Those of you who read my review on the book Travel Between the Lines saw that I've started experimenting with watercolour pencils and wet mediums in my colouring, and what I have to show you today is the next step up really. Paints will never overtake pencils for me, mostly because it's just easier to get your pencils out and colour immediately, but Gansai Tambi paints have introduced me to another avenue for colouring that gives just as vibrant colour as marker pens.
So, what are they? Gansai Tambi (Gansai meaning "vibrance" and Tambi meaning "aesthetic") are artist quality Japanese paints that are described as watercolours, but have a very different feel and effect. Yes, they can be used as watercolours when watered down A LOT, but mainly they act similar to Gouache paints, which are much thicker and more opaque. Gansai Tambi are semi-transparent which is why they have been labelled as 'solid watercolours', but they handle more like a rich paint than watery ink. Also, instead of having a matte finish like watercolours they leave a slight sheen on the surface, making them look shiny and laquer-like.
The paints come in sets of 12, 18, 24 and the 36 set that I have here to show you. The box is a beautiful linen-looking cardboard with gold symbols on the front, and inside the paints are contained in individual, removable 'pans'. On the reverse of the lid there is a handy chart for you to catalogue each colour, all numbered for ease of reference. There's also a protective plastic sheet over the paints which doubles up as a mixing palette.
The box is around 12 x 8 inches in size, and each pan is 1 x 2.5 inches, making it a considerable set with larger than normal paint pans. A lot of the paints look quite black in the pan, but when you swatch them you can see how vivid the colour appears. The colours have some quite unusual tones, my favourites being the jade green and cornflower blue, and surprisingly includes a beautiful pearlescent white & two gold metallics.
But how do these perform on a colouring page? Well, unless you use them to make a very thin, watery wash, they shouldn't buckle the paper of most half-decent colouring books- purely because they're so thick. If using a narrow enough paint brush, Gansai Tambi perform amazingly well on small areas and leave you with a really stunning, vivid finish.
Here's a page I painted using Gansai Tambi only.
Aren't they so intense and striking? I did the background by mixing up a wash with blue and purple in a small amount of water and just brushing it across, then loading my brush with white paint and flicking it on for a snowy effect. It doesn't leave a flawless finish (unless you're VERY careful!) but doesn't look far off from colouring with markers, and if you've got the right brush you can get in any size gaps without effort. Talking of brushes, I used 3 different ones for this picture; a Menso medium brush and KUM Memory point sizes 1 & 5.
The Menso brush is made of horse & goat hair and produces the thickest 'stripe' of colour, making it ideal for the backgrounds, whilst the memory point brushes are handmade with synthetic fibres that spring back to their original shape after use, not splaying like most other brushes. All three are absolutely brilliant at laying down the paint without scratchiness, the KUM #1 acting like a fineliner pen in those tiny spaces. You can also use an aquabrush and paint straight out of the pans if you want a more watery effect.
I hope you've enjoyed me showing you something a little different today, let me know what you think about using paints for colouring!
You can find Gansai Tambi paint sets with FREE UK DELIVERY at Cult Pens here and the KUM memory point brushes here.