Where to start: Watercolor sets

Watercolor is a medium of contradictions. Portable and simple. Difficult and muddy. Cheap and expensive. It’s easy to be confused as to what to buy, and without fail, most professional artists like to state that there’s no sense in buying student or “craft” grade watercolors. The cheap stuff, so they say, is no good. 

And they’re not entirely wrong. Artist grade watercolors are obviously of a higher quality than the “Cheap” stuff. Why? “Cheap” watercolor is made with more fillers and binder to pigment ratios. (This is true of most cheap things, the ratio lowers pigment/color to “other stuff” in the art supply.) But that’s no reason to break the budget in order to break into watercolors. 

Here’s how to find your best buys for a “beginner” watercolor set.


I’m going to divide these between Craft grades, Student Grades, and Artist (Studio) grades. I’m skipping past “Children’s” products – like Crayola, for example.

All my prices are listed at the time of writing.

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Watercolor Swatches



This is not a page necessarily of pricing out what watercolors to buy, so much as a collection of my photos of my watercolors painted out. This is just for quick personal reference. The featured photo was drawn in Derwent Inktense ink water-soluble pencils.

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