people say cut the tubes open and treat them like pans. My answer is why should you have to do that? This can mess your brushes up.

Some of the pigments used are not featured or are uncommon in the top ranges of other makes for example PY1, PG8, PY183, PY83, PY81 and PY74 to name just six. They may be fine I just don't know. I looked some up on the Pigment database (The Color of Pigment Database) but while listed this resource does not rate the pigments.

In summary I think my original descriptions don't seem to differ much from the above. I'm still not inclined to buy them but, if you discount the fugitive and white-loaded paints, there are still quite a number with good single pigments. My advice, for what it is worth, is stick to single pigment paints avoiding the fugitive ones and in general multi-pigment mixes. They are  inexpensive compared to leading makes but do seem rather opaque so transparency may be an issue. You can only find out by trying them. 


Trond Birkeland said...

Thanks for a nice and balanced blog report!

I share your confusion regarding the PWC and the SWC lines. The range is almost the same. I thought the SWC was marketed at the Asian Continent... I even have a tube I got somewhere, where its printed in very small letters that its not to be sold outside Korea... I was very confused when I saw Jackson's having both ranges available for the moment.

They probably are a bit more opaque, but I don't care, and like you say, I think one should be careful with the one with white in them. Many common brands use white too, however, especially in Naples yellow. It is like they run out of lighter pigmnets, somehow.

I'm not sure, but I think the second last picture is of Korean Watercolour, similar to Chinese, both of which have an animal-based glue for binder. They are used on rice paper, the very, very thin sheets of paper, which have to be mounted afterwards. Once the glue hardens it takes a long time to dissolve it again, much unlike the gum arabic.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks Trond for comments. My experience with other paints, that have white in them, is that they go hard after a while.

pbasswil said...

Hi Peter, I'm that infamous pbass wil. I don't remember exactly what I wrote, but I certainly didn't mean to blame you for anything!
I had just been researching the brand to see if they were a decent, quality option. But the more opinions I found on the web, the more I saw folks simply referring to Shinhan, full stop. It was apparent that few people realized there were 3 completely different products; so their reviews were only confusing folks that were thinking of a different line than was being reviewed. It's Shinhan's marketing that I blame, not you! – nor any other consumer.
My 'just call the pro line 'PWC', ignore the lesser ranges, and no one will get confused' was my suggestion – the only strategy I can think of that will counter their abysmal marketing. I mean, how else will anyone know to beware of a so-so product that misleadingly calls itself 'professional'?
I don't think I said the lower ranges weren't watercolours at all; just that they weren't artist's quality.
At least in North America, PWC (Premium Water Colors) is the 'artist quality' one, Professional is the student quality one, and Shami is the colouring book/kid's one.
I don't even know what SWC is - unless it's either a) the old name, or the Euro name, for the Professional line, or b) another line that isn't marketed in North America.
For what it's worth, I've seen at least one review of the best line, PWC, from someone I respect, who vouches that the quality is good. Seems like PWC is a fair copy of the top Holbein line. But a) I don't trust a company that markets that way, and b) you still have to avoid the fugitive pigments and watch out for the badly named colours. In other words, buy by pigment number, and only the ones you know & trust. Cheers.