Best Watercolor Paints for Artists: A Detailed Guide

When it comes to selecting the best watercolor paints, look for paints that offer high pigmentation, smooth application, and a wide range of vibrant colors. Here's a detailed look at some top choices, featuring customer reviews to highlight the unique benefits of each brand.

Best watercolor paint sets
Note: This blog contains affiliate links and purchasing through them supports our site at no extra cost to you.

1. M. Graham Artists' Watercolor Tubes and Sets

M. Graham best watercolor paints

M. Graham Artists' Watercolors are beloved by professional artists for their superior quality and unique formulation. These watercolors are crafted in small batches using pure honey, gum arabic, glycerine, and the finest pigments, resulting in vibrant, long-lasting colors.


  • High Pigmentation: Intense, vibrant colors that stand out.
  • Honey-Based Formula: Keeps the paint moist and easy to work with.
  • Single Pigment Colors: Each color is individually crafted to bring out its unique character.

Benefits: M. Graham watercolors are perfect for artists who value pure, vivid pigments and a paint that remains easy to dilute and apply even after long periods of disuse. The honey-based formula ensures the paint never dries out, making it a reliable choice for consistent results.

Application Tips:

  1. Preparation: Use high-quality watercolor paper to fully appreciate the color intensity.
  2. Mixing: The pure pigments mix beautifully, allowing for a wide range of custom colors.
  3. Storage: Store paints in a cool, dry place to maintain their quality.

Aside from their superior pigmentation and ease of use, artists frequently praise M. Graham watercolors for their ability to create smooth gradients and rich layers of color. The honey-based formula not only keeps the paints moist longer, reducing the need for frequent rewetting, but also provides a slightly thicker consistency that many artists find easier to control. Many will love the paints' longevity on the palette and their vibrant, true-to-life colors, which don't fade over time. The combination of high-quality ingredients and meticulous craftsmanship ensures that each tube delivers consistently excellent results, making M. Graham a top choice for both professional and amateur watercolorists.

2. Holbein Artists' Watercolor Paint Tubes and Sets

Best Holbein watercolor paints

Holbein Artists' Watercolors are renowned for their high pigmentation and smooth application. These watercolors are a popular choice among professional artists for their consistency and vibrancy.


  • High Pigmentation: Provides strong, vibrant colors.
  • Smooth Consistency: Easy to mix and apply.
  • Wide Range of Colors: Available in a diverse selection of hues.

Benefits: Holbein watercolors are perfect for artists looking for high-quality, vibrant pigments that apply smoothly. The wide range of colors allows for great versatility in your artwork.

Application Tips:

  1. Preparation: Use a high-quality watercolor paper to enhance the colors.
  2. Mixing: Experiment with different color combinations to achieve the desired effect.
  3. Layering: Allow each layer to dry completely to prevent blending of wet paints.

Holbein watercolors are often praised for their ease of use and ability to create beautiful washes and detailed work. The extensive color range is also a significant advantage, providing artists with a broad palette to work from. Additionally, the paints' high pigmentation ensures that even small amounts of paint can produce strong, vivid results. Many artists appreciate the consistent quality across different colors, which is especially beneficial for achieving uniformity in larger pieces. These paints are also known for their excellent rewetting properties, making them a favorite for artists who need to revisit and rework areas of their paintings. The smooth application and vibrant colors make Holbein an outstanding choice for both detailed illustrations and expansive washes.

3. Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolor Tubes and Sets

daniel smith best watercolor paints

Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors are a top choice for professional artists due to their high pigmentation, excellent lightfastness, and vast range of unique colors.


  • High Pigmentation: Rich, vibrant colors.
  • Excellent Lightfastness: Colors remain true over time.
  • Unique Colors: Includes a range of special colors like PrimaTek and Luminescent.

Benefits: Daniel Smith watercolors are ideal for artists who want highly pigmented, long-lasting colors. The unique range of colors, including natural mineral-based pigments, offers artists the ability to create truly distinctive artwork.

Application Tips:

  1. Preparation: Use high-quality paper to bring out the unique characteristics of the pigments.
  2. Mixing: Take advantage of the unique colors to experiment with new effects.
  3. Layering: Allow each layer to dry thoroughly for the best results.

Daniel Smith watercolors are celebrated for their wide range of unique pigments, including many granulating and luminescent colors that add special effects to paintings. Artists frequently highlight the exceptional lightfastness, ensuring that their artwork retains its original vibrancy over time. The PrimaTek line, made from ground minerals, provides earthy, textured hues that add depth and interest to any piece. These paints are known for consistency and quality of the pigments, which blend smoothly and maintain their intensity when dry. Daniel Smith's commitment to innovation and quality makes these watercolors a favorite among artists seeking to push the boundaries of their creativity.

4. Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolor Tubes and Sets

Winsor and newton best watercolors

Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolors are known for their high-quality pigments, transparency, and ease of mixing. These watercolors are a staple in many artists' studios for their reliable performance and vibrant colors.


  • High-Quality Pigments: Bright, vibrant colors.
  • Excellent Transparency: Allows for glazing and layering.
  • Ease of Mixing: Colors blend smoothly.

Benefits: Winsor & Newton watercolors are perfect for artists who require reliable, high-quality pigments with excellent transparency. The ease of mixing allows for a wide range of colors and effects.

Application Tips:

  1. Preparation: Use high-quality watercolor paper to maximize transparency.
  2. Mixing: Blend colors smoothly for seamless transitions.
  3. Glazing: Use transparent layers to build depth.

Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolors are highly regarded for their transparency and vibrancy. Artists appreciate the ability to create luminous washes and subtle glazes, thanks to the paints' excellent transparency. The pigments are finely ground, providing a smooth, even application that is ideal for detailed work as well as large washes. Many often mention the paints' consistent quality and reliability, making them a trusted choice for both professional and hobbyist artists. Winsor & Newton's long history and commitment to quality ensure that their watercolors remain a favorite for artists seeking dependable, high-performing paints.

5. Sennelier L'Aquarelle French Artists' Watercolor Tubes and Sets

Best Sennelier watercolor paints

Sennelier L'Aquarelle Watercolors are prized for their smooth, creamy texture and high pigment load. These watercolors are made with honey, which enhances their brilliance and longevity.


  • High Pigment Load: Intense, vibrant colors.
  • Honey-Based Formula: Adds brilliance and preserves paint.
  • Smooth Texture: Easy to mix and apply.

Benefits: Sennelier watercolors are ideal for artists who value rich, vibrant colors and a smooth, creamy texture. The honey-based formula enhances the brilliance and longevity of the paints.

Application Tips:

  1. Preparation: Use high-quality paper to enhance the colors and texture.
  2. Mixing: Blend easily for rich, vibrant hues.
  3. Layering: Build up layers for depth and intensity.

Sennelier L'Aquarelle watercolors are often celebrated for their smooth, creamy texture, which allows for easy blending and application. The honey-based formula not only enhances the colors' brilliance but also helps preserve the paints, ensuring they remain usable for a long time. Artists frequently mention the vibrant, rich hues that can be achieved with Sennelier watercolors, making them ideal for both detailed work and bold, expressive pieces. These paints have an extensive color range, which includes many unique and vivid options. The combination of high pigment load, smooth texture, and honey-based brilliance makes Sennelier watercolors a favorite among artists looking for exceptional quality and performance.

Best watercolor paints for artists

Comparing the Best Watercolors

When comparing the top watercolor brands, each offers distinct qualities tailored to different artistic needs. M. Graham Artists' Watercolor excels with its honey-based formula, ensuring the paint remains moist and easy to blend. This makes it ideal for artists seeking vibrant, consistent colors and smooth application. Holbein Artists' Watercolor is known for its high pigmentation and smooth consistency, making it perfect for achieving bright, uniform colors across different pieces. Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolor stands out with its unique range of natural mineral-based pigments and exceptional lightfastness, offering artists the opportunity to explore new effects and textures. Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolor is praised for its high-quality pigments and excellent transparency, ideal for creating luminous washes and subtle glazes. Sennelier L'Aquarelle Watercolor combines a honey-based formula with bright, creamy colors, providing a smooth, luscious texture that appeals to artists who appreciate the ease of rewetting and vibrant, enduring hues.

Shop best watercolor paints

Selecting the right watercolor set is crucial for enhancing your creative process and ensuring your artwork stands out. Understanding the unique features and benefits of each brand helps you make an informed decision tailored to your artistic style and preferences. Whether you're a beginner exploring new mediums or a professional seeking high-quality pigments, the right watercolor set will provide the foundation you need to bring your artistic vision to life. By choosing the best watercolors for your needs, you can achieve stunning results and continue to grow as an artist.

Related Posts