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Daniel Smith vs Mission Gold - Which is the best watercolour brand?

Updated: Oct 21, 2023

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I own more art supplies than I can use in my lifetime (and I'm 100% sure of this). That didn't stop me from recently purchasing the Daniel Smith set of 24 pans watercolor palette. Previously, I had been using Mission Gold watercolors, and in this post I will describe my experience using both - including the positives, negatives and what kind of art each one is more suited to. By the end, I will hopefully answer the question - Which is the best watercolour brand in the market! So buckle up!

Watercolor Palettes - Out Carton

Product offering (which is the best watercolour brand?)

Daniel Smith is known for its high-quality pigments and extensive range of colors. They offer over 200 different colors, many of which are made using unique pigments that are not found in other brands. One of the things that sets Daniel Smith watercolors apart from other brands is their use of minerals and semi-precious stones in some of their pigments. For example, they offer a color called Amethyst Genuine, which is made using crushed amethyst crystals.

Mission Gold is known for its intense colors and high-quality pigments. Their watercolors are highly pigmented and vibrant, and they have a high level of lightfastness. One of the unique features of Mission Gold watercolors is that they use a proprietary binder called Aquazol, which allows the colors to adhere to the paper more effectively.

Both of these palettes contain 24 colours. I got the Daniel Smith palette for Rs. 11,000. (Amazon Link), and the Mission Gold palette for Rs. 9,000 (Link).

Range of COlours

Daniel Smith and Mission Gold watercolors sets of 24 each
Top is the Daniel Smith Watercolour palette, and the bottom one is Mission Gold

The colours in both palettes are beautiful and bright. However, Daniel Smith had more earthy tones, such as many yellows and browns. Mission Gold on the other hand had more bright colours like pinks, purples and blues. This makes me think that Daniel Smith would be better for making gorgeous muted landscapes, while Mission Gold would be perfect for floral paintings.

Brightness and Vibrance:

There is no doubt (and you can see for yourself in the pictures below) that Mission Gold swatches are much brighter, more pigmented and uniform. One can be tempted to say they're "better". Right? But, I feel the beauty of watercolors is in their transparencies. To me, Mission Gold while bright felt more like Gouache, in the sense that even one layer with them was much more opaque as compared to Daniel Smith. With layers, Daniel Smith also became much more pigmented and opaque, but to me personally, that's something I want control of. I want to build layers and decide how opaque I want my watercolours to be (Did that make sense?)

Daniel Smith
Swatches of Daniel Smith

Mission Gold
Swatches of Mission Gold

Colour Mixing

Since they both contain very high quality pigments, they both mixed easily and quickly, however in very different ways. Mission Gold was dominated by the reds. Daniel Smith was more balanced. Both were excellent at created hundreds of hues from the primaries only.

Colour wheel
Small Colour Wheels - Both Brands

Colour Wheel
Full Colour Wheels

Colour mixing
Warm and Cool colour mixes from Primaries - Daniel Smith

Colour Mixing
Warm and Cool colour mixes from Primaries - Mission Gold

Subject Matter

The peculiarities of both brands have made them suitable for very specific types of art for me. When I use Mission Gold, I feel I can control the paint more, and use a tiny brush with concentrated paint to make details. I feel I can be really precise with them. Which makes them great for making portraits. When I do more loose, free flowing paintings, I feel the way Daniel Smith dilutes is very useful. So I use those for making landscapes, seascapes, or wherever I need large blocks of paint with water.

Watercolor Portrait
Painted with Mission Gold

Watercolor Landscape
Painted with Daniel Smith

So my conclusion is, if you want to try both, get 2-3 tubes or the tiniest palette they offer, feel out the paints and then decide which ones you want more of. Or, going by my experience, think of what you paint more, and choose. They're both top quality, very smooth and pigmented brands, and it's a pleasure to work with either :) Let me know in the comments which ones you like better, or if you have any questions!

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