Our Top 10 of essential watercolor supplies for beginners

Our Top 10 of essential watercolor supplies for beginners

Only with the proper watercolor supplies will you be capable of achieving the best results in your painting practice. Learn which watercolor supplies we recommend if you want to indulge in a more ambitious painting experience.

Watercolour paint

Paint is the essential element of your art. The quality of your paint determines the quality of your work.

You should choose a paint that suits your experience with this medium. You don’t have to buy the premium color immediately if you have never painted with this medium before. Neither should you buy the cheapest watercolors from a discount store at the beginning. Fortunately, there are affordable options for beginners that are good quality and affordable.

Brushes

The options of watercolor brushes are a personal matter. Some artists prefer a certain shape, brand or material of the brush to spread the watercolor on the painting surface. All these factors influence the final result.

Soft brush hair are most popular in watercoloring because they can guide the paint gently over the surface. Most synthetic brushes keep their shape a little better and can be guided more precisely.

Stiff bristle brushes are mostly avoided in watercolor painting, as the paint itself is very liquid both in terms of texture and effect.

For many artists a small but fine assortment of high-quality, synthetic round and flat brushes of various sizes is perfectly sufficient.

Watercolor paper

Watercolor paper
Via ILLUSTOR STUDIO / Shutterstock

Together with paint and brushes, the right paper is the most important material for beautiful watercolor paintings. The paper should be very absorbent in order to apply several layers of paint without bending of the surface.

There are three categories of watercolor papers:

  • Cold press paper: Pressed between cold barrels which create the distinctive surface with a medium level tooth.
  • Hot press paper: Hot press paper is pressed between hot cylinders, so that the final product is slightly flatter. The heat smoothes the surface so that you can easily paint visible brushstrokes on this paper.
  • Rough paper: All types that are not pressed between cylinders. Such watercolor papers are either pressed in a different way or they are not pressed at all. This paper has the coarsest surface structure.

In general, heavy paper is preferable as it can absorb many layers of paint without bending and without the painting losing its luminosity.

Masking liquid

Masking fluid is applied to the painting surface to protect it when several layers of paint are applied. Masking fluid is an essential watercolour accessory that is often forgotten but is very important to maintain optimal control over the highlight areas in your subject.

When using the masking fluid make sure that you use an old, discarded brush that you no longer need to paint. The latex fluid can cause the brush hairs to stick together and, if not cleaned properly, destroy the brush.

Sponges

A natural sponge soaks up paint and releases it with its own structure. Since natural sponges have different textures, it can be useful to have several different sponges at home.

Masking tape

Masking Tape Watercolor supplies
Via Nirat.pix / Shutterstock

Painter’s tape or masking tape should be included in your watercolor supplies to attach your sketching paper to a stable surface. The lightly adhesive masking tape is perfect to fix small sheets of paper.

You can also use the tape to create a frame around your paper so that you do not paint over the edges of the sheet.

Stable surface

Most watercolour artists prefer to fix their watercolour paper to a solid surface so that the paper does not bend and slide back and forth.

Palette

Either you choose a paint box with individual pans to mix your color creations or you need a palette.

Make sure that the pallete is water resistant for it not so absorb the paint into the material. A cardboard or paper which many artists use as a solution for acrylic paint is therefore not recommended. A plastic pallete or one made of sealed wood is a better choice.

It is also important that the paint can be removed without leaving any residue.

See Also
Charcoal or Graphite

Sponges as watercolor supplies

A natural sponge soaks up paint and releases it with its own structure. Since natural sponges have different textures, it can be useful to have several different sponges at home.

Stable surface

Most watercolour artists prefer to fix their watercolour paper to a solid surface so that the paper does not bend and slide back and forth.

Palette

Either you choose a paint box with individual pans to mix your color creations or you need a palette.

Make sure that the pallete is water resistant for it not so absorb the paint into the material. A cardboard or paper which many artists use as a solution for acrylic paint is therefore not recommended. A plastic pallete or one made of sealed wood is a better choice.

It is also important that the paint can be removed without leaving any residue.

Pencil

When you start painting you absolutely need a pencil in your watercolor supplies. If you want to paint realistic pictures it is worthwhile to make a sketch with a pencil.

In general, the pencil sketches will not be visible later. But there are also artists who use a pencil or fineliner to work over the finished watercolor to emphasize certain areas dark pencil strokes.

Watercolor pencils

Watercolor pencils are also a version of watercolor paint. However they are pressed in the shape of a pencil. You can use them like normal colored pencils or you can use them with their typical watercolor effect by adding water.

Because the lead can be guided so precisely, much more detailed strokes are possible than with a brush.

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