Q & A: What are the different types of watercolor?


Q: What different types of watercolor are there and what do you use?

A: There are actually many different types of watercolor paint.

Tube paints, pan (dry) paints, watercolor sticks or crayons, and watercolor pencils are what come first to mind.

Tube paints come in tubes like acrylics or oils, although much smaller tubes, lol. Pan paints are basically dehydrated watercolor paints and are stored in small receptacles normally called pans, watercolor sticks and crayons are sort of in between, not completely dehydrated, but not liquid either and watercolor pencils look just like colored pencils but are water soluble.

The most common types are tube paints and pan paints and most artists, myself included, use a bit of both depending on how they are used.

Pan paints are very convenient, store easily, and are great for travel. They usually come in sets, although some manufacturers offer refill pans. They must be rehydrated before using them, which really just means wetting the color with a drop or two of water, just like we did with our grade school watercolors, lol.

It’s a bit harder to get an intense color using pan paints, which is why using paints from a tube is preferable sometimes, the color is moist and usable without having to add water so it comes out very intense, but can be thinned with water when necessary.

Tube paints are great when working on larger paintings, they are usually more economical, and usually have a wider range of colors available. They can also be used to refill pans since they will dry out and then can be rehydrated just like normal pan paints.

As for the actual paint, the quality is exactly the same in all forms. There’s student grade and professional grade in all forms. The professional grade paints use the same high quality pigments and the same types of binders and are made very similarly (although apparently some manufacturers have “secret” formulas or use specialty additives.)

So, why would an artist choose one type over the other? Pretty much strictly personal preference and I actually think most artists use a little of both, although they usually have a favorite, lol. Mine is tube paints, although I do squeeze them into pans and usually use them that way for convenience.

Well, that’s a pretty good overview of the differences. If you have any questions, just ask, I’ll try to answer, haha!

With Joy and Inspiration. xxoo, Deb.