The best watercolour paints in 2024

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A woman painting flowers with watercolour paints

(Image credit: Nina Vartanava / EyeEm via Getty )

The best watercolour paints
How to choose
How we test

The best watercolour paints allow you to create emotive, vibrant artwork with rich colours and sensous wash effects. In this article, we'll point you in the direction of the finest products on the market today.

To make our selection, we’ve considered the value for money, pigments, colour range, reactivation, granulation, and application of as many liquid and solid pan watercolour paints as we could get our hands on. Of course, not everyone's a professional artist, so we’ve also considered the needs of cash-strapped students and nervous newbie as well.

On the go and worried about mess? Maybe consider the best watercolour pencils too. Then once you've made your selection, you'll want to start investigating the best watercolour paper, and maybe improving your process by following one of our watercolour tutorials. Alternatively, expand your repertoire with these watercolour techniques.

The best watercolour paints


How is watercolour paint differ from other types of paint?

The key characteristic of watercolour paint is its translucency. That means that unlike other kinds of paints, layers of watercolours build upon each other. Each layer reveals the ones beneath, allowing for delicate washes, soft gradients, and playful interactions between colours.

What are watercolour paints made of?

Watercolour paints are typically consist of natural or synthetic pigment (a powder used to add colour), a binder to hold the pigment in suspension such as gum arabic, additives such as glycerin, ox gall or honey, preservatives to alter the viscosity of the pixment, and water.

What paper do I need to paint with watercolours?

The best kind of paper to use with watercolour paints is, quite simply, watercolour paper. This is specially thick, absorbent and robust paper that allows the colours to shine brightly. Learn more in our guide to the best watercolour paper. Watercolour paints can be used on other surfaces, such as watercolour canvas or specially treated boards.

How to choose the best watercolour paints

Choosing the best watercolour paints depends on various factors, including your preferences, budget, and the specific characteristics of the paints. 

Look at pigment quality: professional-grade watercolours often use pure pigments, resulting in richer and more vibrant colours. Check the lightfastness rating, which indicates how resistant the pigments are to fading over time. And consider the colour range offered by the brand: a wide range of hues allows for more versatility, although if you're a beginner you might prefer to limit your choice to avoid being overwhelmed. 

Finally, think about whether you want your paint in tubes or pans. Tubes are more suitable if you prefer to work with a wet palette or need larger quantities, but pans are convenient for travel and easy to use on the go.

How we test the best watercolour paints

Testing the best watercolour paints involves evaluating several factors. We meticulously assess pigment quality, prioritising those with high colour intensity and lightfastness for enduring artworks, as well as transparency and granulation. We also explore the colour range's breadth, emphasising both essential hues and unique shades for artistic flexibility. 

Josephine Watson
Managing Editor for Lifestyle

Josephine Watson (@JosieWatson) is an experienced tech journalist with experience writing on a variety of topics from pop culture to gaming and even the energy industry. She is the Managing Editor of Lifestyle on CreativeBloq's sister site, TechRadar, overseeing the Lifestyle vertical (Cameras, Home and Wellness) and How-To's, where she can be found writing across multiple channels including computing, software, homes and gaming.

With contributions from