Watercolor

A Beginner’s Watercolor Guide: Part 3 – Shopping Guide

Shopping Guide

My General Recommendations

Beginner Watercolor Recommendations

  1. Winsor and Newton Cotman Sketcher’s Pocket Box (12 half pans) – Currently $13.97 at Amazon, $14.57 at Dick Blick
  2. Pentel Water Brushes – $12.88 for a 3-pack (S, M, and L) at Amazon
  3. Stillman & Birn Alpha or Gamma (150gsm) – $15.99 for 8.5″ x 5.5″ Portrait at Amazon or Dick Blick
  4. Sakura Pigma Micron (Black) (Waterproof) – $10.55 for a 6-Pack at Amazon
    • For sketches and outlines.
  5. Uni-Ball Signo UM-153 (White) – $6.72 for 3-Pack at Amazon
    • This is optional, but it is a nice convenience.

Total = $60.11 before tax + shipping (as of 5/30/2016)

Top Alternative Watercolor Sets (<$25)

  1. Lukas Aquarell Studio Travel Box (12 half pans)
    • Pros: Very affordable, Functional color selection, Detailed color chart, Standard half pans, Compact box
    • Cons: Only available at Jerry’s Arterama (not really a con), very few reviews (though the ones that exist are positive)
  2. Sakura Koi Pocket Field Sketch Box (24 pans)
    1. Pros: Affordable, Widely accessible, Functional color selection, Includes water brush and sponges, Removable mixing tray (not really a pro or con)
    2. Cons: No color information other than their names, Non-removable pans
  3. Prima Marketing Watercolor Confections Tropicals (12 half pans)
    • Pros = Affordable, Functional color selection, Standard half pans, Compact Box, Quality Metal Tin
    • Con = No information about colors (not even the names), one more green than needed (you really only need two)

Top Alternative Sketchbooks (<$20)

  1. Stillman & Birn Beta or Delta (270gsm)
    • Black leatherette cover
    • Wirebound with Hardcover or Hardcover/Softcover with lay-flat stitched binding
    • Portrait or Landscape
    • Variety of sizes
  2. Global Art Material Travelogue Artist Sketchbooks (130gsm)
    • Comes in 4 different colors
    • Fabric-bound with lay-flat stitched binding
    • Portrait or Landscape
    • Variety of sizes
    • Elastic band and Clear backpocket (Travel-friendly)
  3. Strathmore Visual Journal 90lb or 140lb Watercolor or Mixed Media
    • Spiralbound with Hardcover
    • 8″ × 5½” or 12″ × 9″ Portrait
  4. Canson XL Watercolor or Mixed Media Pad
    • Spiralbound
    • Portrait or Landscape
    • Variety of sizes
    • Perforated pages
    • Most Economical

Bonus: Recommendation for Lightweight Traveling

  1. Winsor and Newton Cotman Sketcher’s Pocket Box Set (12 half pans) – Currently $13.97 at Amazon, $14.57 at Dick Blick
    • Pros: Affordable, Widely accessible, Functional color selection, Detailed color chart and composition guide, Standard half pans, Compact Box, Includes small brush, Great range of alternative sets with different features
    • Con: Some artists avoid white, but I don’t think it’s a big deal for beginners
    • This set is great because it is lightweight, compact and has space for a small brush. This is as light as you’re going to get without sacrificing functionality or making your own set. If you’re worried about durability because maybe you’ll be backpacking and this set might get thrown around, then the Prima Marketing Watercolor Confections Tropicals might be a better choice because it comes with a metal tin as opposed to plastic.
  2. Pentel Water Brushes – $12.88 for a 3-pack (S, M, and L) at Amazon
    • If you’re traveling, you probably only need one brush, so I recommend the Medium because it is the most versatile. Yet, even if you did get the Winsor & Newton set and already have a small brush, I actually still recommend bringing a water brush because the convenience of not needing a water cup is hard to pass up.
  3. Global Art Material Travelogue Artist Sketchbooks (130gsm) (5.5″ x 3.5″) – $9.98 at Dick Blick
    • The elastic band, the backpocket, and the compact size makes this a great option for traveling. If you don’t care for elastic bands or backpockets, then the Stillman & Birn Alpha/Gamma in the 6″ x 4″ size is another great choice.
  4. Sakura Pigma Micron (Black) (Waterproof) – $10.55 for a 6-Pack at Amazon
    • You’ll probably only need one, maybe two when you’re traveling.
  5. Uni-Ball Signo UM-153 (White) – $6.72 for 3-Pack at Amazon
    • Definitely only need 1. If you’re really weight-conscious or budget conscious, you can just exclude this.
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