Top 5 Best Watercolor Books: Top Picks for Artists in 2024

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Watercolor painting is an art form that has captivated artists and enthusiasts alike for centuries, offering a delicate balance between control and spontaneity. The medium’s transparent quality allows for light to reflect through the paint, creating a luminescence that is hard to achieve with other types of paint. Aspiring and seasoned painters often seek to refine their skills and techniques, and one way to accomplish this is through educational resources. Watercolor books are invaluable tools in this journey, filled with step-by-step instructions, color theory, and expert advice to enhance both creativity and technical proficiency.

Selecting the right watercolor book can be essential for growth in this medium. With the array of books available on the market, it’s important to consider the author’s expertise, the book’s focus on technique or projects, and the quality of the illustrations. A good watercolor book should feature clear, high-quality images that truly capture the subtleties of the medium and inspire the reader. It should also cater to the reader’s current skill level, whether they are beginners needing comprehensive guidance or advanced artists looking for new challenges and perspectives.

We recognize that having a guide that resonates with an artist’s style and goals can make all the difference in their artistic journey. After thoroughly researching and analyzing various watercolor books, we’ve compiled a list of top choices tailored to meet the needs of watercolor artists at any stage in their development. Our rigorous selection process ensures that the books we recommend are not only informative but also accessible, allowing you to seamlessly incorporate new techniques into your repertoire.

Top Watercolor Books for Artists

We have carefully selected an array of watercolor books that stand out for their instructional quality and inspirational content. These books cater to a wide range of skill levels, from beginners to advanced painters, offering clear guidance, techniques, and artistic insights. Whether you’re looking to master watercolor painting or simply seeking to enjoy the medium more fully, our roundup will help you find the perfect book to suit your needs.

1. Kolo Watercolor Book

If you’re looking for a durable, versatile sketchbook for watercolor, the Kolo Watercolor Book might just be the perfect choice for your artistic endeavors.


  • The cotton paper absorbs water excellently with minimal warping
  • Sturdy construction with heavyweight papers withstands various media
  • Eco-conscious purchase with 1% of sales supporting wildlife


  • Limited number of pages may require frequent replacements
  • Slightly warped paper with heavy washes
  • Premium pricing may not suit all budgets

Holding the Kolo Watercolor Book in our hands, we feel the solidity of its construction. The ultra-thick covers protect the cotton pages within, a small detail that shows the thoughtfulness put into the design. Turning each page feels like a fresh invitation to express creativity.

As we lay down the first wash, the paper’s resilience becomes evident. It welcomes water generously without buckling under the weight, which is a testament to the 100% cotton composition. Whether it’s watercolor, gouache or even acrylic, the media glides on with ease, making it a joy for artists who revel in mixed-media projects.

We appreciate the brand’s commitment to the environment too. Knowing that a percentage of our purchase aids in wildlife conservation makes us feel part of a larger community of eco-friendly artists. While the page count is on the lower side, we find each sheet ample enough for detailed works, although frequent artists might need to stock up. Despite the occasional slight paper warping, the overall experience with the Kolo Watercolor Book leaves us inspired and ready for our next artistic venture.

2. Kolo Watercolor Book

Consider snagging this Kolo Watercolor Book; its premium paper and durability stand out in our recent art sessions.


  • Holds up well to different watercolor techniques
  • Easy to carry due to its sturdy, rounded-corner design
  • Eco-conscious with the brand’s commitment to the environment


  • Limited to only 18 sheets, which might feel scant for prolific artists
  • Slightly higher price point than some competitors
  • May be too thick for those preferring a sleeker notebook

We’ve been hands-on with the Kolo Watercolor Book during our latest projects, and the natural white, heavyweight paper is reliably resilient. It accepts multiple layers of washes and corrections, ensuring that our artwork remains as vivid as intended.

Portability and durability go hand in hand with this book. The tough covers and wire binding make it our go-to companion for outdoor painting sessions. Plus, we never fret about jamming it into a packed bag.

Their commitment to aiding wildlife conservation is not just commendable but portioned directly from sales — a gesture we can feel good about with every brush stroke. We couldn’t help but consider how less frequent paper replacements would be, given its quality, and how that aligns with our sustainable practices.

3. ARTEZA Watercolor Notebook Trio

For on-the-go artists who appreciate quality and convenience, this ARTEZA notebook set is a catch.


  • The paper withstands multiple washes without damage
  • Ideal size for travel, fitting comfortably in most bags
  • Acid-free papers maintain the vibrancy of paintings for years


  • The pages might show some warping under heavy water application
  • Occasional bleeding through when using a lot of water
  • Some may find the size too small for extensive projects

Recently, we’ve had our hands on the ARTEZA Watercolor Notebook Trio, and it’s quite impressive. The paper’s texture is a dream to work on, with just enough roughness to hold the paint well without interfering with fine detail work. As watercolor enthusiasts know, having cold press paper on both sides is a subtle, yet invaluable feature, especially when creating unified double-page spreads. The compact nature of these notebooks makes them extremely handy for impromptu sketching sessions in the park or quick studies while traveling.

Our experience showed that these books can take layering quite well. Starting with a light wash, we added layers as the piece demanded without any pilling or degradation of the paper. For those who are beginners or even more experienced painters looking to journal their progress or ideas, these notebooks fit the bill, elegantly balancing portability and functionality.

However, they’re not immune to the common watercolor paper pitfalls. When really drenched in water, some warping is expected, so for very wet techniques, expect a bit of wave to your pages. The elastic band is a nice touch, keeping the book closed and securing any loose pieces you might tuck between the pages. Overall, our routine with the ARTEZA Watercolor Notebook Trio was delightful and largely problem-free—definitely a set worth considering for your artistic endeavours.

4. Art-n-Fly Watercolor Sketchpad

If you’re in pursuit of a reliable, high-quality watercolor sketchpad, this one by Art-n-Fly certainly fits the bill with its enduring construction and versatility.


  • The paper’s acid-free nature ensures long-lasting artwork
  • Ideal weight and texture for a variety of painting techniques
  • Conveniently portable and microperforated for easy page removal


  • May not be suitable for professional-grade work due to non-cotton composition
  • Contains only 70 sheets, which may be insufficient for prolific artists
  • Perforations might not align with all artistic preferences

Our latest experience with the Art-n-Fly Watercolor Sketchpad left us impressed with its sturdy build. The 140lb paper stands up well to multiple washes without buckling, making our painting process smooth and enjoyable. It’s truly a joy for artists who enjoy blending and layering colors.

This sketchpad scaled well to our various artistic explorations. We applied watercolor brush pens with ease and noticed how well the paper absorbed the pigment. The versatility extends beyond just watercolor; it’s receptive to other media like gouache and ink, which bolsters its appeal.

Portability was a standout feature. We carried it effortlessly on outdoor painting excursions, and the compact size did not restrict our creativity. Tearing out pages for sharing or display was hassle-free, thanks to the microperforation. This sketchpad not only served as a canvas but also became a consistent companion on our artistic journeys.

5. Canson XL Watercolor Pad

If you’re venturing into watercolor techniques, this Canson pad offers a fantastic mix of quality and value, making practice and exploration accessible.


  • Affordable without compromising on quality.
  • Withstands multiple layers and washes well.
  • The acid-free paper preserves works for long-term display.


  • The paper might buckle slightly under very wet techniques.
  • Binding may not withstand rough handling.
  • Limited sheet count means restocking more frequently.

It’s hard not to appreciate the sturdiness of the Canson XL Watercolor Pad’s paper. When we laid down washes and built up colors, the sheets remained resistant to warping. This midweight paper allowed us to experiment with various techniques such as lifting and dry brushing quickly.

Our watercolors glided smoothly across the surface, with the texture of the paper adding a nice granular effect where desired. The pad’s size also felt just right for casual sketching and smaller, detailed illustrations.

The side wire binding is a practical touch, as it kept our workspace neat while we flipped between sheets. Keeping in mind its student-grade designation, we found this paper a reliable companion for both learning and executing watercolor projects with felicity.

Buying Guide

When we look for watercolor books, our primary focus is on the quality of the instructional content. We recommend books that offer step-by-step tutorials, which are incredibly useful for both beginners and advanced artists.

Paper Quality: Watercolor books should have high-quality paper that can withstand multiple washes without warping or bleeding. The paper’s weight is often an indicator of quality, usually measured in pounds or grams per square meter (GSM).

Table: Suggested Paper Quality

AttributeRecommended Quality
Paper Weight140 lbs / 300 GSM
TextureCold Press

Binding: A book that lays flat when open is quite practical, so we favor spiral-bound books. This feature allows for easier practice as we can keep the book open to the page we are working on.

  • Content Clarity: Our choices are influenced by how well the concepts are explained. Books with straightforward instructions and clear illustrations or photographs top our list.

List: Content Features to Consider

  • Step-by-step guides
  • Clear diagrams or pictures
  • Comprehensive techniques overview

Experience Level: It’s crucial to match the book to our skill level. Beginners should look for books with fundamental techniques, while advanced artists might look for books that delve into complex subjects like color theory and composition.

Author’s Expertise: We value authors with provable experience and teaching skills. Credentials such as years of experience, past artworks, and previous publications can serve as indicators of expertise.

By considering these factors, we ensure that we pick a watercolor book that enhances our skills and suits our personal learning style.

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve gathered common inquiries about watercolor books to provide clarity and assistance in your artistic journey.

What are the top recommended watercolor books for beginners?

For beginners, we highly recommend “Watercolor Painting for Dummies” by Colette Pitcher and “Everyday Watercolor: Learn to Paint Watercolor in 30 Days” by Jenna Rainey. These books offer step-by-step guidance and are excellent for building foundational skills.

Which watercolor books are considered classics or must-haves by experts?

Experts often refer to “The Watercolor Book” by David Dewey and “Watercolor Right from the Start” by Hilary Page as classic must-haves. These texts have established themselves as invaluable resources for both technique and inspiration.

Can you suggest watercolor books that are suitable for adult learners?

Adult learners will find “The Joy of Watercolor” by Emma Block and “Urban Watercolor Sketching” by Felix Scheinberger ideal for their needs. They provide mature insight into watercolor techniques tailored for grown-up tastes and approaches.

What are some highly praised watercolor books I can find on Reddit?

In discussions on Reddit, “Modern Watercolor” by Kristin Van Leuven and “Light and Color in Watercolor” by William Lawrence are frequently praised. These books have been upvoted for their comprehensive approach and engaging content.

What techniques are covered in the most well-regarded watercolor painting books?

The most well-regarded watercolor painting books cover a variety of techniques including wet-on-wet, dry brush, glazing, and gradient washes. For instance, “Watercolor 365” by Leslie Redhead provides daily practices focusing on these essential techniques.

Where can I find a comprehensive watercolor painting book in PDF format?

For those seeking a comprehensive guide in PDF format, “Free Art Books: Painting Techniques” from the Metropolitan Museum of Art is available online at no cost. This resource offers extensive information and can be a valuable addition to your digital library.

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