Best Travel Watercolor Set

Best Travel Watercolor Set – Our Top Travel Paint Set Recommendations

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A travel watercolor set is ideal for those artists who enjoy painting while on the move. Watercolor painting does not require a lot of equipment and setup, and cleaning is extremely easy. We are here to help you choose the best travel watercolor set, whether you are a beginner or a professional artist.



Reasons for Choosing a Travel Watercolor Set

When you are inspired to paint and you are out walking in nature or elsewhere, you need painting materials that can easily be carried around with you. Something you can simply pull out of a bag or even your pocket. Watercolor paints come in paint pans or tubes; the paint pans consist of dry paint and are best for transporting as tubes might break open.

Travel Watercolor Palette

Most of the portable watercolor sets come with a limited color palette that has about 12 to 16 paint colors, some brushes, and a mixing tray. Normal watercolor sets may have a lot more paint colors, brushes, and other materials that make it more difficult to easily transport around. A travel paint set is small in size and lightweight, and usually also comes in a durable container or carry case.


The Pros and Cons of a Portable Watercolor Set

When working with watercolors, there are a few pros and cons that go with them. Some of the problems with watercolors may require some patience and practice to remedy. So, if you are a beginner, do not feel intimidated by painting with watercolors. Some of the benefits of watercolor painting travel sets are as follows.

  • Water-based, so it is easy to clean
  • Watercolors dry quickly
  • Easy to use by beginners
  • Easy to carry and transport
  • A more affordable option
  • Dry paint can be reactivated
  • No wastage of paint
  • You can keep the paints for a long time
  • Paint may lighten or crack if left out in the sun
  • Watercolor techniques can be difficult to learn
  • Any mistakes are impossible or difficult to fix
  • Can take time and more water to get a good consistency
  • You are limited in colors and materials
  • Dust and dirt can get into the paint


How to Choose the Best Travel Watercolor Set

Artists might have different needs when it comes to a travel watercolor set, you might want to paint while traveling to different countries or capture that sunset while out hiking. However, there are some points to think about.

Portable Watercolor Set


Size Matters

No matter what you are doing or where you are, when you are on the go and want to take out some watercolors to paint, the size of your travel paint set is important. You might need a set that fits perfectly inside your pocket or bag. Also, your portable watercolor set should be lightweight, as you do not want to be weighed down by extra baggage.

The shape of the container must also be appropriate, so you do not catch it on anything.


Paint Colors

You might like having only a few basic colors at your disposal or maybe you want something more substantial? This can include a travel watercolor set with only eight colors up to 40. Whatever your travel watercolor palette, there should be a travel paint set that suits your needs. The quality of the paint colors is also important, the cheaper you go, the less permanent or vibrant the colors become.

Making Travel Paint Set



When you are on the go and standing on a rock ledge, you do not want to have to fumble with zips and loose materials or tools that can slip out, and you only notice once you get home. The brushes and other tools that come with the travel paint set should, therefore, be secure enough that they will not move around or get lost.

You might want to consider another small bag for extra tools like pencils or sharpeners.

Some travel paint sets have space to put your paper and come with water pens. But you might need to include something like a collapsible water cup and a separate sketchbook. If you do carry everything in a bag, try getting a more compact, specialized, art bag to help with easy access, so you do not have to go searching for everything.



Best Travel Watercolor Set

A lot of artists have gone through testing out the various best travel watercolor sets available, and each has its own opinion. Some prefer larger palettes, while others only require a small travel palette set. So, we have brought together three popular recommendations for you.

Travel Watercolor Set


Best Value for Money Set: WINSOR & NEWTON Cotman Watercolor Set

The Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolor Paint Sketchers’ Pocket Box contains 12 high-quality colors that come in a durable case. There are cheaper paints out there, however, if you are looking for quality paint colors, these come at an affordable price. You also get a travel brush with the set and a mixing palette designed into the lid. The paints wet nicely and flow smoothly with a uniform consistency on paper.

WINSOR & NEWTON Cotman Water Colours Pocket Box
  • Set contains a pocket brush and 12 Cotman watercolors
  • Good transparency, tinting strength, and working properties
  • The plastic box features a mixing palette in the lid for easy use
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The paint colors contain transparency and softness with great working properties that are common with this brand, so it will not work so well on standard paper and cotton paper is your best choice. The set contains Chinese white, sap green, yellow ochre, burnt umber, burnt sienna, alizarin crimson, phthalo blue, ultramarine, viridian hue, cadmium yellow, lemon yellow, and cadmium red. Some of the contents might vary in hue.

  • Economical, quality pigments
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Value for money
  • Easy to transport
  • Excellent transparency
  • Good color selection
  • Pans are a bit loose


Best Beginner Set: SAKURA Watercolor Set

The Sakura Watercolor Set is a quality Japanese painting set that comes with 30 colors, half pans, a watercolor brush, and a sponge. The collapsible watercolor brush can store water for convenience, which makes it great for outdoor painting or painting on the go. The colors blend well and are also certified as non-toxic. This portable watercolor set is great for beginners that want quality but are not necessarily looking for professional-watercolor paints. You might need to add in more brushes for more variety and to help keep the painted colors separate.

SAKURA Assorted Watercolor Sketch Set
  • The compact kit contains quality watercolors and a water brush
  • Portable kit makes transporting easy for outdoors painting
  • Individually tested watercolors blend well with each other
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The set has a wide range of colors that include white, black, brown, and gray. The paints blend well, are vibrant, and have a slightly creamy consistency but still provide nice transparency. Unfortunately, you do not get refills for this set, but you can consider replacing it with their watercolor tubes. Although the tube colors are limited, you might not be able to get the paint color you need. Colors are also placed quite close to each other with no separation, which makes it easy for the colors to mix into each other. The travel paint set might be heavier than others in its class, but it does provide more usefulness.

  • Quality pigments
  • Wide range of colors
  • Compact design
  • Paints blend nicely
  • No refills available
  • Easy to contaminate colors
  • You need more brushes


Best Professional Set: WINSOR & NEWTON Professional Watercolor Set

The Winsor and Newton Watercolor Set is a pocket-size set that contains professional-quality paint 12 paint colors in half pans. You also get two palettes to mix with, a bottle or water container as a sponge, and a foldable travel brush. The painting set is compact but provides more than enough paint. The two mixing palettes are attached to the main case and fold-out, like the attached water container. The colors provided include your raw umber, titanium white, burnt sienna, French ultramarine, permanent sap green, Winsor blue, red, yellow, and green, Winsor lemon, permanent alizarin crimson, yellow core, permanent rose, and scarlet lake.

WINSOR & NEWTON Professional Water Colour Field Box
  • A pocket-sized field box of professional watercolor paints
  • Includes half pans of 12 basic and versatile watercolor shades
  • Comes with 2 palettes, a water container, sponge, and brush
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These are vibrant colors that will not fade and do not have a grainy texture. These watercolor paints are more on the expensive side but do provide the highest quality paints. You might want to consider adding a few more different size brushes, as the one provided is rather small. You can also get refills for this set when you run out. When using the water container, it is best to add distilled water, so if you forget about emptying it, it will not be too unpleasant. We also recommend you use good quality cotton paper for these watercolor paints.

  • Professional quality paints
  • Vibrant colors
  • Comes with two palettes and a water container
  • The paint goes a long way
  • Compact and easy to use and transport
  • Expensive
  • Colors and content may vary



Tips for Using a Travel Watercolor Set

Inspiration can hit at any moment, so it is clever to always have a travel paint set with you. Some artists feel more comfortable assembling their own set with everything they need, but today many affordable and useful travel watercolor sets contain all you need. However, as some artists have learned through experience, there are always those little tips and tricks that can help out even further. Below are a few of these tips:

  • Keep it simple, if you are in doubt about if you are going to use anything, leave it out. Otherwise, you might be including everything but the kitchen sink, which defeats the entire point of traveling light.
  • Some sets come with water containers, but if not, consider a silicone cupcake liner or collapsible cup.
  • If you have some watercolor color tubes, why not create your own travel set using an empty metal palette tin. This way you can make a travel watercolor palette that suits your needs with chosen colors and better-quality paints.
  • Most times, you will have to include a small travel brush set that usually comes in a handy carry case or use brushes you already have and carry them in a zipper pencil case with you.

Small Travel Watercolor Palette

  • Consider a set of watercolor brush pens that already contain water and pigment.
  • Tape the brushes together end to end when traveling with loose This helps protect the bristles.
  • A sketchbook should also be compact, so an ideal size would be A5 or close to this. So, 5 x 8 inches or 9 x 12 inches, maybe even 14 x 11 inches are good choices and should fit into a carry bag.
  • Consider a sketchbook with spirals as you do not have to tear pages out.
  • If you want to use a watercolor backboard, consider corflute as it is lightweight and durable. Corflute is a corrugated plastic that you can usually buy in various size sheets.
  • If you are carrying other liquids or gels, store them in zip-lock bags.
  • Always plan for the weather when painting outdoors, it is best to be prepared.



How to Make Your Own Travel Watercolor Palette

Tube paints have more vibrant paint colors than the pan paints that come with the travel paint sets. You also might not get all the colors you want in a set, so by making your own travel watercolor palette, you can customize the paint colors. Since carrying tubes of paint can be risky, as they may burst open or become messy, drying the tube paint in the pans is a better travel option. Also, it is easier to get paint from the pans than it is to squeeze it out of a tube. Some colors to include in your palette can include the following.

These are only suggestions, and you can customize your palette to whatever colors you want to work with.

  • Warm red, yellow, and blue
  • Cool red, yellow, and blue
  • Burnt sienna
  • Burnt umber
  • Neutral gray or another darker neutral tint

So, you have chosen your colors, and have your favorite palette ready. This could be plastic or metal. Write what pigment brand, name, number on each pan. Choose a tube of paint and open it carefully if it has not been used in a while. Squeeze slowly into the pan, making sure not to fill it completely, only about halfway. You can then use a toothpick to stir the paint and move it to fill the corners of the pan. Pick up and tap the pan on the table to help get rid of any bubbles.

Best Travel Paint Set

Follow the same process for all the colors you are going to use. You must then leave the paint to dry naturally for about 24 hours, or it might also take a few days. If you want, you can fill a second time, just make sure it is not to the top of the pan. You need some space for the water, which activates the paint. If the paint seems to crack or shrink significantly, adding a drop or two of glycerin to the paint before placing it into the pan can help. You can place the colors in whatever order you like or is convenient for you.


Do not be limited by where you paint, there are so many options available for travel watercolor sets that you should be able to find something that works for you. So, go out, travel, and explore, nothing should prevent you from creating beautiful art pieces on the go.



Frequently Asked Questions


Are Watercolors Allowed on the Plane When Traveling?

The dry watercolor sets are compact and easy to transport and are allowed on the plane. The liquid watercolors, on the other hand, are also easy to transport and are not flammable. However, they must be taken with you and checked in or placed with your carry-on.


Do Watercolor Paint Sets Last a Long Time?

Both tube and pan watercolors can last for a long time, the tube of paints for about five years, while the pan watercolors can go for longer at around ten years. However, you will most probably use them before that. The time can vary due to how you store and look after your watercolors.


Are Pan Watercolors or Tubes a Better Option for Traveling?

Watercolor paints in tubes do tend to have higher quality pigments that are more vibrant than pan paints. You will need more paint to get similar results from pan watercolors. Watercolors in pans and metal tin are best for traveling. These come with pans, but you can also make your own travel watercolor palette with tube paints.


What Are Half Pan Watercolor Paints?

Watercolor pans come in various sizes and are perfect for a portable watercolor set. Full pans can be seen as a full tube of paint, while half pans contain half the amount. For an even more compact travel watercolor palette, you can also get quarter and eighth pans.


What Is the Best Way to Transport Watercolor Brushes?

Many of the watercolor sets come with a paintbrush that is kept inside with the paint set. You can also purchase a paintbrush set that comes in its own pouch for protection. However, if you are taking loose brushes, you can simply tape them together end to end to help protect the brushes.

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