Brush lettering using watercolors sparked my interest when I started learning pointed pen calligraphy. A few dabbing of paint here and there made me curious to know more about this water-based media.
I bought some cheap materials despite the recommendations of most artists to get the high quality ones. They say that it’s a waste of money and frustrating to use. I’m justing testing the waters so I thought cheap materials are okay. It has been three months since I started and yes, I can say that it was a good decision. Here’s a list of the watercolor supplies that I use.
Watercolor paints are available in tube or pans.
The first one I bought is a Disney Art Attack 12-color set (Php 110+) from National Bookstore (NBS). The colors are not highly pigmented but was okay to use in brush lettering and simple paintings. I used this set for the feather and the bird (see #2) paintings below.
My next purchase was a 16-color Prang watercolor set (Php 526) from Deovir. The 8-color retails for Php250 in NBS. The colors are vivid and mixes well.
Here are some of my outputs using this set.
I no longer use the Art Attack set ever since I started using Prang. I’d love to try Holbein Artists Watercolor and Kuretake Gansai Tambi next.
A friend lend me her Pentel Watercolor tube set which I find more opaque than Prang. It was a joy to use in brush lettering but I still prefer Prang for painting.
Wish list: Holbein, Gansai Tambi, Peerless Watercolor
For brush lettering, I use a 100gsm bond paper like the PaperOne Presentation (A4, 50 sheets, Php 55.50, NBS). It doesn’t buckle/cockle as long as you don’t use too much water. This is the same paper I use for calligraphy.
I have a Berkeley Watercolor Pad (270mm x 380mm, 180gsm, 24 sheets, Php 294, NBS). The paper buckled a bit when I tried a wet on wet technique, I just had to be careful not to soak it too much. I tried to stretch it before painting but I didn’t see any difference, it still buckled.
The journal with black cover is used for my 100 day lettering project. I add watercolor illustrations to some of my entries like this one.
Tip: A clipboard is a great tool to have specially when working with small projects. You can move your paper around without fear of having it blown away by the fan. Taping the paper on your board or table also works.
Wish list: 300gms papers like Canson Montval, Daler & Rowney and Arches.
I currently have six sythetic brushes and 3 water brushes but I only use one to three sizes when painting. When painting, I find myself reaching for either the #7 Berkeley or #8 Deovir, and #1 Deovir round brushes. For very small details, I use #000 Berkeley. I reach for the 1/2 flat brush for mixing paints and painting straight lines.
I don’t use the brushes that come with the watercolor sets mentioned in #1. They don’t maintain their points and the hairs are easily pulled out.
For the flower painting below, I only used a single brush, the #7 Berkeley round brush. As long as the brush maintains its point, you can create thin lines like the stems shown here.
The water brushes are from the Royal Langnickel Aqua-flo water brush set (Php 311) that I got from Deovir. I wouldn’t have purchased it have I known that water flow is very difficult to control. I regret getting this pack instead of the Pentel Aquash. I now use this as a water dropper to activate the paints.
Wish list: sable brush, Silver Brush Black Velvet Voyage Brush, Pentel Aquash Waterbrush
4. Water Container
I use a plastic mug (Php 25) and a recycled yogurt container as a water container and brush holder.
For mixing colors, I use the palette/cover of the watercolor sets. I also have a circular palette (Php 34.75, NBS). I’m on a hunt for a porcelain palette because the paints have already stained the mixing areas, which is not good since you want the mixing areas to be white so that you can see better the colors you are mixing.
Wish list: porcelain palette
6. Towel or Sponge
I use dry towels or sponge to remove excess water from the brush and lift paint from the paper.
7. Pencil and Eraser
There are instances when I want to lightly sketch first before I paint the first washes. A cheap “magic” pencil does the trick for me. The circular gray one is a kneaded eraser from Faber Castel (Php 29, Deovir).
Wish list: graphite pencil
8. Waterproof Pens
For outlining and sketching, I often use a 0.1 Uni Pin Fine Line.
Where to buy
Online Stores (they have pop-up stores sometimes)
These are the watercolor tools that I got myself as a beginner. I was able to practice using cheaper materials that didn’t disappoint (except for the water brushes, ugh!). I know this might not be the same for other people starting out in watercolor painting. I’d love to hear your experiences. What watercolor tools are you using?