best watercolor paints

5 Best Watercolor Paints for All Levels (2024)

Ever found yourself standing in an art store, staring blankly at the overwhelming sea of watercolor paint options, and thinking, “Which one of these is the holy grail of pigments?”

Well, fret not, my fellow art enthusiasts! Today, we’re diving deep into the colorful world of watercolors, where vibrancy meets versatility. Whether you’re a seasoned painter or just starting, we’ve got the inside scoop on the top 5 watercolor paints you can snag right now.

By the end of this, you’ll be armed with enough knowledge to make an informed decision and perhaps, find your new favorite set of hues.

What Are The Best Watercolor Paints?

To help you make an informed decision, we’ve compiled a handy table that lays out the key features, ideal user base, and pricing of the aforementioned watercolor paint sets.

This should give you a quick and comprehensive look at what each set has to offer, ensuring you pick the one that best suits your artistic endeavors.

Brand and ModelKey FeaturesBest For:Pricing
Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colour Paint Sketchers’ Pocket BoxPortable, wide color range, good transparency, easy to mix, affordableBeginners and intermediate artists, on-the-go painting$$
Daniel Smith Extra Fine WatercolorsHighly pigmented, extensive color range, excellent permanence, single-pigment optionsProfessional artists, serious hobbyists, color mixing enthusiasts$$$$
Prang Watercolor Paint SetAffordable, non-toxic, easy to use, good color selectionBeginners, students, classrooms, budget-conscious artists$
M. Graham Watercolor Paint Basic 5-Color SetArtist-grade, high pigment load, honey-based, long-lasting, vibrant colorsProfessional artists, those seeking intense and vibrant colors$$$
Sennelier La Petite Aquarelle Travel Watercolor SetCompact design, good color intensity, easy to blend, lightweightTraveling artists, those new to watercolor, field sketching$$
best watercolor paints

Please note that the pricing indicated is relative and may vary depending on the seller, current promotions, and package size. The key features mentioned aim to highlight the unique aspects of each set, providing a quick glance at what you can expect.

  • “$” indicates a more budget-friendly option.
  • “$$$” indicates a mid-range option.
  • “$$$$” reflects a higher price point, usually indicative of professional-grade quality.

This table is meant to serve as a starting point, guiding you towards the sets that align with your artistic needs and budget. Remember, the best watercolor set is the one that fits your personal style and helps bring your artistic vision to life. Happy painting!

1. Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colour Paint Sketchers’ Pocket Box

When we talk about watercolor paints that strike the perfect balance between affordability and quality, Winsor & Newton’s Cotman range is a name that surfaces time and again. The Sketchers’ Pocket Box is a compact, versatile set that caters to artists of all levels.

Packed with a curated selection of colors and housed in a durable case, it’s designed to accompany you on all your artistic adventures, wherever they may lead.

best watercolor paints
best watercolor paints

Key Features:

  1. Compact Design: Its small size and lightweight nature make it an excellent companion for artists on the go, ensuring that you have access to your watercolors whether you’re in the studio or out in the field.
  2. 12 Assorted Colors: The set includes a wide array of colors, providing a good starting palette for artists looking to explore different hues and techniques.
  3. High-Quality Pigments: The Sketchers’ Pocket Box doesn’t compromise on pigment quality, ensuring that your artwork stands out with bright and lasting colors.
  4. Mixing Palette in the Lid: The convenient design includes a mixing palette built into the lid, making it easier to blend shades and experiment with new color combinations.


  1. Affordable: This set offers great value for money, making it accessible for artists on a budget.
  2. Trusted Brand: With Winsor & Newton’s reputation for quality, you can trust that you’re investing in a product that will deliver.
  3. Portable: The compact design and lightweight nature of the Sketchers’ Pocket Box make it perfect for plein air painting and artists who are constantly on the move.


  1. Less Pigment Than Professional-Grade Paints: While it offers great value, the pigments may not be as vibrant as those found in professional-grade paints.
  2. Small Pans: The pans are relatively small, and frequent use may lead to them running out quickly.


The Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colour Paint Sketchers’ Pocket Box is a stellar choice for beginners looking to dip their toes into the world of watercolors, as well as for hobbyists who need a reliable set for their creative exploits.

Its affordability and portable design make it a go-to option for students and artists who are just starting out, ensuring that you can experiment and hone your skills without breaking the bank.

Whether you’re painting landscapes in the great outdoors or practicing your strokes in the studio, this set is sure to serve you well. So, grab your brushes and let the colors flow!

2. Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors

In the realm of high-end, professional-grade watercolors, Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors hold a special place. Known for their exceptional quality, vibrant hues, and unparalleled range of colors, these paints are a dream come true for artists looking to take their work to the next level.

Let’s dive into the intricacies of what makes these paints a must-have for serious painters and enthusiasts alike.

best watercolor paints
best watercolor paints

Key Features:

  1. Extensive Color Range: With over 250 colors to choose from, artists are spoiled for choice, ensuring you find the exact shade you need.
  2. Highly Pigmented: The intense pigmentation of these paints translates to vibrant, rich colors that make your artwork pop.
  3. Granulating Colors: Unique textures and effects are at your fingertips with the granulating colors in this range, perfect for adding dimension to your paintings.
  4. Excellent Lightfastness: Daniel Smith ensures that your art stands the test of time with colors that remain true and vibrant, even years after application.


  1. Professional Quality: These paints are a favorite among professionals, delivering consistent, reliable results every time.
  2. Unique Colors: Daniel Smith offers a variety of shades that you won’t find in other brands, expanding your creative possibilities.
  3. Mixes Well: The paints blend seamlessly, allowing artists to create a spectrum of hues and shades with ease.


  1. Pricier: The high quality comes with a higher price tag, making this range an investment.
  2. Can Be Overwhelming: The extensive range of colors might be daunting for beginners, requiring some time to navigate.


Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors are a top-tier choice for professional artists and those who are serious about their craft. The unparalleled range of colors and the intensity of the pigments provide a level of versatility and vibrancy that is hard to match.

While the price point is higher, the investment is well worth it for those looking to achieve exceptional results in their artwork.

Beginners with a keen interest in exploring the depths of watercolor painting will also find these paints to be a valuable addition to their arsenal, provided they are willing to invest the time in learning the nuances of such an extensive color range.

Elevate your art to extraordinary heights with Daniel Smith, and watch as your paintings come to life like never before.

3. Prang Watercolor Paint Set

For those diving into the vibrant world of watercolors without wanting to empty their pockets, the Prang Watercolor Paint Set emerges as a beacon of hope.

Often celebrated as the darling of art classrooms and beginner workshops, Prang offers a delightful entry into the art without compromising too much on quality. Let’s unwrap the colors of Prang and discover why it remains a staple for budding artists.

best watercolor paints
best watercolor paints

Key Features:

  1. Beginner-Friendly: Designed with new artists in mind, this set offers a manageable range of colors to start with.
  2. Semi-Moist Formula: The semi-moist consistency ensures the colors are easy to pick up and apply.
  3. Brush Included: The set comes with a paintbrush, so you have everything you need to get started.
  4. Durable Case: A sturdy case keeps your paints safe and makes it convenient to carry around.


  1. Budget-Friendly: It’s one of the most affordable sets out there, making art accessible to all.
  2. Consistent Quality: Despite the lower price tag, Prang doesn’t skimp on quality, offering decent pigmentation for its cost.
  3. Widely Available: Prang is a trusted name in schools and workshops, making it easy to find replacements or additional sets.


  1. Not For Professional Work: While great for practice, the set isn’t ideal for creating professional-grade artwork.
  2. Limited Color Range: The set typically offers fewer colors compared to professional kits, which might restrict some color blending options.


The Prang Watercolor Paint Set is the ideal stepping stone for those just beginning their artistic journey. It offers a user-friendly experience, ensuring that newcomers aren’t overwhelmed but are equipped enough to start experimenting.

While seasoned artists might look elsewhere for advanced features and richer pigments, Prang is undeniably a fantastic starting point for kids, students, or hobbyists.

If you’re taking your first steps into watercolor painting or looking for a low-cost option to practice techniques, Prang has got your back. Dive into the colorful world of art without burning a hole in your pocket!

4. M. Graham Watercolor Paint Basic 5-Color Set

M. Graham stands out in the crowded world of watercolor paints with its exquisite range, quality, and a unique formula that has artists everywhere singing its praises. The Basic 5-Color Set is no exception, providing a versatile palette that can be the cornerstone of any artist’s collection.

It’s like the Swiss Army knife of watercolor sets – small, but packed with everything you need to create a masterpiece.

best watercolor paints
best watercolor paints

Key Features:

  1. Artist Grade Quality: The paints are crafted to meet the high standards of professional artists, ensuring vivid colors and excellent longevity.
  2. Honey-Based Formula: M. Graham uses a unique honey-based formula, which enhances the brilliance of the colors and offers smooth application.
  3. Highly Pigmented: A little goes a long way with these paints, thanks to their strong pigmentation.
  4. Intermixable Colors: The set provides a strong foundation, allowing artists to mix and create a wide spectrum of shades.


  1. Vibrant and Rich Colors: The paints provide vibrant, rich colors that bring your artwork to life.
  2. Long-lasting: Thanks to the honey-based formula, these paints remain moist and usable for longer periods, even if left on the palette.
  3. Sustainable Packaging: M. Graham is committed to eco-friendly practices, reflected in their use of recyclable materials for packaging.


  1. Pricier Than Student-Grade Options: While offering superb quality, this set comes at a higher price point than student-grade paints.
  2. May Be Too Intense for Beginners: The strong pigmentation might be overwhelming for new artists still learning to control their color mixes.


For the serious artist looking to invest in a top-notch set of watercolors, the M. Graham Watercolor Paint Basic 5-Color Set is a stellar choice. It’s perfect for those who appreciate the brilliance and longevity that come with artist-grade paints.

Whether you’re creating landscapes, portraits, or abstract pieces, these paints offer the versatility and quality you need to express your vision.

While beginners might find the intensity of the pigments a bit challenging, the learning curve is well worth it for the results you can achieve. Make the leap, embrace the vibrant world of M. Graham, and watch as your artistic potential unfolds on paper!

5. Sennelier La Petite Aquarelle Travel Watercolor Set

When it comes to marrying the practicality of portability with the delicate art of watercolor, Sennelier’s La Petite Aquarelle Travel Watercolor Set emerges as a fantastic option. This set is a nod to artists on-the-go, offering a range of vibrant colors packed in a compact, travel-friendly kit.

Whether you’re painting en plein air or capturing moments while on vacation, this set is designed to be your trusty companion.

best watercolor paints
best watercolor paints

Key Features:

  1. Compact and Portable: The set is designed for artists on the move, fitting comfortably in your bag.
  2. Quality Pigments: Sennelier doesn’t compromise on pigment quality, ensuring vibrant, transparent colors.
  3. Durable, Lightweight Case: The plastic case protects your paints while keeping the overall weight down.
  4. Wide Range of Colors: Despite its small size, the set offers a broad spectrum of colors.


  1. Travel-Friendly: Perfect for artists who love to paint outdoors or while traveling.
  2. Affordable Quality: Sennelier provides a balance between quality and affordability.
  3. Easy to Use: The set is user-friendly, suitable for both beginners and more experienced artists.


  1. Smaller Pans: The compact size means smaller pans, which might require more frequent refilling or replacement.
  2. Limited Mixing Space: The case provides limited space for mixing colors, which could be a constraint for some artists.


The Sennelier La Petite Aquarelle Travel Watercolor Set is a gem for artists seeking quality and portability at an affordable price. It is an excellent choice for students, hobbyists, and professionals who want a reliable set for painting outdoors or while traveling.

The range of colors and the durability of the set ensure you have the freedom to create whenever inspiration strikes, without being weighed down.

While the compact size has its limitations, the convenience it offers makes it a worthwhile trade-off. Unleash your creativity wherever you go with this travel-friendly set from Sennelier!


Thanks for checking out this article on watercolor paints, a medium celebrated for its versatility, vibrancy, and the unique touch it brings to artworks.

Whether you’re a budding artist taking your first steps into the colorful world of painting, or a seasoned professional seeking to expand your arsenal, the variety of watercolor paints available can cater to every need and preference.

In this guide, we’ve delved into some of the top choices available on Amazon, highlighting their features, pros, cons, and providing recommendations to help you make an informed decision.

From the affordable and beginner-friendly Prang Watercolor Paint Set to the professional-grade brilliance of Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors, we’ve covered a spectrum of options that promise to enhance your artistic journey.

Winsor & Newton’s Cotman range stands out for its balance between quality and affordability, making it a great choice for artists at various skill levels.

For those on the move, the Sennelier La Petite Aquarelle Travel Watercolor Set offers portability without compromising on quality. And if you’re looking for rich, vibrant colors with a unique formula, M. Graham’s Basic 5-Color Set is the way to go.

In selecting your perfect set, consider your skill level, budget, and artistic needs. Remember, the right watercolor paint can significantly influence your painting experience and the final outcome of your artwork.

Invest time in researching and choosing the set that aligns with your artistic vision, and you’re sure to find a companion that brings your creations to life in the most vibrant way possible. Happy painting, and may your artistic journey be as colorful and rewarding as the watercolors you choose!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is high quality watercolor paint?

High quality watercolor paint is characterized by its excellent pigmentation, longevity, and ability to offer vibrant and intense colors. Artist quality paints often contain more pigment and less fillers, providing a richer color payoff and allowing for a wide range of artistic expression.

These paints typically use single pigment colors, which results in cleaner, brighter mixes. The binders, such as gum arabic, used in high-quality watercolors also contribute to their superior performance.

What watercolors should I buy?

The type of watercolors you should buy depends on your skill level, budget, and artistic needs. If you’re a beginner or on a budget, student grade paints can be an excellent choice, providing a good balance between quality and affordability.

For more experienced artists or those looking for the best quality, investing in professional artist grade paints from reputable watercolor brands is advisable. Look for sets that offer a wide range of colors, or create your own set by purchasing individual pans or tubes based on your preferences.

Is Van Gogh a good watercolor brand?

Yes, Van Gogh is considered a good watercolor brand that offers products with a nice balance between quality and affordability.

It provides a wide range of colors and is known for its consistent performance, making it a popular choice among both students and professional artists. The brand offers both pans and tubes, allowing artists to choose based on their personal preference.

Is Winsor and Newton better than Daler Rowney?

Winsor and Newton is often considered to have a higher reputation, especially their artist range, compared to Daler Rowney.

The Winsor & Newton Cotman set, for instance, is highly regarded among artists for its quality and affordability. However, Daler Rowney also offers quality art supplies, and the choice between the two ultimately depends on personal preference and specific needs.

How long do watercolor paints last?

High-quality watercolor paints can last a long time if stored properly, away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures.

Artist grade paints, due to their higher pigment concentration, tend to last longer as a little bit goes a long way. Even student grade paints can have a decent shelf life if they are of good quality.

What is the difference between half pan and full pan watercolors?

The main difference between half pan and full pan watercolors is the amount of paint they contain. Half pans are smaller and contain less paint, making them more compact and portable, which is great for artists on the go.

Full pans contain more paint, offering better value in the long run, especially for artists who use a lot of paint. The choice between the two depends on your personal needs and how you plan to use them.

How do I choose a watercolor palette?

Choosing a watercolor palette depends on your individual needs and preferences. Consider factors such as the number of colors you want, the types of pigments you prefer (transparent or opaque), and your budget.

Some artists prefer creating their own palettes by purchasing individual pans or tubes and arranging them in a metal tin or plastic containers, while others might opt for pre-made sets from reputable brands. The most important thing is to choose a palette that inspires you and suits your artistic style.

What are some essential colors for a watercolor set?

Essential colors for a watercolor set typically include a warm and a cool version of each primary color, along with a few earth tones and optional specialty colors.

A basic set might include lemon yellow (cool yellow), warm yellow (such as yellow ochre), a cool red (such as alizarin crimson), a warm red (such as cadmium red), a cool blue (such as phthalo blue or Prussian blue), and a warm blue (such as ultramarine).

Adding in a few earth tones like burnt sienna and raw umber, along with a dark color like Payne’s grey, can help round out your palette.

What are the benefits of using watercolor tubes compared to pans?

Watercolor tubes offer several benefits compared to pans. They typically contain fresher paint, which can result in brighter, more vibrant colors. Tubes also make it easier to mix large quantities of paint, which is great for larger paintings or washes.

However, pans are more portable and can be more convenient for artists who paint on the go. Ultimately, the choice between tubes and pans comes down to personal preference and how you plan to use the paint.

Can I mix different brands of watercolor paints?

Yes, you can mix different brands of watercolor paints together. Watercolor paints are generally compatible across different brands, allowing you to take advantage of the unique characteristics of each.

However, it’s a good idea to do a little bit of testing first, as different brands and even different colors within the same brand can behave differently when mixed.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *