Qor High Chroma Set: Review & Brand Impressions

Qor High Chroma Set color swatches

You know I’m a fan of high chroma colors, so I got the Qor High Chroma set, a set of six extremely intense colors. I have never tried the Qor brand before, so this is also my introduction to the brand.

About the Brand

Qor is the watercolor arm of the brand Golden, which is well known for its acrylic and oil paints. They tend toward high-chroma, smooth (non-granulating) colors.

As far as I can tell, they’re a “love it or hate it” brand. Their paints tend to handle a bit differently from other watercolors, either because of the fineness to which they mill their paints, or because of Aquazol, the proprietary binder they use. They also tend to be pretty expensive per ounce compared to other paints, though the trial sets like this one are competitively priced.

About The Colors

I’ve tried all these colors before from other brands, and they’re among my favorites! To me, they split evenly between what I consider autumn palette type colors, and what I consider neon palette type colors.

Autumn Palette Colors

Neon Palette Colors

My Impressions

The Good

As promised, these colors were incredibly intense!

They go down at full strength in one layer – no repeat scrubbing required (or desired).

They gradate nicely and have a smooth feel going down.

There’s little to no drying shift on these; they all look just as brilliant dry as they did wet.

The Bad

The colors had a strangely flat appearance to me when they were down on the page, kind of like watercolor that has been reproduced in a digital format or a cartoon, but on paper. It’s sort of hard to describe. They just didn’t feel “lively” to me.

I got some extremely unexpected blooms and cauliflowers; these paints seem quite finicky about their level of dilution. The colors would look fine wet, but as they dried, the weird spots would appear as if from nowhere. I can usually predict when my DS or WN paints will dry weird (if I slapped on too much water or paint, or tried to mess with it while it was drying), but with Qor it would feel right going down but still dry weird.

Do not try to mess with these paints once they’re down on the page. With all watercolor paints, it’s a mistake to try to mess with them once they’re drying, but I found that these were instantly unworkable; you get it right the first time or you don’t. There’s no “it’s still wet so I can mess with it” stage.

Which is a shame, because I feel like that stage is when I do – like – all of my painting?

Like, here’s a wet-on-wet sunset I tried to paint.

A tale of two sunsets. Left: Painted with Qor paints (Diox Violet, Quin Magenta, Transparent Pyrrole Orange, Quin Gold). Right: painted with my usual brands (Da Vinci Violet, Holbein Quin Magenta, DS TPO, Mission Gold Green Gold). Both on Kilimanjaro 600gsm cold press.

On the left is the Qor version, which came out looking like the surface of Jupiter, all blooms and squiggles. Kind of cool, I guess, but not what I was going for. On the right, I painted the same thing, using the same motions (more or less), on the same paper, with the same pigments in my usual brands. Because I had more ability to blend and work, and because it didn’t introduce new blooms during the drying stage, it came out soooooo much better – far closer to the look I wanted. With the Qor version, I was like, huh? did I forget how to paint?


Based on this experience, I don’t think I’ll be using Qor going forward. The colors are bold, sure, but difficult to handle. It may be a learning curve issue and you can learn how to paint in a way that suits the brand, but I don’t really see the upside to mkaing that effort. I can get equally bold colors from my usual brands, and they tend not to be as finicky.