Since gaining popularity in the 18th-century, watercolor painting has been a favorite of amateur and professional artists alike. But with so many available brands, what are the best watercolor sets on the market? And what to look for when selecting watercolor paint?
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How to Pick the Best Watercolor Paint
Just like many other art supplies, such as acrylic paints, watercolors come in two grades: student and professional. Professional, or artist-quality, watercolor paint is typically made with more pigment and comes in a wider range of colors. As student watercolors usually have more synthetic binders and fillers, which keeps the cost down, but they tend to have less permanence.
If you are a beginner, or just want to test your hand for a watercolor painting, student quality should be just fine. You may not even notice much difference, to begin with, and it will be lighter on your wallet.
The nice thing with watercolor paint is that mixing means you can extend your color palette greatly without investing in a wide range of colors. So, if you are thinking of upgrading to artist-quality paint, you may want to start with just 5 to 10 colors to test before making a bigger investment.
Of course, single pigment colors will be more vibrant than mixed colors, but some artists swear by using a limited number of single pigments and building from there. This will really depend on your style and what you are attempting to achieve.
The beauty of watercolor paint is its ability to have light pass through it and create a washed-out effect. Watercolor paint can come in opaque or transparent, with manufacturers typically writing on the tubes or pans if the paint is opaque. Though you can thin opaque watercolors out, it will be important to note the transparency in order to create the layered effect of most watercolor paintings.
There's a very good article on The Art of Creative Watercolor: Color Schemes.
PANS OR TUBES
The most common way to buy watercolors is either in small tubes or in trays of solid paint called pans. Pans, which are only activated when touched with a wet brush, are great for their portability. As the amount of pigment you can take each time is limited, it's a bit more difficult to paint largescale projects, but each pan will go a long way.
Tubes, by contrast, are filled with liquid paint. This makes it a bit messier to bring on the road, but easier for mixing and painting on a larger scale. However, it's easier to use more paint quickly with tubes, so it can mean buying paint more often. Artists also need to be careful not to let the paint dry out, as many brands don't hold up well to constant rewetting.
Let's go on to my list. Note: As an Amazon Associate, I earn small commissions on products sold. This is no extra cost to you when you use the links below.
10 BEST WATERCOLOR SETS FOR BEGINNERS
This water colour set contains a pocket brush and 12 Cotman Water Colour half pans: Lemon Yellow Hue, Cadmium Yellow Hue, Cadmium Red Pale Hue, Alizarin Crimson Hue, Ultramarine, Intense Blue (Phthalo Blue), Viridian Hue, Sap Green, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Chinese White
12 colors (plus 1 brush and tray) 14 pieces total
Features an elastic strap that keeps the box securely in the palm of your hand while you paint
Extremely smooth color application
Ideal for art students
PORTABLE TRAVEL WATERCOLOR SET: The set includes 42 colors watercolor paints, 3 water brushes, a palette and a sponge. They are stored well in a plastic carrying bag, will satisfy all your requirements for travel and field sketch painting.
mixing primary colors, yellow, red and blue is the foundation of color mixing to make orange, violet and green secondary colors. working with two different primary sets, cool and warm, expands your color mixing potential. when mixing these 6 essential colors in different combinations, you can paint landscapes, still lifes, portraits whatever you choose!
Van Gogh watercolors are a student and artist level range of paints featuring brilliant, transparent, and intense colors with high tinting strength.
Most colors are rated with the highest degree of lightfastness +++
24 VIBRANT COLORS: Our PREMIUM watercolor palette is carefully crafted with long lasting rich pigments and is perfect for smooth color mixing & blending
REAL BRUSH TIP: Water pens have flexible nylon paint brush tips allow for broad and fine strokes on watercolor papers or canvases
Highly Pigmented Colors - These paints are rich with pigment and will stand out on your canvas or watercolor paper.
Paint Conservation - With the paint in tubes, you can squeeze out exactly how much paint you need without wasting any.
48 VIVID COLORS WATERCOLOUR PAINT BOX: The watercolour paint set including 42 unique vibrant colors + 6 Premium Metallic Colors at your disposal, you can play your imagination and talent more freely , help bring your watercolor paintings to life. Colors are vibrant and rich , fine pigment powder make them soluble in water easily .With high transparency and create a natural blooming in your painting paper .Easy to blend to create an endless range of colors!
Refillable 9Ml water brush to transport & store water
Detachable easel that secures to kit in the center, right or left hand sides
Snap lid that acts as an easel for paper (5"x7" paper size)
Pull-down finger ring on the base for easy grip
Half pan watercolors, formulated to blend easily & create an endless range of colors
High-Pigmented Paints - Colors are transparent, bright, intense and easy to use. easy to blend to create an endless range of colors! Set have everything you need to create beautiful paintings! They are nothing like the kiddie sets. It has 72 colors, 20 are metallic, and two are fluorescent. The paints are not chalky, they rewet wonderfully, and the paints mix well and are fluid.
The list above is a compilation of products that I have either used or that I am familiar with the brand and its quality.
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