It’s hard to pick a paint from a catalogue. To make it easier, some manufacturers sell or give away dot cards with tiny amounts of paints, usually on watercolor paper. That’s the second-best way to try a watercolor - after buying the actual paint, of course :)
Not all manufacturers do this (for example, when their paint is too sticky), and sometimes those dot cards are really hard to find. I’ll include a source whenever it’s possible. These are not affiliated links, but you may be able to find a better or cheaper place to buy.
Sample dot card for the full range is available.
Blockx / Aquarelles
72 colors on a folded A3 coated paper. The paint samples are squeezed into a printed color chart, which includes all essential information, including pigments, transparency, staining. The paint samples are huge, it’s enough for even a smaller painting. You can’t paint on this paper, and better to keep the a sheet of glassine paper between the pages, otherwise it will stuck together.
Daniel Smith / Extra Fine Watercolors
Daniel Smith is providing multiple dot cards. 66 Colors To Try / 238 Colors To Try and some smaller themed selections. They are constantly revising their dot cards. The 238 Colors To Try is 4 A4 sheets, printed on watercolor paper, containing plenty of information (about lightfastness, staining, and granulation properties, transparency). There is also a printed chart included with the pigment information.
Dot samples, in (5) small trays are available for the full range. Great value for the price.
Golden / QOR Watercolor
They offer a free sample of 6 colors. It’s an honest selection with some not-so-easy colors - you can try it and see what you can expect. The paints are on a palette like plastic-coated paper, and a small watercolor paper is included.
Dot card for the full range was available on the Japanese market.
Holbein / Artists’ Watercolor (HWC)
Some years ago, Holbein had a dot card for the whole range, but recently I’ve only seen 12 colors selection. But you can find some handmade dot cards for the full range, for example, on Etsy. I have one from tiny supplies, that’s a useful one, all information is printed, with a nice amount of paint.
Maimeri / MaimeriBlu
Maimeri has a small promotional dot card with six selected colors. On the Japanese market, they also offer a full-range dot card with 90 colors. It is printed on an A4 size Canson watercolor paper. It contains pigment information, lightfastness, opacity, and granulation. There’s also a printed color chart appendix with even more details.
Mijello / Mission Gold Watercolor
The whole color range (126 colors) is presented on 4 A4+ sized watercolor paper. The edges of the papers are folded to prevent the pages from sticking together. The printed information contains pigment information, lightfastness, transparency. The dot cards came in a protective cardboard box.
Roman Szmal / Aquarius Extra Fine Watercolours
No Aquaris dot card is available, but Roman Szmal provides a hand-painted chart for the whole range. It is printed and painted on a thicker, 300gsm watercolor paper (Fabriano 5), a total of 5 pages of samples. The listed information includes all the necessary facts about pigments, lightfastness, transparency, staining, and granulations.
Rosa Gallery Watercolor
For the whole range, generous amount of paint.
Royal Talens / Rembrandt Water Colour
Royal Talens’ professional watercolor range, with 120 colors. Printed on a folded A3+ sized paper. The dots are slightly smaller than in the Van Gogh chart but still enough to paint a swatch or two. All information, including pigments, transparency, light fastness, granulation, is printed on the chart.
Royal Talens / Van Gogh Watercolour
Royal Talens’ cheaper version of watercolor with 72 colors. The dot card is an A4+ sized thicker paper with generously sized dots. All information, including pigments, transparency, light fastness, granulation, is printed on the chart—a really nice product.
Schmincke / Horadam Aquarell
Schmincke offers a full range dot card with all 140 colors, printed on a folded A3 watercolor paper. It contains information about lightfastness, granulation, staining but no pigment information (available separately). A good amount of paint. Dotcards for the new granulation range is also available.
Turner / Artists’ Water Colour
A hand-painted chart (with all 147 colors) available on JacksonsArt. There are two separate dot cards on the Japanese market, one with 94 colors (for the 15ml tubes) and a 54 colors one (for the 5ml ones). Printed on a thicker A4 watercolor paper, it contains all information, including pigments, light fastness, transparency. There is a generous amount of paint on the dot card. You can order from Amazon Japan.
Winsor & Newton / Professional Water Colour
Winsor & Newton offers different dot cards, for example, one for cadmium-free colors. They also provide a full-range dot card. Printed on a folded A3 watercolor paper. The chart does not have pigment information, but lightfastness/transparency is marked. The card contains only a tiny amount of paint, barely enough to paint a smaller swatch.
Sample dot card for the full range (103 colors) is also available, with generous amount of paint.