If you are curious about how different watercolor sets different from one another, then you ought to find out by comparing their characteristics. To know about the different characteristics of watercolor, head over to one of our first posts: HERE
With the different characteristics in mind, let's compare four watercolor sets by painting only one painting. 

A Single Painting Done with Different Watercolors

 Here we used two student-grade watercolors and two professional (or artist-grade) watercolors for comparison. Campus Travel Set and Sennelier La Petite Aquarell are both student-grade but should not be connoted as inferior. These two paint sets produce vivid and brilliant paintings that assure artists and beginners reliability and paint performance. They perform much better than cheaper brands that are readily accessible in the market. On the other hand, the Sennelier Aqua Mini is the budget-friendly choice for artist-grade paints and M. Graham Basic Set is a reliable set for the serious student. Let's see how each paint set differ and perform.

Campus Travel Set

The Campus Travel Set contains 10 student-grade colors. The colors offered in this set are originally unnamed but are close, if not exactly: Burnt Sienna, Sap Green, Cadmium Yellow, Yellow Ochre, French Vermilion Hue, Light Carmine, Ivory Black, Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Blue. The color names said are approximates as compared to other color brands. All those colors are the colors that are commonly included for starter sets and should give you a wide range of mixing possibilities for painting any subject matter. 

The case is made of plastic that works as a round folding palette with a hole at the bottom for the artist's thumb. A palette at the top part is provided with 12 wells and a big space for ample mixing space. A small synthetic round brush is also included. This set is made especially for portability and painting on-the-go. It is convenient, compact, and light-weight made for beginners and professionals alike. The paint quality of colors is vibrant and easy to re-wet unlike other student-grade watercolors. Paint solubility is the same even after the paint is stored for a long time. Some of the colors may clump together on paper which is comparable to the granulating quality of other branded professional paints. To see the Campus Travel Set and brushes go to: CAMPUS

Sennelier La Petite Aquarelle 



The Sennelier La Petite Aquarelle is the student-grade line of renowned French company, Sennelier. It is labeled as a "Fine Student Travel Box" and contains 12 colors, a built-in palette, a thick black strap underneath for your hand to hold the whole palette still while painting, and a space in between the bottom rows of colors where you may place a travel brush or more half pans in.

The selection of colors here are like those in the Campus set but not identical. This set's colors are also unnamed but they are similar (if not identical) to Titanium White, Lemon Yellow, Chinese Orange, Alizarin Crimson Lake, Rose Madder Lake, Phtalocyanine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Phtalo. Green Deep, Phtalo. Green Light, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Umber, and Payne’s Grey. Sennelier is proud of their "extra-fine" paints and it translates to even this student-grade set! There are no granulations whatsoever but the colors are vibrant, clean, and semi-transparent to transparent. The inclusion of Payne's Grey and white is good especially for playing around with opacity and values. Again, the colors in the set are vibrant, but if you are looking for a realistic selection of colors, you can achieve that my mixing the colors in the set. Should you want more ready-to-go color range, there are bigger sets of the Sennelier La Petite Aquarelle with more pans in a bigger cases. 

View the different sets available here: SENNELIER 

Sennelier Aqua Mini


The Sennelier Aqua Mini  is the smallest available professional paints of Sennelier. Sennelier is known for using honey in paint. This affects the solubility, shelf-life, and quality of paints. With only 8 colors, this set is inclusive of a small round brush. The case is very small - even when compared with the two student- grade sets mentioned before. As expected of artist-grade paints, the colors here are very fine, lightfast, and consistent. The pigment count of each paint is high so you know that there are no fillers in the paint formulation (you will need to only re-wet a little to paint with quite a lot). 

The colors in this set are: Primary Yellow, French Vermilion, Burnt Umber, Cinereous Blue, French Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo Green Light, Sap Green, and Payne's Grey. This is the only set with no cool red as there is only French Vermilion (which is more on the orange side). All colors in this set are very high in transparency and are consistent. With this limited color count, you can still expand to a wide number of colors by mixing or by adding more manufactured colors to your collection. No pigments will clump together or granulate when you attempt to create even or solid washes with Sennelier artist-grade paint. Paint solubility is excellent, vibrancy is high and you are assured that your paintings will looks the same and not fade even after lifetimes.  

To see different color selections and sets of Sennelier go to: SENNELIER

M. Graham Basic Set

The M. Graham line of paints is made with pure gum arabic and natural blackberry honey. Because of this, the paints almost never dry completely- a quality that is great for on-the-spot painting. For that reason, M.Graham is well-loved by travelling painters and illustrators alike. 

When used in the wet-on-wet technique, paint travels fast and produces beautiful granulation. The paints are also very strong and high in pigment count (a little goes a long way) and they are only available in sets of 15ml tubes or individual tubes. 

The colors of this starter set are: Ultramarine Blue, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Sap Green, Burnt Sienna and Azo Yellow. These are colors that are traditionally included in watercolor paint boxes. Compared to the other sets in this article, even if this set has no black or Payne's Grey, you can see that black can be mixed with a bit of blue and brown mixed together. The sap green is more intense in this set too. Lightfastness of all these professional colors are very high to excellent, ensuring you the best longevity of your paintings. As seen in the picture, the colors in this set are more toned-down, adhering to more natural or realistic colors than other paint sets by other companies. This is great for those who want to explore more into a more traditional or realistic palette/choice of colors.

To see different color selections of M.Graham go to:


 In the end, high-quality student-grade paints are comparable to professional grade paints in terms of brightness and reliability in paint consistency. Other factors such as pigment-count, solubility, and granulation are relative preferences to artists. However, it is mostly the assurance that your paintings will withstand fading as time passes that artists look into investing in more reliable sets.

See for yourself and compare the pictures below!

Compare different brands and grades of paint with us at our pop-up shops, tune in to our Instagram account: @artnebulaph to find out when our next one will be.


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