I'm frequently asked about the supplies I use for drafting and painting, especially during my classes. Every artist has their own style and preferences, so here is a comprehensive list of all the supplies I use and love, or have tried and tested. I will update this page regularly as I discover new products and tools.
For painting supplies, see below
Disclosure: some of the following links are affiliate links. That means I earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you decide to purchase any of them.
W A T E R C O L O U R
P A I N T S
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours
Aquarius Watercolours were launched by Polish artist Roman Szmal in 2018, and I was able to acquire a selection of colours from a friend in Poland. I've been hooked since then, and fortunately they are now easily available on Jackson's. They are lush, superb value for money, and a massive range of single-pigment paints and unique mixes.
(coming soon – a colour mixing chart featuring this palette)
Schmincke Horadam Watercolours
Schmincke Horadam are incredible paints and undoubtedly one of the BEST watercolour brands worldwide.
Their consistency and vibrancy is just incomparable.
I would highly recommend purchasing the sample card to try the full range of colours
Schmincke has also come out with a limited edition 'Super Granulation' series last year.
These are special effects colours; they separate beautifully and create gorgeous textures in paintings.
You can find them in sets here – there are 15 colours in 5 sets – but they are also available in open stock.
Winsor and Newton Professional Watercolours
Winsor and Newton's version of Cobalt Turquoise Light and Cobalt Green (which I think is discontinued) are my favourites.
Note: some key colours are missing in this set, such as Winsor Green (Blue Shade) and Neutral Tint, while Aureolin*, Chinese White and Ivory Black that are included are not very useful.
*Aureolin is not a lightfast pigment.
M. Graham Watercolours
M. Graham is a small US-based sustainable paintmaker and their artist's gouache the one of the best I've tried. Their watercolours are also excellent.
In most environments, these paints will not dry to solid due to the addition of honey. This makes them less portable than other watercolour brands, so they are better suited for studio use.
My favourite Neutral Tint by M. Graham is made using only two pigments (most brands use three)
Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors
I strongly recommend other brands over Daniel Smith paints. They have been misleading their customers for several years over their PrimaTek paints – a premium range that is allegedly made from minerals and gemstones. However, this was always a marketing gimmick. Some of these PrimaTek paints were recently analysed by geologists and pigment experts (check out their findings here) on Instagram @worldpigmentday, and the was revealed that very little of the labelled stone or pigment was in the paint itself.
While there is no problem with using synthetic pigments to enhance a 'mineral', they have always maintained (and continue to, despite the evidence) that these paints are made with pure stones and this is downright unethical. It also casts a doubt over the lightfastness rating of the paint.
With that caveat, some of the colours are unique that I could recommend. Do note that some of the PrimaTek paints are weak (Lapis, Sugelite) and extremely gummy and difficult to paint with (Bronzite, Mayan Blue)
Three of the above PrimaTek colours can also be purchased in THIS SET of six
NOTE: Do also check out Schmincke Horadam's limited edition Super Granulation range. They are also special effects paints similar to PrimaTeks, but made using known pigments and mixes.
P A P E R
Sketchbooks for practice and swatches
Jackson's Spiral Bound Watercolour Sketchbook 280 gsm
Jackson's Acid-free Wood Pulp Watercolour Blocks 300 gsm in a wide range of sizes
Fabriano 50% Cotton Spiral Bound Sketchbook 300 gsm
100% Cotton Paper
Cotton paper can be expensive, but it is economical when bought as a full size imperial sheet – which is 22" x 30" or 56x76cm – either single sheet or as packs of five or ten.
Jackson's offers a free cutting service if you buy a pack of sheets, and you can ask them in your order comments to cut the sheets x2 or x4.
For example, if you buy a pack of five sheets of Arches Cold Press paper, which is £22.50, that will give you 20 quarter imperial size sheets of 15" x 11" size (slightly smaller than A3), whereas the Arches block of 16"x12" of 20 sheets is £37
Fabriano Artistico (vegan)
100% Cotton Blocks various sizes
Arches (animal gelatin)
Sheets all options
Pack of 5, Cold Press 300 gsm
(This paper is available in Doha at Cassart)
Saunders Waterford is supposed to be excellent, but I haven't tried it myself.
B R U S H E S
Jackson's Studio Synthetic
Good brushes for swatching and general use
This is a 100% synthetic sable hair brush, the best imitation of Kolinsky sable that I have tried yet.
Sizes 2/4/6 is a good place to start for painting A4/A3 size paintings
I have this version in size 6 and 10 which is a travel brush:
Jackson's Brush Storage
Handover Brush Case
P A L E T T E S A N D S T O R A G E
Jackson's Empty plastic pans
Metal Watercolour Boxes
FP = full or whole pans, HP = half pans
Blue Airtight Palette for 18 tube colours
Plastic 12 well mixing palette useful for colour theory
Ceramic or porcelain is the best mixing surface for watercolour.
M I S C E L L A N E O U S
Jackson's Masking Fluid and Applicator set
Jackson's Empty Masking Fluid Applicator (can be used with any masking fluid)
Schmincke Masking Fluid/Liquid Frisket
Jakar Ruling Pen
Yellow Owl Workshop Archival Ink Pad (for stamps)
Dr. Ph Martin's Bleed Proof White (opaque white ink for details or fixing mistakes)
M E T A L L I C S
The best metallic paints I've tried are by Coliro Colors, better known as Finetec. They are available as sets, but you can also buy individual colours and make your own palette.
To make your own set, the plastic palette box is recommended if you live in a humid area, as my metal one has rusted over time due to humidity.
These are the colours I have tried myself, but their entire range is beautiful and highly recommended.
Note: Some colours are best used on darker paper, and these are called 'shimmer' colours. They will be almost invisible on white paper.
I N K
Liquitex Acrylic Ink
Lightfast, pigment-based, acrylic binder
Dr. Ph Martin's Bombay India Ink
Lightfast, pigment-based, shellac binder.
The 30 ml set is better value than the 15ml set.
First set of 12 (Primaries + secondaries)
Second set of 12 (Neutrals + expanded primaries)
Palettes for Ink
Ink is better used in small quantities as it cannot be reused once dry. Plastic palettes are easy to stain, so ceramic or metal is a better option when using ink.
Small wells in these ceramic palettes are perfect for inks.
G O U A C H E
I would always recommend an artist grade gouache over the 'designers' range. These are three brands that make super pigmented, chalk-free, artist's gouache.
Holbein Artist Gouache
CMYK Starter set 15ml
CMYK Starer set 5ml
Schmincke Horadam Gouache
Schmincke Zinc White (mixing)
Schmincke Titanium White (opaque)
Secondaries + Bonus
M. Graham Gouache
Lawrence (UK) has an offer of 25% off on 4+ tubes