What is Watercolor Paint? How to Choose Watercolor Paints in 2023
Watercolor paint is a type of paint that is made from a mixture of pigments, a binder (commonly gum arabic) and water. This medium has been used for centuries by artists to create a wide range of effects and textures. In this guide, we will explore the properties and characteristics of watercolor paint, how it is made, and how it is used.
Properties and characteristics
- Transparency – one of the unique characteristics of watercolor paint is its transparency. The pigments are suspended in water, which allows light to pass through the paint, creating a luminous effect.
- Granulation – another characteristic of watercolor paint is granulation, which refers to the way the pigments separate and settle on the paper, creating a unique texture.
- Staining – watercolor paint is a staining medium, meaning that it can be difficult to remove once it has been applied to paper. This can be an advantage for some techniques, but can also be a disadvantage if a mistake is made.
What is watercolor paint made of?
Watercolor paint is made from a mixture of pigments, a binder, and water. The pigments used in watercolor paint are made from a variety of natural and synthetic materials and are ground into a fine powder.
Pigments – the pigments used in watercolor paint are made from a variety of natural and synthetic materials. Pigments are ground into a fine powder and then mixed with a binder.
The most commonly used binder in watercolor paint is arabic gum. This is a natural substance that is derived from the sap of the acacia tree. It helps to hold the pigments together and allows them to be suspended in water.
Water is added to the pigments and binder to create the paint. The amount of water used can vary depending on the desired consistency and transparency of the paint.
How to choose watercolor paints
When choosing watercolor paints, there are a few key characteristics that you should consider:
The quality of the pigments used in the paint will affect the color intensity, lightfastness, and overall performance of the paint. Look for high-quality pigments that are lightfast, meaning that they will not fade over time.
Watercolor paints can vary in their transparency, from semi-transparent to opaque. Transparent pigments will allow light to pass through, creating a luminous effect, while opaque pigments will cover the surface and create a more solid color.
Some watercolor pigments will granulate, or separate, when applied to paper, creating a unique texture. If you are looking for a specific granulation effect, look for paints that are known to granulate.
Pigments are staining, meaning that they will leave a residue on the paper even after they have been lifted off. This can be an advantage for some techniques, but can also be a disadvantage if a mistake is made.
Watercolor paint can be sensitive to humidity, so some paints are formulated to be less sensitive than others. Some paint brands have less chance to get harden in the pans and tubes if left in a humid environment.
Watercolor paints can vary in their viscosity, or thickness. Some paints are more fluid and others are more paste-like, which can affect how they flow and mix on the paper.
Some brands offer a wide range of colors, while others have a limited color range. It’s good to have a variety of colors to work with to be able to express your ideas in the watercolor painting.
The best way to choose watercolor paints is to try out a few different brands and types to see which ones work best for your specific needs and preferences. Once you have a good understanding of the properties and characteristics of different paints, you’ll be able to make an informed decision on which paints will work best for your watercolor painting style and technique.
Uses of watercolor paint
- Fine art: Watercolor paint is primarily used in fine art, particularly for painting watercolor landscapes, portraits, and still lifes.
- Illustration: watercolor paint is also used in illustration, particularly in children’s books, editorial illustrations and comics.
- Design: watercolor paint is used to design and create patterns, backgrounds, and illustrations for various products such as textiles, ceramics and other products.
What is the best watercolor paint brand?
There are many brands of watercolor paint available, each with their own unique properties and characteristics. It can be difficult to say which brand is the “best” as it ultimately depends on personal preference and the specific needs of the artist. However, some brands that are well-known and respected among artists are:
- Winsor & Newton – this British brand has been around since 1832 and is known for its high-quality pigments, wide color range and good quality control.
- Daniel Smith – American brand is known for its unique and high-quality pigments, many of which are sourced from around the world. They also have a wide range of granulating, staining and non-staining colors.
- Schmincke – German brand is known for its high-quality pigments, transparent colors, and consistent quality control.
- M. Graham – this American brand is known for its use of honey as a binder, which helps to keep the paint moist and increases its working time.
- Sennelier – Sennelier known for its high-quality pigments and its use of gum arabic and honey as binders, which gives their paint a rich, buttery consistency.
- Holbein – Japanese brand is known for its high-quality pigments, and its Artist’s grade paints are considered to be one of the best in the market.
To determine which brand of watercolor paint is best for you is to try out several different brands and see which ones work best for your specific needs and preferences.
Watercolor paint in pans, tubes and liquid – video
What is the difference between watercolors in pans, tubes and liquid watercolors! In this video you will learn about all the difference between tubes vs pans, how to choose between watercolor tubes and pans, but also how to use watercolors in tubes, watercolors pans and how to use liquid watercolors:
Watercolor paint FAQ
List of a frequently asked questions about watercolor paint:
Watercolor paint can be mixed with other mediums such as gouache, ink, and colored pencils to create unique effects. However, it is important to test the compatibility of the mediums before using them together.
When choosing watercolor paint, you should consider the quality of the pigments, the type of paint (tubes or pans), and the brand. It’s also important to have a range of colors, tones and shades.
The shelf life of watercolor paint can vary depending on the brand and the storage conditions, but generally, a properly stored paint can last for several years. Some manufacturers indicate the expiration date of their paints.
Watercolor paints should be stored in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. Tubes of paint should be kept upright, and pans of paint should be kept in their original packaging.
Some common pigments used in watercolor paint include cadmium, ultramarine, cobalt, and manganese.
The main ingredients in watercolor paint are pigments, a binder (commonly gum arabic) and water.
Watercolor paint is a unique and versatile medium that is used by artists and illustrators to create a wide range of effects and textures. Its transparency, granulation, and staining properties make it a favorite among artists for its luminous and natural effects. Understanding the properties and characteristics of watercolor paint, as well as how it is made, can help you create beautiful and unique paintings and illustrations 🙂