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Best Travel Watercolor Set: Best Watercolor Paints To Travel With

The Winsor & Newton Cotman watercolor set stands out as the best travel watercolor set on this list for its affordability, vivid colors, and compact size. In second place is the Artisto watercolor paint set because of its beginner-friendly kit. Another good option is the Sakura Koi watercolor set.

Best Travel Watercolor Set

Watercolor painting and traveling are the favorite activities of many people. Well, what if I told you could combine the two? You get a travel watercolor set! 

If you are confused about which is the best travel watercolor set for travel painting or plein air painting, then this article is for you. Read ahead to find the perfect watercolor paint set for your painting needs.  

Top 9 Travel Watercolor Sets

1. Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolor Set - Best Value For Money

Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolor Paint Set, Sketchers'...
  • Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colours are a range of water...
  • Cotman Water Colours possess good transparency, excellent...

The Winsor & Newton Cotman watercolor set is a quality travel watercolor kit that is quite affordable for the everyday artist. The portable watercolor set contains 12 vibrant colors packed in a portable plastic box. The pans are half-size, making the watercolor set extremely pocket-friendly. Additionally, you also get a travel paintbrush and a mixing palette built into the lid. 

Moreover, the colors are pretty vibrant and flow smoothly on good watercolor paper. In spite of cheap alternatives being used for the pigments, I found the paints to be reasonably satisfactory, having a nice transparency to them. 

The colors included in the paint set are lemon yellow, cadmium red, cadmium yellow, alizarin crimson, ultramarine, sap green, intense blue (phthalo blue), yellow ochre, burnt sienna, burnt umber, viridian hue, and Chinese white. 

Furthermore, this watercolor set has a rating of 4.7 stars out of 5 on Amazon, with over 14,000 reviews. So, you know you are going to get your money’s worth. 

Number Of Colors: 12 | Pan Size: Half Pans | Item Weight: 3.17 ounces

2. Artistro Watercolor Paint Set - Best For Beginners

ARTISTRO Watercolor Paint Set, 48 Vivid Colors in Portable...
  • High Quality Watercolor Paint Set: Make your watercolor art...
  • Create On the Go: This Travel Watercolor Set gives you the...

The Artistro watercolor paint set has a large variety of colors to offer at a very inexpensive price. The color palette is excellent for beginners and professionals, with 40 watercolor paints, 4 fluorescent colors, and 4 metallic colors. You can use these watercolor paints on many papers like coloring books, bullet journals, sketchbooks, notebooks, etc. 

All 48 paint colors are included in a handy tin box that contains many additional art supplies like 10 pieces of 300 GSM watercolor sheets, a water paintbrush pen, a sponge, a drawing pencil, an eraser, a swatch sheet, and a flexible brush. So, this is an excellent travel set since it already contains all the necessary art materials. 

The colors themselves are very vibrant and transparent, although they have a low lightfastness rating. The paints flow smoothly over the paper and are reasonably saturated even after adding water. 

However, I did notice the paint texture to be grainy after drying. If that is something you can look past, this is an excellent watercolor travel kit for a beginner since it already contains all the necessary supplies. 

Number Of Colors: 48 | Pan Size: Small | Item Weight: 12.7 ounces

3. MeiLang Watercolor Paint Set - Best For Additional Accessories

MeiLiang Watercolor Paint Set, 36 Vivid Colors in Pocket Box...
  • 🎨 Adopted High Quality Arabic Gum: The arabic gum can...
  • 🎨 High-pigmented: The set has great color selection, high...

The MeiLang watercolor paint set is a sturdy metal case containing 36 highly-pigmented colors. The colors blend really well, and there is no grainy texture to them even after they dry. The gum Arabic included in the watercolors makes the watercolor paints really glossy and nicely transparent. 

The package is also quite travel-friendly, having an easy open/close lid. Additionally, you can also use the lid as a mixing palette. There is also a metallic ring included in the metallic box, which acts as a handy holder for your paintbrush. 

The watercolor paint set also comes with cotton watercolor paper, which you can use to make a swatch card or try out the vibrant colors before you start painting. Moreover, these paints are both beginner and professional-friendly. 

Number Of Colors: 36 | Pan Size: Half Pans | Item Weight: 8.8 ounces

4. Sakura Koi Pocket Field Watercolor Set - Best For Brand Trust

SAKURA Koi Pocket Field Sketch Kit - Watercolor Sets for...
  • Portable Watercolor Palette for Art Anywhere: This Koi...
  • Create On the Go: The 9 mL water brush with a medium tip...

I am sure you have heard of the Japanese brand Sakura, renowned worldwide for making high-quality stationery. So, it should come as no surprise that a Sakura watercolor set has made this list. 

This Sakura Koi watercolor set contains 30 highly-pigmented colors in half pans, also including a small watercolor brush and a sponge. This unique watercolor brush is collapsible, meaning it can store some water, making it very travel-friendly and convenient. 

The watercolor paints blend really well, making the paint set very beginner-friendly. I wouldn’t describe the paints as professional-grade, but you can try them out as a high-quality paint set. You don’t get refills with this watercolor set, but you can always fill them out using Sakura Koi watercolor tubes. 

All-in-all, it is a pretty good set for beginner artists. The only con of the set is that the watercolor cakes are placed very close together, making it very easy for the paints to muddy up together. But since that is because of the travel-friendly size, you can definitely take those odds. 

Number Of Colors: 30 | Pan Size: Half Pans | Item Weight: 10.1 ounces

5. Jerry Q Art Watercolor Paint Set - Best Price

Jerry Q Art 24 Assorted Water Colors Travel Pocket Set-...
  • 24 Assorted Water Colors With a Quality Refillable Water...
  • Designed To Fit In Your Pocket, Ideal For Painting On The...

The Jerry Q Art watercolor paint set is a really good option for a travel-friendly watercolor paint set. Containing 24 assorted colors, a refillable watercolor brush, and a sponge. The small size and light weight of the watercolor set make it very pocket-friendly, enabling you to paint on the go. 

The watercolor paints have great variety and are very easy to blend as well, making the paints extremely beginner-friendly. Additionally, you also get a porcelain calligraphy dish in case you want to try out some watercolor calligraphy. However, the paints tend to crack after drying, but you can easily fix that by adding a little bit of water. 

Moreover, you get two removable plastic palettes with the box, giving you plenty of space to mix the watercolors. The two included water pens are also convenient to use. 

Even more, the colors of this removable palette are replaceable, meaning you can buy the colors separately from the brand. But this can be pretty tricky since the colors themselves are not labeled. So, finding an exact match on the manufacturer’s website is a little challenging. 

Number Of Colors: 24 | Pan Size: Half Pans | Item Weight: 10.1 ounces

6. Sennelier French Artists’ Travel Watercolor Set - Best For Professional Artists

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The Sennelier French Artists’ Travel watercolor set is a palette for professional artists. Being a brand from France, you might find it difficult to find it in retail stores here in the United States, but it is readily available on Amazon. And being a French brand, it definitely has the high quality you would expect from artist-grade pan paints. 

The set contains just 8 basic colors, but I found nothing basic about the quality of the paints. The watercolors are extremely rich and vibrant. The dried cakes are very easy to activate as well, being ready to paint with just a little amount of water. 

A special ingredient included in these paint colors is very sweet: honey! This helps make the paints last longer and look extremely vibrant and brilliant at the same time. 

If you’re an artist that likes granulation in your paints, then these are the paints for you. You will get the perfect gritty texture with these paints that many artists look for. Moreover, the paint kit is very sturdy, having a transparent window on the top so you can look at the colors inside. 

The only con for this portable watercolor set is its price. For 8 colors, it has a high cost. However, for better quality paints, you can expect the pricing to go even higher. So, if it fits your budget, I would recommend you try this artsy watercolor paint set, as it would be a good investment.  

Number Of Colors: 8 | Pan Size: Small | Item Weight: 2.08 ounces

7. Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolor Paint Set - Best For Calligraphy And Lettering

Kuretake GANSAI TAMBI, Portable 14 Colors Set, Watercolor...
  • [PORTABLE SET] Includes the essential tools you need to draw...
  • [USABILITY] Versatile for a wide variety of professional or...

Now we have another Japanese brand on the list. The Kuretake Gansai Tambi watercolor paint set contains every tool you would need for an on-the-go painting session. Each kit contains 14 colors, a travel-friendly drawing pen, and a refillable water brush pen. 

Gansai Tambi is traditional Japanese watercolor paint, where paints are developed based on those seen in nature. 

These paints are great for a professional artist and suitable for sketching, painting, cartooning, illustrating, card-making, and more. Additionally, the colors are very vibrant and opaque as well, giving a smooth texture rather than being granulated. Moreover, the watercolor paint dries smoothly, leaving behind no cracks. You can replace each individual pan as well. 

Talking about the additional included tools, the paint set also has a fine pen for line drawing, developed by incorporating the thoughts and techniques of professional Japanese cartoonists. The pen contains water-based pigment ink, which will not bleed or mix with water once it has completely dried. 

The water brush pen included is also very handy for lettering and calligraphy. The small size and ergonomic body shape of the pen make it very easy and comfortable to hold. 

Lastly, the small size and lightweight watercolor paint set are extremely travel-friendly. 

Number Of Colors: 14 | Pan Size: Large | Item Weight: 1.76 ounces

8. Zen Art Watercolor Paint Set - Best For No Toxicity 

Professional Watercolor Paint Set for Adults - Vista -...
  • NON-TOXIC PROFESSIONAL PAINTS: While some other watercolors...

The Zen Art watercolor paint set is a professional quality watercolor set consisting of 12 high-quality half pans. The paints are highly-pigmented, reasonably transparent, and richly vibrant. The colors dry quickly as well due to the high pigment load. 

The compact set is made out of sturdy metal, has a beautiful design, and is very travel-friendly, enabling you to paint anytime. It also contains information about the shades and lightfastness of each color.

These watercolors are also non-toxic, meaning you are helping out the environment while watercolor painting. Hence, this set is perfect for all: beginners, students, and artists alike!

However, this watercolor painting set does not include any painting brushes or paper like the other sets on this list. 

Number Of Colors: 14 | Pan Size: Half Pans | Item Weight: 6.7 ounces

9. Woocolor Watercolor Paint Set - Best Variety Of Colors

WOOCOLOR Watercolor Paint Set 50 Vivid Colors, Travel...
  • High Techniques: Our watercolors set select 50 vibrant...
  • Value pack:Portable with metal travel box watercolor set. It...

The Woocolor watercolor painting set has the most variety of colors than any other set on this list: a huge 50 colors! The paints apply smoothly, dry quickly, and have a high lightfastness rating. They are very rich and vibrant as well. 

The watercolor set also contains many additional tools: 2 kinds of paintbrushes, 1 sponge, and a color card. You can use the empty pans for mixing and blending the colors. 

The metal tin box might feel a little cheap, but it is pretty sturdy. Additionally, the small brush included did not turn out to be very useful. 

Number Of Colors: 50 | Pan Size: Half Pans | Item Weight: 9.1 ounces

Quick Comparisons Of The Top Travel-friendly Watercolor Sets

Travel Watercolor SetsNumber Of ColorsPan SizeItem Weight
Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolor Set12Half Pans3.17 ounces
Artistro Watercolor Paint Set48Small12.7 ounces
MeiLang Watercolor Paint Set36Half-pans8.8 ounces
Sakura Koi Pocket Field Watercolor Set30Half pans10.1 ounces
Jerry Q Art Watercolor Paint Set24Half pans10.1 ounces
Sennelier French Artists’ Travel Watercolor Set8Small2.08 ounces
Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolor Paint Set14Large1.76 ounces
Zen Art Watercolor Paint Set14Half pans6.7 ounces
Woocolor Watercolor Paint Set50Half pans9.1 ounces

Buying Guide For A Travel Watercolor Set

If you are a beginner watercolor artist, you might have some doubts and questions about which watercolor set is the best for your watercolor painting needs. So, here is a handy buyer’s guide for you so you know which points and features to look for when buying a watercolor set. And even if you’re a professional artist, a few tips never hurt!

1. Number of Paint Colors

Depending on your painting needs, you might be content with just a few basic colors. But many people like to have a lot of colors and not need to blend custom shades. So, the number of paint colors in your watercolor set does matter. 

Moreover, more colors mean a bigger-sized watercolor set, so keep the portable angle in mind when choosing the perfect number of colors. It would be best if you looked for a kit that stays compact and has a large variety of colors at the same time. 

If your budget is not very big, you should go for watercolor paint sets that contain all the primary colors. I understand that fancy and stylish colors might look more attractive. But in the case of a limited palette, primary colors fare better since you can actually mix those together to create custom shades. 

2. Portability 

What is the important quality of a travel watercolor set? The ‘traveling’ part, of course! So, you obviously need to make sure that your watercolor set is extremely compact and portable enough to be carried easily and safely over long distances. 

If the compact travel watercolor palette comes with additional tools like watercolor paint brushes, watercolor sponges, watercolor brush pens, etc., then you need to look at whether the watercolor set can store them safely. You should be able to carry all those additional tools over long distances without any hassle. 

The portability and accessible storage of a watercolor painting will come in really handy in case you want to paint landscapes or try plein-air painting. 

Talking about additional accessories...

3. Additional Tools And Accessories

As you might have noticed, many of the watercolor sets included in this list contain a lot more than just the paint colors. Watercolor paint brushes, water sponges, watercolor paper, mixing trays, and watercolor brush pens, to name a few. This is excellent for beginners since they can get an all-in-one kit. This makes it very easy to start learning and enjoy painting. 

As a beginner, you might not know which paper or paintbrush goes best with the watercolors you have bought. So, the additional tools and accessories will greatly help you get past that initial hurdle. 

For a professional who must already have their favorites and set preferences, these tools can serve as additional practice accessories. 

4. Paint Quality/ Paint Grade

Depending on your painting skills, you might prefer artist-grade or student-grade paints. As must be obvious, artist-grade watercolor paints are a lot more expensive than student-grade paints. They are made for experienced artists, having high-quality pigments and impeccable vibrance. 

Student-grade watercolor paints, on the other hand, are cheaper and beginner-friendly. This means they might not have the same high-quality pigments, but they are a good option for amateur painters just starting out. 

Look out for the pigment quality and the blending ability of the paints in the watercolor set. Even if you are buying a small number of colors, the blending ability will allow you to create all the custom shades you need for your watercolor paintings. 

So, depending on your painting needs and skills, you should get a suitable paint grade. 

5. TSA (Transport Security Administration) Approved 

If you intend to travel in planes with your watercolor paints, this is an important factor. Many airlines have specific regulations about what kind of items you are allowed to bring in a carry-on on your flight. 

This means if you don’t have a TSA-approved watercolor set, you might not be able to travel with it on a flight. So, this might be one of the features to check out when you are buying your watercolor pans. 

However, since you are probably buying one of these dried watercolor sets, you don’t have to worry. Airlines have specific rules about liquid watercolors, not allowing any tube of watercolor paint to weigh over 3.4 ounces. 

FAQs Related To Travel Watercolor Sets

  • Can I use my travel watercolor set for other types of painting besides travel painting?

    Yes, you absolutely can. A travel watercolor set is, by virtue, very compact and pocket-friendly. This means you can try painting landscapes around you, you can try plein-air painting (which means painting out in the open air), and even regular watercolor painting. 

    Just because the watercolor paint sets are tagged as travel-friendly doesn’t mean you can’t use them for any other sort of painting you want to do. 

  • What are some advantages and disadvantages of purchasing a travel watercolor set?

    Anything has both pros and cons. So, here are the pros of buying a travel watercolor set:

    • Water-soluble colors are easy to clean
    • Water-soluble colors are easy to blend
    • Beginner-friendly
    • Dried paint can be reactivated
    • Long-lasting watercolor paints
    • Travel-friendly 

    Now, here are some cons of buying a travel watercolor set:

    • Watercolors might muddy up together
    • The quality of paints can be low
    • Paint can get contaminated with dirt and dust
    • Limited colors
  • How do I properly maintain and care for my travel watercolor set?

    It is very important for you to keep your travel watercolor set clean if you want to get brilliant and vibrant colors every time you paint. Here are some tips you can follow:

    Tip 1:

    Use a palette for mixing and blending colors and not the watercolor set itself. This way, you can keep the watercolor set clean and prevent the watercolor paints from mixing with each other. 

    Tip 2: 

    Rinse all the used paintbrushes by rinsing the bristles with water. Gently run over the bristles with your fingers to make sure there is no leftover paint on the bristles. After they are thoroughly cleaned, dry your brushes flat by laying them on a clean paper or cloth. 

    Tip 3:

    Store each watercolor cake in an airtight box to avoid direct contact with air or sunlight. This will ensure their longevity and prevent any cracks. Also, keep the lid closed at all times to prevent any dust or dirt from settling. 

    Tip 4:

    If you used the watercolor set as a mixing palette, clean the palette with running water before the paints have dried. If the paint marks seem too stubborn, a little dishwashing soap or detergent won’t hurt. Use a rag or paper towel to dry the palette after use. 

  • What are some tips for using a travel watercolor set while traveling or on the go?

    Painting while traveling can be quite confusing for beginners initially since you have a really compact space for your art supplies. So, here are some tips to help you out-

    • Use Handy Watercolor Paper

    You cannot travel with a whole canvas or a canvas stand everywhere. So, choosing handy formats of watercolor paper is key. A watercolor paper pad and a watercolor sketchbook are the best options. 

    • Easy-to-use Watercolor Brushes

    You will want to carry the least amount of tools possible. So, choosing a versatile watercolor brush is important. I recommend picking a round brush in both thick and thin variations. This way, you have a brush for both fine details and thick washes.

     A great tip is to tape your paint brushes together to prevent the bristles from getting damaged.  

    • Choosing The Right Location

    Travel painting or painting en plein air is only worth it if you have found the right location and landscape. That will give you the perfect inspiration to create your watercolor masterpiece. Choose a location with good scenery and less crowd to paint in peace.

    • Keep A Handy Bag

    Keep a small separate bag or backpack for your art materials, including watercolor paper, watercolor paints, watercolor paint brushes, a water bottle, and any other necessities.  

  • Verdict

    Coming to the end of this list, it is time to mention the top picks. The Winsor & Newton Cotman watercolor set stands out on the top of this list because of its affordable price, vibrant colors, and travel-friendly size.

    The Artisto watercolor paint set comes in second place due to its inclusion of fancy colors, additional accessories, and beginner-friendly size. Another good option is from the Japanese brand Sakura due to its vibrant colors and student-friendly vibe.

    Hopefully, this helped you figure out your travel painting needs. I am sure you will highly enjoy the experience. Have fun painting!