Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Watercolor: Pans, Tubes or Liquids?

Watercolor in a Tube

Watercolor come in different forms: tubes, pans, and liquids.

Watercolor in tubes are like tiny toothpaste containers. You can squeeze out a tiny amount onto a palette and dilute it with water. Tubes are very concentrated colors that are very vibrant on paper.

Use watercolor tube paints if you are looking to paint something very vibrant with a lot of color. Always remember, if the paint hardens in the tube, you can always cut the tube open and revive it with some water.

I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else.

  Pablo Picasso

Watercolor in a Pan

Watercolor in pans, usually comes in rectangular or circular “cakes” that are fitted into individual pans. These are dry to the touch, but as soon as you dab a wet brush on the watercolor paint, it activates.

Set of watercolor paints and brushes, selective focus and toned image

Pans make the paint easy to transport and you don’t have to worry about tubes breaking open and drying. They also last a very long time as you get a lot of color from just using a little bit.

It does take a while to get the paint to a good consistency, especially when working on large areas which can be frustrating – this is why I’d recommend using different forms. I like to use the pans and tubes together to create vibrant and light washes. They also mix very well together to create different colors.

Liquid Watercolors

These are also very concentrated watercolor paints that come in a bottle. They can be used full strength or diluted with water. The lighter you want the color the more water you’d use.

closeup of  blue ink in a bottle

Liquid watercolors tend to become very expensive as you use a lot more than from pans or tubes, but they are extremely nice to paint with because of their vibrancy.

They also sink into the paper, so make sure that you have a good quality weight paper before painting with these.

Leave a comment