Add vibrant color to your art projects with the best liquid watercolors

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Similar to ink, liquid watercolor is a concentrated dye or pigment-based solution providing brilliant, transparent color that can be diluted with water to achieve various hues. Valued for their color strength and fluidity, liquid watercolors are a versatile material used in much the same way as tube and pan watercolors to create paints and washes. Some solutions are also suitable for calligraphy, fountain pens and airbrushes. A popular choice for classroom use, student-grade liquid watercolor can be applied using a wide range of tools to develop fine motor skills; it can also be used to dye a variety of materials, making them fun craft projects for kids and sensory play. Note, however, that the majority of liquid watercolors are dye-based solutions which are not light safe, so be sure to use an archival watercolor if you don’t want your image to fade. with time. Our picks below will help you find the right product for your project.

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ARTNEWS RECOMMENDS
Royal Talens Ecoline liquid watercolor with dropper
Ecoline watercolor, based on dye and gum arabic, gives bright and clean tones on the page. Loved by watercolor artists and calligraphers, the smooth liquid has an even consistency that blends beautifully. Although it dries quickly, artists will be able to re-wet the paint and move it, which is unusual in this medium. Also note: these liquid watercolors are available in a huge selection of 60 colours, which include a particularly interesting selection of gray tones. They come in 30 milliliter bottles that include a dropper and have a wide opening so you can work straight from the bottle if you wish.

To buy:
Royal Talens Ecoline liquid watercolor, 30 ml

$4.71

Buy it

WE LIKE TOO
Blick Liquid Watercolor
Blick’s dye-based liquid watercolor paints are highly concentrated and quite viscous. This makes them more difficult to use straight from the bottle, but they last a very long time and are some of the most affordable options available. Paints made in the USA are available in 30 colors, including fluorescent and metallic shades. Choose from two sizes: the 8-ounce jar offers the best value, while the 4-ounce version makes it easy to try out new shades.

To buy:
Blick Liquid Watercolor

from $2.93

Buy it

TOP OF THE LINE
Watercolor Fine Art Hydrus by Dr. Ph. Martin
A problem with most liquid watercolors is that they are not lightfast and therefore not suitable for professional work. Dr. Ph. Martin’s liquid watercolors are an exception; they are made from high quality pigments, as traditional watercolors are, and are therefore lightfast. Note that highly saturated colors don’t lift well, if that’s an essential part of your process. Available in 36 colors, these paints are packaged in 30 milliliter glass bottles with a handy dropper for measuring and applying.

To buy:
Hydrus Fine Art Liquid Watercolors by Dr. Ph. Martin

from $8.30

Buy it

CHOICE OF EDUCATORS
Sax Liquid Watercolor Set, 8 Colors
For classrooms, the important set of Sax is a safe bet. It includes eight uniform and vibrant colors (blue-green, red-violet, blue-violet, fuchsia, coral, pink, yellow-orange and yellow-green) which are all AP certified as non-toxic. Sax is honest about the washability of these colors: they will wash off clothes and hands, but it may take a few washes. Sold in 8 ounce bottles, these paints will last project after project.
Buy: Sax Liquid Watercolor Set, 8 Colors $37.24

ALSO CONSIDER
Sargent Magic Watercolor Art Set, 6 Colors
Sargent Art also offers a respectable option for students. The AP-certified non-toxic paints in this set are available in six colors: blue, yellow, red, green, orange, and purple. The same line also offers groupings with glitter, metallic, and fluorescent finishes that are a fun take on traditional hues. Even diluted with water, the colors are vivid and bright. Parents can rest easy knowing the eight-ounce bottles will last quite a long time and the paints wash easily from most fabrics.
Buy: Sargent Art Watercolor Magic Set $33.56

Brought to you by the world’s oldest and most widely circulated art magazine, ARTnews Recommends helps you choose the best choice for you from products in hundreds of art and craft supply categories. Our offerings are based on intensive research, interviews with artists and artisans, and the accumulated experience of the site’s editors and writers. We provide reliable and helpful advice on materials for artists ranging from beginner to professional.

1. EcoLine Liquid Watercolor Set

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Known for their bright, brilliant colors, EcoLine liquid watercolors are highly concentrated colorants blended with gum arabic for bold color. These 10 shades come in 1 ounce dropper bottles for precise measuring, with just a few drops of liquid color all the way. Suitable for use with brushes, calligraphy brushes, airbrushes and fountain pens, the paints are rewettable so they can be handled after drying. They are an excellent choice for designers and illustrators considering scanning their images for reproduction as EcoLine watercolors are not lightfast.

Buy: EcoLine Liquid Watercolor Set

2. Hydrus Watercolors by Dr. Ph. Martin

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Made from high-quality artist pigments, Dr. Ph. Martin’s Hydrus watercolors will give you permanent, vibrant color similar to traditional tube and pan watercolors. These lightfast, archival quality watercolors are an ideal choice for professional artists; they come in a set of 12 colors of 0.5 ounce dropper bottles for easy dispensing. Suitable for use with a brush, fountain pen, airbrush or technical pen, these colors can be mixed while maintaining their luminance.

Buy: Hydrus Watercolors by Dr. Ph. Martin

3. Contact USA Liquid Watercolor

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With a similar intensity to traditional watercolours, Ken Oliver liquid watercolors are an excellent choice for illustration, scrapbooking, paper crafts and mixed media projects. This set of six vibrant colors in 0.5 ounce bottles will retain their transparency and luminosity when mixed together. Highly concentrated, this medium can be diluted with water to produce smooth washes and brushstrokes.

Buy: Contact USA Liquid Watercolor

4. S&S Worldwide Liquid Watercolor Paint

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For a very versatile painting medium, choose Color Splash! watercolors. This set of six popular colors comes in 8-ounce flip-top bottles. The concentrated solution can be diluted with water and can be used on a wide variety of surfaces such as wood, clay, eggshells, fabric and even shaving cream. Safe for all ages, the paints are AP certified non-toxic, making them a great choice for classrooms.

Buy: S&S Worldwide Liquid Watercolor Paint

5. Sax Washable Liquid Watercolor Paint

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A great choice for crafting, this set of eight vibrant colors from Sax comes in 8-ounce squeeze bottles. While suitable for artists of all skill levels, these watercolor paints are both AP certified non-toxic and washable from most fabrics, making them an especially good choice for messy young artists. Watercolor can be used as a painting medium or as a dye to create sensory materials for exploratory play and fine motor development.

Buy: Sax Washable Liquid Watercolor Paint

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