If I had to choose one word to describe my first impression of IUILE Watercolours, it would be dazzling. These are unique iridescent paints with vibrant colours that shift from one hue to another as though enchanted. As I enjoy including metallic and iridescent colours in my own personal watercolour painting practice, I was thrilled to have the chance to review some of these colours and share my first impressions.
All About IULIE Watercolours
IUILE is a company based in California that specialises in shimmer, glitter, and colour shifting paints. With a vast range of colours available – over 400 colours on their company website – there is something mesmerising about these unique and beautiful shades. The company uses a ‘press down’ layering technique when filling their pans, which involves carefully pressing each layer of paint while it is still soft. This is then repeated, layer after layer, until the pan is full. This means that there is no air gap between paint layers as the pans are slowly filled, and allows for a greater concentration of colour as the paint dries by packing more pigment into the pans than a regular fill would allow.
IUILE Watercolours are made without honey so they are fully vegan, and hypoallergenic as they contain no fragrances or preservatives such as clove oil that could cause an allergic reaction. They are also AP-ACMI certified non-toxic, and as such are family friendly. As these paints don’t contain any additives or preservatives, it’s important to allow them to fully dry before putting them away, as damp or improperly stored paints can mould.
My First Impressions of IULIE Watercolours
The paints arrived in neat black tins branded with the IUILE company logo, with a small printed label on the reverse. Inside each tin is a set of half-pans, each of which comes with a small magnet cleverly attached to its underside, so they don’t rattle around the tin in transit, which I thought was a great and thoughtful touch! Each pan has a small, printed label attached to one side with its colour denotation, and they are very well filled: each paint I received stood proud above the pan edge by at least a millimetre, which meant that I felt like I was getting good value for money with these paints. The Ocean’s 8 Colourshift set, Shiny Fairy Dust set, and Sparkle Gold set also came with a small swatch card printed on watercolour paper, ready to be filled in by the user, which was again a lovely touch.
Understanding the Unique Colours of IULIE Watercolours
I was excited to get to grips with these colours, as I’ve never used paints quite like these before. IUILE prizes themselves on using high quality cosmetics-grade pigment powders, and specialise in these remarkable ‘Colourshift’ paints, also known as chameleon pigments. These are unique pigments which shimmer from one colour to another in the light, revealing 2 to 3 colours in a single brushstroke – with up to 5 colours becoming visible in the Vivid Colourshift series.
Due to the nature of these pigments, these paints take a little longer to activate than regular watercolour pans. IUILE advises dropping a little clean water onto the top of each pan, and allowing it to sit for three to five minutes before then picking up colour with a brush. This is what I did for my watercolour painting test swatches, and I must say I was absolutely delighted with the results.
Testing The Oceans 8 Chameleon Colourshift Set of 9 Half-Pans
The first paints I tried out were IUILE’s Ocean’s 8 set, which I chose because I have a real weakness for all things sea-themed! This is a charming set of nine half-pans filled with chameleon colours in various shades of blue, green, and violet. I was impressed by the variety of hues packed into this little set. The chameleon colour pigments really lived up to their name, shifting beautifully even as I was painting. Due to the unusual nature of these colours, they do not carry regular pigment names/numbers in the traditional sense, but rather are labelled with IUILE’s own demarcation. Out of this set, I did single out a few favourites.
OC6 is an intense turquoise hue which shifts hypnotically between a rich teal blue and a verdant green. Once wetted up I found these paints took on a soft, almost malleable texture, and it was easy to take up large amounts with the brush – almost too easy, as at times I found myself digging out more paint from the pan than I had intended, and needed to wipe it back off again. The colours are delightful to paint with, smooth and with a great sparkle. Two more colours I loved from this set were OC0, a spring green colour which carries hints of blue and bright gold when turned to the light. I also enjoyed painting with OC2, a deep violet-toned paint which shifts enchantingly into cool blue hues. Each of these colours is low-staining and semi-opaque, with a Good lightfastness rating; so while they are undoubtedly beautiful, they would perhaps be unsuited for archival work.
As is usual with watercolours, these paints can be used directly from the pan, or diluted down with extra water in a palette for lighter, thinner washes of colour. I personally found that I preferred to use these colours richly, as their strength and beauty lies in their unique iridescent properties, which is most visible when the colour is highly concentrated. I also discovered that the best way to appreciate these colours may be on black or toned watercolour paper, rather than on regular white. The paints, while vivid, have a relatively pale, blue-toned base colour, which in some lights can look thin or washed-out when used singly on white paper. This set does not carry an overall lightfast or transparency rating; interested buyers are encouraged to check the specifications of the individual paint colours, which can all be purchased singly in a half-pan size.
Testing The Red Brown Chameleon Colourshift Set of 9 Half-Pans
I was also able to test this set of 9 red-brown toned chameleon glitter pigments. As with the Ocean’s 8 collection, this set does not carry an overall lightfastness or transparency rating, asking interested buyers to refer again to the individual paint colours that are available to buy singly online. Each of the paints that I tested was rated Good on the lightfastness scale; so, as with the Ocean’s 8 set, they are delightful to use but again, these paints would likely not be suitable for archival artworks.
This set of watercolour paints, true to their name, carry a warm reddish-brown undertone in all nine paints, which sits subtly underneath the stronger shimmer pigments. This is only noticeable when the paints are swatched on white paper; on black toned paper this undertone disappears, allowing the pure chameleon pigments to shine.
I found that again each of these paints wetted up well in the pan, in the same manner as the Ocean’s 8 set, with a very similar texture. They also possess the same luminous, shimmering chameleon pigments, which change colour and lustre when turned in the light. From this collection I was particularly taken with the colours RC5, which carries a vibrant pink colour with reddish undertones, as well as RC9 which has a wonderful metallic tint, with colour shading through rich, burnished copper to pale gold in good light.
Lifting and Blending Properties of IUILE Watercolours
Each of the colours I tested mixed well with others from the sets, combining to create seamless shimmering lines and patterns. The Colourshift pigments complement one another well, and I particularly enjoyed blending the colours on the paper; watching the iridescent pigments move around and shimmer in the light was great fun! Each paint that I tested is also marked Low Staining, and as such I found that they lifted well. However, the lifting process did take a little while for me, as I found the glitter particles tended to linger. This made it harder to lift out a section of colour cleanly.
Overall, I enjoyed painting with the IUILE Watercolours and was impressed with the range of paints they offer. I particularly enjoyed discovering the chameleon pigments and experimenting with their magical colour-shifting properties. I was impressed with the presentation and packaging of these paints, and the thoughtfulness that has gone into the process of their creation. The paints are family friendly and marked as safe for budding artists of all ages, which is a big plus point. I would definitely recommend a set of these watercolours for anybody who might be interested in beginning to include unusual colours, iridescent hues, or metallics into their own work. However, the only downside for me was the low lightfast rating I found on some of the colours, so I would recommend prospective buyers to bear this in mind when picking out their paints. But on a personal level, I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed painting with the IUILE Watercolours; I found the colours utterly enchanting, which made testing these paints not a task, but a joy.
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