Your Guide to Watercolor Paint Cost: Tips and Insights
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. What influences the cost of watercolor paint?
  2. How to determine quality in watercolor paints
  3. Tips for finding affordable high-quality watercolor paints
  4. Insights into price differences between brands
  5. Cost analysis of watercolor paint tubes vs. pans
  6. The role of pigments in watercolor paint pricing
  7. How to extend the life of your watercolor paints

Watercolor painting can be a wonderful hobby or even a professional occupation, but one common question that often arises is, "how much does watercolor paint cost?" This guide aims to break down the factors that influence the price of watercolor paint, offer insights into quality determination, and provide tips for finding affordable, high-quality options. So, let's dive in!

What influences the cost of watercolor paint?

Several factors play a part in determining how much watercolor paint costs. Here's a quick rundown:

  • Brand: Just like with any product, the brand name can significantly impact the cost. Renowned companies like Winsor & Newton or Daniel Smith may charge more for their paints reflecting their reputation for quality.
  • Quality: There are two main quality grades in watercolor paints: student and artist. Artist-grade paints tend to cost more since they contain higher pigment concentrations and fewer fillers than student-grade paints.
  • Packaging: Watercolor paints come in different forms, such as tubes or pans. Tubes generally offer more paint and are often more expensive than pans.
  • Pigment: The type of pigment used in the paint can also influence the price. Rare pigments or those that are harder to source can push up the cost.

Now, understanding these factors doesn't mean you'll instantly know how much does watercolor paint cost, but it does give you a framework to understand the pricing variations. Stick around as we delve deeper into these aspects in the following sections.

How to determine quality in watercolor paints

When you're standing in an art supply store, surrounded by rows and rows of colorful paint tubes, it can be hard to know where to start. But don't worry, we've got you covered. Here are some pointers to help you assess the quality of watercolor paints:

  • Transparency: Quality watercolors should offer a certain level of transparency. This allows for layering and achieving beautiful depth in your artwork. You can check the transparency level by painting a stroke over a black line. If the line is still visible, the paint is transparent.
  • Color Vibrancy: High-quality paints should offer vibrant, rich colors. Dull or overly pale colors can be a sign of low-quality paint with a high level of fillers.
  • Granulation: This refers to the texture that appears when the paint dries. Some artists prefer granulated paint for its unique effects, while others prefer a smooth finish. This is more of a personal preference, but it's good to know what you're getting!
  • Lightfastness: This term represents how resistant the paint is to fading when exposed to light. Quality paints should have high lightfastness, ensuring your artwork stays vibrant for years to come.
  • Pigment Information: The best watercolor brands will provide information about the pigments used on the packaging. Knowing your pigments can help you predict the behavior of the paint on paper, such as how it will mix with other colors.

Keep in mind, though, that the "best" watercolor paint is subjective. What works beautifully for one artist might not suit another. It's about finding what works for you and your unique style. So, go ahead, experiment, and have fun!

Tips for finding affordable high-quality watercolor paints

So, you're pondering, "how much does watercolor paint cost?" and "how can I score some high-quality paints without breaking the bank?" No worries. We're here to share some budget-friendly tips:

  • Start Small: Instead of buying a large set of colors, start with a basic palette. A good quality set of primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) plus black and white is enough to mix a wide range of hues. You can always add more colors as you go.
  • Student Grade vs. Artist Grade: If budget is a considerable factor, consider starting with student-grade paints. They're less pigmented than artist-grade paints but can still produce lovely results. Plus, they're a great way to practice before investing in more expensive paints.
  • Look for Sales and Discounts: Art supply stores often have sales, especially around the holidays. Sign up for their newsletters to stay in the loop. You might just snag a great deal on that paint set you've been eyeing.
  • Use Every Drop: Watercolor paints go a long way, even more so when you're mindful of waste. Squeeze out only what you need, and remember, you can always reactivate dried watercolors with a touch of water.
  • Try Different Brands: Don't be afraid to try different brands. Each brand has its unique qualities, and sometimes, a more affordable brand may surprise you with its performance.

Remember, becoming a skilled watercolor artist is more about understanding and mastering the medium than owning the most expensive supplies. So, keep practicing, stay curious, and let your creativity flow!

Insights into price differences between brands

Ever wondered why some watercolor brands seem like a steal, while others might require you to dig deep into your pockets? Well, the reasons are more than just the label on the tube. Here's a quick rundown:

  • Quality of Pigments: High-end brands often use superior pigments which provide vibrant, lasting colors. They also tend to have a higher pigment to binder ratio, meaning you get more color per brush stroke.
  • Manufacturing Process: Some companies use traditional methods to create their paints, which can be labor-intensive and time-consuming. This added effort often reflects in the price tag.
  • Brand Reputation: Established brands often charge more because they've built a reputation for quality over time. They've proven their paints perform well, and artists trust them.
  • Range of Colors: Some brands offer a wider range of colors, including specialty and hard-to-find hues. This convenience and variety can lead to higher prices.

So, when you're weighing up how much watercolor paint costs, consider what's behind the price. Sometimes, paying a bit more can give you a better painting experience. But remember, the most expensive paint does not always make the best artist. It's all about how you use what you've got!

Cost analysis of watercolor paint tubes vs. pans

Alright, so you're now pondering on whether to get tubes or pans, right? Let's break down their costs to help you make a more informed decision.

Watercolor Tubes: When you visualize a classic artist's palette, you're probably imagining watercolor tubes. These are generally more expensive upfront, but they also tend to last longer. Why? It's because tubes often contain more paint than pans. Plus, they offer the ability to squeeze out just the right amount of paint you need, reducing waste.

However, if you're a bit heavy-handed or don't paint often, you might find that the paint dries out in the tube. This could lead you to spend more over time.

Watercolor Pans: Pans, on the other hand, are typically less expensive upfront. They're compact, portable, and tend to dry out less quickly than tubes. This makes them a popular choice for artists who paint on the go, or those who like to have a wide variety of colors at their fingertips.

But here's the kicker: because pans contain less paint, you may find yourself needing to replace them more frequently. Over time, this could end up costing more than tubes.

So, when you're considering how much watercolor paint costs, think about how you plan to use your paints. Tubes or pans, each has its own benefits and drawbacks. The choice really comes down to what suits your painting style and budget best.

The role of pigments in watercolor paint pricing

Now, something that significantly contributes to how much watercolor paint costs is the type of pigment used. But what's a pigment, you may ask? Well, pigments are the particles that give paint its color. They're like the secret ingredients in grandma’s famous apple pie—each one adds a unique flavor.

Synthetic Pigments: Synthetic pigments are man-made and usually cost less to produce. That's why paints made with these pigments tend to be more affordable. You can usually spot them by their names, which often end in 'Hue'. For example, 'Cadmium Yellow Hue' or 'Cobalt Blue Hue'.

However, just like with fast-food versus home-cooked meals, lower cost doesn't always mean better value. Synthetic pigments can sometimes lack the richness and depth of their natural counterparts.

Natural Pigments: Natural pigments, extracted from minerals or even semi-precious stones, are usually pricier. They're like the organic veggies of the paint world. Because they're harder to source, paints made with these pigments often cost more.

But don't let the price tag scare you! Natural pigments often provide vibrant, rich colors that can take your artwork to a whole new level. It's an investment that could pay off in the form of stunning, gallery-worthy art.

So, when you're wondering how much watercolor paint costs, remember to consider the pigments. Whether you choose synthetic or natural can make a big difference not only to your wallet but also to your artwork.

How to extend the life of your watercolor paints

So you've figured out how much watercolor paint costs and you've invested in a set that you love. Now, how do you make sure that investment lasts as long as possible?

Store Them Properly: The first thing you can do is to store your watercolors correctly. If they're in tubes, make sure the caps are tightly closed to prevent the paint from drying out. If you're using pans, keeping the lid closed when not in use can also help extend the life of your paints.

Don't Waste Paint: When you're painting, take only as much paint as you think you'll need. It's better to go back for more paint than to have leftover paint on the palette that dries out and goes to waste.

Proper Cleaning: After painting, rinse your brushes thoroughly. You'd be surprised how much paint can be left in your brushes, and this is paint that you're not using on your art!

Resurrect Dried Paints: Did you know that you can bring dried watercolor paints back to life? Simply add a few drops of water and let it sit for a bit, and voila—your paint is as good as new!

By taking these simple steps, you can ensure that your watercolor paints last longer. This not only saves you money in the long run, but also means you can spend more time creating beautiful art and less time wondering how much watercolor paint costs!

If you enjoyed learning about watercolor paint costs and want to further develop your watercolor painting skills, check out the workshop 'How to Paint Water' by Jauni (tofublock). This workshop will teach you the techniques and methods to create stunning watercolor paintings of water, enhancing your artistic abilities and understanding of the medium.