Advice & Guidance

Back to Basics: Dot Cards

24th April 2024 Estimated reading time: 3 mins

It is exciting to add new colours to your existing watercolour paint collection but with the vast choice of colours available, where do you start? There is an overwhelming number of different colours, brands and characteristics on the market and trying to decide what new colours to choose can be a bit daunting. Paint colours and characteristics can vary between the different brands. Different manufacturing processes are used, pigments are sourced from different areas, and the pigment combinations used to make a colour are unique to each manufacturer, which makes choosing a new colour to add to your existing collection a bit of a minefield.

A tube of paint can be expensive, and how many of you have colours that you don’t use because they weren’t what you were looking for? Many companies will send out dots card samples with one or a couple of dots of dried watercolour paint on them, to promote or introduce new colours. Due to the nature of watercolour, these can be reactivated and are an exciting way to try out new and interesting colours. What if you want to try more colours than these sample cards? You can buy more extensive ranges, or even whole ranges, of colour dots cards from several manufacturers, such as Daniel Smith – which has an exciting dots card of 238 amazing colours – Schmincke, MaimeriBlu, and Winsor & Newton, to help you choose your colours at a fraction of the cost of getting tubes or pans. These dots cards are made from watercolour paints that are hand-squeezed onto watercolour cards that you can reactivate with a wet brush to create a swatch or lift the colour from the card and paint directly onto your watercolour surface.

The cards also have information about each colour, the pigments, the lightfastness ratings, transparency, or whether it is a staining or granulating colour. Not only can you discover the colour through swatches, but there is enough paint to explore in a painting or mix with your existing colours, though there may not be enough colour to do big washes. How exciting is it to be able to try a paint made from a semi-precious mineral and discover its unique characteristics, or try the more expensive colour to see what it’s like without the commitment of a whole tube or pan?

Why buy a dots card?

● To test and try out a new brand of paint and discover the colours and characteristics
● Discover new colours at a fraction of the cost of buying a full tube or pan before deciding on which colour works best for you
● Discover some of the exciting characteristics of certain pigments, like their granulating properties or their unique colour
● Testing and deciding on which colour will work with your existing collection before buying a tube or pan colour
● Have fun discovering all the different and unique colours and characteristics of watercolour ranges
● It can even be used as a simple travel set without transporting lots of tube or pan colours

See the range of Daniel Smith dots cards at saa.co.uk

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