Budget Friendly Watercolor Supplies for Beginners

If you are exploring watercolor, but you don’t want to invest too much right away, then these budget friendly watercolor supplies for beginners are where it’s at!!!

My friend, I am freaking out over here because so much goodness can totally come from affordable supplies, and I cannot wait to show them to you!

I have spent hours unwrapping, testing, and swatching, and I think I have it narrowed down to my absolute faves!

Remember, if you're absolutely LOVING watercolor and think you want to take this relationship to the next step, you’ll want to head on over to my Guide to My Essential Watercolor Supplies, or you can download my supply list below! 

First up, let’s talk paints!!

The Best Affordable Watercolor Paints for Beginners

After trying oodles of different paint sets with mixed results, I am laying down my official watercolor paint recommendation that is perfect for you beginners and pros who are looking for a great bang for your buck!

Norberg & Linden * Watercolor Paint Set- Pack of 36 colors plus some paper!

I actually bought this set on a whim for my daughter, and I am Suuuuu-per pleased with it!!!

I can honestly say that it is a great paint set for both grownups and toddlers alike!

I love love LOVE all the fun, vibrant colors, and it performs well with watercolor. Although it is not as lightfast (basically this means it will fade over time) as a professional-grade set, it was definitely a delightful painting experience! 

Note: This set comes with a little pad of paper and some brushes, but the brushes are a joke, so you’ll definitely want to pick up some better brushes. (Don’t worry – my suggestions for that are below!)

Before we move on, I also have a runner-up in this category.

I have to take a moment to give a little shoutout to the the Winsor and Newton Cotman Watercolor Paints for folks wanting to dig more into color mixing.  

I personally use Winsor and Newton professional tube paint, so this was the affordable option that is closest to the paints that I use, and, my friends, it did not disappoint!

This kit has all the colors you need to mix any color you want, and it performs very similarly to the professional kits.

The biggest difference between this watercolor paint and the professional-grade paints is in the light fastness (how it ages exposed to sunlight without fading) and the depth of color – but it is still a great little kit to get started.

It also comes in a cute little case that would be perfect for travel – just saying!


Kate huggging a pad of Arches Watercolor Paper


The Best Affordable Watercolor Paper for Beginners

When it comes to watercolor, nothing is more important than paper!!

So – before we jump into the affordable options, I want to talk about my go-to boo, Arches 140lb cold-press paper.

Arches Cold Press 140 lb is my choice for every-day watercolor painting, and although it doesn’t fall under the ‘affordable’ category, I highly recommend it if you're starting to get serious about watercolor!

Now, on to my budget-friendly pick – drum roll please!

Artisto Watercolor Pads (9x12”, 2 pads of 30)!!

This Artisto watercolor paper had just the right amount of toothiness, and it is sturdy! It doesn’t buckle too much, and that is where a lot of water on the paper is going to hold.

I stumbled upon this paper after I got it for my daughter a while back, and I LOOOOOVE it! It is a great option for beginners or for looking for a good practice paper!

It isn't Arches...but it's got something going on!


The Best Affordable Watercolor Brushes for Beginners

I’ve got to get real honest here – brushes that come with affordable sets are all sacks of garbage! 

Yep, I said it and I meant it.

Many of them didn’t give me any precision, and they were really hard to get any water control with.

After filling pages and pages of pages testing out different brushes from all of the affordable watercolor sets I purchased, I had to hand them over to the toddler, and go with a mixed set from a tried and true company that knows what it’s doing!

Princeton Real Values Series Brushes

In complete transparency, I am obsessed with Princeton Brushes, and when I started playing around with their Real Values Set, I was not disappointed!

This Princeton Real Values Set comes with all of the brushes that you need to get started!

So, there you have it –

My full list of budget-friendly watercolor supplies for beginners and budget conscious pros alike. To save you some time, here is the full list one last time.




I know that watercolor prices can sometimes be discouraging, so I hope this helps y’all find some supplies, so you can feel good about getting started and making some art!

Happy Painting!

June 12, 2022 — KATE TALCOTT

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