My Watercolor Materials

Following through my previous post about what to buy when you want to start watercolor, I thought of writing about my stash of watercolor paints. I’ve never documented what I have and I think this post would be something I would return to after a year or so.

  1. Winsor and Netwon Cotman 45 Half Pans Studio Set


My uncle got me a beautiful set of Winsor and Newton Cotman watercolor pans, and it is my favorite among all my materials! For a student grade, the colors are wonderfully pigmented as you can see here and here. It also comes with a mixing palette that I usually detach because my table is too narrow to spread it out. I am not sure if this is sold in the Philippines as I’ve yet to see this exact set in National Bookstore or online. However, there are other Cotman sets and paint tubes that are being sold in those shops. My concern for this set is that it contains 45 half pans which makes it heavy and bulky to travel with. Granted I rarely paint outside the comforts of my home, but there are occasions that I like to bring my paints with me. So when Kar (of the popular OOTDraw in IG) offered to buy travel sets in Sekaido Japan, I immediately reserved one for myself. Which leads me to my next set…

2. Winsor and Newton Cotman Pocket Plus 12 Half Pans


I got a pocket size version of the Cotman! It comes with 12 half pans, a tiny brush and 2 mixing palettes. The case is gorgeous and compact. The very next day when I got this set I brought it to the office and in my excitement, I showed it to a guy officemate who looked offended as he thought I was going to show him a makeup compact. Hahaha! I haven’t used the half pans that comes with it though since I have the exact colors in my big Cotman set. I just removed my most used colors in big Cotman and placed it the tiny Cotman. Handy eh? Kindly check National Bookstore if they still have this available, as I have seen it being sold there before.

3. Prang 16 Colors


My first watercolor set – the beloved Prang! I don’t use it as much these days but I whip it out when I get invited to host art sessions with kids. It holds a lot of memories for me as many of my earlier paintings especially the fashion illustrations are painted using this set. Available in National Bookstore.

4. Kuretake Gansai Tambi 12 Colors (see link for 18 colors)


I must confess this is an impulse buy from Craft Carrot in St. James Bazaar last year. I haven’t used much of it in my illustrations due to a lame excuse of having no mixing palette at that time. I did a few florals with it but I can’t make a judgement yet of the colors until I have really used it. I am secretly eyeing the Gansai Tambi Starry Colors but I’m still debating whether adding some gold to my paintings would work or it’s just me attracted to anything sparkly. It’s also available in National Bookstore.

5. Sennelier La Petite Aquarelle Fine Student Travel Box 12 Tubes


I got my first watercolor tubes in Craft Central’s PR party. I now use it in tandem with my Cotman colors, as the pigments in this Sennelier aren’t as good as the Cotman. I love the Permanent Rose and Deep Green in this set though! I recommend it for beginners.


So far that’s what I got. I noticed that there are certain colors that I gravitate to in any set so my paintings follow that same color schemes. But I am challenging myself to experiment more, mix and match and take a risk. Eventually I would like to mix a different media to watercolor. Documenting my watercolor sets is making me itch to go back to painting. There are so many possibilities in one watercolor box and I can’t possibly use all of these up in my lifetime (but I sure hell will try)! If you have your own watercolor materials list, please do share in the comments. I like looking into new materials and reading how they are being used.

How to Start a Watercolor Hobby

I get a lot of questions on which materials to buy when you want to start watercolor as a hobby. Unlike years back when I was starting, I could only rely on National Bookstore for my supplies. Now, there are so many options. Several art supplies shops have popped up online that target hobbyist and full-fledged artists with various watercolor brands hailing from France, Japan, Korea, etc. It makes choosing much more difficult and consequently makes hoarding a lot easier! I’ve seen artists who has as much as 20 brushes and several pans and tubes of paints and I’m astounded how they can figure out which one to use (Is there a designated brush set when doing florals? Or a brand best suited for landscape or portrait perhaps?). But like everything else in life, please take things in moderation. That life lesson includes buying art supplies.

So if you want to give watercolor a try but is afraid to commit, here are some options you can purchase without breaking the bank.


Prang is wonderful brand to start with because it is the best among all the budget friendly options. I started with Prang and as you can see my set is used and abused countless times. If you need more convincing about this set, check out my work here and here that showcase Prang’s vibrant colors.


For those who prefers tubes instead of pans, try Sennelier La Petite Aquarelle Fine Student travel box. The set comes with 12 tubes of basic colors (less pigmented because it’s a student grade) and a mixing tray. But you can do like me and buy a separate palette for more mixing convenience. Tubes last longer than pans so this is a good investment. For sample work using this Sennelier, check this out. Sennelier La Petite Aquarelle Fine Student travel box and mixing palette are available in The Craft Central located in Greenbelt 5, Makati.


For brushes, I recommend only getting 1 big and 1 medium to small round brush. I like round brushes as oppose to flat ones because I can do wash and details with them. You don’t need an arsenal of brushes to start out and you don’t need to get expensive brushes with real hair. Synthetic brushes work just fine and sometimes they work even better, in my opinion. Princeton, Martol and Best Buy brushes are available in National Bookstore and Campus brush set of 3 from artnebulaph. Careful not to buy brushes that have falling hair or those that are too stiff (ala walis tingting hair), as I’ve seen them in NBS as well.


Ok this is the last one in the list – paper! There is paper made for watercolor so don’t use bond, oslo, cartolina, canvas, construction or tracing paper! The most cost friendly and beginner friendly brand would always be Canson and it’s available in National Bookstore (if it’s not sold out which is happening more often)! For beginners, please use 300gsm paper as it is thicker, can absorb more water and will enable you to easily lift colors. Canson Montval pad is a good choice with price ranging from 400-700 pesos, depending on the size. I also put in The Lettering Progress Keeper by Abbey Sy (also by Canson) as it’s a good pad to practice with, despite being 200gsm.

Alright, that’s all you need to start watercoloring! Oh yeah, you also need a jar of clean water, a load of paper towels (Starbucks have really absorbent paper towels haha shhhhhh…), lots of patience and super zen-like aura! Watercoloring should be fun so take it easy. Purchasing the right materials will certainly help you get started, but it is the person’s perseverance and desire for learning that will make the painting truly shine.