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Watercolor in a tube is a convenient and ready-to-use medium that is easy to mix and better for large-scale painting than watercolors in dry pans. Loved by many professional artists, they can be a great choice for beginners, too. Use them directly from the tube for bright, opaque color, or mix them with water for the medium’s characteristic flow and transparency. Student-grade colors are accessibly priced, often because they use more common pigments and avoid the rare and pricey ones (like cobalt), or use them in a lower proportion than in their professional paints. All student-grade watercolor tubes are not created equal, though; below are some excellent options that can be used with satisfaction in a number of amateur settings.
Blick Artists’ Watercolor Tubes and Set
Sometimes all a house brand can offer is a cheaper and slightly worse version of a popular product. Not so with Blick’s Artists’ Watercolor tubes, which are near pro quality at a student-grade price. The full line contains an impressive 63 colors, which are available individually in long-lasting 14-milliliter tubes. Both their pure-pigment colors and their convenience colors (popular shades mixed from other colors) are rich and pigment-packed.
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Grumbacher Academy Artists’ Watercolor Tubes and Sets
Although the watercolor paints in the Academy line are less pigmented than Grumbacher’s artist-grade Finest counterparts, they are still among the most highly pigmented options among their student-grade peers. The pigments themselves are pure and finely ground for a smooth and vibrant look, and the relatively small (7.5-milliliter) tubes are easy to carry with you on the go. This mid-tier option comes in 60 colors, including some that are not even in Grumbacher’s higher line. Many of these tubes can stay in your kit as you make the transition to higher-quality paints.
Arteza Watercolor Paint, Set of 60 Colors
When using watercolors to teach kids in the classroom, some of the effects possible with high-quality paints don’t even come into play—so why spend the money? Arteza’s set includes a whopping 60 hues of ACMI-certified nontoxic paint, which is especially great for younger painters who are not mixing their own colors yet. Use the paint straight from the 12-milliliter tubes for ultimate simplicity.
Daler-Rowney Aquafine Watercolor Tubes
One important attribute of watercolor paint is its ability to flow across the page and blend with other colors. Daler-Rowney’s Aquafine line of watercolors in tubes are luminous and translucent, meaning that washes come out clean and colors blend harmoniously. The paints, sold in 8-milliliter tubes, come in 48 hues that often use customary pigments. They also stand out among affordable lines for their lightfastness, with seven of their current shades earning the highest lightfastness rating (you can find the ratings right on the tubes).
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Castle Art Supplies Watercolor Paint, Set of 24 Colors
Pigment volume is a consideration with student-grade watercolors; a higher proportion of pigments in the paint means you can use less of it. Just a dab of this silky paint goes a long way, allowing these 12-milliliter tubes to outlast some larger ones. The 24 vibrant hues included here are useful and unique for the price, and most of the shades retain their color reasonably well.