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Watercolor Paint Types

When I start creating a new pattern or print for fabric, I always start with my sketchbook and a pencil. I then use pens, markers and Sharpies to add color and other details. Recently, decided to expand my design tools and explore watercolor paints.

If you are new to watercolor paints, you might feel a bit confused about the various types of paints out there. In this post, I’m going to explain the different types of watercolor paints and what my preferences are.

Watercolor Pan Paints

As the name implies, pan paints are simply dry pigment compressed into a pan. You add water to pick up the color. Use a plastic or porcelain palette to mix colors. Adding more water to your mixed color will lighten the color. To darken the shade, add a touch of black or pick up more pigment of a specific color.

These paints are easy to carry! Especially if you are traveling or want to paint outside, it’s very portable and easy to pack.

I use Angora Water Colors, made in Germany. This set is available at It’s very affordable – a set of 14 colors is $10.75. If you are new to watercolor, this is a great starter set.

These paints are great for quick sketches that don’t require a lot of shade variation. I found it difficult to mix colors in the palette to get the exact shade I was looking for. It was also challenging to create shading and intricate details within my design work.

Angora Watercolor Pan Paints |

Watercolor sketch using pan paints |


Gouache (pronounced gwash) has the characteristics of both watercolor and acrylic, which makes it a very unique medium. In its natural state, it is opaque and only becomes translucent when water is added.

The added pigment makes it easier to manipulate on paper, unlike watercolor, which once painted on paper is more difficult to adjust the color.

I personally love working with gouache! Since it comes in small tubes, I find it much easier to blend the exact color mixes I need. I can get that perfect dark green or the palest light green just by varying the amount of pigment and water. What is even better is that I can make adjustments to my design work even after it is painted on paper.

Watercolor sketch painted with gouache |

I like working with Utrecht Designers Gouache. They are perfect for illustrators, designers and artists. Another option is Reeves Gouache 12 tube set. This is a budget-friendly option available at Michaels for $9.99.

Dr. Ph. Martin Concentrated Watercolor

These liquid watercolor paints are very transparent but extremely concentrated. They produce bright, bold color – perfect for design work, actually! These paints are easy to control and flow with ease on paper. However mixing colors is challenging. You are probably better off buying the different sets to get a full range of colors available.

The most known brand is Dr. Ph. Martin Concentrated Watercolor, available on

I definitely plan to include more concentrated watercolor in my design work.

Concentrated watercolor |

Now I want to hear from you….which one is your favorite?

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