Whether you’re looking for a way to express your artistic endeavors or want a gentle stress reliever, watercolor painting should be at the top of your list of new hobbies. Watercolors can be an intimidating medium to approach, but with the right tools, you’ll be creating your own masterpieces in no time.
Watercolor paint combines pigment and a water-soluble base to create a paint that gives an opaque finish. Artists (that’s you!) can control how vibrant or subdued the colors are by adding more or less water, with the paints and water blending together to create a different look and feel with each brushstroke. We included both watercolor tubes and pans on our list, with tubes allowing for more mixing of colors as well as a larger quantity of paint in a set. We also included pans because we like that they are slightly less messy and more portable.
When using the best watercolor paints, we recommended using paper that is absorbent and has a thick texture, like cold press paper, which is designed to soak up the paint. Paper that is white or cream is preferred by many artists who allow the paper to show through in instances where they want to include a white area in their painting.
If you’re new to watercolors, any brush will work, including brushes made from acrylic and natural hair, but since acrylic paint is harder on brushes than watercolors, it’s best to use separate brushes. Some of the options below even include good starter brushes.
Now that you’re ready to enter the wide world of watercolors, here are a few of the best watercolor paint sets.
1. Crafts 4 All Watercolors Painting Kit
Crafts 4 All produces a wide variety of paints and brushes at highly affordable prices. This watercolor set consists of 24 12ml tubes of paint. Three free paint brushes are included with the box of paints. There are a variety of vibrant blues, yellows, greens and reds, plus basic colors like black, white and brown. They’re easy to use and come in a nice package, making them a great gift for beginners or children.
Pros: Affordable variety of 24 tubes, colors blend easily. Three bonus paintbrushes are included.
Cons: Included brushes could be better quality. Paint has a strong odor.
Crafts 4 All Watercolors Painting Kit
2. Kuretake Gansai Tambi 36 Color Set
Kuretake’s traditional Japanese watercolor set includes 36 different colors, and they come in a pan-style tray. Each color is removable from the pan, making them easy to take out and keep close at hand if need be. The colors are very vibrant and blend easily for beautiful results, whether you’re a novice or experienced painter.
Pros: Vibrant, high-quality paints. Blend easily and dissolves quickly. Good variety of colors, including metallics like gold.
Cons: Somewhat expensive compared to similar products.
Kuretake Gansai Tambi 36 Color Set
3. Artist’s Loft 36 Color Watercolor Pan Set
This basic set from Artist’s Loft comes with 36 colors in an easy-to-use pan-style tray. The colors are made to blend and dissolve easily, making them a good option for beginners and experienced painters alike. The paints are highly affordable, and the set even comes with a bonus paintbrush. The pan has white, black, and various shades of brown, in addition to a mix of bright colors.
Pros: Affordable value, non-toxic paints, good mix of colors.
Cons: Paint consistency can be somewhat chalky.
Artist's Loft 36 Color Watercolor Pan Set
4. Sakura Assorted Watercolors Field Sketch Set with Brush
Not everyone associates watercolors with fine detailed work, but with the right paints and the right brush, you can easily do detailed work. Fortunately, this set includes quality paints and a sketching brush. The brush can be filled with water, making it easy to use without having to dip into a cup. Plus, with the tray’s built-in palette, this option is very easy to take on the go. There are 18 colors included in the tray, but you can choose higher or lower quantities from this listing.
Pros: Includes a fillable water brush, making it easy to take this set on the go. 18 colors are included.
Cons: Limited amounts of each color.