QoR Mini watercolor PAN set review… (part 1)… brand new item available!!

AGHHHH! Finally, QoR has come out with a sweet travel set of PAN paints. Until now they’ve only had tubes. I’ve been noticing something with the pans that I created out of my QoR tubes… honestly I haven’t decided if this is a thing or not yet… but it SEEMS like that lovely spidery tendrilly flow thing I love about the tube paint slows down a bit over time with paint I’ve put into pans and dried and used several times. So I’m interested to see how their prepared pans react with water, and if the preparation or the formulas seem different. I looked everywhere for it the day I heard it was available, and could only find it two places, and it was a hundred bucks. No. (QoR isn’t SCHMINCKE, for goodness sake, my mind told me.) But I did keep thinking about it.

THEN, a few days later, Wet Paint sent me a message… they were offering this brand new barely obtainable set for $60. This is still a lot. But it IS 12 colors, and a tin, and I already knew I enjoyed the tubes, and I was pretty much dying to see if they’d be similar. And I’m such a sucker for the travel palettes. (um, I don’t travel and so far don’t paint often outside my home, so WHY I love travel palettes, I don’t know… but I guess it’s an inner yearning!) So, yeah… here it is.

I LOVE the mini QoR tin… it is like the larger tube versions, looks almost identical, with the mixing wells in the metal lid, but this lid is HINGED. Nice. Thanks, QoR, it’s about time. Instead of the traditional metal areas you clip the half pans into, this tin has a white silicone (?) insert with two rows close to the front and back edge which snugly hold the half pans (pans which say “QoR” on the bottom, by the way). In the center of this silicone insert are three square mixing wells. Each pan has a letter of the alphabet embossed in the silicone directly beneath it (well… beneath the top row, above the bottom row), and these letters correspond to the swatch card it comes with. Unlike most of my other paints which provide swatch cards, this card is a nice thick watercolor paper with some tooth to it. However, it is laid out with three rows of four, while in the tin the paints are in two rows of 6. (Hence the prelettering system they’ve set up) I appreciate the swatch card, the lettering, the nice paper… but I’m very visual and really need to lay out my swatches the way they are in the tin. Probably I’ll fill this out, then use the back (once I determine the order I prefer for the paints), to swatch 2 rows of 6 as they are set up in the tin. Otherwise my brain will overload, looking at two rows of 6 in the pan and three rows of 4 on the card! (That’s like, math. Ick. That’s not part of painting, is it?? My brain will resist)

The tin is COOL. Really cool. And simple. I really like it. It’s thinner than other metal palettes for 12 half pans, the kinds that open on both sides with mixing wells, like Meeden, or Whiskey Painters, or the Schmincke tins etc… This is about the dimensions of an average deck of cards, maybe, or a touch larger, and barely thinner. It slides easily into the front pocket of my small bag. And the silicone mixing area, while it does stain, mixes pretty nicely, and I like having it positioned between the two rows of paints. Very convenient. I actually meant to mix in the lid wells and keep the silicone part clean and white but it felt very natural to mix between the two rows of paint so eventually I stopped worrying about it. (notice the price btw, at Wet Paint… even the regular price is under the suggested retail of $99. Ok, honestly, I do feel like the 40% off they were offering should have been off their $79.99 price, NOT off the SUGGESTED-but-not-put-into-practice-price of $99.99… but either way, $60 is less, and I was happy with it, and paid it.) And the shipping was free at Wet Paint. Definitely don’t pay a hundred bucks.

Generally I lightly mist my paint pans before starting, and the very second the mist hit the pans the color jumped from one pan to the next. No matter how gently or softly I have sprayed, this has happened, and although it didn’t hurt anything, it did bug me just a little. I’m getting over this and now it entertains me more than irritates me. They wet immediately, by the way, with vivid colors.

Also, the paint must have been extruded, and cut into the pans, I assume, because the paint is rounded over the top of the pans,  and one or two have a tiny gap at the edge, looking very similar to winsor & newton half pans (which are extruded). Not like the Schmincke pans, which are filled with the same formula paint as their tubes, and dried, to be perfectly flat across the top, every crevice filled. This is NOT a game changer in any way, just an interesting fact. Either the QoR pans have a different formula or they are processed differently than the QoR tubes.


The selection of colors is fairly traditional for a twelve pan set. A warm and cool of each primary, one of each secondary, some browns and neutrals. I don’t generally use cadmium colors, but the Cadmium Yellow Primrose (PY35) is pretty (and one I don’t have). The Phthalo Blue (green shade) (PB 15:3), Sap Green (PG36, PR 101, PY 150), and Dioxazine Purple (PV 23) are gorgeous. But I already knew that. They flow great, too. Ultramarine Blue (PB 29)… a staple, right? There’s Nickel Azo Yellow (PY 150), (another of my favorites),  Transparent Pyrrole Orange (PO 71), Pyrrole Red Medium (PR 254), Quinacridone Magenta (PR 122), and Payne’s Grey (PB 15:3, PBk7, PV19) . Transparent Brown Oxide (PR 101) is less red than I’d like, and rather similar to the included Burnt Umber (PBr7) They are very definitely different, but I wish they were MORE different. Ten of these twelve colors, with the exception of Sap Green and Payne’s Grey, are single pigment colors. Good job, QoR.

The pans have no color information on them and are not (yet) available individually. There’s a label on the bottom of the tine with pigment information for each pan. Of the 12 paints, only 6 are rated Lightfast (LF)1. Four are LF NA (‘not available’), and two are LF 11 (that’s a two, not an eleven!!) According to QoR’s website, a rating of two is still extremely lightfast and should be fine for what I want to do with them, and I’m hoping the NA’s will be upgraded to a one or a two in the near future, since they are not unusual pigments.


Painting with these has been really fun so far. The SECOND the paint hits water it just explodes. I love it. Some of you may not enjoy this attribute. (And I don’t want it all the time, either) In this photos, I wet the whole butterfly area (I’m referring to the blue and the purple), then literally only touched my brush with paint to the very tips of the wings, and you can see what occurred. If you like to paint loosely and want a lot of flow, this is going to be fun for you. And if you use less water, it isn’t as extreme a flow. (the butterfly exercise came from “Maremi SmallArt” on youtube. She also has a facebook group, Maremi’s Cafe… very fun) * (I’m using inexpensive student grade paper here… I’ll link the next post where I try it on quality paper at the end of this post… a big difference in the performance of the QoR paint!!)

So far this is all I’ve had time to do: (pages 1, 2, and 3)

Here’s color 1, and 2, then color 3… oh my… look at those fun spidery tendrils…

The first photo here is newly painted, the second is showing some color shift as the water dries…

But they layered quite nicely when I wanted something deeper or bolder, so I’m not too worried about that. Yet.

Okay, these are not pretty butterflies. I see potential in the process, so I’m showing you anyway. It was late, I was watching TV, there may have been wine involved… Do not judge me by my Lepidoptera.


(Obvious color shift here, but still bold colors, and I layered on top of this later with no trouble):

These colors changed much less noticeably:

So in the end… I’m really satisfied with my purchase. DON’T buy these because I like them… they aren’t cheap and you may not like them like I do… but I love playing with these paints and will experiment more. This is not my number one favorite brand, but definitely (so far, holding strong) in my solid top three, of the many I’ve been playing with.  Schmincke is my indulgent sophisticated loveitloveitloveit set. Daniel Smith is my goodgriefthosecolorsareamazing set. And QoR is my girlsjustwannahavefunsoletspaint set. Let me know in the comments what you think of them if you have an opportunity to try the QoR minis!

* (updated: See part two of this review HERE… quality paper makes a HUGE difference with these paints.)

5 thoughts on “QoR Mini watercolor PAN set review… (part 1)… brand new item available!!

  1. Are you developing a paintbox addiction…. ?? Your results from the Qor paintbox look great but as you say the paintbox is quite expensive.

    I have a good comprehensive paintbox, which I use when I’m travelling (and sometimes at home too!) – my (newish) paintbox is a Windsor & Newton Cotman 45 half pan set. It has the entire Cotman range of 41 colours + 4 duplicates. I immediately removed the duplicate colours (ivory black, chinese white, yellow ochre & alizarin crimson) and replaced them with completely different W & N professional pans. I appreciate W & N Cotman paints are student grade, but I have to say that this paintbox is very lovely and the paints are very good quality. And I have every colour I could possibly want to use when I’m on the move. This paintbox is perfect for my needs when I’m travelling. What I’m going to do is gradually replace the Cotman half pans, as they get used up, with W & N professional half pans and eventually I will end up with a box of 45 W & N Professional half pans. I bought this paint box from a local shop for £29.99 GBP. Superb value.

    I could SO get carried away buying lots of different paintboxes – I love them – but I don’t need them!! I have all I need in my W & N 45 half pan box. So I have to use lots of self control when I see lovely paintboxes online and tell myself “NO… !!” LOL

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I love my paint box! I’m not trying to encourage you or anything but I did see, in a UK online shop, some lovely Holbein paintboxes, ranging from 12 – 36 half pans… but they were quite expensive. Out of my price range…. !

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Holbein is one I haven’t tried (‘she said, nervously shaking…. must resist…’) I really adore my top three, Schmincke, daniel smith, and QoR so don’t need anything new. Right? Right?

    On the other hand, I’d never have known I loved them if I hadn’t tried them, right????? RESIST THE PAINT DEMONS HOLLY RESIST.

    Paint. I just love the stuff. It’s all so amazing and fun and beautiful.


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