Are you thinking about getting into watercolor painting but you don't know where to start in the overwhelming sea of information that is available in this digital age. Are you overwhelmed with all the choices and brands for papers, paints, and brushes? What do you really need to start your watercolor journey?

Well, I am going to make this easy and save you money!

I will be discussing the basic items as an overview only. I will have other blog posts coming up where I discuss at length each item in detail. For now, I want to keep this as clear and concise as possible.



There are many brands of paper out there. I would recommend you buy a mid-price reputable brand such as Stonehenge and Fabriano.

Stonehenge Paper

Stonehenge Aqua cold pressed 140lb:

Fabriano Paper

Fabriano cold pressed 140 10 x 14:

That said if your budget can allow for high-end paper then your watercolor learning will be less frustrating, more rewarding and you will see faster progress.

Hands down the best paper in the watercolor world is Arches.

Arches Paper

Arches  Paper 140 cold pressed: 9x12


There are three popular weights:

140 lb: Most popular
300 lb: Great for multilayer (highest in absorbency)

So just choose 140 lbs to start.


Cold pressed- best for beginners and the most popular texture as it has a bit of toothy-ness (roughness) that is forgiving and great for all subject matter.

Hot pressed is a smooth paper (no tooth) and is great for very detailed work such as botanicals but it is also the hardest to work on as it is the least absorbent and nonforgiving for mistakes. AKA NOT GOOD FOR BEGINNERS

Rough pressed- Is the most toothy textured paper and is the most absorbent and holds a lot of water and layers. Great for animals and landscapes.


Watercolor paper comes in many sizes. For beginners, I suggest getting 8-10 or 9-12 and you can cut your paper down into smaller project sizes this will save a lot of money!

Pads vs Blocks

Pads are papers that are held only on one side and can be pulled off the pad to cut down in smaller sizes and taped down to your board for your project. Adding water to paper will make it buckle (warp) so it needs to be taped down allowed to dry in this manner to avoid buckling. Pads are less expensive than Blocks.

Blocks are papers that are glued down on all 4 sides and already set for painting on so the paper dries smooth and doesn't buckle. Once your project is dry you take a palette knife, utility knife, butter knife, letter opener, lol, etc whatever you have lying around. Blocks tend to be more expensive.


Watercolor paint comes in tubes or pans.

Pans are convenient because they have a built-in palette, and are easy to travel with. They however are harder to mix up with water and may take more of a beating on your brushes because of this fact. I also don't find them as vibrant in pigment saturation as the tube paints.

Tubes have great vibrancy, they are easy to mix with water and minimal scrubbing with your brush is a bonus. They are also easier for mixing larger quantities of paint. The only downside is that you need to purchase a palette in addition but really..... plastic palettes are cheap!

I recommend Artist-grade watercolor paints and don't go crazy with a ton of colors. Start small, buy the smaller size tubes and get the basic colors I recommend:

Cool primary Colors:

Phthalo Blue

Phthalo Blue Red Shade:

Quinacridone Red

Quinacridone Red:

Lemon Yellow

Lemon Yellow:

Warm Primary Colors:

French Ultramarine

French Ultramarine:

Pyrrol Scarlet

Pyrrol Scarlet:

Gamboge Yellow

Gamboge Nova:

Also, pick up:

Burnt Sienna

Burnt Sienna:

Neutral Tint

Neutral Tint:

Or just get this great starter pack from amazon small 5ml tubes to see if you like it :)

Paint Starter Pack

Starter pack:

Paint Brushes

There are many brushes synthetic vs animal or a combination of the two. A good brush is absolutely necessary and you only need 3-4 brushes to start. A good brush should not shed, it should hold a point (fine tip) and hold a good amount of water for a nice smooth stroke. I recommend Princeton or Escoda brushes.

  • You'll need a small round detail brush like a size 2.
  • You'll need a medium round brush like a size 8.
  • You'll need a flat 3/4 inch brush.

That is basically it. If your budget allows for it I would say a script liner brush is a great addition for painting landscapes and animals.

Neptune pack:

Aqua Elite Pack:

Black Velvet Silver Series:


Don't get a palette with just deep wells. JUST DON'T DO IT! I know they are cute but useless. Trust me!

Get a palette that has flat areas for mixing colors:


Other Items Needed

  • Masking tape or washi tape
  • paper towels
  • glass jar or cup
  • pencil and eraser
  • Firm artist medium size clipboard or a desk to tape down your paper.

Websites such as,, or

PHEW!!! Concise information but still a lot I know! Grab your supplies and let's get painting!