Watercolor Supplies and Materials Guide 2023

Watercolor painting is a beautiful and expressive art form that has been practiced for centuries. From the days of ancient China to the modern era, artists have been using watercolor paints to create stunning works of art. But to create those works, they need the right supplies and materials. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the world of watercolor supplies and materials and help you discover the best tools and techniques to make your next painting shine.

color palette

Watercolor Paints: Choosing the Right Colors and Brands

Watercolor paints are the heart of any watercolor painting. Without the right colors and brands, your painting may not turn out the way you intended. Here are some tips for choosing the right watercolor paints:

Colors: The Right Palette for Your Painting

Choosing the right colors for your watercolor painting is crucial. Some artists prefer to use a limited palette, while others like to have a wide range of colors at their disposal. Here are some tips for choosing the right palette:

  • Look for a palette that has a good range of colors, including warm and cool colors, and earth tones.
  • Consider buying individual tubes of paint rather than sets, so you can choose the specific colors you need.
  • Choose high-quality paints from reputable brands like Winsor & Newton, Daniel Smith, and Schmincke.

Brands: Which Ones are the Best?

There are many brands of watercolor paints on the market, but not all of them are created equal. Here are some of the best brands of watercolor paints:

  • Winsor & Newton: Known for their high-quality pigments and vibrant colors, Winsor & Newton is a top choice for many watercolor artists.
  • Daniel Smith: Daniel Smith offers a wide range of colors, including unique and unusual shades that are hard to find elsewhere.
  • Schmincke: Schmincke offers some of the most intense and vibrant watercolor paints on the market.

Watercolor Paper: Finding the Right Surface

Watercolor paper is specially designed for use with watercolor paints. It is thicker and more absorbent than regular paper, which allows the paint to sit on the surface rather than being absorbed. Here are some tips for finding the right watercolor paper:

Weight: Light or Heavy?

Watercolor paper comes in different weights, which refers to the thickness of the paper. Lighter weights are better for sketches and studies, while heavier weights are better for finished paintings. Here are some common weights and their recommended uses:

  • 90 lb: Good for practice sketches and studies.
  • 140 lb: The most common weight for watercolor paper, suitable for finished paintings and larger works.
  • 300 lb: The heaviest weight, suitable for very wet and large paintings.

Texture: Smooth or Rough?

Watercolor paper also comes in different textures, which refers to the surface of the paper. Rough paper has a bumpy texture that creates interesting effects when the paint is applied, while smooth paper has a flat surface that is better for detailed work. Here are some common textures and their recommended uses:

  • Rough: Good for creating texture and interest in landscapes and abstract paintings.
  • Cold-pressed: A medium texture that is suitable for most paintings.
  • Hot-pressed: A smooth texture that is better for detailed work and portraits.

Watercolor Brushes: Choosing the Right Size and Shape

Watercolor brushes come in many different sizes and shapes, each of which is suited for different techniques and styles of painting.

Size: Big or Small?

The size of your brush will affect the way your painting looks. Here are some general guidelines for choosing the right size:

  • Large brushes are good for washes and backgrounds.
  • Medium brushes are good for detail work and layering.
  • Small brushes are good for fine details and intricate work.

Shape: Round or Flat?

The shape of your brush will also affect the way your painting looks. Here are some common brush shapes and their recommended uses:

  • Round brushes are versatile and can be used for both detail work and washes.
  • Flat brushes are good for washes and creating sharp edges.
  • Filbert brushes have a rounded, flat shape that is good for blending and softening edges.

Watercolor Accessories: What You Need for Your Painting

In addition to watercolor paints, paper, and brushes, there are several accessories that can help you create beautiful watercolor paintings. Here are some must-have accessories for any watercolor artist:

Water Containers: Keeping Your Colors Clean

Water containers are essential for watercolor painting because they allow you to clean your brush and mix your colors. Here are some things to consider when choosing a water container:

  • Look for a container that is large enough to hold plenty of water.
  • Choose a container with a lid to prevent dust and debris from contaminating your water.
  • Consider buying multiple containers so you can keep your colors separate and avoid muddy mixes.

Masking Tape: Protecting Your Paper

Masking tape is a useful tool for watercolor painting because it allows you to create crisp edges and protect areas of your paper from the paint. Here are some tips for using masking tape:

  • Use a low-tack tape to avoid damaging your paper.
  • Apply the tape carefully to avoid tearing the paper.
  • Remove the tape as soon as possible to avoid leaving residue on the paper.

Spray Bottle: Adding Texture to Your Painting

A spray bottle is a fun tool for watercolor painting because it allows you to create interesting textures and patterns on your paper. Here are some tips for using a spray bottle:

  • Fill the bottle with water and mist the paper lightly before painting.
  • Spray the paper after you have applied the paint to create interesting textures and patterns.
  • Experiment with different amounts of water and different distances from the paper to create different effects.


Do I need to use special watercolor paints for watercolor painting?

Yes, watercolor paints are specially formulated to work with watercolor paper and to be transparent and easily blendable. Regular paints may not work well with watercolor techniques.

Can I use any paper for watercolor painting?

No, watercolor paper is specially designed to be thicker and more absorbent than regular paper, allowing the paint to sit on the surface rather than being absorbed. Regular paper may not hold up well to watercolor techniques.

How do I clean my watercolor brushes?

To clean your watercolor brushes, rinse them thoroughly in clean water and then gently reshape the bristles with your fingers. Do not use soap or harsh chemicals on your brushes, as this can damage them.