Kuretake Gansai Tambi Starry Colors Review and How To Use Watercolor Paints in Calligraphy

Some of you probably already know that you can use different liquids to calligraphy using a dip pen, not just ink. Water-based paints (watercolors) are very popular and often used, e.g. the reliable Ecoline series from Talens or the Colorex series from Pebeo. Liquid watercolor paints are usually transparent, (with the exception of white and metallic shades) and due to their properties – they are not waterproof.

Watercolors in liquid come in containers or jars, so the way they are used is no different from ink, you simply dip the nib into the watercolor and start writing.

Today, however, I would like to show you a different kind of watercolors that can be successfully used in calligraphy: watercolors in cubes.

I recently attended a workshop where I finally got the chance to try these watercolors paints – Gansai Tambi – Starry Colors. I wanted to try these paints for a long time and I’m happy to let you know that I did! I was very attracted by the golden colors, similar to those of the popular Finetec pallets, but at an affordable price.

Kuretake Gansai Tambi Starry colors 6 color set
  • [6 Colors] Golden pearl-tinted Gansai for professional artists and...
  • Ideal for calligraphy, illustrations, brush lettering and more!

Immediately after taking it out of the package, the Gansai Tambi Starry Colors palette made me fall in love with the beautiful shades of gold, which shimmers wonderfully, especially in daylight.

The black glossy cardboard packaging contains six cubes in different shades of gold and silver: Blue Gold (bluish gold), Red Gold (reddish gold), Yellow Gold (yellowish gold), Champagne Gold (champagne-colored gold), Light Gold (delicate gold) and White Gold (which looks like silver).

The cubes can be easily removed from the packaging and replaced with new ones after use. And in case they accidentally fall out of the packaging (as it happened to me) or you would like to take them out intentionally, you will notice that each cube has a color number printed on it, so you can easily put it back exactly where it was. That’s also helpful when you are replacing them.

Well – the paints do look beautiful, but how do they work in calligraphy? In order to test it, I prepared the following materials:

Using watercolor cubes in calligraphy is simple, but requires a little more effort than traditional ink. But don’t worry – the end result will compensate for all the extra effort.

How To Start?

At first, dip the brush tip into the water, and then lightly rub the paint on the cube with it, making circular movements so that it becomes a bit fluid on the surface. Add more water if necessary. The consistency of the paint should be quite dense, otherwise, the effect will not be as opaque and uniform in color.

Then, take some paint on the brush and apply it to the inside of the nib, roughly from the tip to the heart. And then write as you would write in ink.

When the paint on the nib finishes, apply it again.

Hopefully, you can see in the photos exactly how opaque and shiny the paints are, especially on dark paper. The most beautiful effect is only visible when the watercolor dries.

Due to the fact that the paint is quite thick, after drying you feel its structure under your fingers, which is an additional plus. Letters written in gold and silver paint will certainly look phenomenal on all kinds of invitations (including wedding), greeting cards, business cards, etc.

If you are just starting your adventure with calligraphy, you will probably notice that writing in cube paint is not the easiest task. But I am convinced that after a few attempts you will definitely be able to master it.

In order to make it easier for you, here is some personal advice to get you started

Choose the right nib. This is a key issue. When I first started writing with Gansai Tambi paints, I opted for more flexible nibs, but unfortunately, they didn’t work. The paint ran down the paper very quickly and I had to apply it again and again. There was also a too abundant flow of paint onto paper and blots.

And then, as usual, the Nikko G nib came to my rescue. Medium flexible, quite large and well made – all these features of Nikko G made it perfectly coped with Gansai Tambi paints. I recommend you start writing with this nib.

What to do if the paint does not want to run off the paper nib. Gently dip the tip of the nib into the water. That should help. If it didn’t help, apply more paint to the nib with a brush and try writing again. It will definitely be better.

What to do if too much paint flows onto the paper. It may be the fault of an overly flexible nib – choose a medium flexible nib, but quite large. Another reason may be applying too much paint to the nib. Try applying a little less.

If the paint is not opaque enough after drying, it means it has been diluted too much. Try adding a little less water and mixing the paint thoroughly with a brush.

Calligraphy with watercolors in cubes is fun, but can also be frustrating. My advice is to keep calm and try it until it works. And if you love shiny calligraphy just like me, Kuretake Gansai Tambi Starry Colors paints will definitely appeal to you!

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