Choosing a travel kit that gets BRILLIANT COLORS.
These kits have a few problems, though, the biggest being the difficulty of getting rich color from the paints provided in the pans. You’ve probably experienced this: scrubbing your paintbrush over a dry cake, trying to get the color on your brush, only to produce a thin, anemic wash. Higher quality pan paints are better, but still not as rich as the tubes. Here are some things you can do to get richer color.
PACK YOUR OWN KIT, WITH PAINT TUBES. You can build your own kit with a few tubes of paint that will give you a versatile range of color. The above is a minimal kit, with paint tubes, a palette with a thumb hole, a water spritzer, and a paint brush. There are several advantages to packing tubes. Even with small paint tubes, you will end up with a lot more paint, a definite plus if you paint a lot. The paint will be easier to manipulate, and more like the paint you use in your studio. The paint on your palette will always be fresh. And the color will be the richest possible, giving you the most control over your paint.
PREWET YOUR PAINT ON LOCATION. Whatever type of pans you are using you can get more color from them if the paint is softened before you begin to paint from the dry cake. Before you begin painting, spritz your pans with some water, so that the paint can begin to absorb water. Keep spritzing periodically, as you use up the softened paint on the top of the pan.
USE A BIGGER BRUSH. Most of these kits come with a brush about size one. Pack a nice round, # 10 or so, with a nice point (like the brush in the top photo.) This will enable you to transfer more water into your kit, pick up a good load of paint, and still allow you to paint delicate and precise marks.
ANOTHER NOTE ON COLOR: Unless you purchase a high-quality kit, some of the pan colors may not be permanent. If you're just painting postcards and sketches, that might not matter to you. If you plan to create lasting paintings that won't fade, you'd best look carefully at the pigment list, or replace the colors with more permanent tube colors.
Now go forth, and have fun with COLOR!