Looking for the Best Watercolor Set for Beginners?

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Last Updated on January 16, 2024 by Dee

Watercolor paint is really a fabulous medium to work in because it allows you the freedom to create artwork that is both flowing yet at the same time structured. If you are a creative person who enjoys making art and painting then I recommend trying your hand at watercolor painting.

But there are so many watercolor paint sets on the market… which one do you choose???

I have written this article to give you an honest and authentic review of the watercolor sets that are available, and help you to choose the best watercolor set for beginners as well as the best set for serious watercolorists!

best watercolor set for beginners

Best Watercolor Set for Beginners

**This page may contain affiliate links to products I have used or recommend. If you purchase something from this page, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.**

43 Pack Watercolor Paint Set

Best Watercolor Set for Bullet Journals

Color Range: 43 Colors

This is a non-toxic portable watercolor pan set. It is really simple to use and comes with 43 different colors which means there are a lot of good color options for when you want to paint lettering or illustrate little doodles. This is also often used for calligraphy and the cover works well as a palette. The colors are vibrant and blend easily and it comes with 6 brushes and a watercolor pad.

This set is definitely the most economical set to buy and it is great if you are just starting out testing watercolor painting.

Vivart Watercolor Paint Set

Color Range: 48 Colors

A good set for beginner watercolorists looking to develop their watercolor skill. This set comes with 48 colors and the colors blend easily with one another. The set also comes with 2 watercolor paint brushes, a 20 sheet pad of 300gsm watercolor cold-pressed paper, and a bonus step-by-step watercolor painting course that can help you refine your skills.

AEM Hi Arts Watercolor Paint Artist Set

Best Watercolor Set for Kids

Color Range: 24 Tubes

This set comes with 24 tubes of watercolor paint. It offers a good range of colors and the paint blends easily. The cool thing about this set is that it comes in a carry case with 3 watercolor brushes, a palette, and 20 sheets of watercolor paper – this makes it easy to take with on your travels and it is also an ideal set for kids!

Bianyo 24 Colors Watercolor

Color Range: 24 Colors

The Bianyo Watercolor Set comes with 10 watercolor brushes and 8 pieces of watercolor paper. It also has a hand-painted watercolor paper swatch as well as a handy zipper file bag – which is super easy to carry. The watercolor container is a tin container and you can easily mix your watercolors on the inside of the lid.

This watercolor paint is transparent, vibrant, and long-lasting and it is easy to layer washes. Ideal for beginner watercolorists, art journalists, or creatives who like to work in mixed media!

MeiLiang Watercolor Paint Set

Best Student Watercolor Paint Set

Color Range: 36 Colors

The Meiliang Watercolor Set contains 36 vivid colors and a re-fillable watercolor brush. The paint itself contains gum arabic which increase the glossy quality and the transparency of the paint. High pigments are used in the paint and the colors mix beautifully without leaving a chalky finish.

The set comes in a sturdy metal container with a ring adhered to the backside in order to make it easy to hold. This is ideal for students who need to carry their watercolor paints around with them!

Artistro Watercolor Paint Set

Color Range: 48 Colors

The Artistro Watercolor Set is definitely one of the best travel watercolor sets for beginners. It contains 48 vivid colors including metallic and fluorescent colors, an eraser, pencil, paintbrush, and re-fillable watercolor paintbrush. It comes in a stylish and sturdy tin container.

Mungyo Half Pan Watercolor Set

Color Range: 48 Colors

The Mungyo Watercolor Set includes 48 colors and comes in a tin container. The lid opens to two nicely sized tin palette flaps for easy mixing. This is a sturdy and portable watercolor set – making it great for en Plein air painting or urban sketching.

Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolor Paint

Best Watercolor Set for Beginners

Color Range: 24 Colors

Windsor and Newton are known for their superb quality paints and art supplies. The Cotman range of Windsor and Newton Watercolor Paint is absolutely the best set to go for if you are starting out with watercolor painting and would like to take it further. It is the go-to choice if you want to start building your watercolor skills .

This watercolor paint has a high pigment density and the colors mix beautifully and have good transparency. The colors possess excellent tinting strength and good working properties.

This watercolor set contains a Cotman Series 111 No.3 brush and 24 Cotman Water Colour half pans (Lemon Yellow Hue, Cadmium Yellow Pale Hue, Cadmium Yellow Hue, Cadmium Orange Hue, Cadmium Red Pale Hue, Cadmium Red Deep Hue, Alizarin Crimson Hue, Purple Lake, Ultramarine, Cobalt Blue Hue, Cerulean Blue Hue, Intense Blue , Viridian Hue, Emerald, Hooker’s Green Dark, Sap Green, Yellow Ochre, Raw Umber, Burnt Sienna, Indian Red, Burnt Umber, Payne’s Gray, Lamp Black, Chinese White).

Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolor Paint Set of 12

Color Range: 12 Colors

This Windsor & Newton Watercolor Set is a great pocket sized set with curved corners to make it easy to slip in and out of your backpack, or your pocket! It has 12 colors which include Payne’s Gray, Lamp Black, Chinese White, Lemon Yellow Hue, Alizarin Crimson Hue, Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Sap Green, Viridian Hue, Turquoise, and Dioxazine Violet. It also contains a mixing palette inside the lid.

Bianyo 36 Watercolor Set

Color Range: 36 Colors

This Bianyo Watercolor set has a large range of colors and provide enough paint to work on larger art works. This set is not as portable as previous versions, but it is ideal for studio or classroom watercolor work.

Sakura XNCW-30N Koi Field

Best En Plein Air Painting Watercolor Set for Beginners

Color Range: 30 Colors

This is a really fabulous watercolor set. It has everything you need to pack up and paint outdoors!

The set comes with great quality watercolors, a water brush that can store water, a dabbing sponge and a mixing palette. Sakura’s water brush separates into two parts: a brush tip and barrel handle with a plug to carry water allowing it to fit perfectly within the set.

Its also good to note here that each watercolor is individually color matrix tested against all the other colors to ensure colors blend well.

Paul Rubens Artist Grade Watercolor Paint Set

Color Range: 24 Colors

The Paul Rubens Range of watercolor is high quality and perfect for professional painters. The pigments have a high transparency and are lightfast and permanent – which means your art will stay vivid for a long time.

The Professional Extra Fine gum arabic based watercolors are bright with high saturation and the set comes in a lightweight, pretty, pink tin which makes it convenient to carry around!

Best Watercolor Sets for Professional Watercolorists

Sennelier L’Aquarelle French Watercolor Paint

Color Range: 48 Colors

L’Aquarelle Sennelier has been produced in the same way for more than a century using the best pigments and top quality Kordofan Gum Arabic as a bonding agent. These watercolors are radiant and luminous and it is a shear joy painting with them!

The colors are smooth, intense and permanent and the set comes in a tin container with an inner tin palette attached.

Paul Rubens Watercolor Paint Artist Grade (48 Colors)

Color Range: 48 Colors

This particular set of Paul Ruben Watercolor paint comes with 100% Cotton Hot Press Watercolor Journal for Artists. These watercolors are high quality and perfect for professional painters. The pigments have a high transparency and are lightfast and permanent – which means your art will stay vivid for a long time.

The Professional Extra Fine gum arabic based watercolors are bright with high saturation and the set comes in a lightweight, pretty, pink tin with a ring at the back – this makes it convenient to carry around!

Artistro Watercolor Paint Set

Color Range: 48 Colors

Excellent quality watercolor paint set with a large range of colors. The colors are brilliant and bright and there are neon and metallic color variations. These are ideal for art journals, sketching, bullet journaling, lettering and creating your own artwork.

Paul Rubens Watercolor Paint

Color Range: 36 Colors

This paint set provides 36 vibrant colors options, extracted from the most natural quality ore, colors are strongly pigmented, transparent, rich, clear, and crisp, makes it a good watercolor paint set for both professional artists and beginners. These paints come with high lightfastness and strong continuity, perfect for mixing and blending.

Winsor & Newton : Professional Watercolour

Color Range: 24 Colors

The Windsor & Newton Professional Watercolor Paint is top of the range. The paint quality is superb and the set comes in a lightweight metal tin with a detachable palette for easy cleaning.

Rembrandt Watercolor Paint Set

Color Range: 48 Colors

Rembrandt watercolors are high quality, high pigmented, permanent, lightfast watercolor paint used by professionals all over the world. This is definitely one of the best sets you can buy. It comes with a large metal palette for easy paint mixing.

Things to Consider when Choosing a Watercolor Set

Types of Watercolor Sets

There are two types of watercolor sets that you can buy – watercolor paint pigments that are set as dry cakes in a palette. These are called half-pans because they are open and ready to be used.

The second type of watercolor set that you can get is where watercolor paint in contained within a tube in a liquid form.

Tube watercolor sets often contain more watercolor paint than half-pans – but it is easy to use up the paint in watercolor tubes far quicker because you can load more of it on to your brush at a time.

Painting with half-pans requires you to activate the dry caked watercolor paint, and then work it by using small circular motions in order to get sufficient paint loaded onto your brush.

Half-pan watercolor sets are easy to work with because you can just open up the container and they are ready to be activated with water on your brush. They are ideal for beginner watercolorists because the colors are readily available in front of you and once you are finished painting you can just close the container and allow them to dry again.

Watercolor paint that comes in a tube is already in liquid form, and is already activated. However, you need to squeeze out a small amount of the watercolor paint onto a palette before you can use it.

For this reason, it is really important that you have a good palette and have a plan as to how you will place your colors on your palette.

For instance, you don’t want to squeeze out colors to close to one another otherwise they could touch each other and your colors may blend unintentionally. You really want to avoid creating muddy watercolors and its vital that you have control over how they are laid out so that you can get the most out of your watercolor painting.

Another important thing to bear in mind, is that you can use half-pan watercolors and tube watercolors inter-changeably and you can always top up your colors by buying individual watercolor tubes or half pans.

Watercolor Pigment Density

The pigment density in watercolor paint refers to how much of the raw pigment (or color) is in the watercolor paint medium. Some watercolor paint sets will contain a lot of pigment and as a result the paint is lovely and rich.

You will find that the colors that contain a lot of pigment tend to be more opaque than the watercolors with less pigment.

Top of the range watercolor sets are very high-quality and have a good amount of pigment within their watercolor range. If you are a professional watercolorist you want to look for a watercolor set with very high-quality watercolor paint that has high pigment density.

If you are a beginner watercolorist there are a good range of watercolor sets that are cost effective but still produce a good finish.

Permanence or Light Fastness of Watercolor Pigment

Light Fastness in watercolor paint refers to how the pigment fades as it is exposed to light over time. It’s a good idea to purchase a watercolor set that is light fast so that your paintings will last a very long time without the color yellowing or fading.


Some watercolor paints will seep into the paper and stain it. Other watercolor paints will only sit on the surface of the paper – this is useful if you want to scrub or dab the paint off the surface.

It’s always a good idea to play and experiment with your watercolor paint so that you get a good understanding of what your particular paint is like.

Should I Use a Tin or Plastic Palette?

This is really up to personal preference.

You can buy watercolor half-pans that are in a tin container, or in a plastic container. These containers often double up as a palette and you can then mix your watercolor paint on the inside lid. You can also use the watercolor well palettes to make your own travel watercolor kit.

Plastic containers often have a waxy surface and I find that the watercolor paint doesn’t sit very well on the surface of a plastic palette.

I much prefer mixing my watercolor paint on a tin palette because the paint pools well and I find it is easier to mix colors.

If you are working with watercolor paint in a tube, then you can choose either a tin or a plastic container. You can buy empty tin containers, with empty half pans to squeeze your tube watercolor into. These work very well and its easy to refill the half-pans when the watercolor paint is finished.

[Related article: Gouache vs Acrylic Paint?]


How portable is your watercolor set? If you want to travel with your watercolor paint, paint en plein air, or engage in urban sketching, then you really want a watercolor set that is easy to slip into a bag and carry with you on your travels.

Is a watercolor set with a paintbrush included necessary?

Some watercolor sets come with a brush. It is helpful if there is a space in your watercolor container to hold a brush – this makes it easier to travel with. However, it is not necessary and you may find that the brush that comes with the watercolor set doesn’t quite suit your needs.

Color Range

The color range of the watercolor set refers to how many colors the set comes in. Some come with 12 different colors, some with 24 or 48. Although some people believe you should work with a limited palette, I feel that for a beginner watercolorist, it is helpful to have more colors available to use.

Often when you are new to the watercolor painting world, one of the most difficult things can be color mixing. This is something you will get better at with time, practice and experience.

If you start out having more colors available in your watercolor set you will definitely have a step up! If you are a more seasoned watercolorist then you will find it easy to work with a more limited palette.

Watercolor Painting Supplies for Beginners


Watercolor paint is an incredibly enjoyable and satisfying medium to work in. You can use it in so many different ways from illustrating your artist sketchbook, painting in your art journal or creating large scale artwork.

I hope this article has given you a good idea of how to choose the best watercolor set for beginners and for professional artists.

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