Essential Watercolor Supplies for Beginners
In this article, I cover the essential watercolor supplies for beginners. What supplies are the most important and what to spend your money on, so you get the best results for a reasonable price. As a beginner with watercolor, it is easy to get confused about what you need when you go to buy supplies.
I would just like to note that I do not receive any money or commission from any of these brands or products. These are all products that I have used and can recommend.
Below is a list of things you will need to start:
- Watercolor Paper
- Plastic Corrugated Board
- B Pencil
- Kneaded Eraser
Here is what you need to know:
Watercolor Paper is the most important supply. It should be a 100% cotton rag paper to get excellent results. This is where you want to spend your money. A good artist quality 100% cotton watercolor paper absorbs the water and the paint and will dry evenly.
The lower quality papers do not absorb the water well, and the paint just sits in the water on top. Low quality papers also dry faster and uneven, causing watermarks (back runs) and the paint to look splotchy after it dries.
Next important would be your paint. Most people don’t realize that student grade paints are full of fillers with a little pigment, and some are not lightfast.
Artist grade paints are top quality and have no fillers with a much higher concentration of pigment. So if you compare pricing by the time you use both tubes, you are most likely saving money by buying the better paint. The trick is to not go crazy and only buy an essential range of colors. 6 colors, a warm and cool version of the primary colors are all you need to get started.
Watercolor brushes can cost a pretty penny, but there is no need to break the bank on brushes starting out. Brushes are the least important of the three main supplies. Down the road, you can always upgrade your brushes if you like. There are many budget priced brushes, but a lot of them are not suitable for watercolor, so make sure you buy ones that say they are for watercolor. Avoid craft brushes.
With a palette, all you need to worry about is that you have a sizeable area to mix your paint on and it is white. You could even use a white porcelain plate if you have one. There are many budget palettes out there.
If you have pets or a dusty environment, get one with a cover, or place your palette in a large ziplock freezer bag when not in use.
A Board to Paint On
Plastic Corrugated Board 20″ x 30″ it is around 5 dollars at Michael’s Craft Supply (you could also use foamcore board) The Plastic is better because it is waterproof, the foamcore is not and you will have to replace it after a while. You can cut them to the size you need.
You can tape your paper to the board using masking tape. I use 1′ wide and put it half on the board and half on the paper.
Pencil and Eraser
Pencils come in different grades of softness. You can use a regular HB pencil, but you have to press extra light so you do not dent your paper and your lines might be hard to see.
A pencil with a softness of B will be darker when you draw on your paper. Using a softer pencil reduces the risk of denting your paper.
A kneaded eraser is used to pick up some graphite on your drawing and lighten any lines that are too dark. You knead a piece of the eraser until it is soft, then you press it on the darker pencil marks.