The Best Watercolour Paints In Australia For 2020

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Watercolour painting has long been a favourite activity for many. Whether you are a beginner or a professional, the paint you are using has an impact on your creative experience and the end result. Whether you are looking for student or professional quality paints, there are lots of options available and deciding between them can be confusing. The reviews and buyers guide below will help you to find the best option for your painting needs.


1. M. Graham Basic 5-Color Watercolor Paint Set (Top Pick)


M. Graham 33-Set 1/2-Ounce Tube Watercolor Paint Basic 5-Color Set

This set of artist quality watercolours are bright, intense and require just a small amount of paint to create strong colours and vibrant artwork.

They are made with natural ingredients including pigment, pure gum arabic and natural blackberry honey. The honey helps to absorb moisture from the air to prevent hardening, keeping your paints ready to use at any time.

This M. Graham set is made in the USA and offers fresh, smooth and high-performance watercolours suitable for all levels. The paints offer excellent strength which makes mixing and diluting the colours more controlled and easy to achieve.


What We Like:

Honey prevents paints from drying out
High pigment
Vibrant colours

What We Don’t Like:

Expensive vs other options


2. Winsor & Newton Cotman 45 Half Pans Studio Watercolour Paint Set


This is an excellent student grade set of watercolours from Winsor & Newton. This large pack of 45 half pans is ideally suited to beginner and intermediate painters.

The wide range of colours is perfect for sitting down and enjoying painting without needing to mix lots of colours yourself. These watercolor paints are high pigment so a small amount can go a long way.

The palette offers a convenient level of portability which is great for painting outside and having easy access to all the colours you need. These Winsor & Newton paints work on a variety of paper types and are great for mixing specific shades.


What We Like:

Large set
Ideal for beginners
Portable

What We Don’t Like:

Each pan is individually wrapped


3. Kuretake Gansai Tambi 36 Colour Watercolour Paints

Kuretake Kuretake Gansai Tambi 36 Colours

This Kuretake Gansai Tambi set of 36 watercolour paints is affordable, vibrant and well-suited to all artists from beginners to professionals.

The paints are non-toxic, water-based and have a creamy consistency. They are rich in colour and are opaque so they can be used as a gouache or they can be mixed with water to create a finer and more transparent look.

This is a large set which includes a colour chart for you to paint so you can have an accurate colour representation. The generous pan size is great for bigger brushes as well as ultra-fine brushes.


What We Like:

Rich pigment
Opaque colours
Versatile

What We Don’t Like:

Not the best travel option due to large size


4. Daniel Smith Extra Fine Essentials Introductory Watercolor Paint Set

Daniel Smith 285610005 Extra Fine Essentials Introductory Watercolor, Blue/Transparent/Yellow, 5ml

This essentials introductory watercolour set from Daniel Smith offers high-quality and reliability suitable for beginners and professionals.

The set includes six 5ml watercolor paint tubes which, although they are small in size, last a long time and go a long way with even a small dab of colour on the end of your brush.

The colours offer amazing pigment and unique granulation patterns. These paints are ideal for mixing the perfect shades as it comes with 3 cool primary colours and 3 warm primary colours. This is a great introductory mixing palette for anyone looking to try watercolor paints.


What We Like:

High quality set
Unique granulation
Ideal for mixing

What We Don’t Like:

Tubes are only 5ml


5. Meeden Watercolor Paint Set Art


MEEDEN Watercolor Paint Set Art Watercolor Tin Palette with 48 Colors Half Pan Paints Navy Blue Enamel Exterior, Portable for Field Sketch, Journey, Coloring, Watercolor Supplies

This pack of 48 colours comes in a tin case with a foldout palette which is perfect for travel and use on the go.

The solid paints can be removed and inserted into the tin as needed so you can replace colours and mix and match with other kits however you’d like. This also means the tin is reusable so you can enjoy it long after the original paints are finished.

The wide range of colours are vibrant and they contain arabic gum which gives them good transparency. The tin case is smart, clean and easy to carry.


What We Like:

Reusable travel tin and foldout palette
Wide range of colours
Good value

What We Don’t Like:

Setting up takes time initially as the pans are individually wrapped


6. Marie’s Student Watercolor Set

Marie's Student Watercolor Set, Extra Fine Highly Pigmented Paint Set - 12ml Tubes - Assorted Colors - [Set of 12]

If you are looking for a low-cost set to get you started with watercolours, this collection of 12 colours from Marie’s is a good option.

These student-quality paints can be enjoyed by everyone, making them ideal as a first watercolor set.

The colours are bright, transparent and mix well. The colours are delicate and help you achieve beautiful, lightfast results.


What We Like:

Low cost
Bright colours
High concentration pigments

What We Don’t Like:

The set comes in a cardboard tray


7. Mont Marte Watercolour Paint Set with Brush


This compact watercolour set contains 36 colours and a fine paintbrush. It’s a good starter option and makes a great gift for beginners.

The large colour selection gives you the freedom to play around with mixing while also having plenty of pre-made colours to use too. The paints are high opacity, bright and easy to use. They have high pigmentation and mix well allowing you to create a wide range of tones.

The detachable lid is useful as it can be used as a palette to combine colours. The small size and portability of this kit make it best for use on the move and for painting outside.


What We Like:

Portable set
Vibrant paints mix well
Great for beginners

What We Don’t Like:

Better suited to those just starting to paint
Con 2


Watercolour Paint Buyers’ Guide


When choosing watercolour paints there are a few important differences that are worth being aware of, use this guide to help you find the best watercolor paints for you.

Key Features of Watercolour Paints

Pigment

Watercolour paints can be single pigment or multi-pigment. Single pigment paints often mix more reliably as multi-pigment paint tends to be created using pigments that have different characteristics which make it difficult to predict how the paint will look on paper.

Quality

The paints can be professional grade or student grade. A professional watercolor paint has a higher concentration of pigment which offers a high performance while a student quality paint may have a lower quality pigment with more fillers. Student quality is ideal for beginners and enthusiasts while professional artists will likely want to pay more to benefit from the professional grade tubes.

Lightfastness

Lightfastness, also known as permanence, is how well the paint can handle light exposure and humidity. Ideally, the option you choose should have “very good” or “excellent” ratings for lightfastness as this means they will not fade or change colour over time.

Staining vs Non-Staining

Non-staining paints are easy to scrape off, lift or remove with a sponge whereas staining options penetrate the paper so cannot be removed. It’s good to use a mix of stain and non-stain paints and the type you use can impact the layering effect and look of your art so it is something to be aware of when choosing paints.

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Paint Transparency

Transparency is an important factor when it comes to watercolour painting, particularly when you will be layering. The manufacturer will usually mark paints so you will know which are transparent and which are opaque. If you are not sure about the paints you have then take a look at the product information or the manufacturer’s notes for the paint characteristics.

Granularity

The granulation of the paint is basically the texture of the paint. If the paint is granular you find it more difficult to handle and it will likely have a grainy texture when dry, this is as a result of uneven distribution of the pigment. There is more regularity and smoothness with low granularity fine pigments.

Pans vs Tubes

The most common way to buy watercolor paints is in pans or tubes:

  • Pans are solid blocks that slot into trays and require a small amount of water to use them. The small cubes of paint can be full pan (3-4ml) or half pan (1.5-2ml). They are an economical option that is great for smaller paintings and for use outdoors.
  • Tubes come in a variety of sizes and the watercolor paints are paste-like. This is easier for larger paintings but it can be easier to waste as once out of the tube the paint dries and cannot be re-wet.


Watercolour Paint FAQs


Which is better for watercolor: tubes or pans?

Most people find tube paints are a better option as they offer more flexibility, convenience and are gentle on your brushes. It is also easier to get more vibrant results with tube paint. Pans are well-suited to outdoor painting and creating smaller paintings but can cause frustration if used for larger designs.