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Best Paints For Watercolor Artists
Artists have been using watercolor paints for centuries. William Reeves invented hard cakes of soluble watercolors in 1780. Before that, artists would have to grind their colors from natural pigments.
In the 18 century, Winsor & Newton invented moist watercolors in Porcelain pans and metal tubes.
Today, artists are enjoying watercolor paints from multiple brands. With so many different watercolor brands available, it can become challenging deciding on what watercolor paint set is perfect for you.
Whether you are a beginner or someone who is searching for a quality set that will not break the bank we wanted to make it easier for you to pick the best watercolor paints whether you are searching for student quality, professional quality, tubes, or pans. The list of the watercolor paints will be the perfect guide for you.
How To Choose Quality Watercolor Paint
Here is what to look for before you go out and spend money on a set of watercolors. Understanding watercolor paint characteristics will help you make the best decision for your artistic style and goals.
Our Top Picks For Beginners:
Our Top picks For Professionals:
Watercolors are known for being more transparent than other mediums like acrylics and oils.
Acrylics can be more transparent by adding water, but you still will not get the same effect like watercolors.
Even though watercolor paints are known for their transparency, they are categorized as:
Pigments provide the color for watercolor paints and are held together with a water-soluble binder (gum arabic) and additives. Some companies will also add a wetting agent to create a better flow and absorption.
Some artists think that the more pigments a paint has, the more vibrant it will be, but this is not the case. Learning the color wheel and mixing colors is more important than how many pigments are in different colors. It takes time to be consistent with your mixing palette. With practice, you will always have the perfect colors for your paintings.
Companies started to create colors with multiple pigments because it is said to be more convenient, but you will be able to mix vibrant colors by learning more about the color wheel. Grab a color guide and practice your mixing palette before invest in expensive watercolor sets.
Granulation occurs when pigments cluster together. Granulation creates an uneven wash which creates a unique texture. Some artists like granulation, while other artists are interested in a more smooth color.
Small fine pigments produce less granulation and more consistent colors.
Large, irregular pigments produce more granulation.
ASTM (American Standard Test Measure) rates how much a specific watercolor paint will fade over time. The scale ranges from poor to excellent. The rating is also known as lightfastness.
The information will be displayed on most brand’s watercolor paint labels. If you do not find the answer on the label, visit the manufactures website to find the answers you are looking for.
Student Grade And Artist Quality Watercolors
Artist quality has more pigments, which makes the colors more vibrant and rich.
Student grade watercolors are made with synthetic pigments, which make the paint more granulate and inconsistent.
It is possible to create beautiful watercolor paintings with student grades, but you will have to work harder to create vibrant colors.
If you are on a budget and just want to try watercolors, student grade might be your best option,. However, if you are serious about enhancing your watercolor painting skills, artist quality watercolors will be a better choice.
Tube Watercolors Or Pan Watercolors
Watercolors are sold in tubes or pans.
Pan watercolors are activated by adding water with a wet brush. The amount of pigment your brush can hold is limited so painting a large watercolor painting can take longer.
Tubes are filled with liquid watercolor paints which makes it easier to mix different colors and paint larger paintings.
Now that you have a better understanding of different grades of watercolor, you will be able to make a better decision by going through the best watercolor paints below.
All of the watercolor paint sets highlighted below have been the top choice for beginners and professional artists.
Below you will find a paint set that has single pigment paints for the perfect mixing palette or a good quality paint set for an artist on a budget.
The best watercolor paint sets will depend on your artistic style and the colors you like to work with.
Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolor Pans
Windsor & Newton have been around since the mid 18th century and are a trusted, well-known brand. The professional watercolor range and supreme quality have made them the go-to company for watercolor artists for over 170 years.
Windsor & Newton’s mission is to create a watercolor range that offers artists the most comprehensive balance of pigments with the best performance.
Their watercolors have bright, vivid, transparent, and stable colors.
Winsor & Newton Professional Tubes
Winsor & Newton’s moist watercolor paints have been the top choice for over 180 years. The company has stayed true to the company’s founding principles, to give professionals the most balanced choice of pigments with the best possible performance and colors. These professional watercolors produce the best transparency, brilliance, and purity of color you can find.
Winsor & Newton Beginner Cotman Watercolor Half Pans
Newton Cotman is a high-quality student grade watercolor set that is perfect for an artist on a budget. Synthetic fillers help to keep the cost more affordable, but you can be sure you will still find the same high-quality and brilliant colors Winsor and Newton have been producing for over 180 years.
Cotman watercolor pocket box, come in both tubes and pans, which are perfect for any beginner.
Half Pans and Sets
Tubes and Sets
Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolor Tubes
Daniel Smith offers top-quality watercolor set with a range of 235 colors. These hand made paints from Seattle, Washington, provide some of the boldest and brightest watercolor paints ever created.
The finely grounded pigment makes superior lightfastness ratings with excellent brushing properties that produce clean and clear washes with vivid colors.
Van Gogh Watercolors And Sets
Student grade Van Gogh paints are one of the best student grade watercolors available. Students enjoy how well they blend and the quick dry time. These paints are rated high in lightfastness so people can enjoy the vivid colors for years to come.
The Van Gogh Pocket Box Paint Set is perfect for students.
M. Graham Artists’ Watercolor Tubes
Art Gram spent decades working and learning how to create the best watercolor paint at other companies. He started his own watercolor paint business over 25 years ago.
M. Graham is a pioneer in bringing back the traditional art of hand-crafted, small-batch paint made with the historic natural bases of walnut oil and honey. (Source: M.Gram & Co.)
M. Gram watercolors are manufactured in small batches with the finest pigments available and are rated as one of the best watercolor paints available.
If you are trying to find paints with consistent colors, M. Graham is the brand for you.
Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolor Sticks
Daniel Smith has combined drawing and painting with these handmade, hand-shaped artist-grade sticks. These paint sets are made with pure pigments, contain no fillers, and are rated excellent for lightfastness. If you are trying to find a product that mixes drawing and painting, these are for you.
Also available in tubes.
Sennelier French Artists’ Half Pans And Sets
Sennelier paints are easy to mix with water for smooth and broad brushstrokes. They offer 48 different honey-based colors that produce extraordinary brilliance and longevity.
Sennelier French sets come in sets of 12, 8, 14, 24, and 48.
Daler-Rowney Aquafine Tubes
Daler-Rowney Aquafine student watercolors are created with finely milled high-quality pigments that produce rich, delicate washes and transparent colors. They come in a wide range of colors and are perfect for beginners and students.
Schmincke Horadam Aquarell Watercolor Pan Sets
Schmincke Horadam Aquarell Half-Pan Paint Metal Set is said to have the best pan colors on the market. The set contains 12 professional artist-grade deeply pigmented colors for a perfect mixing palette.
The company was started in 1881 and is now owned by the fourth generation of the original family.
The watercolor set contains cadmium yellow light, lemon yellow, permanent carmine, cadmium red light, ultramarine finest, phthalo green, Prussian blue, phthalo green, yellow ochre, permanent green olive, sepia brown, English Venetian red, and ivory black.
Perfect for the artist looking for professional paints.
Holbein Artists’ Half Pans
Holbein professional-grade half pans paints are made in Japan and claim to produce the most finely ground pigment than any other artist-grade paints. The finely ground pigment colors have a non-granular, smooth texture. The set comes in a wide range of colors for any style and color mixing.
Final Thoughts On The Best Watercolor Paint Brands
Trying to buy art supplies can be a challenge when you are just starting. Learning about what qualities make the best paints like single pigment or good lightfastness will help you to make a better decision.
If you are just starting or not sure that watercolors will be the best paints for you to work with you might not want to start with professional watercolors. There are plenty of companies that sell quality paint at affordable prices. And some sets have a brush included to save you more money.
On the other hand, if you are searching for professional-grade paints with vibrant primary colors you might want to start with Winsor & Newton Paints. They have a wide range of colors in half pan sets and tubes. Whatever your color palette is, these pans and tubes will be a safe bet.
The bottom line is that you want to invest in a set that fits your artistic style, color mixing, and budget. Whether you are looking for artist grade or student level paints, the list above is the best paints available.
What is the best watercolor paint brand?
Winsor & Newton’s watercolor paints have been around from the beginning and still produce quality paints for professionals.
What watercolors do professionals use?
There are many different grade paints on the market and the brand’s professional artists use will be determined by their unique artistic style and preference but the common paints professionals use are Winsor & Newton, Holbein, and Schmincke Horadam
What is the best watercolor paint for beginners?
Newton Cotman is a perfect painting set for beginner and advanced artists.
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Best Watercolor Paint For Professional And Beginners
What is your favorite brand of watercolors and why? Let us know in the comment section.