illustration of a painting in ornate frame on a wall with 2 tubes of camel watercolour in front of it on a table. Half the illustration shows the scene in sunlight and the other half is night time.

Camel Artists’ Watercolours – Lightfastness

Here is the big reveal of my home DIY test for Camel Artists’ Watercolours’ lightfastness.

Camel lists their colours in 3 ranges of permanence. They don’t use the word ‘lightfast’ anywhere in their product information.

According to the website:

These shades are classified in three groups according to their permanence:

(A) Absolutely Permanent

(B) Permanent &

(C) Fairly Permanent.

In most artist grade watercolours, permanence is measured by the lightfastness of the colour. But you might be surprised to know, few artist grade paint manufacturers test their final paints’ lightfastness!

This is because they all use the pre-existing lightfastness information of the individual pigments. This information is not verified after the pigments are made into paints in various methods by individual manufacturers. They may be affected by the various treatments used to heat/ treat to produce certain colours. The rating may also be affected by the binder used. For eg:, the pigment has the same lightfastness rating when suspended in gum Arabic (for watercolour) or in oil (for oil paints)!

Anyway, Camel AWC doesn’t provide any pigment information at all, and nor any proper lightfastness information except that mentioned above.

I selected colours from their chart only from permanence levels (A) and (B) because I didn’t want to risk any fugitive colours.

Here are the two sheets side by side. The one on the left is the sheet stored in a closed drawer. The one on the right is the sheet exposed to the sun.

The 2nd version of the image is a scanned one.

photograph of camel artists' watercolours home lightfastness test showing one half preserved in a closed drawer and the 2nd half exposed to sun for 6 months

scanned image of camel artists' watercolours home lightfastness test showing one half preserved in a closed drawer and the 2nd half exposed to sun for 6 months

You can click to view the larger image.

Are you surprised?

I sure was!


Yellows: Lemon yellow and Permanent Yellow Deep show very marginal to no fading. Gamboge Hue shows some fading.

Reds: Are the worst of the lot. Vermillion still has something to show for itself. Rose Madder has some tinges of the darker tone of it visible as a dull dark rose. Carmine and Crimson Lake have faded so badly that they might as well not be there!

Blues: These have fared much better than the reds. Permanent Blue shows the least fading. Ultramarine Blue is next showing slight fading. Camlin blue is affected as much as Gamboge, with minimal lightening.

Others: Sap Green shows a loss of yellow in the faded side. Yellow Ochre and Burnt Sienna show marginal lightening like the blues. Payne’s Grey has clearly lost one of its component colours, turning bluer and more faded in the exposed section.

According to the paint manufacturer, only Burnt Sienna and Yellow Ochre are listed at (A) meaning “absolutely permanent”. The rest were listed as (B) Permanent.

What does this mean?

Well, I won’t use Camel Artists’ Watercolours for any largescale open work to be displayed on a wall! We can’t trust the manufacturer’s permanence ratings.

I can continue using these for any works which are to be in a closed sketchbook. Also, I can use them for artworks which are destined to be used digitally after scanning. For eg:, many Japanese animation movie backgrounds are gorgeous hand painted art with fugitive colours. Since they are scanned in and used only in the film, the permanence of the original artwork, or paints used, does not need to be high.

I hope you found this lightfastness test useful. Do give it a shot, checking your own palette of colours with this simple lightfastness test. The result might surprise you!




  • Anonymous
    Posted at 14:18h, 29 March Reply

    I totally agree…some of my paintings have literally vanished off paper……..
    Sad to not have a single Indian brand with professional quality…

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 09:11h, 07 September Reply

    Thank you so much for posting this. I’ve often wondered about camel….I wish there was an Indian manufacturer who made quality watercolors…..

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