Watercolors In Pans, Tubes & Liquid, All compared

Watercolor painting is a beloved art form that allows for a wide range of techniques and styles. One key decision when starting a watercolor painting is choosing the type of color to use. In this article you’ll understand why the popular Watercolor pans compared to paint tubes and liquid color.

assorted-color makeup palette set

There are three main types of watercolor color:

  • pans
  • tubes
  • liquid paints

Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, and personal preference and experience with watercolors determine their use.

Watercolor pans

watercolor pan palette case

These are small plastic containers filled with pigments, binders, and additives used for painting. They are easy to use with minimal water, but mixing colors may take longer. Regularly cleaning the watercolor palette and colors help maintain purity and makes it easy to replace or customize colors.

Watercolor tubes

watercolor paint tubes

Watercolor sets come in pans or tubes, with tubes requiring a mixing palette and water to determine color intensity. Tubes are a cost-effective option, but proper lid closure and cleanliness are important. Liquid watercolors are also a viable option, but be mindful of excess paint on the palette.

Liquid watercolor paints

watercolor liquid paint

Liquid watercolor paint is versatile and easy to use, but it may result in duller colors when mixed and fade over time due to being dye-based. Liquid watercolors are good for painting and mixing colors, but they are transparent and not ideal for travel. Personal preference and experience with watercolors will determine the best option for each artist.


Each type of watercolor color has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Personally, I usually use the pans because I’m most used to those and they are easy to bring along in a small case.

Choosing the right type of color for your painting will depend on your personal preferences and experience with watercolors. Whether you choose pans, tubes, or liquid paints, with proper care and technique, you can create beautiful watercolor paintings.

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