Find the best watercolour palette for beginners and professional artists in this comprehensive review.
There are plenty of options when it comes to choosing a watercolour palette. Get a lightweight set of pans to take on your travels, or choose the ultimate ceramic palette with enough wells to squeeze all your tube paint into.
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Top product picks: Best watercolour palette
- The best ceramic watercolour palette: The Stephen Quiller porcelain palette has 32 wells, a large space for mixing, smooth edges and a lid that seals and preserves colours.
- Best plastic watercolour palette: Mijello palettes are lightweight and relatively inexpensive. They are airtight when the lid is on, so they lock in the moisture from the paint, keeping the colours wet for longer.
- Best watercolour set: Daniel Smith paints are premium quality and some sets come with empty pans so that you can squeeze in some of your favourite colours and make a custom palette. The tins the paint come in are perfect for travel, as they seal shut and have a space for mixing.
Ceramic watercolour palettes
Ceramic (porcelain) palettes are heavy, durable and usually have multiple wells to squeeze tube colours into, along with large mixing spaces. Porcelain makes for a wonderful surface to mix on, due to its smoothness. The smoothness of ceramic is much kinder to brush fibres compared to other materials.
These are the perfect kinds of palettes for studio work. Because they’re heavy, they can be difficult to transport. Ceramic porcelain palettes are durable, easy to clean and they will last. Take care not to drop the palette, as it will break.
Stephen Quiller porcelain palette
This beautifully designed palette has 32 wells and it is 13×13”. Clean up is quick and easy as the palette is non-staining. It’s heavy, so it will stay put when mixing colours. The mixing area in the middle is large and it comes with a plastic cover so you can preserve paint and colour mixes on the palette.
Stackable round palette
These nesting bowls are great for if you have a tin of pans and want an extra space for mixing. They stack on top of one another and store easily.
The palettes come in a set with one lid. Stackable palettes are a great option if you want to organise your colour mixes. For example, mix red tones on one palette and blue on another.
Stack them to prevent paint mixes from getting dusty, so you can reuse mixtures in your next painting session.
Rectangle porcelain palette
A simple, yet high quality rectangular palette that provides all the benefits of mixing on porcelain. It’s sturdy and smooth which makes it the perfect mixing surface. It’s heavy, so it won’t move around when mixing watercolour.
You can also use this palette for ink and gouache. It’s functional, durable, reusable and budget friendly.
Handmade rectangle palette with brush rest
This palette from Etsy comes with an in-built brush rest. Rest your brush horizontally throughout your painting session instead of leaving it bristle down in water (leaving a brush in water can cause bristles to splay!).
Monogrammed ceramic palette & water jar
Support another artist and get yourself a handmade palette from Etsy! This palette is carefully crafted and can add a personal touch to your painting practice. The palette comes with six colour wells and a large space for mixing. The water cup has a brush rest.
Large round ceramic palette
This ‘spectrum’ palette has 37 wells and is perfect for mixing watercolour or gouache paint.
Best plastic watercolour palettes
Plastic palettes are lightweight, cheap and perfect for travelling or taking outdoors. However, because they are lightweight, they tend to move around more when mixing on a work surface. Colours can stain the surface and they don’t keep colours wet for as long as ceramic palettes.
Mijello airtight plastic palette
These palettes are airtight and leak proof with colour wells and a large space for mixing. Mijello palettes come in three different sizes.
Essential plastic palette
An economical option great for students and beginners. It’s easy to clean but doesn’t come with a cover. To preserve colour mixes and keep dust out of the paint you could put it in your own airtight container.
Best watercolour palette for travel
Pan Sets (watercolour boxes)
Tin sets are perfect for travel as they come with pans and their own mixing area.
These sets come with some dry caked colours already in the pans. This is a great option for if you don’t have many colours to start with. Some palettes have empty pans that you can squeeze additional tube colours into, so that you can make a custom palette for your painting practice.
These pan sets come with their own mixing area. Get a half pan set, so that you can squeeze additional colours in if you choose. Daniel Smith watercolours are extra fine and high quality. The pans provide flexibility for artists wanting to start a new palette.
Schmincke Horadam Aquarell
Made from specially selected pigments and only the finest raw materials, these paints feel luxurious to use. They stock a range of limited edition sets filled with beautiful colours to experiment with. The colours will rewet easily on the palette, so that you can paint with them over and over again.
Empty tin pan set
Create your own set. Choose how many pans in your set, whether you want full or half pans and how many you will need to form a full palette. Fill up the pans with your tube colours—you can let them dry and rewet when you come to use them. Fill with whichever colour or brand of paint you prefer. These tin pan sets are perfect accompaniments to plein air painting.
Stay wet palette
Stay wet palettes are viable options for watercolour painters, although you may associate them more with acrylic painting. The palettes are designed to keep paint wet for longer. They come with a wettable sponge that can be placed underneath reservoir paper. Squeeze paint onto the reservoir paper and close the lid to keep paint wet for days.
How to organise your watercolour palette
This artist uses the empty tin by Schmincke and pans to organise a spectrum of colours. You could also create a key on a piece of watercolour paper and label them with the colours in the same order, so you remember the names of each pigment.
How to mix watercolour paint
Mixing is a challenging task. In this course by Diane Flick learn how to create your own colour wheel. Diane guides you through mixing secondary and tertiary colours from the primaries. Plus, if you’re new to Skillshare you can get a 14 day free trial if you sign up through my link!
Just starting out on your watercolour journey? Check out some of our other watercolour tutorials. If you’re a beginner and not sure how to get started with the medium, read our watercolour tutorial for beginners and learn everything you need to know, including how to stretch paper, which supplies you need and the essential techniques.
Best watercolour palette: Pin it!
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