Best water mixable oil paints

The Best Water Mixable Oil Paints: Reviewed

If you’re an oil painter looking for a more hassle-free experience, water mixable oil paints could be the perfect option. These paints use modified oils with special additives that allow them to be used in water soluble form. This allows for a much safer painting process, as well as improved cleanup and faster drying time.

Although all water mixable oil paints are made from the similar ingredients, formulas and working properties can vary greatly between brands. Some of the top qualities to look out for include high chroma colours, pigment strength, lightfastness and working properties. Quality paints should have good coverage while still allowing smooth brushwork.

So if you’re on the fence about whether water mixable oil paints would benefit your practice, how they’re different from oils, or if you’re not sure which brand to get, read on to learn more about the different brands and how they could benefit your practice.

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Holbein Duo Aqua Water Soluble Oil Paints

Holbein Duo Aqua Water Soluble Oils - Cadmium Red Deep Hue, 40 ml tube

These artists’ quality oil paints offer the quality of their regular oils, but in a water mixable format. They are pigment rich, and have excellent lightfastness.

Holbein have a range of ‘elite colours’, that consist of more expensive pigments like cadmiums and cobalts.

Their permanent white colour is a nice alternative to titanium white. It is more transparent, so it lightens colours whilst maintaining chroma for longer. Whereas, titanium white can make colours appear bright and opaque, but with a more chalky quality.

These oil paints dry faster than traditional oils and other water mixable oils on the market. This makes them ideal for those who want to work quickly.

The consistency of these paints is slightly stiffer and less creamy than traditional oils, but not so much that it affects the brushwork. They also mix together well and have good transparency. Holbein also have a range of water mixable mediums available, to modify the consistency or finish of the paint. Their dryer medium significantly speeds the drying time of the paint, to the point that the layer should be dry within a day.

You can mix these paints with traditional oils, however if you mix the paint with a ratio of more than 30% regular oils, with water mixable oils, then the water solubility of the mix will be drastically reduced.

Daniel Smith Water Soluble Oil Paint

Daniel Smith Water-Soluble Oil - Phthalo Blue (Green Shade), 37 ml Tube

Daniel Smith water soluble oil paints use the highest quality pigments. These are combined with a modified linseed oil binder that allows for studio friendly clean up, without solvents.

The colours are the most rich and pigmented of all the water soluble oil brands. Daniel Smith grind their pigments finely, so the paint has a wonderful creamy texture. The tinting strength of these paints is excellent, meaning that you need to use less pigment to achieve a richer colour.

Although the texture is creamy, smooth and brushable, compared to regular oils it still has a little drag or resistance to it.

The colour range is smaller than many other brands and many of the colours are either transparent or semi transparent. This means that it can take a few layers to build opacity if thinning with a lot of water in the underpainting stage.

Daniel Smith water mixable oil paints also have a slightly higher price tag than other brands, however, the quality of this product is well worth it.

Winsor & Newton Artisan Water Mixable oil paints

Winsor & Newton Artisan Water Mixable Oil Paint - Set of 10, Assorted Colors, 12 ml, Tubes

The Winsor & Newton Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colors range offers superior quality, offering intense colors with excellent coverage and high tinting strength. The binder used in these paints is a modified linseed oil and modified safflower oil, which gives them a stable emulsion when mixed with water.

The pigments used in Winsor & Newton Artisan Water Mixable Oil Paints are artist grade, meaning they have excellent lightfastness and opacity. They range from AA (extremely permanent) to A (moderately permanent), so you can be sure that your paintings won’t fade over time. In addition, these paints have comparable working properties to regular oils, in terms of the texture and finish. However, these paints dry faster than regular oils, making them ideal for quicker studies and fast-paced painting.

Winsor & Newton Artisan also have a range of artists’ mediums so you can mix water soluble linseed oil into the paint. The advantage of adding linseed oil as a medium is that it makes the oil paint more runny, without making the paint film brittle. Conversely, adding too much water to the paint film can cause brittleness and make the paint appear chalky.

Royal Talens Cobra Water Mixable Oils

Royal Talens Cobra Water Mixable Oil Color - Indian Yellow, 40 ml tube

The binder used in Royal Talens Cobra paints is a pure modified linseed oil. This gives the paints excellent stability when mixed with water, allowing for thinning and clean up without the usual strong fumes and odors associated with oils.

The Cobra line of paints offers 70 colours with the highest level of lightfastness. 35 of these colours are made from single pigments, which create clean and vibrant mixes. In terms of the consistency of the paint, it is relatively thick out of the tube. This allows you to paint with texture. Paint will retain brushstrokes on the canvas and you can apply it with a palette knife or a brush.

To thin the paint, just add water to the mix. Make sure to use the fat over lean technique when painting to create a stable paint film.

The price is lower than Hobein, however, the quality isn’t as high in terms of the consistency and pigment load.

The Cobra water soluble Oils offer vibrant shades, many of which have high transparency. The transparent colours are especially useful for creating glazes and the fast drying times of the paint means that you don’t have to wait as long as you would with regular oils to create separate colour layers.

How to choose a brand of water mixable oil paints

When deciding which brand of water mixable oil paint to use, it is important to take into account a few key factors. Consider the range of colors available and the pigment strength of each colour. Check for good coverage and opacity while still allowing for smooth brushwork. Look for lightfastness and durability, so your artworks will remain vibrant over time.


Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to deciding which water mixable oil paints are best suited to your needs; take time to experiment with different brands and find the perfect combination of quality and affordability!

There are plenty of great options available when it comes to water mixable oil paints, so take your time choosing! Consider which qualities you value most—opacity or brushwork? Archival properties or versatility?—and find the perfect paint brand for your next masterpiece!