Every artist needs a good palette. This little piece of plastic may seem redundant to many who don’t paint, but it’s essential for anyone looking to take full control over their painting.
In fact, it’s even more important when it comes to watercolor paints, where there are so many more hues to play around with.
Getting a decent watercolor palette is thus essential for ensuring the best results when you are painting.
There are a lot of options on the market though, so it can sometimes be a little bit tricky to figure out what palette will be the best choice for you.
Thankfully, we’re here to help. Read on for our picks of the best watercolor palettes on the market.
We’ve also written a handy buyer’s guide to help you to make the best decision for you.
OUR TOP PICK
The Darice 20 Well Palette is ideal for any artist looking for a great place to store and mix their paints.
This is a fairly big palette that has 20 wells in total, and it features a bunch of different wells that can be used for different things. You can use them for mixing, storing paints and more.
The palette features a few well types - big circles, slanted squares, flat squares and smaller circles.
You can use the large circles for creating particularly watery mixes out of colors with high pigments, whereas you could use the slanted squares for mixing color gradients.
You can then use the flat squares for mixing. If you need more opaque mixes you can use the tiny circles.
Thanks to the different wells, this is certainly a versatile option that is easy to use for a wonder of tasks. It is made out of plastic, which isn’t particularly impressive but it is sufficient.
It’s perfect for use in a studio. Of course, because of the sheer size of the palette it isn’t the best choice for the outdoors.
- Good for studio use
- Well priced
- Versatile - ideal for mixing
- Not the best choice for painting outdoors
It’s in the name - if you want portability, look no further than the Portable Painter Watercolor Palette.
Measuring only 5.5 inches x 3 inches x 1.2 inches, you can put this palette into your bag or purse with ease for painting on the go.
The palette is ideal for people that are constantly painting on the move. It’s compact and has a leak proof design, so you don’t need to worry about paints spilling all over your bag.
It comes with a black house, and you just need to unfolded it to get around 12 different slanted wells, along with 12 or so little wells for mixing. This is a fairly decent variety, especially considering how compact the palette is.
In addition to this, you can even use the housing as a stand for your palette. It can hold your brushes too, which is especially handy.
It’s a great choice if you are looking to practice some painting in the great outdoors. It even comes with two extra brushes. What more could you possibly want?
- Can hold a lot of colors
- Housing can also be used as a brush stand
- Leak proof
- Ideal for outdoor use
- May not be the best choice for use in a studio setting
The Martin Mijello Watercolor Palette is perfect for anyone looking to paint outdoors.
This palette is very compact and small, so carrying it around is super easy. You could easily put it in your purse for painting on the go!
The palette is perfect for painting on a smaller scale, and so it’s also a great choice if you’re just starting out with watercolor painting.
The palette is best suited to people that use watercolor tubes and this is mainly due to the well design. The wells are slanted which will allow you to get the most out of your hues.
The palette is relatively small and this is both an element in its favor and an issue. Due to the size it’s not the best choice for painting on a large scale.
If you are looking for a compact, airtight watercolor palette though it is certainly ideal for that.
- Leak proof
- Ideal for outdoor use
- Portable and great for travel
- Not the best choice for use in a studio
If you are looking for a slightly larger palette for your watercolors, then the John Pike Watercolor Palette is a good choice for you.
It comes with 20 wells in total, and it’s perfect for mixing. It measures a massive 10.5 inches by 15 inches.
Despite the rather large size of this watercolor palette, it’s actually pretty easy to carry it around when you need to.
It’s more suited to traveling every once in a while as it doesn’t have a side handle, but it does come with an airtight lid that will keep your paints safe while you travel.
The biggest well of all in this palette is the huge mixing well in the center that’s designed for you to mix your paints without any restrictions at all.
The palette also comes with an injection mold design, and this allows you to mix colors that much more easily. It’s enjoyable to use and mixing will be hassle free using it.
It’s ideal if you want a simple, yet effective watercolor palette that will serve you well both in the studio and out on the field. It should be noted though that it doesn’t have segregated mixing areas.
- Minimalist design
- Large mixing area for easier mixing
- Airtight lid ideal for traveling
- It doesn’t have a segregated mixing area
For a versatile watercolor palette, the Meeden Watercolor Tin Palette is certainly a good choice.
It comes with 15 configurable designs, which means you can make it fit whatever you need in the moment. It’s also incredibly durable!
The palette features 15 different customization options in total, and it’s very easy to use. You can use the organized pan to make sure that none of your colors end up getting spoiled.
There are also an abundance of well that can help to make mixing that much easier for you to do. In total, it comes with 10 smaller wells and 4 large square wells for you to take advantage of.
The palette is made out of tin, and the mental is of immaculate quality. You have no need to fear that the tin will suffer any damage or corrosion, even if you have been using the paints for a long period of time.
Not only that, but you can also use the little box to carry around all of your essential paint brushes. You can store round brushes, flat brushes, spotters and rigger due to the tin’s long length - 8.4 inches in total!
Of course, the biggest issue lies in the fact that as you may expect, this is a pretty expensive watercolor palette, so you may need a slightly larger budget to accommodate for this particular purchase.
- Versatile with lots of customization options
- Can be used for indoor and outdoor painting
- Can be used to store brushes
Best Watercolor Palette Buying Guide
There are a number of things to think about when buying a watercolor palette. It isn’t just a matter of selecting any old piece of plastic off Amazon and calling it a day - you really need to think about what it is that you are buying.
For instance, how many pigment wells are there, is it portable, what is it made out of? It may seem a little overwhelming at first to pick an option because there is so much to consider, but we’ve simplified it to make the decision a little easier for you.
The truth is that not every watercolor palette on the market is going to be good for artists that are traveling from place to place. On the same note, not every palette is going to fit someone working primarily from their art studio.
You need to consider what will best fit your individual circumstances. Sure, you can use one palette everywhere, but it is much better to have a palette for whatever situation - one for working outdoors and on your travels and one for when you are working from the studio.
For instance, if you are going to be working in a studio then a material like porcelain may be best. This material is usually best for storing paints and mixing them. On the other hand, it can also be a pretty heavy material to carry.
It can also break fairly easily and it may not come with a lid to cover the paints so it wouldn’t be a good idea to take a palette like this out on an excursion.
Alternatively, a palette that is designed to be carried around may be made out of a more lightweight material such as plastic and may be smaller so it can be placed inside a bag with ease.
They may not be the best for use on a daily basis though as they may not have pans big enough or they may not have enough space for mixing.
One of the most important things to think about when it comes to buying a watercolor palette is whether the palette is big enough to hold the colors that you plan on using on a daily basis.
You don’t need one that can hold every single color that you have, but one that’s big enough for the main ones. You should also have a palette with a little bit of extra space for if you want to add some extra colors later on.
Nobody wants to use the same colors all the time, so having a little room to change is always helpful. Of course, you don’t need to buy a palette that is excessively large either. Consider what exactly you need to make the best choice for you.
If you find yourself lacking space then you can always get another palette at a later date.
Every artist strives to put the most love and care into their work, and this often comes with having the best paints and tools.
With that being said, sometimes the tools that are the absolute best are more expensive than you can budget for.
You can easily find watercolor palettes to fit your budget so don’t overspend if you don’t want to.
You also shouldn’t buy the cheapest option though, as this may not be the standard that you need.
Extra Mixing Wells
It’s always handy to have a separate mixing area that will allow you to keep any wet pigments away from the other colors.
This isn’t a necessary feature but it’s certainly handy to have. You can always make DIY separations if need be.
Covers are pretty handy, especially when you’re traveling. They can help to make the palette a little more portable, and they are great for keeping things out of the paint such as dust and hair.
While this is a handy thing to have it isn’t essential. You can easily make your own cover for the paints such as out of aluminum foil.
This may seem like a bizarre consideration, but it’s something that an artist should consider.
If you choose a blue palette, how are you going to see your blue pigments? It’s usually better to opt for a palette that is white, as this will allow you to see the strength of the colors you have mixed.
Nobody enjoys cleaning, and painting can be a pretty messy job.
For this reason, you should think about getting watercolor palettes that are easy to clean. It’s also worth thinking about a palette that will resist staining as you will be using so many different colors.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Use My Watercolor Palette?
If you’ve been painting with watercolors for a while, you may have already been using a palette that has colors in it. As a result of this, you may not know how to organize your watercolor palette in a way that will suit your painting style.
Setting up your watercolor palette doesn’t need to be rocket science, though! First of all you need to ask yourself what colors you should put in the palette. There are a lot of colors out there to choose from, so you may be overwhelmed trying to figure out exactly what you need.
If you’re just starting out then you should try to limit the number of colors you use. It will be much better for your technique in the long run if you learn to mix with fewer colors, in contrast with a vast number of colors. You can then add new hues as your painting style and favorites change.
You should also try to choose colors that will work well together when they are mixed. Primary colors are usually a good choice for this, so red blue and yellow. You can use these to create pretty much whatever color you want.
You can then add different variations of these colors, like warmer variations or cooler ones.
If you find yourself having a number of dull colors in the palette, you may wish to add single pigment paints or colors that are strongly saturated. It’s also worth considering adding some more convenient colors, such as grey, brown and black.
You don’t have to only use these shades however. You can have darker and lighter hues too. It’s just helpful to limit your palette when you first start out as it will make you feel less overwhelmed by color options.
It’s also a good idea to play around and experiment with mixing when you first start out - you never know what new hues and colors you will find and fall in love with.
Also, when you are choosing colors, pay more attention to pigments than colors. Two manufacturers may have a color with the same name, but in reality the color is completely different and that can make your painting look different. If you stick with pigments then you are more likely to find exactly what you need.
Are materials important when it comes to buying a watercolor palette?
In short, not really. If it’s only for holding your paint then the material isn’t that important. If your paint doesn’t stay in the same place in the wells then all you need is some fine steel wool to deal with it.
Of course there are some pigments that can stain certain metals, but this isn’t the biggest problem in the world. If this would annoy you then you could opt for porcelain instead, but otherwise the material distinction isn’t that important, so long as what you choose is durable enough to last.
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