Trying to find the perfect art supply for your collection can often become very overwhelming very quickly. So below I’ve constructed a list of my favorite art supplies over the years and the pros and cons of these supplies. I’ll keep the tidbits short and sweet so you can make up your mind quickly about what might work in your collection.
By no means do you need every item on this list – these are just my favorites and why I love them!
Also, if you purchase through one of the links I provide below – I receive a small commission. Which in turn helps me create more content for ya’ll!
Pros: Love the size and smooth surface of the paper. I’m super picky about my drawing paper’s surface. I prefer a mixed media style paper more than a drawing paper due to the ease I can erase and the feeling of the paper against my hand while drawing. I also like having a spiral-bound notebook rather than a hardbound. It’s a personal preference – but get my head out of the “this has to be perfect mode” and more into creative mode.
Cons: The size I use isn’t travel-friendly and doesn’t have a hard binder. Meaning, these sketchbooks are not going to handle rough use over time and still look nice on a shelf. They bend and warp and papers can even come loose. These notebooks are meant to be destroyed and used with much love. So if you are in the market for a hardbound study drawing journal – this won’t match.
Pros: I’m a hot-press watercolor paper girly. Love a smooth yet absorbent surface that doesn’t let the paper’s texture get in the way of my illustration. If I’m in the mood to travel with my watercolors or just experiment in a watercolor journal – this is the one I’ve been reaching for as of late.
Cons: Even though this is a hardbound fake leather journal – the binding is not as hardy as you would think. Over time – the pages will start to separate from the hardcover. So just be aware when purchasing.
Pros: Once again I love my hot-press. These journals are a bit easier on your wallet than the previous ones and work well for experimenting and exploring. If budget is an issue – I recommend picking up this one over the BAOHONG. It might not look as nice – but does the job just fine.
Cons: This binding is not great. Over time – the pages will start to separate from the hardcover. So just be aware when purchasing.
I’m currently on the search for a watercolor paper that has a smooth surface (hot-press) yet still allows me to mix and apply colors similar to cold press. These two brands are my current favorites in this hunt.
Pros: I’m in love with Fabriano watercolor papers – especially their hot press! These papers have a slight texture to the surface that allows colors to absorb evenly to them yet still have a smooth flat surface. If you hate seeing the texture of your paper after painting an illustration – but still love the ease of working on a cold press – this paper is a happy medium!
Cons: This paper can get pricey – so search around. I like to purchase this paper in large sheets from Blick Art Supplies Online Store and then cut the paper into small sections to save money.
Pros: If I’m in the mood to paint on Cold Press – Hahnemuhle has been my go-to recently. I still use Arches Cold Press every once and a while – but prefer the smoother surface of Hahnemuhle.
Cons: Once again – this paper can be pricey and sometimes hard to find (although it is getting more popular as of late). Shop around and compare prices before buying.
Pros: Love this watercolor palette! It fits my needs perfectly with a smooth mixing area as well as plenty of deep wells to load with watercolor. Since this palette is made from porcelain instead of plastic or metal – the paints stay wet for much longer allowing longer painting times with fresh colors.
Cons: This is a studio palette – meaning you can’t move it. Mine rest in the same location on my art table at all times. It’s also pretty heavy. So if you are on the lookout for a travel palette – this isn’t for you.
Pros: I have a ton of watercolor brushes and a variety of different brands. But these are the ones I gravitate to most. They are a mix of synthetic hair as well as squirrel hair which gives you the perfect balance of control as well as color absorption in your brush.
Cons: These can be pricey – so stick with the 3 standard round brushes if budget is an issue. Basically a small, medium, and large. Then substitute with cheaper watercolor brushes to complete your collection.
Pros: I own two sets of watercolor pencils – these and the Derwent brand. For my purposes, I prefer the Winsor and Newton one’s better. These pencils have a harder lead which allows me to make sharp lines of color to outline my drawings. Then these lines blend in my traditional watercolors effortlessly – making the lines appear more natural compared to a standard graphite pencil.
Cons: These pencils do have a hard lead type – so they aren’t as easy to blend when compared to my Derwent. If you desire more blendable softer watercolor pencils – you might want to stay clear of these.
Pros: This is my favorite white ink to work with. I feel like it’s incredibly easy to work with and very opaque white.
Cons: My biggest complaint is they dry out super fast. So, buy the smaller containers and try to keep them airtight to preserve their shelf life.
Pros: This is my favorite black ink to work with. It’s fairly matte when compared to other black inks and creates fun loose work in water.
Cons: My biggest complaint is if applied thickly to the paper – you will get a slight shine. So, keep in mind it isn’t completely matte when applied super dark.
Pros: I use both the black and color pens of this brand in size 005. These are great for adding small details or even patterns to your watercolors at the end of your illustrations. And since they are waterproof – once dried you can paint over them.
Cons: If you are using one pen for a long length of time on watercolor paper – the texture of the paper can ruin the tip or the nub of the pen. So always test your pens before applying them to your illustration. Especially if you desire super sharp and exact lines.
Pros: This color is great for adding a pop of gold to a painting or adding flecks of gold to your illustration. Personally, I own the other colors from this collection – but rarely use them. This is the color I find myself drawn to the most.
Cons: Don’t buy the silver version of this brand. It STINKS. I can barely use it. But other than the price – the pale gold doesn’t smell and is quite easy to work with. Plus it last for quite a while. So, I think it’s worth the investment for me.
Pros: For the price, this is my favorite silver fleck accent to use in a painting! It can be used to paint over sections of the paper or to mix in wet paint for an added shimmer. This is one of my favorite supplies for adding shimmer to snow scenes or holiday illustrations!
Cons: Honestly, I don’t have much to complain about this supply. If I really wanted to be picky – I’d say sometimes it’s hard to see unless it hits the light just right. Personally, I like the subtle aspect of this supply – but if you want more of a bold accent this might not be what you are looking for.
Pros: In all honest, you can use any standard graphite pencil available for your drawings. However, if you are looking for a pencil that leaves light marks on your paper – the Kimberly Graphite 9H is the best! It’s a super hard lead pencil that allows you to get extremely light and super fine lines. These are my go-to pencils when wanting a light drawing for a watercolor painting.
Cons: If you like an eraser on the end of your pencil – these don’t come with one. So be aware of that. You will have to pick up an eraser for these pencils – which is why I’ve listed my favorites below.
Pros: These are the softest erasers I’ve found that pick up graphite lines and marks with ease. Plus, they are great for not damaging your watercolor paper.
Cons: They do “stain” with graphite after long-term use. So always test erase before erasing on your paper to make sure you won’t smudge graphite on your paper while erasing.
Pros: I own all the softcore colors available from Prismacolor. That is how much I love the color selection and soft blendable ability of these pencils. They are great for adding a bit of texture and even pop colors to a finished watercolor illustration.
Cons: They do leave a shiny residue on your paper. So if you are looking for something that leaves no shine Posca Pencils are the better option.
Pros: This is a new set of colored pencils I’ve been exploring as of late. So far I’m extremely impressed! I love that they are super rich in color as well as soft enough to blend with easy. They also don’t leave any shiny residue behind on the paper.
Cons: My only con is they don’t have a ton of colors.
Pros: This is a brand of masking fluid I use for all my paintings. I love this brand because it’s easy to use and see once dry.
Cons: Overtime – this masking fluid can become glumpy and thick. I have several tips and tricks in a brand new course using this specific brand of masking fluid. I even include tips for removing and applying your masking fluid without ripping your paper. If you are interested – make sure to check out the course below!
Pros: I use Ph. Martin’s Radiant Line watercolor Concentrates as well as some Ecoline Watercolor Concentrates in my collection. Both of these sets work wonderfully with my current traditional watercolors which I why I love them so much. They give me a punch of color and even coat the paper evenly.
Cons: My biggest complaint is that both sets are not lightfast- meaning the colors will fade over time. If you are curious as to my thoughts on these as well as my thoughts on the HYDRUS line make sure to check out the special video below!
Below is a list of the Watercolor Concentrates/Paints I Use
- Alpine Rose – PH. Martin’s Radiant Line (not lightfast)
- Persimmon – PH. Martin’s Radiant Line (not lightfast)
- Tangerine – PH. Martin’s Radiant Line (not lightfast)
- Orange – PH. Martin’s Radiant Line (not lightfast)
- Tiger Yellow – PH. Martin’s Radiant Line (not lightfast)
- Indian Yellow – PH. Martin’s Radiant Line (not lightfast)
- Lemon Yellow – PH. Martin’s Radiant Line (not lightfast)
- Tapestry – PH. Martin’s Radiant Line (not lightfast)
- Spring Green – Ecoline (not lightfast)
- Moss Green – PH. Martin’s Radiant Line (not lightfast)
- Calypso Green – PH. Martin’s Radiant Line (not lightfast)
- Jungle Green – PH. Martin’s Radiant Line (not lightfast)
- Juniper Green – PH. Martin’s Radiant Line (not lightfast)
- Turquoise Green – Ecoline (not lightfast)
- Ice Blue – PH. Martin’s Radiant Line (not lightfast)
- True Blue – PH. Martin’s Radiant Line (not lightfast)
- Ultra Blue – PH. Martin’s Radiant Line (not lightfast)
- Iris Blue – PH. Martin’s Radiant Line (not lightfast)
- Ultra Blue – PH. Martin’s Radiant Line (not lightfast)
- Violet – PH. Martin’s Radiant Line (not lightfast)
- Cyclamen – PH. Martin’s Radiant Line (not lightfast)
- Wild Rose – PH. Martin’s Radiant Line (not lightfast)
- Raspberry – PH. Martin’s Radiant Line (not lightfast)
- Tahiti Red – PH. Martin’s Radiant Line (not lightfast)
- Pastel Red – Ecoline (not lightfast)
- Apricot – Ecoline (not lightfast)
- Deep Ochre – Ecoline (not lightfast)
- Pumpkin – PH. Martin’s Radiant Line (not lightfast)
- Burnt Seinna – Ecoline (not lightfast)
- Antelope Brown – PH. Martin’s Radiant Line (not lightfast)
- Shell Pink – Holbein
- Brilliant Pink – Holbein
- Opera Rose – Winsor
- Permanent Rose – Winsor
- Scarlet Lake – Winsor
- Winsor Orange/Red – Winsor
- Cadmium Orange Light – Schmincke
- New Gamboge – Winsor
- Cadmium Yellow – Winsor
- Winsor Yellow – Winsor
- Cadmium Lemon Yellow – Schmincke
- Green Gold – Winsor
- Phthalo Yellow Green – Daniel Smith
- Permanent Green – Schmincke
- Phthalo Green Yellow – Daniel Smith
- Phthalo Green Blue – Daniel Smith
- Phthalo Turquoise – Winsor
- Horizon Blue – Holbein
- Manganese Blue – Winsor
- Winsor Blue Green – Winsor
- Winsor Blue Red – Winsor
- French Ultramarine – Winsor
- Winsor Violet – Winsor
- Mauve (Winsor Cotman Series)
- Quinacridone Lilac – Daniel Smith
- Payne’s Gray – Winsor
- Neutral Tint – Winsor
- Burnt Umber – Winsor
- Gold Brown – Schmincke
- Quinacridone Gold – Winsor
- Gold Ochre – Winsor
- Yellow Ochre – Winsor
- Jaune Brilliant no.2 – Holbein
I hope you enjoyed the list and my thoughts on them! If you want more exclusive content and info on my supplies – make sure to check out Watercolor Misfit Land! You can get exclusive free content as well as special discounts on my courses and drawing templates. Plus, you’ll be the first to learn about upcoming projects and ways you can get involved in the process!