Rosa Watercolours Classic set

Classic set of Rosa Watercolours

Emma Price puts the classic set of Rosa watercolours to the test.

About Rosa

Rosa are based in Novovolynsk, in western Ukraine. They have been manufacturing art equipment since 1996, but only began producing their own watercolours in 2018. They now have a range of 80 pigments, available as full- or half-pans and tubes.

Their website states that these paints are “developed according to the requirements and recommendations of professional artists.”

They’re made with organic gum arabic as a binder, and the paints are mostly of single pigments giving “amazing pure shades.”

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Top features:

  • Great value for money
  • Well-packaged
  • Reusable tin with useful mixing wells
  • Colours can be replaced with full or half pans
  • Pure, bright colours which don't fade when used
  • Colours lift out well
  • Artist quality paints
  • Mixed with organic gum arabic

Where to buy

Price: Individual full pans start from as little as £3.50 and sets from £25.19. 

The Rosa Classic Watercolour set of 14 full pans can be purchased for £29.69

Rosa Watercolours can be purchased from Art Supplies with Painters Online


First impressions

Rosa watercolour tin

The smart blue tin containing Rosa Watercolours

I’ve never used any Rosa products before so didn’t know what to expect, especially given that the price is much lower than other artists-quality watercolour tins.

Rosa watercolours

First impressions were very good; the box was attractively packaged and inside was a smart blue tin containing the neatly wrapped paints. This set would make a lovely present for any artist.

The colours

Rosa colour chart

This Classic Set consists of fourteen full-pans of pigments, all bar one of which (green) have three stars for permanence. The colours are shown in the chart above, which also shows the lightfastness, transparency level, granulation (G) and use of natural pigments (N).  

The lightfastness levels are on a scale from one to three stars (three being the highest), with transparency indicated by a white square (fully transparent), black square (opaque) and half black and white (semi-transparent.)

Rosa watercolours opened

The paints unwrapped and ready for use

The central holder is removed with a slight squeeze, then the paints can be taken out and unwrapped.

They aren’t the usual flat, smooth pan paints, having a freshly-squeezed look about them; they’re slightly soft and very brightly coloured (see above).

The tin boasts five good mixing wells on one side, and 10 smaller ones on the other, with a ring for holding or securing the box. The central well can hold a paintbrush, or you could fit half-pans in there. 

There were some pigments I was familiar with, such as the earth colours, and blues, but the greens and the madder red were new to me.

The madder red is particularly nice and I will be using that a lot for botanical paintings. There are four cadmiums in the box, which I personally wouldn’t have picked but that’s a matter of preference.

The inclusion of black was a bit disappointing – I don’t know why manufacturers always include black in these mixes – but it’s easy enough to remove colours you don’t want and replace them with those you prefer. In fairness, this “neutral black” is closer to Payne’s grey, being a deep blue-grey colour.

However, all the pigments are available to buy individually, as full or half pans and empty tins can be purchased to fill with colours of your choice.

All colours are also availbale to purchase as tubes.

Putting Rosa Watercolours to the test

wet-in-wet test with Rosa watercolours

Wet-in-wet landscape test

I began with testing out the individual pigments and getting to know them. The colours were indeed bright and pure, and dried with very little colour fade.  

Being slightly soft, they don’t require a lot of water to get going, so you can use the paint quite thickly for a strong colour. They seemed to lift out well too.

I initially tried a small, simple wet-in-wet landscape, see above, using ultramarine, madder red, indigo and cadmium lemon –  the colours blended very well and smoothly. 

The tin also wiped clean easily and (up to now) shows no visible stains.

Common Scoters

For the second test, I did a comparison with my other paints, on a quick pen sketch of some sea ducks (see above). 

The top three ducks and the background were painted with Rosa paints, the bottom two with the closest matching pigments from Schmincke, Sennelier and Winsor & Newton. 

To my eyes, there is no discernible difference, and given the varying price tags, it’s a definite tick for Rosa.

Finally, I attempted a “proper” painting.

Demonstration: Stonechats, Seaton Common


Stonechats, Seaton Common, Rosa Watercolours on Bockingford CP paper, (14x10in.)

Stage one

Stonechats stage one

Once I’d familiarised myself with the paints, I began a full-scale painting, using a piece of Bockingford Cold-pressed watercolour paper which had been stretched and fixed onto a board.

I’d seen the pair of Stonechats on a walk at a local nature reserve. They’re beautiful little birds, with their russet colours, and I felt that they’d be particularly good subjects for the Rosa paints given the range of pigments in the box.

I did some preliminary sketches to decide on a composition, then lightly sketched the birds onto the paper.

Stage two

Stonechats stage two

Next, I wetted the shapes of the birds with clean water and began to apply light mixes of yellow ochre, umber, cadmium orange and cadmium yellow light; whilst these washes were still wet I indicated darker areas, adding ultramarine and sepia to the existing mixes but without any extra water; keeping the darker paint drier avoided the risk of backruns. 

I found the paint blended nicely and was easy to control. 

The underpainting was then left to dry.

Stage three

Stonechats stage three

Given the lack of a transparent yellow in this selection, glazing was a bit tricky; I didn’t want to obscure the initial colour washes so I used a drier paint than I normally would at this stage, adding it with small strokes to indicate the birds’ plumage. 

The Sepia, used neat, was perfect for the dark feathers; the cadmiums were used for the brighter colours on breasts. 

I did some softening and lifting out with clean water where the edges were too hard.

Stage four

Stonechats stage four

When I was happy with the birds, I used a reed pen to apply masking fluid to the plant stalks and seedheads and allowed it to dry. 

A reed pen is ideal for drawing fine lines of masking fluid.

The background was then added with a strong wet-in-wet wash of cobalt blue and a touch of emerald green towards the horizon where you often get a delicate turquoise shade on bright winter days. It wasn’t exactly the shade I wanted but I liked the effect so left it. 

The foliage at the bottom was brushed in very loosely with yellow ochre and sepia. 

Stage five - the finished painting

Finished stonechat painting

Once the background was completely dry I removed the masking fluid and rubbed out any visible pencil marks. I then lightly painted in the dry flower stems with a pale ochre mix, using a thicker mix of ultramarine and madder red for the shadows. I also used this mix to deepen the shadow areas on the birds, then, rewetting the foliage, brushed in some sepia very loosely with a fine-pointed brush to indicate a tangle of dry grass stems.

I’ve used more colours for this painting than I normally would; generally I prefer to use no more than five colours but, as this was a test piece and I was using unfamiliar pigments, I felt it was justified to try as many colours as possible whilst still keeping the painting harmonious.


I was very impressed with these paints – they are surprisingly good for the price tag and would be the ideal option for artists who are on a budget but want to move on from student quality watercolours. 

The mix of colours in this set won’t suit everyone, but that applies to any mixed paint collection, and the pans are easy to remove and exchange. I’ll certainly be adding a transparent yellow and blue (and getting rid of the black!) 

The reusable metal tin and the use of an organic binder gets points for sustainability, and the box itself is very attractive, making a perfect gift. 

The pans are slightly inclined to slide around in the tin, but I fixed this by adding a half-pan of a paint from another box.

On the whole, I found much more to enjoy than to criticise and I’m looking forward to trying more Rosa paints in the future.

About Emma Price

Emma lives in Teesside on the northeast coast of England. She sketches and paints for enjoyment and relaxation, in particular looking at, and learning about, the plants, wildlife and landscapes of the local area. 

Click here to read Emma's review of, and demonstration using, Winsor & Newton Artisan Water-mixable Oils.

Emma has also shared top advice on sketching birds and natural objects found in her local woodland. These articles can be found by



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