Top 5 Best Watercolor Palettes in 2021

Selecting a watercolor palette can be exciting and stressful at the same time. Beginners might wonder how to choose the best watercolor layout or what the differences are between half and full pans before deciding on their ideal palette. We will answer these straightforward questions and provide our recommendations for the leading palettes for this medium, including travel and metal watercolor palettes. We’ve selected these principal palettes for quality, price, and versatility and have included our own personal favorites.

All products are graded based on a score of 1-10 for each selection criteria (with 10 being the best).

How to Choose the Best Watercolor Palette for Your Needs

When choosing a watercolor palette, the first decision to make is where it will primarily be used, in a studio, for outdoor painting, or while traveling. Most professional watercolor artists own several palettes and use them interchangeably.

Every palette should be chosen keeping these three top criteria in mind: material, versatility, and price (in that order).  I know budget can be a major deciding factor, but if you want to produce beautiful artwork, the quality of the palette and its usefulness for your needs will make a big difference.

Read on to learn more about our top choices for the best watercolor palettes and why we chose them.

Material and Use Cases

Our first criteria and probably the most important when choosing a watercolor palette is the use case and individual features of the palette, such as for studio use or travel use, lids or no lids, or magnetic strips for securing in place.

These different features can affect your use case, like palettes made of porcelain or ceramic for use in a studio, while a metal palette has the possibility to add a magnetic strip to the bottom of each pan in order to keep them secure and in place, even when bumped. This little addon would make it useful as your main palette than can also be used for travel.

An obvious tip for travel palettes is that they should always close securely, not just snap closed and ideally be airtight. Lastly, having a lid on a palette will help keep your paints dust and debris free and should always be a consideration.

Versatility

Unless you’re a professional watercolor artist who has tried numerous palettes until they’ve found the one that’s perfect for their needs, you’re most likely going to want a basic palette with several mixing regions.

For beginners, we suggest starting with a few colors, like a 12-watercolor palette, while professionals can easily use 24 or 48 color wells.

Another factor judging versatility is whether the palette is specific for tubes of paint or pans? As the name suggests, tubed watercolors come in small tubes available in a few ounces, whereas pans can come in full or half pans and either empty or with the color already inside. Full pans are larger and are able to hold more color, but half pans provide more color choices. Another consideration when deciding on pans is are they removable? This will help your palette work for you by being able to swap colors effortlessly.

Price

While price is a major factor when choosing the best watercolor palette, it should have the least importance since, as we mentioned above, a more expensive palette could actually save money in the long run. It can also ensure you’re choosing the most suitable watercolor palette and the best quality for your specific needs.

Our Recommended Products

Read detail on each recommendation below:

#1 Best Watercolor Palette Overall – FCLUB Empty Watercolor Palette

FCLUB Empty Watercolor Tins Palette Paint Case

Selection Criteria

  • Price – ~$18.99
    • Our score: 9/10
  • Material – Metal Tin
    • Our score: 10/10
  • Versatility – Full and Half Pans
    • Our score: 10/10

About the FCLUB Empty Watercolor Palette

This FCLUB empty metal watercolor palette meets all of our criteria for its versatility, quality, and price, which is why it’s our top choice for a general-use palette. Able to hold 24 removable half pans or 14 full pans, this palette provides the artist with enough flexibility to hold different paints for a number of projects and is still small enough to carry around. It comes with 24 half pans, two large mixing areas and is also is available in 10, 12, 20-, 24-, 48- or 100-piece palettes. Most top brand pans will also fit in this palette for added flexibility.

Pros

  • Capable of holding full and half pans for more adaptability
  • Made of durable metal
  • Can be used with the included pans for those preferring watercolor tubes of included pans can be substituted with pans from major brands

Cons

  •    The pans aren’t magnetic.

#2 Best Travel Watercolor Palette – Mijello Travel Watercolor Palette

Mijello Martin Airtight Watercolor 18-Well Fuchsia Palette

Selection Criteria

  • Price – ~$9.99
    • Our score: 9/10
  • Material – Metal
    • Our score: 8/10
  • Versatility – Fits tubes and most half pans
    • Our score: 9/10

About the Mijello Travel Watercolor Palette

Airtight, lightweight, and compact are all essential qualities to look for in a watercolor palette needed on the go, and this Mijello palette meets each one and thus makes it our top choice for a travel watercolor palette. Available in fuchsia, this 18-well metal palette also comes with two plastic mixing areas, one that is removable and can second as a color guard while traveling. The smaller wells measure around ¾ – inch by 1 1/8 – inch long, which is about the same as most half pans from well-known brands. The material also makes this easy to clean and keeps paints moist even when not in use.

Pros

  • Plenty of wells to hold many colors
  • Airtight and lightweight
  • Unique and interesting color

Cons

    If too much paint is added to the wells, it can leach into other colors

#3 Best 12 Watercolor Palette – MEEDEN 12 Watercolor Palette

MEEDEN Empty Watercolor Tins Box Palette Paint

Selection Criteria

  • Price – ~$12.95
    • Our score: 9/10
  • Material – Metal Tin
    • Our score: 10/10
  • Versatility – Full and Half Pans
    • Our score: 9/10

About the MEEDEN 12 Watercolor Palette

Beginners will appreciate this solid 12-piece half pan watercolor palette for its small size, yet with enough pans to hold a diversity of colors along with five mixing areas. Although the manufacturer states that this model is good for traveling, we don’t suggest using it for painting outside or for travel since it’s not an airtight container and simply snaps closed. Before purchasing other pans to use in this tin, be sure that they fit this standard-sized palette.

Pros

  • Sufficient pans to provide beginner or intermediate painters with plenty of artistic freedom
  • Small enough to fit on most painting surfaces

Cons

  • It may be too small for some artists

#4 Best Metal Watercolor Palette – MEEDEN Metal Watercolor Palette 26 Half Pans

MEEDEN Empty Watercolor Tin Palette

Selection Criteria

  • Price – ~$13.95
    • Our score: 9/10
  • Material – Metal Tin
    • Our score: 10/10
  • Versatility – Full and Half Pans
    • Our score: 9/10

About the MEEDEN Metal Watercolor Palette 26 Half Pans

Ideal for professional watercolor artists, this metal watercolor palette has an enamel interior and comes with 26 half pans, but can easily fit 37 half tins if using the row down the center, left for paintbrushes, or 14 full pans (sold separately). This durable set can be used with either watercolor tubes or most standard half or full watercolor pans, including Holbein, Winsor & Newton, and other top brands. Additional features comprise four mixing zones, and options to buy 12 or 48 half pan palettes as well that can also fit 19 or 52 pans, respectively.

Pros

  • One of the most durable palettes and one of the best quality pans available at this price point
  • Includes a metal holder to secure each pan in place
  • Pans have beveled edges for added safety when removing

Cons

  • Pans don’t come with magnetic bottoms

#5 Best Porcelain Watercolor Palette –  Jack Richeson Porcelain Watercolor Palette

Jack Richeson Porcelain Palette Stephen Quiller

Selection Criteria

  • Price – ~$85.99 (Was $101.95)
    • Our score: 9/10
  • Material – Metal Tin
    • Our score: 10/10
  • Versatility – Full and Half Pans
    • Our score: 9/10

About the Jack Richeson Porcelain Watercolor Palette

If painting predominantly in a studio, then this porcelain round watercolor palette is ideal for beginners or professional artists. Features include 32 wells, including 8 wells in the square corners that border the main round palette, a large mixing space, a useful plastic lid to keep paints free of dust, and easy-to-clean material. This palette is designed by Stephen Quiller, a painter who is well known for color theory and watercolor painting, and many customers have noted that using his color wheel suggestions for pigment arrangement greatly enhances the efficiency of this palette.

Pros

  • Water doesn’t bead up when mixing as it does on plastic surfaces
  • Includes a lid
  • Easy to clean
  • Spacious, especially for larger brushes

Cons

  • It’s a bit heavy for some customers at 8 pounds

Conclusion

This wraps up our guide for the best watercolor palette. Not only have we discussed how you can identify the best watercolor palette, but we’ve also shared our recommendation for some of the top palettes available.

We’ve discussed how you can choose the best watercolor palette, and why quality, versatility, and price are key deciding factors.

Lastly, we combined our recommendations for use in different situations. So, whether it is a porcelain watercolor palette or a travel watercolor palette, or the best metal watercolor palette, we’ve covered it all.

Thanks for reading, we hope our suggestions make choosing the best watercolor palette for your needs easier.

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