Best Watercolor Paint for Beginners: Artist Grade vs. Inferior Paints

In this article, we’ll discuss the best watercolor paint for beginners and why artist grade paints are best for newcomers to the medium. When you’re just starting out with watercolors, the quality of your paint matters a lot. Inferior paints will give you poor results, while artist grade paints will give you intense colors and better overall results. Trust me, I’ve been there and done that!

Professional-grade paints use high-quality pigments and make little to no use of fillers or extenders; they should also offer superior lightfastness. – Source Art News

Best watercolor paint for beginners – the ‘hue-timate’ paints we use and recommend

Below I’ll share my top three beginner-friendly watercolor paint brands. Three are artist grade while the fourth, Cotman’s, is a semi-artist grade and the only one I would recommend that isn’t premium quality.


Best watercolor paint for beginners and pros
Holbein Paints – Best Option

Holbein Paint – Best watercolor paint for beginners & pros

Holbein Artist Grade – Best paints for new and professional artists
The best watercolor paint for beginners. It’s what I use on every single painting and it never disappoints. Holbein Artists’ Watercolors are imported from Japan, a country with the oldest professional watercolor tradition in the world. Japanese colors have always been renowned for their brilliance, and Holbein continues in the same tradition.

I started using Holbein watercolors decades ago and haven’t looked back since the first timeI tried them. There are other brands mentioned below that are certainly worthy opponents. So, feel free to dabble some in the beginning and make your own decision.

Buy Holbein Paints at Blick


Excellent Artist grade paint for pros and beginners
Daniel Smith – Excellent Watercolor Paints

Daniel Smith Watercolors – Excellent quality paint

This is another very popular brand used by many professionals and aspiring watercolor artists. Available in an astounding range of more than 235 colors, Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors are made by hand in Seattle, Washington.

This superior-quality watercolor line includes historical hues, amazing earths, and some of the brightest and boldest quinacridones ever formulated.

Buy Daniel Smith at Blick


Excellent watercolor paint for beginners
Cotman Paint – Excellent Student Grade Paint

Cotman by Winsor & Newton – Best budget-friendly

If you are on a budget and can’t swing the higher end paints then go Cotman. Cotman, from the makers of Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolors, offers a comparatively inexpensive selection of good-quality watercolors. The Cotman line includes both traditional pigments and reliable synthetic colors that replace some of the more rare and expensive pigments used in the Professional Watercolors.

I personally used this brand in my early years and it works very well. It’s a great blend of professional and artist grade paint.

Buy Cotman’s at Blick


Other paint buying tips

Here are some other tips for purchasing paint, and selecting the best quality is VERY important.

Here are the nine hues you need;

Your palette should consist of warm and cool primaries plus a neutral gray and brown. Here are the colors I use and recommend. These hues will give you every color you can imagine.

  • Warm hues: Yellow ochre , Ultramarine blue, and Cadmium red light
  • Cool hues: Lemon yellow, Cobalt blue and Alizarin crimson
  • Neutrals: Burnt sienna, Neutral tint and White gouache for adding highlights

One of the biggest benefits of using artist grade paints is that they’re rich in pigment

This means you’ll need less paint to get the intensity of color you desire, which can be helpful when working on large pieces or trying new techniques. Inferior paints, on the other hand, are often low in pigment and can cause your paintings to look muddy and dull.

Another issue with inferior paints is that they often contain fillers and extenders. These additives make the paint more affordable for manufacturers, but they also decrease the quality and longevity of your finished artwork. Artist grade paints don’t contain these fillers, so you can be sure your paintings will last for years to come.

Ultimately, it’s best to avoid inferior paints when you’re just starting out.

They will give you poor results, and it’s easy to become discouraged if your paintings don’t look as good as they should be due to low quality materials.

Instead, opt for artist grade paints that are rich in pigment and made without fillers or extenders. This is the best way to ensure your artwork has a professional appearance from start to finish!

That’s all for now

I hope you enjoyed the article and found some tips for choosing the right paint for your artwork. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below.