I did an epic sketchbook review a few weeks back and I included watercolor swatch tests in each sketchbook. Those swatches were created using the Viviva Colorsheets (original set of 16 colors is currently available for $20, new Inktober edition for 2021 is coming soon).
Viviva Colorsheets have been on the market for a couple years but this is the first time I’ve tested them. Tina has reviewed them in the past but I thought it would be handy to (1) try them myself and (2) provide another perspective about the product.
The Colorsheets come in a folded heavy cardstock booklet with a square of thick, dried watercolor pigment for each color included. Each page in the Viviva Colorsheet booklet has four colors, two on each side of the fold with water resistant, translucent divider stock in between. The divider stock helps to keep the colors from merging together, particularly if they are still damp.
The bottom of the pages are stair stepped with a color key to make finding colors faster and easier.
Often, the dried paint swatches do not look at all like the color they are when applied to paper. Doing a swatch key is definitely important in order to recognize each color accurately.
The set of Viviva Colorsheets I purchased was the 2020 Inktober edition which featured 20 colors. Two of the colors were basically black and an opaque-ish white which I seldom use in watercolor.
Above are swatch tests on three different papers — the top is the Leuctturm1917 sketchbook then the Stillman & Birn Delta and finally (bottom) Alpha.
There is a little bit of color shifting depending on the paper stock but overall the colors are pretty consistent on good multimedia or watercolor paper.
The swatch above is in the Shinola Sketchbook.
I get hung up on the three largely similar shades of red and the dusk orange and gold ochre being nearly identical as well. On some papers, the Vermillion or Burnt Umber also looked quite similar.
I’ve been trained that with a portable watercolor palette, you need a red, yellow and blue — each with one in a warm version of the color and a cool version. Then maybe a specific pre-mixed green, a a warm and cool earth tone (ochre and sepia, for example) then whatever is your whimsy — maybe a pre-mixed pink or purple, payne’s grey, etc. So, 10-12 colors maximum and then mix thee rest.
There is a coated paper palette included that can be attached into the back of the booklet but it’s relatively small so I am not sure how effective it would be for mixing paint. The paper squares of pigment are difficult to look at and determine how much pigment is left on each square. Also, if you use up one color in the palette there is (currently) no easy way to replace that one color short of buying a whole new set.
I like the idea of having a very portable little watercolor palette to keep tucked in my bag with a waterbrush so I have quick, easy access to colors when I need them. This set is definitely small but lacks a truly functional mixing palette and no easy way to replace or add new colors easily. I still think a small watercolor pan set with swappable pans which can be replaced or refilled is still the better solution. If I decide I want to paint four pages in my sketchbook blue, I want to know I have enough blue paint and that I can add more pigment to my palette as needed.
DISCLAIMER: Some of the items included in this review were provided free of charge for the purpose of review. The Viviva Colorsheets were purchased with my own money however. Please see the About page for more details.