Review: Sennelier Aqua-Mini 8 Half Pan Watercolour Set

I've reviewed Sennelier's 12 half pan box a few years ago so let me give you the bottomline first, their paint quality is still top notch.

The reason why I bought this set is to see if the cute box design is functional.

This is a small and portable box. It's smaller than the Winsor & Newton Cotman Pocket Sketcher Box but slightly thicker. Downside of such a small box is the mixing area on the lid is limited.

The pans are held in a plastic holder. If you look closely, the pans are rather small.

These are the eight colours included.

  • 574 Primary Yellow PY74
  • 675 French Vermilion PR242
  • 314 French Ultramarine Blue PB29 + PV15
  • 344 Cinereous Blue PB15:3 + PW4
  • 805 Phthalo Green Light PG7, PY153
  • 819 Sap Green PB29 + PY153
  • 202 Burnt Umber PBr7
  • 703 Payne's Grey PV19, PB15:1, PBk7

The pan colours dissolve easily with water, and the colours are very vibrant. This is a good selection of colours because you can mix a good range of secondary colours.

The only weird colour to me is Cinereous Blue which is a mix of PB15:3 (Phthalo Blue) and PW4. The resulting mix is a granulating colour that looks very similar to Cerulean Blue.

With Primary Yellow and French Vermilion, you can get warm oranges.

With Primary Yellow and Cinereous Blue, you get a nice grass green. With French Ultramarine Blue, you get a warm green that's very similar to Sap Green.

Sap Green is a convenience colour. It's a colour that I use often. Having this colour helps me save time from not having to mix it, and it also helps keep my yellows clean. I usually use Sap Green mixed with yellow to make it yellow green, or with Ultramarine to make it darker, or with a red to make it even darker.

This is the gray you can get with Burnt Umber and French Ultramarine Blue.

You can also mix your own grays using Primary Yellow, French Vermilion and French Ultramarine.

When Cinereous Blue is mixed with French Vermilion, we get rather dull purples and violets.

When French Ultramarine and French Vermilion are mixed, the purple is more vibrant.

Here's a sketch I painted with this box set of colours:

I used Cinereous Blue straight from the pan for the sea on the left. Lots of Sap Green, Ultramarine and French Vermilion were used for the greens. The roofs were painted with Primary Yellow and French Vermilion. Shadows were created from a mix of Primary Yellow, French Vermilion and Ultramarine. The rocks on the left were mixed with Burnt Umber and French Ultramarine. Dark areas that are close to black were painted with Payne's Grey.

I could consider this to be a rather versatile palette. It can mix a very wide range of colours and at no time did I feel that I was limited by the colour selection. The colours are also very transparent, making them suitable for pen and ink sketches.

Overall, it's a good set. Main downside is the lack of mixing area.


Find more reviews at Dick Blick Art Materials (US) | Jackson's Art (UK)

You may be able to find this on Jackson's Art Supplies (UK) too.

I see that box as one of the best marketing tools Sennelier have. I was still using Cotman halfpans when I bought it for about ten euro - I don't think you can get it so cheap any more - and that blue was a key contributer for me choosing Sennelier as my default watercolours since. I think your experience might be a little different coming from a vast experience of other paints but gor someone coming from the Cotman sketchbox, even though there are a few less pans, the little Sennelier box is a huge step forward.

I got this too along with the bigger palette, haven't used it yet but I'll bring this palette for en plein air later on ^^ I think the colors in this palette are a bit landscape-ish

Thanks for such a thorough review! Really appreciate that you included various swatches and blended colors.

I bought this box in mainland Spain for 9.90€ in 2017 and again for the same price in 2018. It's becoming an annual event! I intend to buy one this year as it's a cheap way of topping up the colours in my main palette. I also keep one of the small boxes for travel as it is both light to carry and discreet. When my current one is empty I will buy a new box and fill the old one with tube paints as in my travel paints I also really want a deep red and a rose and possibly Yellow Ochre or Raw Sienna and some Buff Titanium for sand and stone buildings.

I have some Sennelier half pans; cinereous blue is one of their unique colors and it's a good replacement for PB35 Cerulean Blue which also granulates. I'm assuming the white adds the granulation as Phthalo Blue GS doesn't granulate in my experience. The problem with Sennelier is a lot of their colors are 2 and 3 pigment mixes, like Gold Ochre which is not only opaque but is a mix of three PY 119, PY42, PY83. Even the Quinacridone Gold is a three pigment mix. I like how their colors dissolve quickly and you can get really good washes.

Hi Teoh!
I really love your in-depth reviews.
Till now, I have been using a watercolour set from a local brand's artist line which are definitely below international student grade paints in terms of quality. Since I majorly used them to add a bit of colour to some of my sketches, it didn't matter to me much. But, I have finally decided to buy something better, and have been deliberating between this Sennelier Aqua-mini set, and the White Nights 12 pan set. Since a lot of the colours in the White Nights set are not transparent, I have been leaning toward the Sennelier(to learn colour mixing better), but the lack of a good palette box and limitation of variety of colours is what's stopping me. I would appreciate your advice, if you can help me.


PS The Sennelier set is about US $12, and the White Nights is about US $27 in my country.

In reply to by Saksham Arora (not verified)

@Saksham Arora
I'll probably still recommend the White Nights if you're referring to this 12-pan box set

It's more than two times more expensive, but you also get more than two times the amount of paint. This will last longer than the Sennelier set. The Sennelier pans are quite small and will use up fast.

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