14 Best Watercolors for Beginners & Professional Artists 

Watercolor painting offers a unique blend of simplicity and creativity, appealing to artists at all levels.

For professionals, it’s a medium to express intricate emotions and thoughts.

Beginners, on the other hand, find joy in the evolving beauty of their artwork.

What makes watercolors particularly appealing is their portability.

They are ideal for those who enjoy outdoor sketching or quickly capturing ideas on paper.

This guide is crafted for enthusiasts eager to explore the world of watercolors, focusing on the best watercolors for beginners as well as options for seasoned artists.

Choosing the Right Watercolor Paint Sets: Key Considerations

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned artist, certain factors are crucial when selecting watercolor paint sets.

If you’re just starting, the best watercolors for beginners are those that balance quality with ease of use.

For professionals, sets offering a wider range of colors and superior pigment quality may be more suitable.

Here are essential aspects to consider:

  1. Pigment Quality: This affects the color richness and lightfastness of your paintings.
  2. Ease of Use: Especially important for beginners, look for user-friendly sets.
  3. Permanence: Consider the durability of the paint against light and moisture.
  4. Format: Watercolors come in tubes and pans; choose based on your convenience and project size.

Best Watercolor Sets for Beginners

1. Van Gogh Watercolor Paint Set

Van Gogh Watercolor Paint Set

Van Gogh Watercolor set is a student and artist-level range of watercolors featuring brilliant transparency and intense color with high tinting strength.

Most of the colors are rated with high lightfastness + + + (100 + years) while few others are slightly below at + + (25-100 years).

With their high purity and viscosity, these are easy to work with and are perfect for beginners.

It is free of heavy metals and mixes smoothly. These are produced in Holland with stringent quality control and are made for discerning leisure pleasure.

It can also be washed into subtle nuances, and when thinned with large quantities of water, the color remains vibrant and lightfast.

2. Sargent Art 12 Count Watercolor Set

Sargent Art 12 Count Watercolor Set

Sargent Art Watercolor Set is non-toxic and safe. It comes in a pack of 12 color tubes with 12 milliliters of each color.

It is excellent both for hobby artists and professionals alike. This premium tube watercolor set offers vibrant shades that blend beautifully.

The Colors included are White, Carmine, Lemon Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Vermillion, Burnt Sienna, Black, Ultramarine Blue, Prussian Blue, Chrome Yellow, Viridian, and Chrome Green.

They are easy to carry and perfect for your large projects as well.

3. Winsor And Newton Cotman Watercolor Paint Skechers

Winser And Newton Cotman Watercolor Paint Skechers

This range of watercolors possesses good transparency, excellent tinting strength, and good working properties.

The best thing about this is that it is pocket-sized, featuring a fantastic integral mixing palette in the lid.

The cost has also been lowered by replacing the expensive pigments with less expensive alternatives.

Winsor & Newton are among some popular brands selling the best quality watercolors.

4. Raphael Watercolor Travel Pan Set

Raphael Watercolor Travel Pan Set

Raphael Aquarelle Watercolor Travel Set makes it easy for artists to carry it around and paint anywhere, anytime.

Features a compact circular tin with ten half pans of student-grade colors and a 12-compartment mixing palette on the top lid with a small brush.

You can carry this set with you and paint it anywhere you want.

5. Kuretake Gansai Portable Watercolor Set

Kuretake Gansai Portable Watercolor Set

Kurtake Gansai’s Watercolor Set is made in Japan and consists of 14 creamy colors.

According to traditional Japanese style, each one is well crafted and displays more excellent opacity than any European and American watercolors.

The durable plastic case also contains an inner lid designed for mixing paints.

6. Sennelier La Petite Aquarelle 24 Half Pans

Sennelier La Petite Aquarelle 24 Half Pans

Sennelier Watercolors is known for its high-quality paints.

This student-range travel set makes the best companion for beginner artists who want to paint anywhere and everywhere.

It comes with 24 half pans, a mixing tray, and an elastic strap for field painting.

The colors are clear and bright with high transparency, meaning that it is easy to create a glazing effect.

7. Gencrafts Watercolor Palette with Bonus Paper Pad

Gencrafts Watercolor Palette with Bonus Paper Pad

GenCraft Watercolors are carefully crafted for ease of use and are suitable for all skill levels.

It is portable and easy to carry a set of watercolors that you can take with you anywhere and everywhere.

Reviews say that the product is no less than a professional set of watercolor paints. The paint colors are thick and vibrant.

“I got hooked into this set of paint,” said one of the customers.

8. Artibox Watercolor Paint Set

Artibox Watercolor Paint Set

This professional set of watercolors meets the requirements of artists and art students alike.

The colors are bright, rich, transparent, soluble, easy to color, easy to blend, fade-resistant, and create unlimited colors.

The set includes 48 assorted vibrant colors in half pans, a professional painting brush, and 12 watercolor painting sheets. The block of colors is refillable, so you can fill it by yourself once the color block is used up.

9. Mijello Mission Gold Watercolor Set

Mijello Mission Gold Watercolor Set

This innovative formula by Mijello Mission Gold Class is free of thickening agents.

Created from the finest pigments available, it has excellent lightfastness and creates a granular effect on paper.

They are naturally viscous and unsurpassed for their clarity and luminosity.

It comes in 34 colors, each of which is incredibly vibrant and matured in traditional Korean pots until they achieve maximum brilliance.

10. U.S. Art Supply Professional 24-Color Set of Watercolor Paint

U.S. Art Supply Professional 24 Color Set of Watercolor Paint

This professional Set of 36 Colors of Gouache Paints comes in large 18ml Tubes.

The colors are eye-catching, vibrant, and ideal for use by professional artists and young aspiring artists.

Made with premium quality artist pigments, these high-intensity color paints have smooth consistency allowing the color to be easily dissolved in water for easy color mixing and blending.

11. Sakura Xncw- 18n Watercolor Field Sketch Set

Sakura Xncw- 18n Watercolor Field Sketch Set

This portable watercolor set is perfect for bringing along whether you are traveling to the countryside, relaxing at the beach, or walking down the urban landscapes.

This set of 18 assorted half-pan watercolors is formulated to blend easily and create an endless range of colors.

It also comes with a refillable koi water brush to transport and store water.

Its small, sleek design allows it to fit into shirts or jacket pockets, perfect for painting on the go.

The set includes 18 half-pan watercolors, a refillable paintbrush, a sponge, a built-in palette, and a plastic case.

12. Daco Watercolor Paint Set

Daco Watercolor Paint Set

This watercolor set is perfect to start right away.

It includes 48 assorted solid watercolor paints, a round watercolor paintbrush, and a refillable waterbrush.

Its high pigment load, fast drying time, and durable consistency ensure excellent color performance.

It is also very lightweight and handy. The colors in this paint set are inter-mixable, as they dissolve and blend easily.

It is also attached with a detachable, easy-to-open/close mixing tray for your watercolor kit.

13. Daniel Smith Essential Mixing Set Watercolor Paint

Daniel Smith Essential Mixing Set Watercolor Paint

Daniel Smith is known for manufacturing innovative, beautiful colors for artists worldwide.

They produce the most extensive range of watercolors. This Daniel Smith essential watercolor set has six 5ml watercolor tubes.

This gives the artist an easy way to experience the excitement of painting with Daniel Smith watercolors.

14. Van Gogh Sulu Boya Seti 12+3 X Tablet

Van Gogh Sulu Boya Seti 12+3 X Tablet

Van Gogh watercolors are rated as a student and artist-level paint range.

Featuring brilliant, transparent, and intense colors with high tinting strength, most colors are rated with the highest degree of lightfastness.

They have a level of purity and viscosity, making them easy to work with and easy to blend and mix.

Guide to Picking the Best Watercolor Sets

1. Colors

Vibrancy of Colors: Single colors often offer more vibrancy compared to mixes. As a beginner, you might enjoy the purity of these tones, but remember, mixing colors is also a key skill in watercolor painting.

Pigment Quality and Price: The cost of watercolor sets often correlates with the quality of pigments used. Natural pigments, derived from raw materials, tend to be more expensive but offer richer colors. On the other hand, watercolors designed for students or children often use synthetic substitutes, making them more affordable.

Personal Preference: Whether you prefer using single colors or enjoy the process of mixing, it’s all about what suits your style best. As you progress, you’ll develop a preference for either approach.

2. Quality

Watercolors come in two primary grades: student and professional.

Student-grade sets are more budget-friendly, containing fewer colors and less pigment due to synthetic fillers.

Professional sets, while more costly, offer a wider color range and richer pigments from natural sources.

For beginners, student-grade watercolors are a practical choice to start experimenting without a high investment.

3. Transparency

Watercolors are known for their transparent quality, which allows for the creation of layered effects.

When selecting paints, check if they are labeled as transparent or opaque, depending on the effect you desire.

4. Permanence

In simple words, permanence is the durability of paints when exposed to light and humidity.

The permanence of watercolor paints depends highly on the quality of pigments and how much fillers (if any) are used in the paints to cut down the cost.

Rating scales like ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) can be used to check watercolors’ lightfastness or permanence.

Most brands have this information on their websites for visitors to check them before buying.

5. Staining

Watercolors vary in their ability to stain paper.

Some penetrate the paper, creating a more permanent mark, while others sit on the surface, allowing for easier correction and blending.

Experimenting with different brands on paper can help you understand their staining qualities.

For beginners, this is an essential factor in learning how to layer colors effectively without creating muddy effects.

6. Tubes or Pans

Pans: These contain solid cakes of paint and are activated with a wet brush. Their main advantages are portability and longevity, making them ideal for smaller projects or painting outdoors. For beginners, pans can be a great way to start due to their ease of use and storage.

Tubes: These are filled with liquid paint and are better suited for mixing colors or undertaking larger projects. While less portable than pans, tubes offer the advantage of extracting larger quantities of paint, which might be preferable for expansive works. Beginners should be cautious not to let the paint dry out, as some tube paints may not reactivate well.


Embarking on your watercolor journey is an exciting endeavor, filled with endless possibilities for creative expression.

Whether you’re a beginner just dipping your brush into the world of watercolors or a seasoned artist looking to expand your palette, the right set of paints can make all the difference.

Remember, the best watercolors for beginners are those that balance quality, ease of use, and affordability.

Consider the pigment quality, transparency, permanence, and whether tubes or pans suit your style and project needs.

Don’t forget to explore the staining properties and experiment with different brands to find your perfect match.

So, grab your set and let your creativity flow onto the canvas of possibilities!

Eric Lee

A graduate of the Pratt Institute with a BFA in Painting, Eric Lee has spent the last 18 years exploring the intersection of traditional and digital art forms. Eric joined our platform in 2021 and contributed significantly to our art-related content with his innovative approaches and insights. His expertise in various painting techniques has been a valuable addition to our content. He is deeply involved in community art projects and enjoys mentoring young artists in his free time.

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