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The Best Watercolor Paint

Last updated on November 12, 2019

We looked at the top 10 Watercolor Paint and dug through the reviews from 22 of the most popular review sites including How To Create Art, No Place Called Home, Musings From The Den, Art Station, Wiki EZ Vid, Sea Salt and Pepper and more. The result is a ranking of the best Watercolor Paint.

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DWYM is focused on helping you make the best purchasing decision. Our team of experts spends hundreds of hours analyzing, testing, and researching products so you don't have to.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in a category.

Our Picks For The Top Watercolor Paint

Show Contents
Our Take
Experts Included
Pros
Cons
  The Best Overall
  The Best Value

Arteza

Classic Watercolor Paint With Brush Pen, 36 ct

Overall Take

Best Pan Paint SetThe Arteza Classic Watercolor Paint With Brush Pen, 36 ct is a great value with an included brush pen and robust color selection.

Experts Included
DWYM Crafts Experts plus The Frugal Crafter. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" Wide range of vibrant colors and no white"

Arteza

Watercolor Paint, 60 ct

Overall Take

Artist-Level Tube PaintThe Arteza Watercolor Paint, 60 ct boasts high pigmentation for rich and vibrant colors.

Experts Included
DWYM Crafts Experts plus Easy Get Product, Robin Mead Designs. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" This is a set of highly pigmented colors which will definitely stand out on the canvas or the watercolor paper."
Cons
"The only cons about these watercolors is that the label on the tube does not accurately show the beautiful and actual color of paint."

kedudes

Watercolor Artist Set, 36 ct

Overall Take

Lightweight And PortableThe kedudes Watercolor Artist Set, 36 ct, is a full set of brushes and paints for an all-in-one package.

Experts Included
DWYM Crafts Experts plus . Along with user reviews from Amazon and Walmart.

Crafts 4 All

Watercolor Paint Set, 24 ct

Overall Take

Student-Level Tube PaintThe Crafts 4 All Watercolor Paint Set, 24 ct is a great paint set for students looking to grow their watercolor skills without steep costs.

Experts Included
DWYM Crafts Experts plus Sea Salt and Pepper, Easy Get Product, Geek Wrapped, Get Life You Desire. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" It is also one of the best professional watercolor paints because they are made from top quality pigments, resulting in a painting that is lightfast and permanent."
Cons
"The paint has a poor consistency"
Don't just take for granted what one reviewer says. Along with our own experts, DWYM analyzes the top expert reviews of the leading products and generates a score you can actually trust.
17

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the watercolor paint available to purchase.
10

Products Analyzed

We then selected the leading and most popular products for our team to review.

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22

Expert Reviews Included

In addition to our expert reviews, we also incorporate feedback and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: How To Create Art, No Place Called Home, Musings From The Den, Art Station, Wiki EZ Vid.

14,016

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including Amazon, Walmart, Blick.

Our experts reviewed the top 10 Watercolor Paint and also dug through the reviews from 22 of the most popular review sites including How To Create Art, No Place Called Home, Musings From The Den, Art Station, Wiki EZ Vid, Sea Salt and Pepper and more. The result is a ranking of the best of the best Watercolor Paint.

DWYM is your trusted roduct review source. Our team reviews thousands of product reviews from the trusted top experts and combines them into one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in their category.

The Best Overall

Arteza Classic Watercolor Paint With Brush Pen, 36 ct

Our Expert Score
10.0
1 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.4
262 user reviews
Our Take

The Arteza Classic Watercolor Paint With Brush Pen, 36 ct is a great value with the number of colors it offers and the inclusion of a brush pen. The cake-style paint activates when introduced to water. It will spread easily on your canvas while still showing a great amount of color.

What other experts liked
Wide range of vibrant colors and no white
- The Frugal Crafter
What other experts didn't like
The colors had a tendency to stain so lifting could be difficult (but good for glazing)
- The Frugal Crafter

Overall Product Rankings

1. Arteza Classic Watercolor Paint With Brush Pen, 36 ct

Overall Score: 9.8
Reviews Included: 4

2. Arteza Watercolor Paint, 60 ct

Overall Score: 9.8
Reviews Included: 4

3. kedudes Watercolor Artist Set, 36 ct

Overall Score: 9.6
Reviews Included: 2

4. Crafts 4 All Watercolor Paint Set, 24 ct

Overall Score: 9.4
Reviews Included: 6

5. Kuretake Gansai Tambi Color Set, 36 ct

Overall Score: 9.4
Reviews Included: 9

6. Jerry Q Art Travel Pocket Water Color Set, 24 ct

Overall Score: 9.2
Reviews Included: 4

7. U.S. Art Supply Watercolor Artist Paint Set, 36 ct

Overall Score: 9.2
Reviews Included: 3

9. Colore Watercolor Painting Kit, 24 ct

Overall Score: 8.0
Reviews Included: 2

10. Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colour Paint, 14 ct

Overall Score: 7.1
Reviews Included: 8

Our Findings

Arteza Classic Watercolor Paint With Brush Pen, 36 ct

Best Bang for Your Buck

ARTEZA Classic Watercolor Paint, Set of 36 Vibrant Color Cakes, Includes 1 Water Brush Pen (Misc.)


List Price: $12.99 USD
New From: $12.99 USD In Stock
Used from: $12.99 USD In Stock

What We Liked: The Arteza Classic Watercolor Paint With Brush Pen, 36 ct is a great value with the number of colors it offers and the inclusion of a brush pen. The cake-style paint activates when introduced to water. It will spread easily on your canvas while still showing a great amount of color.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Arteza Watercolor Paint, 60 ct

What We Liked: The Arteza Watercolor Paint, 60 ct is a high-quality set of tube paint that offers a wide variety of colors. Each of the hues come with high pigmentation and lightfastness. This set of paint is vibrant and rich.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Kuretake Gansai Tambi Color Set, 36 ct

Honorable Mention

Kuretake MC2036V Gansai Tambi 36 Color Set (Office Product)


List Price: $32.99 USD
New From: $32.99 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

What We Liked: This set includes traditional Japanese watercolors, intended for both professionals and amateurs alike. The rich and varied colors in this set will help your illustrations come to life. There are 36 colors in total.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

kedudes Watercolor Artist Set, 36 ct

What We Liked: For a complete set of brushes and watercolor paints, the kedudes Watercolor Artist Set, 36 ct really delivers an all-in-one package to an aspiring artist. The tray is portable and makes it easy to paint outdoors. Meanwhile, the various brush sizes offer the proper tools you need to create your painting.

Crafts 4 All Watercolor Paint Set, 24 ct

What We Liked: The Crafts 4 All Watercolor Paint Set, 24 ct is a great entry-level set for an art student. The colors have the right pigmentation for art students who are looking to get into watercolor painting without the cost of the higher level paints. The inclusion of a few brushes also adds to the value.

Our Expert Consultant

Amy Markham   
Artist and art educator

Artist and educator Amy Markham is the creator of Starling, a podcast dedicated to helping artists develop depth in their creative practice. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, Amy has been an art educator since 2001. Today, she teaches middle school art at a school outside of Memphis, Tennessee. Her personal artwork explores myth-making and symbolic understandings. Through her brand, Starling Creative Living, she leads others to explore art production as a method for enriching their life experience.

Our Watercolor Paint Buying Guide

Painting with watercolors is an artistic endeavor commonly experienced by novice painters or children, due to the non-toxic nature of the paint, ease of cleanup and affordable cost. But the elementary idea of watercolor painting doesn’t accurately depict what these paints can do in the hands of artists who use more highly pigmented watercolor paints.

“All watercolor paint is non-toxic and easy to clean up, which makes it a great choice for a beginning painter,” says our resident arts and crafts expert Amy Markham, an artist and middle school art teacher. “Yet, it has so many possibilities that any artist can develop a lifelong love affair with the medium.”

She went on to add, “You can create with watercolor pencils, sticks, pan blocks and paint from the tube. The most common versions are the pans of watercolor paints that are awakened when touched with water or watercolors from the tube.”

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Products that use hardened cakes of paint in a plastic tray or pan are still a great way for more experienced artists to take highly pigmented colors of paints with them when they wish to paint outdoors or on small canvases. A product like kedudes Watercolor Artist Set, 36 ct might look similar to the cheaper versions that elementary students use, but these paints are packed with much higher pigmentation. This allows the paint to show up on your canvas with richer colors that don’t look watered down.

Tube paints are also a very common watercolor paint style. In this case, the paint is stored as a liquid in a small tube.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

“Tube paints are better for larger works and more for artists who work in a studio-like setting,” says Markham. “Rewetting tube paint is different than pan paints that are made for that. Using tube paints that have dried on the palette is possible, but it is hard on your brush and will often give you a duller version of the color.”

Markham recommends sticking to pan sets if you’re a novice.

“If you are a beginner, I would suggest a pan set because it is more economical and will give you a chance to experiment,” she said. “And, you can use them together. You can mix pan paints and tube paints as you build your practice with these materials.”

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

A good example of a set of tube paints is the Crafts 4 All Watercolor Paint Set, 24 ct, which offers a good range of colors that come with a medium level of pigmentation. Markham, the creator of Starling, a podcast dedicated to helping artists develop depth in their creative practice, broke down the difference between the levels of pigmentation.

“The highest quality will be considered an artist-level and the next step down would be a student-level. But not like the Crayola paints from your school days. When you see student-level, think more of an art-school student level,” she said. “They are meant for someone who is learning to use the medium and getting the best out of it at a lower, entry-level price while they explore the properties of the paint.”

The student-level tier level of paint is where most people will find the best value for their needs. A typical painter who is trying to express their artistic side through a relaxing practice will want to begin working with a set of watercolor paints, like the Arteza Classic Watercolor Paint With Brush Pen, 36 ct. It provides a high-quality student-level paint set at a great value. The set includes useful brushes as an added bonus, but the paints themselves are easy to work with and will show up on paper with the hue and vibrancy you need to really achieve the color that you hope to.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

The biggest difference when stepping up to the artist-level paints boils down to a couple of factors: pigmentation in the paint and the ability to last the test of time after being painted, meaning it will still look good as a piece of art long after it is finished.

“The better quality versions have a higher concentration of pigment and would be considered artist-level. An artist-level watercolor will have a higher intensity of color, which gives it the ability to create a better range of value in washes. It also is more archival and often has a better lightfastness rating,” Markham said. “Lightfastness refers to how the paint responds with exposure to light and humidity. On tubes of watercolors, many artist level paints will have a rating on the side for lightfastness and you want a very good or excellent rating here if you are investing in artist level paints.”

Lightfastness ratings are a great way to narrow down which paints will be the higher level for artists, as the paints with higher lightfastness will also generally have richer pigments that an artist would find ideal to use in their work. A set of tube paint like Arteza Watercolor Paint, 60 ct, comes at a slightly higher price point than some of the other common watercolor paints, due to its lightfastness rating.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

As Markham points out, finding truly rich pigmentation in paints is not always easy and not usually cheap for the companies making the products.

“Many student-level watercolors will be synthetics. Some of the true pigments are more expensive because they are harder to find, rare or even scarce,” she says. “So many companies will use a synthetic pigment to keep costs low. This is a great alternative, but know that it means the color may not be as vibrant as a true pigment and it may mix a little differently as well.”

DWYM Fun Fact

Before the era in which commercial watercolor paints became available in the mid-18th century, painters had to create their own pigments at an apothecary. They would then take them to a “colorman,” who would bind them with some product like gum arabic. This created a small block of pigmented resin that required laborious rubbing to produce any level of usable paint.

The Watercolor Paint Tips and Advice

  • Creating art through the use of watercolor paints is fun, challenging, easy to try and highly rewarding in many ways. “Many people find the fluidity and transparency of watercolor to be challenging,” says Markham, “But that is also what makes it such a versatile and amazing medium for expression. It asks us to loosen up, be free and allow the flow in our process.”
  • If you’re only just starting out, make sure you’re using the appropriate materials. “As you are beginning to explore watercolor painting my suggestion would be to start with student-level products and then once you have a feel for the process move into artist-level,” Markham suggests. “You can mix these products without fear. And as you build your paint collection you may find you like one color from one company and another color better from a different brand. So it is all about personal experimentation.”
  • As you do inevitably begin building your paint collection, it can help to keep notes or a journal on particular products that you really enjoyed or didn’t like as well. It’s much easier to remember these things when you have them written down, as you might find yourself looking back after a while and forgetting how each color made you feel.
  • Another handy tip from Markham: Rewetting tube paint is not the same as rewetting pan paints. The tube paints begin as a liquid and, when rewetted, are going to show up duller than when they were fresh out of the tube. Rewetting is also not very friendly to your brush. Keep this in mind so you can avoid the frustration of finding this out firsthand.
  • Watercolor painting is an easy way to get started in the world of art for anyone at any level of skill.  “The most important part of learning any medium or developing any creative practice is just to get started,” says Markham. “So, get some paints and see what happens. And, as always enjoy your process.”