Here is our review of the best watercolor palette for artists.
The best watercolor palettes are durable, stable, and have enough wells and mixing space. They also shouldn’t make your paints bead up which makes it harder to control the colors you want to mix.
As an artist, I know the feeling of buying art supplies that you are disappointed with. That’s why I spent a few days putting together this guide so you can pick the best watercolor palette for you.
And I found that the MEEDEN 33-Well Porcelain Painting Palette is a great choice if you want a ceramic palette for studio use. If you like plastic palettes, try the MEEDEN Airtight Leakproof Watercolor Palette. For tin palettes, MYARTOOL Empty Watercolor Palette is a solid choice that comes in a wide range of sizes.
But, I’ve also included other options and things you should consider when picking the right watercolor palette for you.
Let’s take a look!
Table of Contents
Ceramic palettes are the best if you’re planning to paint in your studio or at your home. They are heavy, durable, and feel smooth when you’re using them. They’re the best for mixing paint since they’re often more stable and level than other types of palettes. But, they’re not meant for painting on the go and will break if you drop them.
Here are the best ceramic palettes I’ve found in my research:
The MEEDEN 33-Well Porcelain Painting Palette is a great ceramic palette if you have a large space to put it. The palette is 13.5 by 10.8 inches which gives you plenty of area for mixing colors. It has 33 wells which is more than enough for most artists. The wells come in three sizes: small, medium, and large which gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to the amount of paint you need. The mixing area is also divided into two sections, allowing you to mix colors in one area without spilling onto the other area. This palette is large, heavy, durable, and comes with a plastic cover to keep dust away.
The only downside of this palette is that it is more expensive and takes up a lot of space. The quality is worth the money if you have enough space for this palette.
|Has a lid||More expensive|
|A lot of wells||Takes up a lot of space|
|Two large mixing areas|
|Flat and doesn’t wobble|
|Cleans without staining|
The Gemerglity 8-inch Porcelain Watercolor Palette is a great alternative if you prefer a medium-sized palette. This palette has an 8-inch diameter which is a good size for studio and home use. It is easy to clean and feels sturdy when you use it. It’s also more affordable than larger palettes. The palette comes with 13 relatively large wells which is enough for most people.
The one drawback with this palette is that it only has one mixing area. This can be a bit limiting if you need a lot of mixing area. But, that seems to be the case for most medium-sized palettes. If you try this palette and find out that you need more space, you can always grab a tray palette for mixing.
|Good size and weight||Only one mixing area|
|Easy to clean|
The MEEDEN 9-Well Ceramic Rectangle Palette is a great choice if you have limited studio space and don’t need too many different colors. This small palette is only 6.8 by 3.4 inches which makes it great for smaller spaces. You don’t have to worry about stains when cleaning this palette. It’s also flat and doesn’t wobble or move around when you use it, unlike other small palettes. The price is also quite affordable if you’re tight on funds.
The downside with this palette is that it only comes with 9 wells and no “mixing area”. While there’s no “mixing area”, you can use the three bigger wells in the middle as your mixing area. The six smaller wells can be used as normal wells to put paint right out of the tube.
|Cleans without staining||Only 9 wells|
|Good size and weight|
|Flat and doesn’t wobble|
Plastic Watercolor Palettes
Plastic watercolor palettes are more travel-friendly because they’re lighter and some of them come with a lid. Some plastic palettes are labeled “airtight” and “leakproof”, but in reality, they don’t keep out 100% of the air or water. But, they’re still great for keeping your watercolor fresh if you’re planning to keep your paint for multiple sessions.
The downside with plastic watercolor palettes is that they tend to cause paint to bead up in mixing areas. Because of this, you would have less control when mixing colors. You can easily get around this by using an abrasive sponge to scrub down the mixing area to reduce the beading.
Here are some of the best plastic watercolor palettes I’ve come across:
The MEEDEN Airtight Leakproof Watercolor Palette is a great choice if you want to keep your paint fresh over multiple painting sessions. The palette is quite large (12.6 by 6.3 inches) and comes with 33 wells. It also comes with a mixing tray which is large enough for most artists. This palette is a bit big, but it’s good for traveling since it’s leak-resistant.
Like most other “airtight” and “leakproof” watercolor palettes, these aren’t 100% airtight or leakproof. But, these do keep most of the moisture and paint inside the container and can help you keep your paint wet and fresh. So, it’s still a great choice if you plan to keep the paint you squeezed into the well for your next painting session.
|Keeps paint wet and fresh||Isn’t completely airtight|
|A lot of wells|
|Good for traveling|
|Large and sturdy|
The Mijello Airtight Watercolor 18-Well Blue Palette is a great alternative if you prefer more mixing area in a palette. The palette is quite large at 12 by 6 inches. It also comes with 18 wells, two large mixing areas, and a mixing tray. This gives you plenty of room to mix colors to your heart’s desire. It’s also great for traveling since it is light and comes with a lid.
Again, I wouldn’t rely on these plastic containers to be completely airtight. But, they’re still great for keeping paint fresh for a longer time compared to other types of palettes. The other downside with this palette is that the plastic seems to stain after a while. It’s not a big problem since it’s quite affordable and you can easily replace it.
|Affordable||Isn’t completely airtight|
|Plenty of mixing area||Plastic will stain|
|Good amount of wells|
|Good for traveling|
The Mr. Pen Paint Tray Palettes are great if you’re looking for affordable plastic palettes. A pack comes with 4 small plastic palettes. This is great because you can use multiple palettes if you need more space or if you are painting with other people. While the quality of the palette might not be the best, this palette is great for students and kids. The palette is easy to clean and use.
The downside with this palette is that it is a bit small, but you can get around that by using multiple palettes. The palette, like other plastic palettes, can stain after some use. But, you can easily replace them since they are quite cheap.
|Very affordable||A bit small|
|Great for kids and students||Can stain|
|Easy to clean|
Tin Watercolor Palettes
Tin palettes are compact and durable which is great for traveling. Some tin palettes come with empty pans that you can use to fill your own colors with tube paints. Other ones come with pan paints that you can use right away.
Here are some great tin watercolor palettes that I’ve found in my research:
The MYARTOOL Empty Watercolor Palette is a great choice if you plan to fill your own pans. It is compact which is great if you like to paint on the go. It also comes in a variety of different sizes (12-piece half or full pans, 24-piece half or full pans, 48-piece half pans) so you can pick the size that suits your needs. This tin palette is quite sturdy and can last a long time if you take care of it. It is also very affordable.
One bad thing I found about this set is that the larger one feels a bit flimsy. But, this is a common problem for larger tin palettes. If you’re worried about that, you can always go with the smaller 12-piece or 24-piece palette.
|Affordable||Large one feels a bit flimsy|
|Compact and great for travel|
|Variety of sizes|
The Arteza Empty Watercolor Palette Tin is a great choice if you want a high-quality tin palette. This palette is compact which makes it great for traveling while also having large mixing areas. The tin is sturdy and the pans stay in place so you don’t have to worry about the pans shifting about when you paint or move around. The pans are also easier to remove which makes it easy to rearrange the pans to your liking.
The only downside with this set is that there are fewer size options. This tin palette only comes in a 24 half-pan set or a 48 half-pan set.
|Compact and great for travel||Less size options|
|Large mixing area|
|Pans stay in place|
|Pans are easier to remove|
The Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolor Paint Set is great if you want a tin palette that comes with pan paints. This is nice since it comes ready to paint and you don’t have to worry about filling the pans. The tin palette comes with 12 half-pan paints and has room for 12 more half-pans. It is lightweight and sturdy, perfect for painting while traveling. It is also affordable and is a solid choice for beginners and students.
However, the paints from the Cotman series are student-grade paints which are not as good as artist-grade paints. Student-grade paints often substitute pigments with other cheaper materials which makes them more affordable. If you’re looking for an artist-grade set, try the Winsor & Newton Professional Water Colour.
|Room to fill the other side with pans||Student grade paint|
|Comes with paint|
|Lightweight and sturdy|
What to Look For When Choosing the Best Watercolor Palette
Here are a few things to consider to pick the best watercolor palette for your needs.
- Palette material. Most palettes are made of ceramic, plastic, or tin. Each one has their own pros and cons.
- Ceramic palettes tend to be heavy, durable, and smooth. They’re the best for mixing paint, but it’s a hassle if you want to travel with them.
- Plastic palettes are good for traveling and easy to clean, but the paint tends to bead up (you can use an abrasive sponge to scrub the surface to resolve this issue). Some plastic palettes are “airtight” (they’re almost but not completely airtight), making them great for leaving paint overnight to continue painting the next day. Plastic palettes tend to stain more easily than other types of palettes.
- Tin palettes are compact and durable which makes them great for traveling. They’re great if you like to use pan paints or if you fill your own pans since they come with slots to put pans in. Remember that you should clean up tin palettes after each use and let the pan dry before traveling with them.
- Stability. Ideally, your palette shouldn’t rock around and should be flat. This gives you greater control and stops your paint from moving around on its own.
- Enough wells. Be sure to pick a palette with enough wells to fill the different colors that you need. But, more wells usually mean a bigger palette that would take up more space. Consider if you prefer more wells or a more compact palette that takes up less space.
- Deep wells. A good palette should have a deep enough well to hold a good amount of paint. The wells should also have enough space or a wall high enough to prevent spills and splashes.
- Ability to move pans. If you are considering a tin palette, be sure to pick one that allows you to move around your pans. This lets you swap out colors and rearrange your palette in a way that suits your needs.
- Enough mixing space. A good palette should have enough room for you to mix colors without contaminating different colors. Some palettes also have separators which give you better control and prevent contamination.
- Hole/ring to hold your palette. If you like to hold your palette as you work, you should pick one with a hole or ring that makes it easier to hold.
- Lid. Some palettes come with a lid which helps keep out dust when you plan to leave your colors overnight. This is great for projects that need multiple sessions. Some lids and “airtight” containers also keep your watercolor fresh for later use.
- No beading. Watercolor beads up on some types of surfaces, especially on tin and plastic palettes. The beading gives you less control when mixing colors since the colors are forced to mix when they bead together. On some types of palettes (especially plastic ones), you can use an abrasive sponge to scrub the mixing area. This would make the surface a bit rougher which prevents beading.
- Portability. In general, plastic and tin palettes are portable and great for traveling since they are light and durable. In terms of size, folding tin palettes recommended in this article tend to be better than the plastic ones. They’re more compact and come in many sizes.
Tips for Storing Your Watercolor and Palette
Here are some tips for storing your watercolor and palette so that they can last a long time.
- Keep away from light. One of the worst things you can do to your watercolor is to leave it in direct sunlight for a long time. Color pigments tend to be light sensitive and too much sunlight can damage them.
- Store in a cool, dry place. The best place to store your watercolor supply is in a cabinet or drawer that is cool, dry, and away from sunlight. This would help your paints last longer by preventing mold and light damage.
- Dry pan before storing. If you’re using a tin palette with pan paints, be sure to let your pans dry before storing. Mold likes dark stagnant air that is humid so your paint might become moldy if you shove your palette into your cabinet/drawer before the pans are dry. If you’re using watercolor tubes, be sure to clean the caps and make sure they are shut tight.
- Use an “airtight” container. You might want to consider getting an airtight plastic palette if you want to reuse the paint for multiple sessions. While the containers are not completely airtight, they keep your paints fresher for longer. You can also spray your paints with water by using a small spray bottle if you’re afraid your paints might dry out. But, don’t do this if you’re storing the paint for longer periods as it can make your paint easier to mold.
- Check and use them regularly. Be sure to check your colors from time to time to make sure that they don’t mold. If you spot a little mold, you can still clean it and make use of the paint.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few frequently asked questions about picking the best watercolor palette.
What’s the difference between the different palette types?
There are three main types of palettes: ceramic, plastic, and tin. Ceramic palettes are heavy, durable, smooth, and great for mixing. They’re meant for studio use since it’s a bit inconvenient to travel with them. Ceramic palettes are harder to stain and easy to clean.
Plastic palettes are light and suitable for traveling. They’re more affordable, but the colors tend to bead up on the mixing areas. One way to prevent beading is by using an abrasive sponge to scrub down the mixing area. Plastic palettes are easy to clean if you clean them after use, but they also tend to stain after a while. There are also “airtight” plastic palettes that can be used to keep paint fresh over multiple painting sessions.
Tin palettes are compact and durable which makes them perfect for traveling. They usually hold pan paints, and you need to clean them after each use. Some tin palettes come with empty pans that you can fill with your own choice of paints. If you’re looking for watercolor paint, be sure to check out our guide on the best watercolor paints.
How do I clean and maintain my watercolor palette?
Simply rinse with water when you’re done and use your hand or an old toothbrush to scrub down the palette. Try to clean your palette after each session since dry paint is much harder to clean than wet paint (unless you’re using an airtight plastic palette or a ceramic palette with a lid). You can also use an old toothbrush with gentle soap to scrub down areas that are harder to clean. Dry your palette with a towel or paper towel before storing it in a cool, dry place.
How do I organize my watercolor palette?
In most situations, you want to keep the base colors in the wells and use the large mixing areas to mix colors. If you’re filling pans, be sure to have at least three cool primary colors and three warm primary colors. These six color combinations can make most of the colors you need. After that, make sure that you have secondary colors (orange, purple, green) and colors you often use like brown or dark blue. Be sure to create a color key by painting on a piece of paper and labeling them in the same order as the pans in your tin. This helps you remember which colors are which and lets you see the actual colors before painting.
Picking the best watercolor palette can be tough if you don’t know what to look for. Hopefully, now you know which type of palette you want and which set is right for you.
Good watercolor palettes are durable, stable, and don’t cause your paint to bead up. They should also be the perfect size for you.
From my research, the MEEDEN 33-Well Porcelain Painting Palette is great if you want a larger ceramic palette for studio use. The MEEDEN Airtight Leakproof Watercolor Palette is great for keeping your paint fresh to paint over multiple sessions. For tin palettes, MYARTOOL Empty Watercolor Palette is a great choice that comes with a lot of size options.
Be sure to compare the different palettes and pick the one that best suits your needs.