Saturday, September 2, 2017

Intensity Tests

Recently Hajra Meeks discussed the intensity of Inktense compared to professional watercolors.

Spoilers: Inktense isn't really intense. See Hajra's video for more details, particularly on the problems with comparing isolated swatches to each other.

In the meantime, I decided to do some swatches from different lines/mediums overlapping each other to see what's more intense, and what isn't.

Water media comparisons.

I don't own Inktense, but I decided to test out Kuretake's gansai tambi, Daniel Smith's watercolors, and three watercolor pencil lines from Caran d'Ache: Fancolor, Supracolor II, and Museum Aquarelle. I used Strathmore mixed media paper (suitable for both dry and wet media), vellum surface.

For each color, I laid it down at maximum intensity. Watercolor pencils had water applied.

As it turns out, Fancolor and Kuretake's gansai tambi are both less intense than the other brand lines—and since Fancolors are student grade, that rules gansai tambi as such as well. That's actually five layers of Fancolor compared to six layers of gansai tambi to achieve even that amount of intensity.

On the other hand, the rest, all artist grade, are incredibly intense. Museum Aquarelle is two layers, Supracolor II is three layers, and Daniel Smith is also two layers. All achieve better intensity even with less pigment on the paper.

I decided to do a similar test for dry colored pencils, including dry watercolor pencils:

Dry colored pencil comparisons.

Oh Fancolor. It's again less intense, but to be expected from a student grade line, even a really good student grade line. Pablo and Supracolor II seem to be at the same intensity, with Museum Aquarelle one step up, and Luminescence performing the best in terms of intensity.

Again, these are all pretty expected results. I do have a tiny set of generic, non-branded colored pencils as well—they are so terrible that they almost have no color compared to the brands.

Ava Jarvis is an ink and watercolor artist with a portfolio site at If you found this post useful, consider a one-time tip or supporting Ava on Patreon.