Watercolour painting tends to be on a smaller scale than oils or acrylics, is often more detailed and is usually on paper rather than on canvas. Nevertheless, as with all paint types, there are different qualities available and these have varying characteristics that affect the look of your painting.
The Characteristics of Watercolour Paint
Watercolour paint is made by mixing a finely ground pigment with distilled water and acacia gum. After the paint is applied, the water evaporates as the paint dries and the acacia gum binds the pigment to the material that has been painted, usually paper. This process prevents the colour bleeding into adjoining ones and more acacia gum can be added to the paint to increase this effect.
Since watercolour is applied more thinly than oils or acrylics and is relatively diluted, it tends to be comparatively transparent and so can let the paper or other layers show through.
Certain colours, however, have different degrees of transparency and this will affect the appearance of the painting.
Some pigments, particularly older ones, can be easily lifted from the paper with a damp sponge, while newer ones tend to be more fixed, which is a measure of their staining capacity. Heavier pigments, since they cannot be ground as finely as others, also have a tendency to granulation. Here, the paint can dry with a grainy appearance due to the individual grains of the pigment collecting together.
The type of pigment can also affect the light fastness of the paint — some will fade more than others in sunlight.
This may not be as important for a watercolour painter since, unlike oils and acrylics, many watercolour paintings are kept in book form rather than being hung and so are less exposed to sunlight.
If vibrant colours are important to you, it’s best to choose ones that have only a single pigment. When pigments are mixed to create colours, the results can sometimes be quite dull. So, if you want to mix your own colours, choose single-pigment ones to keep the result as bright as possible.
The Importance of Quality
Pigments that can be ground most finely are those that generally give the best characteristics in a watercolour set. However, these tend to be the most expensive ones and are used in artist or professional grades.
Student grades are cheaper but have a lower ratio of pigment to binder and the blending is inferior, resulting in paint being less vibrant when applied and having increased granularity. This may be less significant while gaining experience on a limited budget.
To help you make the correct selection, we have a watercolor set to meet your needs. We have different colour ranges, travel sets, complete sets with brushes, professional sets and much more.
If you have doubts, we can help you choose the watercolour paint set that’s right for you.