Winsor & Newton Water Colour Markers

Borrowed from W&N to show the marker tips
Winsor & Newton Water Colour Markers came out, it appears, late spring in 2014 designed to create a marker that provided the precision and look of an alcohol-based marker while offering the ability to be used and blended with normal watercolour techniques including wet into wet or using wet brushes to blend and lighten.

Since I generally like all things watercolour, I finally got around to ordering a set from Amazon and chose the 12 colour set which comes with:

  • Lemon Yellow Hue
  • Cadmium Yellow Hue
  • Cadmium Red Hue
  • Alizarin Crimson Hue
  • Dioxazine Violet
  • Cerulean Blue Hue
  • Prussian Blue Hue
  • Hooker's Green Dark
  • Sap Green
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Burnt Umber
  • Ivory Black

A pretty decent set of primaries and some earthier utility colours. I also think it's the first packaged set of watercolour paint I've encountered that does not have white that almost nobody will use.

The set comes in a nice metal tin with the markers arranged in colour groups logically. The only thing that really surprised me about these is the sheer number of "hue" colours. Normally those are found in student grade art sets with lower lightfastness, but Winsor & Newton claims superior lightfastness for these.

In any event, the tin is a nice touch as it gives it a sturdier feel and touch of class that is lost with cardboard containers. That was something that I noticed with my Faber Castell Polychromos pencil set, especially compared to my Prismacolor set which was in a cardboard box. Maybe it's a European thing as Derwent and Caran D'ache also seem to tend towards using metal containers for their sets.

I like to swatch out any set that I have because it gives me a convenient way to quickly get a sense of how a colour might look when applied to paper and allowed to dry. In fact, I also swatch all my coloured pencils as well, I don't always trust the colour of the lead to be the same when less densely applied.

In this swatch case, I did a thin line, a thicker line, and then a small box where I then used a brush loaded with water to thin out. As you can see, some colour appear to respond better to the water than others, but it's clear you can dilute. I think these would be pretty useful for gradient washes in small areas.

The stock I used in the swatch card is cold pressed and I think I'll find that hot pressed may be a better choice for these markers. In the past, when I've used different markers, the smoother the paper texture, the smoother the application. I definitely felt the roughness as I was using the markers.

I also did a few other tests, but please ignore my misspelling of "dioxazine" in the drawing. I didn't try an exhaustive set of prime blends, but you can see that cadmium yellow and cerulean blue blended really very nicely, others a little less so.

I also wanted to do a bit of wet in wet and you can see that the colour spread isn't strong. The dark spots are where I dipped the brush end of the marker in the water. The flow of paint from the marker is definitely a lot more controlled than normal brush loaded paint, but it also allows for a different effect to be formed.

The big green swatch was to get a sense of how much you can spread a small patch of colour on the paper. As you can see, quite a bit. The sphere outcome was what led me to test that, there was more colour applied to the sphere than the green line and that led to having less gradation.

Anyways, these are interesting. When you want more control over the edge of a watercolour drawing, then these are going to be powerful options. They's basically markers, but being watercolour-based they can combine more readily with painting. I don't see these replacing Copic markers any time soon but for someone like me, they're handy.