Similar to ink, liquid watercolor is a concentrated dye- or pigment-based solution providing brilliant, transparent color that can be diluted with water to achieve varying hues. Valued for their color strength and fluidity, liquid watercolors are a versatile material used in much the same way as tube and pan watercolors for creating paintings and washes. Some solutions are also suitable for use in calligraphy, fountain pens, and airbrushes. A popular choice for use in classrooms, student-grade liquid watercolor can be applied using a wide range of tools to develop fine-motor skills; it can also be used to dye a variety of materials, making for fun kids’ craft projects and sensory play. Note, however, that a majority of liquid watercolors are dye-based solutions that are not light safe, so be sure to use an archival watercolor if you don’t want your image to fade over time. Our picks below will help you find the right product for your project.
1. EcoLine Liquid Watercolor Set
Known for their bright and brilliant colors, the EcoLine liquid watercolors are highly concentrated dyes mixed with gum arabic for a bold color. These 10 hues come in 1-ounce eyedropper bottles for precise measuring, with a few drops of liquid color going a long way. Suitable for use with paintbrushes, calligraphy brushes, airbrushes, and fountain pens, the paints are rewettable so they can be further manipulated after they dry. They are an excellent choice for designers and illustrators who plan to scan their images for reproduction as EcoLine watercolors are not lightfast.
2. Dr. Ph. Martin’s Hydrus Watercolors
Made out of high-quality artist pigments, Dr. Ph. Martin’s Hydrus Watercolors will give you permanent, vibrant color similar to that of traditional tube and pan watercolors. These lightfast, archival-grade watercolors an ideal choice for professional artists; they come in a 12-color set of 0.5-ounce eye-dropper bottles for easy dispensing. Suitable for use with a brush, dip pen, airbrush, or technical pen, these colors can be blended while retaining their luminance.
3. Contact USA Liquid Watercolor
With an intensity similar to that of traditional watercolors, Ken Oliver liquid watercolors are an excellent choice for illustration, scrapbooking, paper crafts, and mixed-media projects. This set of six bold colors in 0.5-ounce bottles will keep their transparency and luminosity when mixed. Highly concentrated, this medium can be diluted with water to produce smooth washes and brushwork.
4. S&S Worldwide Liquid Watercolor Paint
For a highly versatile painting medium, choose Color Splash! watercolors. This set of six popular colors comes in 8-ounce flip-top bottles. The concentrated solution can be diluted with water and can be used on a wide variety of surfaces such as wood, clay, eggshells, fabric, and even shaving cream. Safe for all ages, the paints are AP-certified nontoxic, making them a great choice for classrooms.
5. Sax Liquid Washable Watercolor Paint
An excellent choice for crafts, this set of eight vibrant colors from Sax comes in 8-ounce squeeze bottles. While suitable for use by artists of all abilities, these watercolor paints are both AP-certified nontoxic and washable out of most fabrics, making them an especially good fit for young, messy artists. The watercolor can be used as a painting medium or as a dye to create sensory materials for exploratory play and fine-motor development.