I've been working with watercolors for years and years, and I decided that it was finally time to level up to better quality supplies. I love Holbein watercolors. I grew up watching my mom ration them and take care of her set, and I've always wanted my own. They are expensive, yes, but the colors are so creamy, so pigmented, and I know that they last for years and years. I've picked up my mom's watercolors that are 10-15 years old and they're still as bright and bold as they were when she got them.
Holbein does not make pan watercolor sets, but I prefer pans over tubes, so this was the perfect time to build my own palette from scratch. Read on to find out how I did it!
Step 1: Choose Your Watercolors
It's important to do your research on the watercolors you work with, because some tube watercolors do not re-wet well. You can read this excellent post all about watercolors here. I'm working with Holbein watercolors, you can find the exact set I have right here. Holbein doesn't make dry pan watercolors, so their tube colors are formulated to be safe to use in the pan or straight from the tube.
Step 2: Choose Your Watercolor Box & Pans
I have a ton of colors so I got the biggest set I could find, but there are a lot of smaller options out there. The one I'm working with is the 48 half pan set from Jackson's art supplies. The aluminum watercolor box & pans are sold separately (you can also buy full pans if you want it to hold more paint). I went for an aluminum box instead of a plastic box, because I plan to use this for a really long time, and they tend to be very sturdy.
What I really like about this palette is that the pans are very easy to take in and out of the box. I can rearrange them, clean them, and refill them at any time without killing my fingers in the process.
Step 3: Label The Pans
Using a sharpie, label your pans with the color name (or in this case, the color number). This is totally optional, but I like to do this so I know exactly what color to grab when I want to refill the pan.
Step 4: Fill The Pans
I filled mine up half way with paint so that there's room for water to pool in the pan. Some people fill them all the way up, some people leave a little dent in the center for the water, so it's totally up to you & how you like to work. I've seen people fill pans and then scrape down paint with a palette knife to make the surface flat, but I just tapped mine down on the table to avoid wasting paint & making a mess.