Are Mungyo Watercolour Sets Any Good?


Who is Mungyo?

Mungyo is a Korean company, established in 1946 as an office and stationery supplies company. The company expanded into fine art materials such as a range of pastels and since 2015 the watercolour pan sets.

Mungyo Professional Watercolor 12 Pan Set

Inside the cardboard box is the Mungyo set of 12 colours (as listed below) which come individually wrapped inside a metal tin.

The metal tin is the standard tin you find provided with most watercolour sets, for example, the tin that came with my St Petersburg White Nights paints I have is absolutely identical, including the rickety hinges!

I think the watercolour sets are beautifully presented, I like the clean design of the pan wrappers.

The colours included in thie Mungyo set of 12 are listed below. I have included the numerical code given to each pigment by Mungyo themselves as well as the pigment code or codes that the colur is made from.

While manufacturers can name their paint anything they want, the pigment codes are what can tell us more about the paint we are using and are standard across the industry. The code starts with a P (which stands for pigment) followed by a letter to indicate the colour (B = blue, Y = yellow, V = violet etc) and then a number.

Some paint may be made from one pigment, 2 pigments or even 4 or more pigments. The pigment code is one of the most reliable ways to understand the quality of the paint.

Mungyo Paint CodeName of ColourPigment Code(s)
801WhitePW6
844Yellow OchrePY42 + PY14
804YellowPY14
806OrangePO13 + PY14
810Permanent RedPR112 + PR170
848Light RedPR101 + PY14
836Yellow GreenPY14 + PG7
832ViridianPG7
818Cerulean BluePB15:3
819Cobalt BluePB29
816Permanent VioletPV23
860BlackPBK9

You may find the actual paint block falls out of the plastic tray when you first get them but don’t worry, a lot of paints do this. As you start to use them and the water expands the paint a bit the block will start to sit more securely in the plastic tray.

On the box, the company claim the paints are made from the purest of pigments and Kordofan gum arabic with no fillers. This could be why they have labelled them as “professional”. Student grade paints have more fillers and less pigment.

There are various watercolour sets available from Mungyo. Not only do they have a standard range of 12 colours (which is the set I have) but they also offer a set of 12 that features metallic colours, a set of 12 pastel colours, a set of 24 colours and a staggeringly large set of 48 colours which also includes 4 of the metallic paints. You can find all of these options on Amazon.

The set of metallics and pastels feel a bit gimmicky and unless you are a crafter as well as an urban sketcher, you probably won’t find much value in them.

Why Are ‘White’ and ‘Black’ Pigments Included In Watercolour Sets?

As watercolourists, we are well aware that using white and black watercolour pigments in our work is generally a big no-no. I always wondered why on earth companies included these pigments in an already limited set of 12.

For some reason, this only happens at the ‘budget’ end of the watercolour set market. But even renowned and specialist watercolour brands such as Winsor & Newton do this. 

In Mungyo’s case I somewhat understand why they included these pigments because despite their claims these watercolours are more for crafters and using white or black is actually totally fine for crafting or art journaling.

Lets quickly look at the brief reasons why you may use white watercolour paint:

  • add to other colours to make pastel shades or make them more opaque
  • using white as a primer and painting over the top can produce interesting effects, wet-in-wet or wet on dry
  • using white can enhance the effect of lifting another colour from the page
  • painting on tinted paper

Colour Mixing Chart with Mungyo Set of 12 Watercolours

I will admit, I had quite a lot of fun using the white mixed with the other colours on the palette when I was making my mixing chart. It does make a lovely range of pastel shades.

To find out how to make a mixing chart of your own check out my blog post here.

As you can see from the chart above the Mungyo set has a nice balance of colours to it producing a wide array of possibilities. The St Petersburg White Nights set I have doesn’t have a bright yellow so the Mungyo set opens up some more colour options for me in my sketching.

Is the Mungyo Professional Watercolour Set Really Artist Grade Paint?

The paints within the Mungyo watercolour set are referred to as professional quality. As there is no standard or rules as to whether you refer to paints as artist-quality then it doesn’t really carry too much weight. Mungyo has just decided to label them as professional quality.

What does matter to professional artists is how ‘light fast’ the paints are. If they are lightfast then this means they are professional grade paints.

What does ‘lightfast’ mean?

Lightfastness refers to the permanence of the watercolour paint. By this, it means how quickly the paint will fade over time, especially when exposed to light sources, so when a painting is hung on the wall and exposed to daylight year after year, or under lights at a gallery for example.

There is a fairly universal rating scale set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) to judge the lightfastness of a pigment. According to the ASTM scale I = excellent (and the paint will not fade for 100+ years) II = good and III = poor.

The Mungyo Watercolour set includes a number of ‘fugitive’ pigments, which basically means they are rathed as III when it comes to lightfastness. This means they will fade much quicker than higher rated pigments. As such this means that these paints should absolutely not be used for paintings intended to be hung on the wall, or commissions. As, traditionally, this tends to be what professional artists produce for a living, ‘professional’ is not the correct label for these paints and is actually just a marketing tact.

Are the Mungyo Watercolour Sets Exactly The Same As Prima Marketing Watercolours?

The paints and design looks identical to Primatek brand, I think it has now been established that they are the same paints. While some reviews by bloggers and youtubers insinutuate there is something sinister going on here, I don’t think that’s the case.

In fact, I think Mungyo make these sets available to ther companies on a ‘white label’ basis. So if you brand and sell your own watercolour set, Mungyo would make them and you could market them as your own.

I believe this is what has happened with the company Prima Marketing (you can see one of their sets here) and also the Jane Devenport Sets (one of which you can see here). These sets are very much marketed at crafters rather than watercolour painters so they do not make the ‘professional’ claim that Mungyo has.

A Quick Watercolour Sketch Using Mungyo Watercolours

As well as making some charts I did do a quick watercolour sketch in my Hahnemuhle watercolour sketchbook using the Mungyo watercolour set of 12 (both available on Amazon). 

I picked a reference photo from Pinterest of a gorgeous lighthouse in Oregan I believe. There was a nice range of colours in the photo so I thought it might be a nice simple image to attempt a more traditional (at least more traditional than I am used to) watercolour painting with. I still snuck in a few ink lines with my fountain pen at the end though, ha!

Here’s the final result:

I was pretty happy with the results to be honest, it handled a loose quick watercolour sketch well, the colours blended nicely together on the page and I think the vibrancy is nice too.

If you want to watch a video of the painting (as well as hearing my thoughts on these paints) then you can watch below:

Conclusion

I think this set of 12 is great, inexpensive (under $15!), sturdy and portable set for urban sketchers with a good range of colours (although I would personally replace the white and the black pigments)

Pros

  • These paints are perfect for sketchbooks artists, art journalers, crafters and for artists who paint to then use the artwork digitally or to create prints.
  • The paints are vibrant, have good transparency and are easy to work with.
  • Excellent practice set and great for taking out urban sketching
  • The sets are pretty affordable.
  • Nice design

Cons

  • Fugitive pigments, not all paints are lightfast
  • The paints are not for professional use despite what’s written on the box
  • Cannot use them for commissions or paintings that will be hung on the wall
  • I’d rather spend a little more money for a small set of artist-grade paints personally, but that’s because of where I am in my journey. For beginners, I think these are a great starter set.

I hope this post has helped you if you were considering buying a Mungyo watercolour set. For a good few months of lockdown, there was not much of a range of watercolours available to buy here in South Africa as literally everything is imported.

However, Mungyo seemed to be available everywhere. I finally bit the bullet to buy a set through my friend who works for an art supplies company, however they had ran out. So this test and review was fated not to happen.

BUT – then he found a sample pack and he gave it to me for free! Happy days. So, just for full transparency, I did not purchase these paints. However, if I had, I really would not have been too disappointed at all. As I mentioned above, they are perfect to take around while urban sketching and painting in your sketchbook.

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