How to Choose the Best Travel Watercolor Set
The primary advantage of a travel set is portability, so the size and weight matter. A compact, lightweight set is easier to carry around, whether you’re exploring urban landscapes or hiking up a mountain trail. Some sets come with a compact watercolor travel brush, a waterbrush, a detachable palette or a water container, which is amazing for those who don’t like carrying around all the equipment for watercolor painting.
Quality of Pigment
Not all watercolors are created equal. The vibrancy and durability of your paintings depend largely on the quality of the pigments in your set. High-quality paints offer more color intensity, enabling you to capture the world around you with stunning accuracy and lasting for a lifetime, in contrast to low quality pigments, which can easily yellow or fade in a matter of weeks.
Although archival pigments tend to be much more expensive, if you plan on painting professionally or want your works to stay as they are, then investing a bit more is not a bad idea.
Range of Colors
Ensuring a brand has a wide range of colors will allow you to hand pick your favorite pigments and attach them to your travel palette easily, without needing a lot of non-interchangeable variety cramped in a small palette.
Besides, a set with lots of small pans might be prone to color contamination due to the limited space and can be a hindrance when you want to use only a few pigments and can’t build a cohesive color palette with ease.
Some travel sets come with added bonuses like a built-in mixing palette, or a water brush. A palette is essential for mixing colors, and its inclusion makes for a more compact set.
A water brush combines a brush and water container into one tool, which can be a game-changer when painting on the move.
High-quality watercolor sets can be pricey, but there are also many affordable options available that don’t compromise too much on quality. It’s important to find a balance between cost and quality that suits your budget.
Will watercolor work on canvas?
While traditionally, watercolor is used on paper, especially designed for its absorbency, it can indeed be used on specially primed canvas meant for watercolors. This allows you to create larger, more durable pieces that can stand the test of time.
Best Watercolor Travel Set Today
- Best Watercolor Travel Set Overall — Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolor Paint Compact Set
- Best Watercolor Travel Set for Beginners — SAKURA Koi Pocket Field Sketch Kit
- Best Value Watercolor Travel Set — Paintcrush Watercolor Paint Set
- Best Watercolor Travel Set for Professional — Schmincke – HORADAM AQUARELL
- Best Metallic Watercolor Travel Set — ARTEZA Iridescent Watercolor Paint Set
1. Best Watercolor Travel Set Overall — Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolour Paint Compact Set
- Our Score – 9/10
- Our Score- 8/10
- Our Score – 10/10
About the Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolor
Winsor and Newton is one of the most popular brands in the world of watercolors and not without good reason. Although the Cotman line is not “professional watercolor paint”, it still is very high quality paint, has a wide color range and it’s very lightfast in comparison to other brands.
The Cotman line has something other “student-grade” paints don’t, and that is color variety. This means, you can get each individual pan separately and build your own color palette, or replace the colors you use the most without needing to get a whole new set.
- Extensive color range
- High-quality pigments
- Refills available
- Set might be too small for some
2. Best Watercolor Travel Set for Beginners — SAKURA Koi Pocket Field Sketch Kit
About the SAKURA Koi Pocket Field
The Sakura Koi Pocket field is a small, portable set with one of the most bright color combinations, perfect for landscaping, flower painting and ghibli-like illustrations. It has 30 pans which fit nicely into its small case and it comes with a mixing palette as well as a waterbrush and a sponge packing everything you need to paint on the go.
The palette has a foldable handle so you can use it on a flat surface or hold it with your hands as you paint, and it comes in 72 colors as well for those who love to have everything at hand.
- Small and portable
- Very affordable
- No refills or pan replacements available
- Limited color range
3. Best Value Watercolor Travel Set — Paintcrush Watercolor Paint Set
- Our Score- 7/10
- Our Score – 8/10
About the Paintcrush Professional Watercolor
The Paintcrush watercolor set is not one of the most popular, however it is one of the highest quality professional watercolor paints that are also extremely affordable and offer great value. This small, select watercolor palette is the perfect starter set for those who want to learn color mixing and color theory, it has all the needed pigments as well as an included watercolor painting course by Kristy Rice.
This set offers one of the greatest values which is learning watercolor painting and color mixing, which will take the limitations of needing lots of pigments. You’ll be able to experiment with professional-grade watercolor paint as well as learn from one of the best.
- Professional watercolor paint
- High-quality, vibrant ink
- Painting lesson included
- Great value for the price
- On the expensive side
4. Best Watercolor Travel Set for Professional — Schmincke – HORADAM AQUARELL
- Our Score – 7/10
About the Schmincke – HORADAM AQUARELL
Well known as one of the best watercolor brands worldwide, Schminke now presents this small, yet amazing travel watercolor set. This set is not only beautiful and very high quality, but it’s also portable, easy to use and has a great design where the container is also a water tank and the cap becomes a water container so that you can easily paint from anywhere, anytime.
It has a small integrated mixing palette and handle in the back for easy holding.
- High quality watercolor paint
- Small, portable presentation
- Water container and tank included
- Very expensive
- Limited color set
- No space for paint brushes
5. Best Metallic Watercolor Travel Set — ARTEZA Iridescent Watercolor Paint Set
About the ARTEZA Iridescent Watercolor
Since a while ago, Arteza has been building a name and reputation of their own and we must say that although they’re a relatively new brand, their products are exceptional. This metallic watercolor set is no different. Crafted with care and attention to detail, this iridescent watercolor travel set is the dream of many. Whether you love giving metallic accents to your work or are a lettering artist or craft professional, this set has everything you could dream of.
This set includes a waterbrush and two mixing palettes, plus the pans are interchangeable and Arteza does have a dedicated color range for metallic watercolors so you can get the ones you like the most and arrange your own palette.
- Wide color range
- Portable and refillable
- Includes a waterbrush
- Mica-based paints
In the end, the best travel watercolor set is the one you feel most comfortable with, be it you’d rather have everything in one set or you prefer to carry your tools separately, it’ll be up to you to unleash your creativity in the most unexpected places, adding a personal, hand-painted touch to your travel experiences. The sets we’ve reviewed bring that possibility to your fingertips, allowing you to paint anywhere without the need for a vast array of tools, and make the cleanup as simple as a splash of water.
So pack your brushes, choose your colors, and let the world be your canvas. Whether capturing the fleeting hues of a sunset or the intricate details of a bustling street, a travel watercolor set invites you to see the world through the eyes of an artist, where every scene is a potential masterpiece waiting to be painted.
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Micro Portable Painter Watercolor Palette - Travel - Feather-Weight - Simplify Your Life
Purchase options and add-ons, about this item.
- Amazingly, the Portable Painter Micro is actually smaller than a credit card! Yet it transforms in seconds to become a complete, professional-quality watercolor palette
- At just 1.5oz (43gm) and only 1” thick, it fits effortlessly in a pocket, purse or daypack, so it’s perfect for travel both on or off-road; and has become a favorite palette for journaling, urban sketching and plein air painting
- Its tiny size and feather-weight make it ideal for artists who enjoy ultralight hiking, camping and biking. It’s the smallest, lightest, fully functional palette that’s commercially available!
- The Micro features six, standard size half-pans, ready for your favorite colors and plenty of deep mixing wells, plus a convertible water container, that can also be used as a mixing surface
- It also includes a sturdy, T-shaped finger grip on the base and a handy lanyard hole. It’s packaged in an attractive microfiber-suede drawstring pouch
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Effortless to Carry and a Joy to Use
Meet The Founder
Designed and Produced by Steve Padden, a Fine Arts graduate and self-taught watercolorist.
Portable Painter is a game-changer for artists on the go. Designed and Produced by Steve Padden, who honed his expertise from his academic roots in the UK to a successful career in product design in the USA. He traveled frequently and always carried with him a small watercolor set.
Portable Painter can help make your own creative journey as effortless and joyful as possible, whether you're journaling, urban sketching or plein air painting.
What's so different about portable painter.
Its design benefits from the insight of a watercolor artist and was meticulously engineered with travel in mind: offering Compact, Ultra-light convenience with the professional quality features than an artist will love.
What makes our products unique?
These rugged, pocket-size delights, transform in seconds to hold their own against bulky studio palettes.
Get your hands on one of these great palettes today and discover your new creative companion, wherever life takes you!
What are the key specifications of your palettes?
Launched November 2016, Smartphone size and just one inch thick. It weighs only 5.1oz (146gm).
Launched November 2019, Actually smaller than a credit card and just one inch thick. It weighs only 1.5oz (43gm).
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Customer Review: Incredibly Light and Compact - Perfect for my Travel Needs
Customer Review: Simply Genius -- They fit together like LEGO! (My painting gear now fits in a pocket!)
Portable Painter Micro Kit
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Customer Reviews, including Product Star Ratings help customers to learn more about the product and decide whether it is the right product for them.
To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. Instead, our system considers things like how recent a review is and if the reviewer bought the item on Amazon. It also analyzed reviews to verify trustworthiness.
Customers like the size, ease of use, blending space, and quality of the task tray. They mention that it's small when closed up but opens into a reasonable size, and it holds enough paint for a small painting.
AI-generated from the text of customer reviews
Customers like the size of the tray. For example, they say it's small when closed up, but opens into a reasonable size. Customers also mention that it has enough space to mix colors for a small painting, and that it holds enough paint for at least one painting. They also appreciate the six half pan sized wells, which allow customers to use multiple colors in a single tray.
"I travel fast and light. No time or space to be lugging things around. With this micro pallet all you need is some tubes of paint to fill it...." Read more
"I use it for Urban Sketching. I love the size and it still has a small area for mixing colors!! Well made and sturdy" Read more
"...So when the micro portable painter came out I had to buy it. It is perfect !..." Read more
"Surprisingly practical and useful. Small yet mighty!!" Read more
Customers love the travel-friendly size and compact design of the Portable Painter Micro Palette. It fits in pockets, purses, and travel kits, making it easy to carry around. The mixing room is spacious and the palette is super light weight. Customers also appreciate the mixing space and the ability to fold up small.
"...Instant art. I love how this little baby folds up so small you can tuck it into the smallest bag or a pocket...." Read more
"...It is perfect! Small enough to pop in your pocket if you are out hiking or just going out in the world and you want to paint plein air...." Read more
" Love the little travel container . Works perfect for me to take all I need...." Read more
"What a clever design this is; it is so compact , and just enough space to mix for a small painting; you get to have 6 colors with you and a container..." Read more
Customers are satisfied with the appearance of the task tray. They mention that it has a clever design, and is compact. Some say that the design is instant art.
"... Instant art . I love how this little baby folds up so small you can tuck it into the smallest bag or a pocket...." Read more
"What a clever design this is; it is so compact, and just enough space to mix for a small painting; you get to have 6 colors with you and a container..." Read more
"Apart from being adorable (which it most certainly is) this palette really works! Totally believe the creation myth, i.e., designed by artist." Read more
"...In this case, the lightweight plastic is part of the genius design . It's the engineering you're paying for with this - less is better...." Read more
Customers are satisfied with the quality of the task tray. They mention that it is well-made, solid, and amazing. The paint wells are solid and stable, and it has a way to hold it steady while mixing the six colors. Customers are also impressed with the practicality and usefulness of the tray.
"...I love the size and it still has a small area for mixing colors!! Well made and sturdy" Read more
"...I bought one for a friend also. The quality is top notch . Do not hesitate to buy this. You will not be disappointed." Read more
"...It’s perfect for the painter in your life. It’s sturdy , compact, and easy to use. Love the way you can attach it to the travel book." Read more
" Surprisingly practical and useful. Small yet mighty!!" Read more
Customers are satisfied with the performance of the task tray. They mention that it is sturdy, functional, and useful.
"Surprisingly practical and useful . Small yet mighty!!" Read more
"Love the little travel container. Works perfect for me to take all I need...." Read more
"Apart from being adorable (which it most certainly is) this palette really works ! Totally believe the creation myth, i.e., designed by artist." Read more
"Used on the plane! First time Plein air painting on a plane! Worked great . Sturdy little thing." Read more
Customers find the task tray easy to use. They mention that it is the most enjoyable travel set up ever, and that it fits together just right and handles easily.
"...It’s sturdy, compact, and easy to use . Love the way you can attach it to the travel book." Read more
"...It is easy to assemble when time to paint and easy to disassemble and clean when ready to go...." Read more
"... Absolutely the easiest and most enjoyable travel set up ever. Highly recommend" Read more
"...It’s the perfect size and I love how easily it goes together . A creative design for an awesome palette on the go." Read more
Customers are satisfied with the blending space of the tray. They mention that it has a small area for mixing colors, and it has plenty of blending spaces. Some say that it is well made and sturdy, and that it can be added colors of their choice.
"... Plenty of blending space . A little water tank that doubles as the outer shell when put away. This is the coolest design." Read more
"...I love the size and it still has a small area for mixing colors !! Well made and sturdy" Read more
"...sponges, great mixing area for water and/or paints...just an incredible little palette !..." Read more
"...Easy to clean and add colors of your choice . VERY happy with my purchase!!" Read more
Customers like the versatility of the tray. They mention it's perfect to take on any painting expedition, great for sketchbook plein air watercolor, and perfect for the painter in your life. It's sturdy, compact, and easy to use, and it will hold up for many years.
"...It’s perfect for the painter in your life. It’s sturdy, compact, and easy to use. Love the way you can attach it to the travel book." Read more
"What a fabulous little palette! This thing is perfect to take on any painting expedition ...." Read more
" Great for sketchbook plein air watercolor ...." Read more
" Brilliant hand held watercolor travel palette will hold up for many years...." Read more
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The Perfect Travel Watercolor Palette
Tips Art Supplies
Here’s a fun problem: You’re going on a trip, whether just for the day or for a long holiday vacation, and you’re trying to figure out which of your art supplies to bring (after all, you do have to make room for some clothes). We got advice from an expert on the perfect travel watercolor palette.
Here’s the perfect watercolor palette for travel
Brenda Swenson is this week’s teacher in our Seeing kourse. She’s an illustrator and author who loves to travel and sketch on location. Over the years, Brenda has perfected her travel watercolor palette, and here, she gives you her picks for the best watercolor supplies to bring.
Not a lot of information is available on how to set up a watercolor palette, so I wanted share my thoughts, technique, and paint choices.
My travel palette of choice is a Heritage Folding Palette with 18 wells . It’s one of the nicest travel palettes I have seen in a while and a great price. The lid has a soft plastic seal, which keeps the palette from leaking and keeps your colors from drying out quickly. It comes with a removable clear plastic tray. I don’t use the tray since the palette has an ample mixing area.
Before I use a palette, I give it a light scrubbing with a mild abrasive such as baking soda or soft scrub. This takes the slick surface off the mixing area and removes any residues from the manufacturing. Be sure to thoroughly rinse off the palette; you don’t want this in your paint. I then fill the wells with my favorite selection of paint. Don’t put tiny dabs of paint in the wells—they’ll eventually just fall out. FILL the wells! Hold the tube over the deep end of the well then come back towards the shallow end while squeezing the tube.
Let the palette sit open for a day or two (longer in damp climates) to dry. When the paint is set and no longer sticky, I wet my thumb and push down in the center of each well. This creates an indentation for water. When I’m ready to paint, I lightly mist the paint wells and they’re ready to go. I travel a lot to teach and paint. I never want to arrive and find my art supplies have gone elsewhere without me! That’s why I always take my palette and brushes in my carryon luggag. I don’t bring paint tubes; I fill my palette with fresh paint a few days before and let air dry so the paint becomes more solid. When I arrive at my destination, I mist the paint with fresh water, put a small sponge inside, and close overnight. The next day the paints are fresh and juicy again. And I haven’t had a problem with airport security yet.
In the image above, you can see how I lay out my paint. All of my paints are Daniel Smith Artist Watercolors. Occasionally I switch Italian Burnt Sienna for Transparent Red Oxide.
Next to the paint name you’ll notice numbers beginning with “P”. These numbers refer to the Index Code Name. Example: Nickel Azo Yellow PY150. The number refers to the pigment used to make the paint, not the order reference number. Okay, you’re all set. Now…get out and sketch! Brenda
If you’d like to take watercolor lessons from Brenda Swenson, she’s teaching this week in our Seeing kourse; click here for more info . And if you think you need talent to draw and paint, listen to Brenda’s words of wisdom here .
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