My Watercolor Materials

Friday, November 04, 2016

A lot of you guys have been dropping DMs in Instagram asking what materials I use to paint! I totally understand the curiosity. When I was starting out in watercolour, I always wanted to know what other people use for their works as well. I think it always helps to know what resources or tools others are using to help them.


I've gone through a number of different brands for watercolour paints, from Cotman to Holbein to Daniel Smith.

My very first professional set of watercolours was a Holbein palette I created on my own. I bought a bunch of the small tubes from Sekaido in Shinjuku. You can see my old palette in my review of Khadi papers. Holbein is a great set of paints. I love them especially for florals. Their opera pink is top notch, despite not being lightfast, and by far my favourite version of this color.

My boyfriend eventually gifted me a twelve tube set from Sennelier when he visited Paris for holiday. It's a beautiful gift. I personally love Sennelier paints. A lot of others I know seem to find them to be dull. They are not as vibrant as DS paints, but I find that I love how juicy Sennelier watercolours are. They are very easy to activate and they are beautifully transparent. They are particularly great for my style as I love glazing.

When an aunt went abroad, Dick Blick had a huge sale with their Daniel Smith paints. They were incredibly cheap and I couldn't resist buying a bunch. These are the current paints I use. I don't know why, but I went through a bit of a learning curve with them. I think because very little went such a long way.

I bought them with the express purpose of creating my own limited palette. I wanted to experiment more with a limited set of colours.

I'm pulling this out of my Instagram. The colors I have in my palette are:

  • Hansa Yellow Light
  • New Gamboge
  • Pyrrol Scarlett
  • Transparent Pyrrol Orange
  • Quinacridone Rose
  • French Ultramarine
  • Pthalo Blue GS and RS
  • Lunar Black 
  • Burnt Sienna

All Daniel Smith. I was also curious about Schmincke's Purple Magenta, so I threw it in as well. It's 11 colours. I started by including both warm and cool variants of primary colours.

I highly suggest starting with the Daniel Smith Essential Watercolors Set then adding other colours you see fit for your palette. It contains six 5ml tubes of paint. That may not seem like a lot, but it will be more than enough. It's an excellently curated set, even for beginners.

Locally, for Holbein colors, you can buy them at ArtWhale; Sennelier at ArtNebula; and Daniel Smith at DE's Artroom. :)

Brushes and Pencils

I use only one pencil for sketching light outlines of my work. That's a simple HB. Any HB works for me. I like the tip sharp so I can sketch very thin and very light.

Prior to these brushes, I used a Holbein mini ReSable set from Sekaido. It's the same set my 0 Holbein brush comes from. I was gifted the Escoda Reserva 8, then eventually bought myself the Isabey travel mop 0. I still use my Holbein mini ReSable 0 brush. All these brushes are versatile enough for tiny details, even the 8. But personally, I like using my Escoda for washes; my Isabey for details; and my Holbein for blending out face details. You can get a very, very fine tip with the Isabey travel mop. All three hold water incredibly well, especially the Reserva brush.


If you're looking for a good beginner's travel brush, I'd recommend the Isabey. It's very versatile and, as a plus, it's lovely to look at! It's great for washes and details.

Locally, you can buy the Isabey at ArtNebula and the Escoda Reserva at ArtWhale.

Escoda Reserva 8, Isabey travel mop 0, HB pencil
L-R: Escoda Reserva 8, Isabel Travel mop 0, HB pencil, Holbein mini ReSable 0


I've found the best paper that works for me is a set I can't even remember! But I bought it in Sekaido. I've long lost the slip of paper that had its brand. I only know it's 100% cotton, 300gsm. If I ever figure that out again, I'll be sure to update this post!

Usually, the paper I use is the Strathmore 500 series. The pre-cut sets are great too. These are also 100% cotton and archival quality. Other times, when I want a more textured look that can take heavy washes, I use the Khadi papers. Below are examples of works I've done with the Strathmore papers.

There are a lot of good quality paper to practice with. The one I use the most isn't even explicitly for watercolour! I use the Clairefontaine Acrylic pad. You can buy those at National Bookstore for around PHP400 or so. It's quite big; what I do is I fold one page in half so I can paint on both halves separately. They're great!

Here are practice works. The pink-haired girl is painted on the Clairefontaine Acrylic pad.

Locally, you can buy the Strathmore papers at ArtNebula; the Khadi papers can be bought at ArtWhale

I hope this helps a little bit. My materials aren't what make my works; attending workshops, practicing on your own, and overall, just devoting time to your work is what helps it flourish. Materials, though, are a great help for anybody who wants to start out.

I'm not against anybody jumping headfirst with these materials--if you feel like they will help you out, and you're willing to shoulder the price, I don't see the problem. Just be sure to make good use of your investment.

For beginners, I always suggest getting a good set of paper to practice with, as well as some inexpensive paints that you won't be afraid to experiment with. For those, I always recommend Winsor and Newton's Cotman paints. :) Sennelier is also very easy to work with.

If you have any more questions, or want me to expand further on certain things, don't hesitate!

Happy painting!

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