Rachel Owen takes a look at the Daler-Rowney Aquafine Travel Set.

First impressions

My first impression was that this is a handy small unit that would pack easily into a rucksack or bag.

It’s very slim and feels metallic but is actually made of recyclable plastic.

The whole thing is smaller than a specs case and includes 12 basic colour pans and one No. 4 Aquafine short round travel brush.

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Top features:

  • Small and compact
  • Easy to carry
  • Easy to open
  • Contains 12 colours and a brush
  • Colours dilute easily
  • Packaging is recyclable

Price: £16.10 for 12 half pans and £31 for 24. Colours can also be purchased individually from £2.51.

Where to buy: Art Supplies with Painters Online


The colours

The set includes the following colours:

  • Chinese White
  • Lemon Yellow
  • Gamboge Hue
  • Cadmium Red Hue
  • Alizarin Crimson Hue
  • Cobalt Blue Hue
  • Ultramarine Blue Dark
  • Hookers Green Dark
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Raw Sienna
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Paynes Grey

Initial findings

The packaging

The tin was initially easy to click open.

The packaging suggests that removing the colour pan tray gives additional palette space. However, it was not at all easy to remove the pan tray especially as the individual pans were quite loose in the wells. 

When the colour pans are lifted out the holes remain which means it's not very easy to contain or control the pans and tray.

The paint in each pan is quite soft, a bit sticky, so it is easily diluted into the brush.

The paints and brush

The initial colour is quite intense; this colour remains but becomes a little paler as it dries, which made me think that the colours were made using a white base.

The travel brush holds an adequate amount of colour for sketch painting.

I found that three or four applications to the pan with a wet brush picked up enough colour to create the swatches above on Two Rivers paper.

Working with the Aquafine set

An initial ten minute doodle sketch from my imagination using these paints and brush produced this small landscape above.

I then went on to create the following demonstration which I sketched locally using the Aquafine set.

Demonstration: The Barn Door

This is a sketch of the door leading from the Manor House into the Dronfield Hall Barn, a local community resource.

I used the brush provided and the box set only. It was painted on Saunders Waterford paper.

Stage one

I began by sketching out the composition.

Stage two

I created a sky wash using ultramarine blue dark with a touch of cobalt blue hue dropped into wet paper.

I found that the brush doesn’t hold much water at once.

Stage three

To produce the initial stonework washes, I used mixes of burnt sienna, raw sienna, ultramarine blue dark and cobalt blue hue dropped onto wet and dry areas.

Stage four

I then used darker mixes to add the door and main shadows.

Stage five

Using both yellows and blues rather than the Hookers green dark, I mixed various shades for the background and foreground greenery.

Stage six

Once the greenery was dry, I added the colours for the flowers. I used the Chinese white to mix shades rather than using it neat to depict white roses.

Finished painting

I completed the sketch by adding detail to the stonework with dry brushwork and a darker shadow colour mix.


In summary, I found working with the travel brush very challenging as it didn’t retain a great deal of colour and it had quite a soft tip. With that in mind, I would take a couple of my own brushes with me next time.

Mixing realistic greens was a challenge as I found that the Hookers green dark, which is essentially a mixing green, seemed a bit harsh and synthetic.

However, this is a handy little travel set for those who wish to start sketching outdoors and adding some colour to their work.   

About Rachel Owen

Rachel has been painting in both watercolour and acrylic for 20 years as a keen amateur.

See more from Rachel in the gallery by


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