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How to choose a watercolour brand - 8 things you should consider

Updated: Aug 24, 2022

Don’t get me wrong - I love trying out new watercolour brands and adding new colours to my palette. However, there is a lot of merit in knowing at least one brand really well. When this happens, you have a palette that you can rely on and this potentially helps you work faster. Choosing that one brand can be tricky though. Whether you are at the start of your watercolour journey or you’re looking to switch brands - here are 8 things worth considering when choosing a watercolour brand.


Can you physically go and buy this brand at a shop near you? It’s very important that you have quick and easy access to getting this brand. Your nearest shop should also regularly restock most colours as well.


In addition to having a physical shop where you can buy this brand, it’s really important that you can also order it online. In case you’re busy, online shopping can save you a lot of time and hassle. However make sure you can order online from within the country you live in. This means that you won’t need to worry about postal delays or custom duties.


There is student grade paint and artist grade paint. The latter has a higher concentration of pigment. It will be better quality and more vibrant, but it will also be pricier. That’s not to say that student grade paint is terrible – but just make sure that you buy a reputable brand like e.g. Schmincke and Winsor & Newton.


Do you like the overall range of colours this brand has? Colours between brands can vary a great deal, even if they have the same name. It’s important that you really like the colours this brand has to offer, especially the ones you tend to use frequently.


Do most of the colours have a good lightfast rating? Lightfastness is related to how quickly colours fade over time. Most brands have their own lightfastness scale which you’ll need to familiarize yourself with. Lightfastness becomes particularly important if you intend to sell original work or you’re doing commissions. On the other hand, if you intend to scan and digitize your work, then lightfastness is not going to be as important.


Paints are made up of pigments, and you can normally see the pigment number on the side of the watercolour tube. Paints with a single pigment are more preferable than ones with multiple pigments. However don’t worry too much about this -just be aware in case you are choosing between buying two very similar colours.


The cost of paint can differ greatly between watercolour brands. Before choosing a brand, think about what it means using that brand for the long-term. Weigh up the cost of repeatedly replacing all the colours in your palette with the frequency in which you paint.

8.Tube size

Tube sizes vary between the brands - anywhere from 5ml to 15ml. Some brands simply don’t sell small sizes and that is fine if you definitely know what colours you want. However, having the option of 5ml tubes (or half pans) gives you the flexibility of trying new colours without major commitment.

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