Filling Half Pans with QoR Watercolor

image of watercolor travel palettes

Watercolor Travel Palettes, QoR Watercolor, and Watercolor Pans

Whether your QoR mini needs a refill, or you wish to use QoR colors in your tried-and-true travel palette, QoR tube paints work beautifully in pans and half pans. Due to QoR’s modern formula, the dry tube paint will re-wet easily and provide the intense saturation or quiet subtlety expected of a QoR watercolor.

We have done testing to compare the color of QoR straight from the tube and the color of QoR that has been allowed to dry on the palette. We have observed no noticeable difference in color when these two approaches to QoR are painted out on the same paper. QoR that is dry on a palette should re-wet easily.

watercolor paint tests and watercolor travel sets

Travel palettes, watercolor pans, QoR Watercolor, and tests of QoR (top) paints for QoR mini, (middle) air dried from tube, and (bottom) wet paint new  from tube

Being able to squeeze QoR tube paints into empty half pans allows an artist to create a palette tailored to exactly the colors desired. This may be done by using one squeeze from a tube to fill a pan, or by building up multiple layers of paint with drying in between. The latter process may result in a dry half pan more quickly. Tapping a newly filled pan, or using a toothpick can help level the paint and push it into the corners of the pan if needed. Be sure you label each half pan so you know what paint it contains!

We would recommend leaving a newly filled half pan out to air dry before putting it into a closed travel palette. If there are young children or pets in the house, be sure to keep the half pans of paint out of their reach.

Filling a half pan with QoR Benzimidazolone Yellow 

How long the paint will take to dry is difficult to estimate. Environmental conditions and thickness of the paint have a great impact on drying time. If the entire pan or half pan is filled at one time, it will take longer to dry since the paint layer is thicker. Leaving the palette open, lowering the humidity, and increasing air flow will help the paint dry more quickly. Using multiple thin layers to fill a pan, and allowing the paint to dry between each layer, also may speed up the dry time of the accumulated paint.

The studio environment influences how long it takes tube color to dry in a watercolor pan. Since the watercolors are drying through evaporation, humidity makes a big difference. In a low humidity situation of 20% or less, a full half pan may be dry enough for use in a couple of days. When the humidity rises up over 50%, dry times might increase to a week or more. Even in situations of high humidity, however, QoR watercolors should eventually set up and be stable enough for use in a travel palette.

QoR mini half pans waiting to be refilled from QoR tubes

We do not recommend tightly sealing a wet palette in a wet plastic bag, or leaving a wet sponge in a palette with QoR. Our watercolor tends to re-wet more quickly than some Gum Arabic watercolors, and if the relative humidity is very high, the paints may soften and feel sticky. In this situation, QoR paint will lift onto the brush with great ease.

We have had questions from artists wishing to purchase individual QoR half pans. We hope this article shows that making your own half pans from our tube paints is easy. Filling full pans and half pans will greatly expand the watercolors available to you in your travel palette, and allow you to personalize the palette of colors taken on future rural and urban sketching adventures.

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15 Responses to Filling Half Pans with QoR Watercolor

  1. Jean Chang November 29, 2018 at 11:56 am #

    This is very helpful info! I think it is also important to note that you do not need to add glycerine to the half pans like you may with other brands. I’ve noticed that other brands dry hard and crack and become difficult to rewet without adding the glycerine, but this is not the case with QoR. They are wonderful!

    • Cathy Jennings November 30, 2018 at 1:16 pm #

      Hello Jean,
      Thank you for the suggestion. You are correct, there is no need to add glycerin or any other material into QoR before putting the watercolor in a pan. We are glad you enjoy painting with QoR!
      Happy painting,

  2. Diana Ross November 29, 2018 at 9:08 pm #

    I would love to do that, but my local art store cannot produce for me empty pans or an empty travel palette. Can you suggest any sources?

    • Steve November 30, 2018 at 11:42 am #

      ebay (if you can be patient), or amazon. Have bought empty half pans from both, and a nice Meeden palette box from Most online retailers sell both, for certain the UK retailers like Jacksons.

      • Cathy Jennings November 30, 2018 at 1:51 pm #

        Hello Steve,
        Thank you! We appreciate the information you shared.
        Happy painting,

    • Jean Chang November 30, 2018 at 12:42 pm #

      Diana, I ordered empty pans and a nice little empty travel palette from Amazon. I then filled the pans with my QoR tubes. It works great! The QoR paints are fabulous.

      • Cathy Jennings November 30, 2018 at 1:35 pm #

        Hello Jean,
        Thank you for using and praising QoR! Thank you also for your helpful suggestions.
        Happy painting,

    • Cathy Jennings November 30, 2018 at 1:31 pm #

      Hello Diana,
      Thank you for your question. It looks like two other artists (Steve and Jean) provided helpful suggestions if you read their comments too. On-line art product retailers, eBay, and are all viable sources for empty travel palettes as well as for empty half pans and whole pans. The pans might be slightly different in size or design depending upon the source, but that will make no difference for most metal watercolor travel palettes. There are also some travel palettes with spaces for paint rather than spaces for half pans. You can see two examples in a photograph within the article “Painting on Location with QoR Modern Watercolors”.
      We hope this is helpful. Please give us a call (607-847-6154 or 800-959-6543) or send an email ( if you have more questions.
      Happy painting,

  3. John December 3, 2018 at 5:08 am #

    Check out for empty pans..and the full range of QoR products!

  4. Liz Deeama February 24, 2019 at 5:57 pm #

    I bought a 24 pharmacy case you put medicine in.
    I filled up the paint (say 12 yes ago and put it in the freezer.
    The paints are fine to this day.
    Unless anyone thinks I may have lost some pigment etc along the way.

    • Scott Fischer February 27, 2019 at 7:16 am #

      Hello Liz,

      Thank you for your comment. We cannot speak for all watercolor brands, but QoR Watercolor goes through rigorous freeze-thaw testing, so it should return to the same working state after a frozen experience. There would be no loss of pigment in this transition between frozen and thawed. We would, however, caution against storing QoR Watercolors in a freezer where they could potentially come into contact with food. When stored in normal ambient conditions, half-pans of dried watercolor should remain usable and we see no benefit to long term freezing.

      Please feel free to contact us at if you have further questions.

  5. Pam March 30, 2020 at 2:48 pm #

    I purchased the tube set of 24 colors! I love them! I have some half pans that I filled and added a magnet on the bottom, I keep them on a metal butcher pan. It’s great I am able to move them as I wish. They only need a very small amount of water to activate and they flow so beautifully! As they get low I just refill! Thanks for such beautiful colors!

    • Cathy Jennings April 1, 2020 at 3:37 pm #

      Hello Pam,
      Putting a magnet on the half pans and using an enameled metal butcher tray as a palette is a splendid idea, thank you for sharing with our readers! Thank you also for your praise of QoR, we are so glad you enjoy our watercolor.
      Happy painting,

  6. Rob July 22, 2020 at 1:53 pm #

    Hello. I hope you revisit selling half pans as it would be nice to be able to refill the Qor mini without buying tubes and to be able to customize colors in the mini after using up a pan. For someone who travels frequently it can be inconvenient to carry tubes of paint (and sometimes impossible to do so). Thanks!

    • Cathy Jennings July 28, 2020 at 12:43 pm #

      Hello Rob,
      Thank you for your suggestion for making more QoR Watercolors available in half pans. We will forward the request to those who make decisions!
      Warm Regards,

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