Top 5 Best Watercolor Paints for Professionals: Top Picks for Quality and Performance

We independently select all products and services. If you click through links we provide, Mighty Deals may earn a commission.

Watercolor painting is an art form with a storied history, beloved for its transparency and fluidity. Professional artists often prefer watercolor for its ability to capture light and create layers of depth with subtle color gradients. The choice of watercolor paint is crucial to achieving the desired artistic effect, as it influences everything from the vibrancy of the colors to the overall longevity of the artwork.

When selecting watercolors, professionals look beyond mere color choices— they scrutinize pigmentation, permanence, and the quality of the binders. High-quality pigments ensure the color’s vibrancy and resistance to fading over time, while the right binders affect the smoothness of the application and the paint’s ability to re-wet after drying. The grade of the paint, often classified as professional (or artist) or student, also plays a key role, as professional-grade paints typically offer higher pigment loads and a greater transparency.

Our focus is to provide guidance on navigating the range of professional watercolor paints available, helping artists select products that align with their specific techniques and desired outcomes. Following meticulous research and analysis, we have distilled essential information to support informed decisions about which watercolors will best complement your artistic endeavors.

Top Watercolor Paints for Professional Artists

Our curated selection spotlights the finest watercolor paints for professional artists, each capable of transforming creative notions into expressive realities on paper. These paints are lauded for their rich pigmentation, lasting power, and overall quality. Whether you favor extensive palettes for vibrant compositions or a selection of essential hues for classical pieces, our roundup encapsulates the very best offerings in today’s market.

1. Winsor & Newton Pro Watercolor Set

If you’re seeking exceptional color vibrancy and consistency in watercolor painting, this set won’t disappoint.


  • Astonishing pigment strength and color clarity
  • Extensive palette for versatile mixing
  • Convenient and portable tube box design


  • Premium price point
  • Some colors might run out quickly with frequent use
  • Limited quantity in individual tubes

When we first tried the Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolor Set, the rich pigment quality was immediately noticeable. With each stroke, the colors remained consistent, translating our vision onto the paper flawlessly.

The color selection in this set is praiseworthy and serves us well in creating varied and complex pieces. Every hue maintains its brilliance even after drying, which allows us to layer and mix without losing the vibrancy we aim for in our work.

The set’s size is perfect for us when we’re on the go. Its compactness means it’s a constant companion to outdoor sessions or travels. However, frequent use has shown us that some colors in the set are used up more quickly than others, leading to the occasional need for replenishment sooner than expected. The price is on the higher side, reflecting its professional quality, but it is a worthy investment for those taking their watercolor work seriously.

2. Viburnum Art Watercolor Set

We think this Viburnum Art Watercolor Set is well-suited for professional artists seeking quality and convenience in their painting toolkit.


  • Exceptionally vibrant colors without any muddiness post-drying
  • The accompanying #4 synthetic brush offers great control for both washes and detail work
  • The wooden box is not only durable for storage but also elegantly crafted, making it a great gift


  • A limited total of 24 colors may not satisfy those needing a wider palette
  • The included mixing palette can feel a bit lightweight to some
  • Given its professional appeal, beginners might find the set advanced for their initial learning curve

Working with the Viburnum Art Watercolor Set, we immediately noticed the professional-grade pigmentation. The colors applied wonderfully to the paper and retained their vibrancy upon drying — no dullness whatsoever. The ease of blending and layering these watercolor paints allowed us to create textured, colorful pieces effortlessly.

Handling the paintbrush felt natural; it’s a quality tool definitely up to par for detail and broader strokes. We achieved good water and pigment distribution without battling any unwanted streaking. It was a definite advantage in both our larger washes and in adding fine details.

Storage and presentation are also points where this set excels. The wooden box not only keeps the half pans secure, but it also adds an air of sophistication to our painting setup — it’s a serious confidence booster. Switching between hues was a breeze with the six-well palette provided, although it may feel less robust compared to heavier palettes used in high-end professional environments.

In conclusion, the Viburnum Art Watercolor Set is a solid choice for pros who value quality and elegance in their artistic tools.

3. ShinHan Professional Set

We find this set to be a worthy investment for any watercolor professional seeking quality and variety.


  • Robust pigment quality that yields vibrant results
  • Wide array of colors catering to a comprehensive color palette
  • Paints blend seamlessly offering nuanced control over hues


  • Price may be steep for beginners
  • Tubes can be small if you’re working on large-scale projects regularly
  • May require a palette as they do not come with one

After testing the ShinHan Professional Watercolor Paints, it’s crystal clear why artists speak highly of them. With 48 dynamic shades at the ready, we have complete freedom to experiment with both bold and subtle tones. We marveled at how each color maintains its clarity and brilliance, even when diluted for lighter washes.

Using these watercolor paints allows us to unlock a new level of color mixing precision. The hues blend effortlessly, enabling us to produce the exact shades needed for our work. As we teach and create, we constantly reach for this set, assured that the high-grade pigmentation will bring our art to life without fail.

One thing we can’t overlook: the paints’ adhesiveness and lightfastness. Our pieces retain their luminosity over time, a testament to the set’s quality. Whether we’re in the studio or painting en plein air, these watercolors adhere to our paper with impressive permanence. This set from ShinHan has undeniably raised the bar for what we expect from our watercolors.

4. Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolors


  • Vivid, natural color selection providing a professional palette
  • Large pans accommodate a variety of brush sizes, enhancing versatility
  • Includes palette sheet and color chart, adding convenience and ease of use


  • Some pans may not be entirely filled, which could be disappointing
  • The initial price point may be high for those on a budget
  • Shiny finish might not be preferred by artists who love a matte look

In our studio, the Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolors brought a touch of Japan’s rich, painterly tradition to our work. The colors, derived from nature, offered an exceptional vibrancy that made our paintings pop with an almost jewel-like quality.

With their generously sized pans, we’ve found them incredibly easy to navigate with both wide and narrow brushes. This convenience allowed for greater expressiveness and eased our workflow, especially during expansive washes or when adding fine details.

Moreover, the included palette sheet doubled as a mixing surface, proving invaluable for experimenting with custom hues. Having the swatch card, we swiftly mapped out the colors, which streamlined our decision-making process during intricate projects.

The luxurious feel of these watercolors combined with their functionality made us wonder how we ever managed without them. Every painting session with the Kuretake Gansai Tambi set felt like a discovery of new potentials in watercolor techniques.

5. Grabie Watercolor Kit

We believe this set comes highly recommended for professionals seeking a vast range of colors in a portable format.


  • A spectrum of 100 diverse colors including unique metallics and fluorescents
  • Non-toxic, blendable paints that exhibit excellent tinting strength
  • Practical accessories included, enhancing the painting experience


  • The individual paint squares might be too small for some projects
  • Color representation may occasionally differ from the palette appearance
  • Higher price point in comparison to basic sets

In our use, it became clear that this Grabie Watercolor Kit isn’t just another paint set. The array of 100 colors immediately unleashes a world of creative potential, and the metallic and fluorescent hues add a distinctive flair to any artwork. Each color carries its own character and the pigments possess a vibrancy that persists as the paint dries.

The blending properties of these paints stand out. Mixing colors is a dream, with a natural transition between hues. Even when diluted, the paints lose none of their intensity, which is essential for layering techniques that require a gentle touch. And when we needed to travel light, the compact case was a definitive plus – sturdy enough to toss into a bag without a second thought.

Our hands-on experience highlighted a minor issue: size matters when it comes to paint squares. For extensive projects, the smaller portions could necessitate frequent replenishment, which isn’t ideal for all. Despite the occasional mismatch between a color in the pan and on paper, the provided swatch sheet is a helpful tool for previewing the actual paint outcome.

In short, this watercolor set from Grabie stands as a portable and comprehensive kit ideal for artists who value quality and variety in their palette.

Buying Guide

When we select watercolor paints, we prioritize pigment quality. High-quality pigments provide more vivid colors and better lightfastness, ensuring our artworks endure over time.

We consider the permanence rating as well, which indicates how resistant a paint is to fading. Reputable manufacturers typically provide these ratings, and opting for highly permanent paints is a safe bet for professional work.

Graininess is another factor to take into account. Finer pigments yield a smoother wash, which is essential for even color application. The granularity can affect the texture of the painting, so we choose based on the desired finish.

The transparency of the paint is crucial for layering techniques. Transparent paints allow for subtle color mixing and glazing, whereas opaque paints are better for bolder, standalone color application. We decide accordingly based on the technique that suits our style.

We also look at the consistency and formulation of the paint. Some artists prefer tubes that provide a thicker application, while others opt for pans that are more convenient for traveling and plein air painting.

Lastly, the color selection within a set is important to consider. Some sets offer a wide range of colors that can be mixed to create new hues, offering versatility. Others have a limited palette which requires mixing to achieve desired shades.

Our choices should align with personal preferences and the specific requirements of our painting style and subjects.

Frequently Asked Questions

Professionals in watercolor art seek the highest quality materials for their work. The following questions address common concerns regarding paints, sets, and tools that suit the advanced skill sets of professional artists.

What are the top-rated brands of professional watercolor paints?

We find that brands like Winsor & Newton, Schmincke, and Daniel Smith are frequently lauded for their rich pigmentation and consistency. These brands have proven to offer the reliability and performance that professionals require.

Which watercolor paint sets do professional artists recommend most frequently?

Professional artists often recommend curated sets from trusted brands like Sennelier, M. Graham, and Holbein. These sets are celebrated for their color range and the inclusion of unique pigments.

What characteristics define professional grade watercolor paints?

Professional grade watercolor paints are defined by their superior tinting strength, permanence, and lightfastness. They also have a smooth consistency that allows for easy mixing and layering.

How do professional grade watercolors differ from those meant for beginners?

Professional watercolors contain more pigment and less fillers leading to more vibrant, lasting colors. They also offer better flow and control, which are crucial for detailed work, as opposed to beginner’s watercolors, which often have inconsistent pigment loads and may fade over time.

What are the essential qualities to look for in watercolor brushes for professional artists?

Our experience dictates that the best brushes for professional work have fine points, resilient bristles, and the ability to hold a considerable amount of water and pigment. Sable or high-quality synthetic brushes are typically preferred.

Which palettes are favored by professional watercolorists for mixing paints?

Professionals tend to favor palettes with ample mixing space, such as ceramic or enameled metal ones. These materials do not stain easily and allow colors to be mixed cleanly, providing an accurate representation of the paint’s true hue.

Related Articles:

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00