Articles, Blog

CHEAP vs EXPENSIVE Art Supplies – Does The Price Really Matter? Testing Watercolor Paint & Paper!

CHEAP vs EXPENSIVE Art Supplies – Does The Price Really Matter? Testing Watercolor Paint & Paper!


– In the past we tested out a lot of different watercolor sets all between one and $25 and
we saw a huge difference between the super cheap and the more expensive watercolor sets. But how watercolors perform not only depends on the
quality of the paint, but also they hugely rely on the quality of the watercolor paper
you’re painting on. This is why I was really curious about how much of a difference it makes when I use cheap and more
expensive watercolor paper side by side. For this test I’m going to use three different watercolor papers in three different price ranges. The first is the Canson Montval
cold press watercolor paper that you can get for about $8. Next we have Bockingford
cold press watercolor paper that you can get for about $15. And lastly we have the Arches
cold press watercolor paper which you can get for about $30. Now the price of the paper doesn’t necessarily tell you if the paper is good or not, so this is why you
really need to look into how the paper is made. I did a whole separate video
about watercolor paper. What’s important, what to
look into in more detail. So I will link the video in
the description box below and at the end of the video
so you can check it out. But after watching this video of course. Now according to the Canson website, the Canson Montval watercolor paper that I have here is made
out of 100% acid free cellulose paper and is the paper when
it comes to watercolor. And it’s also supposed
to be great for students. Now I couldn’t find any details about the sizing of the paper. This is a type of glue
that is either mixed on top of the watercolor
paper or internally, which hugely impacts the
way the watercolor spreads and how vibrant the colors
look when they’re dry. Bockingford, on the other hand, is mould made so it’s
supposed to be more sturdy than machine made paper. And it’s also made out of
100% acid and wood free pulp and it’s internally sized. The Arches watercolor paper is made in a cylinder mould out
of 100% cotton fibers, and is sized to the core. Now the last two water color papers are around the same price per sheet, but double the price of the Canson, so I’m really curious about
how much of a difference it will make in the end. Next to do three top watercolor sets that I found the best in my testing videos between one and $25, such as Prang, Daler Rowney, Aquafine, and Winsor and Newton Cotman set. I also wanted to see how
high-quality watercolor sets perform on all these
three watercolor papers, so I included three
additional watercolor sets. In this test I added Daniel
Smith watercolor set, which you can get for about $30. The Schmincke Horadam set that you can get for about $60, and lastly the Holbein watercolor set that you can get for about $90. Now in the first test I will be focusing on how vibrant and how even the colors
look when they are drying. In the first round I simply
colored in the circles on the Canson watercolor paper using all the different watercolors from the cheapest to the most
expensive watercolor sets. Here we’ll be able to see
how different the colors look compared to each other and how well they dry on the paper. After that I did the same thing with the Bockingford paper. I colored in each circle one by one and let it dry. Lastly we have the Arches watercolor paper where I did the same thing. Alright, now let’s watch
all different watercolors onto all the different watercolor papers. Let’s see how each watercolor set performs on each paper side by side. First we have Prang, which
you can get for about $1. To me the colors look not
only a lot more vibrant on the Bockingford and the Arches paper, but also a lot more even. And you can really tell
that the watercolor set was just around $1 because the colors look pretty beautiful actually. I felt the same about the
Dawler Rowney watercolor set that you can get for about $15 or so. To me, there was a huge difference in the way the paint
looks on the Canson paper and the Arches watercolor paper. On the Canson paper, the paint looks a lot more pale and uneven. On the Bockingford it looks
a lot more vibrant and even, but somehow on the Arches paper the colors look a little bit more pale, but still really beautiful. The Windsor Newton Cotman watercolor set is about the same price, but I think it looked the
worst on the Canson paper. There was a lot of backgrounds and the paint dried really unevenly. Compared to Arches, the colors
here look a lot more vibrant and almost completely evenly dried. Here for example, Daniel Smith kind of dries evenly and vibrant on the Canson watercolor paper, except for the orange color, but it looks a little bit more pale on the Arches paper. Everything else looks a lot more even and a lot more vibrant. Schmincke on the other hand,
looks already super even and vibrant on the Canson paper. Just becomes slightly more and more vibrant and even each time. But surprisingly, Holbein
looked really pale on the Arches paper but super vibrant on the Bockingford paper. I’m not sure if I actually
added too little pigment but I can’t imagine that I
did so much of a difference. But what I find really interesting is to see that Prang that
you can get for about $1 looks so much better on the Arches paper, and you can’t really
tell that this is only $1 because it actually looks
pretty much the same as the Holbein watercolor,
don’t you think? Now of course a lot of differences in the way the paint is produced, what ingredients were
used, how light fast it is, but I think just by looking at it, I don’t think you can
really see any difference between the cheap and the
very expensive watercolor. Only if you paint on the
Canson watercolor paper. I know a lot of you guys keep saying that you have troubles creating a flat wash. As you can see, just by using
different watercolor paper, not doing anything else, the
difference can be dramatic. Since a lot of you guys also mentioned that you have troubles blending
the colors on the paper ’cause they just look very streaky and just weird, I also wanted to see if there’s any difference when I use different types of paper. For this test, I applied
a little bit of water to the circles and then added
yellow and red colored paint on top to make them run into each other. The interesting part here was that almost every watercolor
set performed poorly on the Canson paper. In some small areas, the
paint was blended together, occasionally I guess, but you could still clearly
see a lot of backgrounds, really textured paint, and overall I didn’t
like the result at all. On the Bockinford paper I found that there was a huge improvement already because I felt like the
paint blended into each other a lot more evenly. There were still some
backgrounds here and there, but it was already a
huge, huge improvement. Lastly we have the Arches paper. Here felt like the paper
performed the best. As you can see, the paint
nicely runs into each other without creating any weird shapes. I pretty much applied
the paint the same way as with the previous paper, but the difference in the way the paint distributed itself on
the paper is so dramatic. Alright so far we know that the way the watercolors perform not only depend on the
quality of the paint, but also the quality
of the watercolor paper you’re painting on. But to test it out a little bit more in the real world, I wanted to paint something more intricate to see if you can really see a difference. And for this I decided to paint
gemstones because, why not? Because I wanted the
colors to look vibrant and evenly applied, I
decided to use the Arches watercolor paper and
put Prang, Daniel Smith, and the Holbein water
color sets to the test. To create the gemstones
I drew a circle first, that I then divided into eight sections. In between those sections,
I also drew a short line and connected those to create two squares. And then I just connected the corners and the short lines with a curve. To color the gemstones I focused on some brighter
and some darker areas, which I created by adding
more water to the paint when I needed some brighter areas, and used more paint then water
to create the darker areas. But to make the pattern look interesting I sometimes dipped in a
little bit of darker color into the wet paint and
let it melt together. This way I could create a nice gradient between two colors. And I did this with all
three watercolor sets until I created the first layer. Once the paint was dry, I went back to add more details. For this step I used a
lighter and darker shades of the same paint, and created
different sized triangles along the lines. Here you want to change up the size, the direction, and the
opacity of the triangles by adjusting how much or how little water and paint you are using. How to paint those gemstones I actually learned on Skill Share, so I will add the link to
the course in the info box so you can check it out
if you’re interested. And once I added enough
triangles for my liking and let the paint dry, I moved to adding some light reflections. Here you can use either white ink, acrylic paint, or in this
case I used white wash. Here again you an adjust the opacity with different amount of water. I made some areas slightly reflective and some areas more white as these areas reflect a lot more light. I did this for every gem stone until I was happy with the design. Now here there is no
right or wrong, really. You can look for gemstones online and really study how
it reflects the light. And this was the final result. Do you see any difference
in the quality of the paint just by looking at them? Here I also used Prang, Daler
Rowney and Windsor Newton on some other watercolor paper. Here I used the Harmony and
Expression 100% cotton paper. And I find everything looks the same. Now of course there are differences in the quality of the watercolor paint. But just by looking at these examples and testing out just the
basic watercolor techniques, we can see how watercolor
paper can play a huge role in the way watercolors perform,
regardless of the quality and the way we apply it. The Canson paper might not
be a bad watercolor paper. It’s just not as great for
certain watercolor techniques such as the wet on wet, as we saw here, compared to the Arches watercolor paper. And it wasn’t about using too
much paint or too much water. It was more about showing you guys the difference it can make just by using different watercolor paper, and not doing anything else. Some watercolor papers require you to be very careful and apply
the paint and the water a certain way to create a very flat wash or something close to that. And some watercolor paper
can make it so easy for you that you don’t even have
to think about such things. And this is really what
you need to be aware of. That’s why I wouldn’t
recommend to get the cheapest of the cheapest if you want to learn how to paint with watercolors, or if you want to improve, because you will struggle a lot and I don’t want you guys to be frustrated and just give up in the end. I personally would go for
quality over quantity. So if you’re on a budget I
personally would invest more into watercolor paper and a
little bit less into the paint. As you can see, even
the less expensive paint performed really well on the more expensive watercolor paper. Poor watercolor paper just won’t do neither your cheap, nor your
expensive watercolors justice. And once you’re familiar with
painting with watercolors and can invest a little bit
more into your art supplies, then you can invest a little bit more into your paint as well. If you want to learn more
about watercolor paper and what to look for when
you buy watercolor paper, you can check out the video right here. I really hope this video
was helpful to you guys. If you have any other struggles, questions, or just want
to share your experience with watercolor paper, feel
free to comment down below. Thank you so much for watching guys. Have a wonderful day
and I will see you soon. Bye.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

100 thoughts on “CHEAP vs EXPENSIVE Art Supplies – Does The Price Really Matter? Testing Watercolor Paint & Paper!

  1. Honestly with watercolor paper DOES matter. Using cheap paper only causes frustration and hinders growth. That doesn't mean you have to buy arches paper, but using 100% cotton paper DOES improve your work immensely. Brushes and paint aren't quite as important, though though..

  2. Another thing I've learned about paper–if you're vegan or vegetarian for animal cruelty or careful for kosher reasons, there are fewer brands to choose from. Some don't say whether their size contains an animal-based gelatin. I've narrowed down to use Strathmore and Fabriano so far. Arches uses gelatin from swine, I must assume, as they did not answer my query at all.

  3. Schmincke basically looks good on all the papers in this test. After watching your videos I actually ordered some Schmincke halfpans to my watercolor-set because I wanted to try out the brand. Thanks for sharing these videos, it's very helpful to see different supplies in action before buying them.

  4. I live in a small city of India and frankly never heard of these brands. I am talking about the WC companies. But the paper you talked about is available. But they are damn expensive.
    But after some deliberation I bought 5 Hot Pressed 25% Cotton A3 300gsm water colour sheets worth $1.1 per sheet manufactured by Creative Hands. I have new paper nervousness now and don't want to ruin them. It's been weeks and haven't done anything to them yet. Not looking to make a masterpiece but something I appreciate. I have got quite a few ideas after water your videos and hope you upload videos showing new ideas soon. Taking baby steps.

    P.S.- why the change in background? What happened to the previous one?

  5. Some very cheap watercolor papers become a mess when it soaks watercolor or water
    That's the only problem I found !😜😊

  6. It is awesome.i loved it
    #makoficationsquad
    #mako
    U r always indescribable
    I cannot express it in words
    May God bless you with lots of happiness and joy in ur life

  7. thank you so much for your videos like this! it really helps and really show that affordable supplies are just as good and create amazing things. Not only does your art inspire me but also your personality ✨💞 #makoficationsquad

  8. Prang here in the phil. Is like 5 dollars which is expensive but i love your videos so i can know more about water colors!
    #makoficationsquad

  9. among all the papers arches is the best, but its also very expensive, my experience with canson montval paper was really bad and I wouldn't buy that paper again, I always think more than the quality of the paints, watercolor paper matters more. If you have a good quality paper you can use less expensive paints on it and produce wonderful results. I suggest to invest a little more on watercolor paper rather than the paints if you are just starting out and then take it from there.

  10. 10:06 – I hope she's joking when she says she can't tell the difference between the cheap and professional paints. It is very clear to see that the gems on the top look desaturated, flat, and lifeless. The ones on the bottom are significantly more luminous; especially the bottom centre and right gemstones where you can pick out the layers of color within them.

    Cheap paints like Prang, Daler Rowney, and craft store brands are made with filler ingredients, fugitive pigments, cheap dyes, and are not archival. Furthermore, they layer very poorly (or not at all) as seen in this video. It's not shown how much she diluted the washes she made before painting, but a normal wash should not be extremely saturated unless you're using a lot of pigment and/or one of the Pthalos. They definitely shouldn't be dull and ink-like either as that's a clear indication that cheap dyes were used to make the paint.

    What most people don't get about cheap vs professional paints is that quality matters when you're selling work to others, and that's literally why paints like Daniel Smith, Holbein, and Schminke cost more. (Same goes for paper.) They are targeted at professional artists who are selling work. Watercolors and oils are delicate mediums. It is dishonest to sell a painting to someone for hundreds or thousands knowing that it won't hold up over the years. There's no need to buy expensive paints/paper if you're painting as a hobby or for fun.

  11. I always use Canson XL because of the cost.. But now I think I'll be trying out some of the others! I've always wanted to try Arches, and this encourages me even more to do so. Thank you! 💜👍

  12. honestly, I believe that the quality of the paints/brushes/paper that you're using really makes a difference, not necessarily the price. I used to use cheap watercolors for a long time (the artist's loft 36 color set– I think everyone knows about this set) and while following mako's tutorials, I wondered why I wasn't getting the same results. however, when I asked for the Windsor and Newton Cotman watercolors (bought off amazon for ~10$) I found an immediate and large improvement in my artwork. So, buying slightly more expensive artwork is worth it in the end, because of the amazing pieces you get out of it. <3 happy painting everyone

  13. Haha I wasnt going to watch beacuse I seen so many of these but I have holbein so I want to see the comparison and your opionion.

  14. Great advice as always. I'm planning on buying my first watercolor set for my birthday in March and I was thinking if I should invest in watercolor paper. Now I know that I definitely should ❤️ I just need to find a place where I can get some that isn't overpriced

  15. So I am ashamed to admit that when I first started painting watercolor a little over a year ago, I was just using Canon because my son had received it for a gift and never used it. I went through almost an entire XL pad but never managed to do lifting well for clouds or sun and oftentimes the paper would buckle when doing wet on wet and it doesn't reactivate as well. And this whole time I thought it was me doing something wrong! You don't know how relieved I am that it could be the paper. I am still learning and making mistakes, but I feel reenrggized. Going to splurge on some new 100 cotton paper ASAP

  16. The nicest watercolor paper that I've seen was Canson Heritage 300lbs Rough 100% cotton paper, but it's over $16 a sheet.

  17. I love the bockingfordpaper for its price! But not for the price that you listed in the video ! You can find a 50 a4 loose sheet pack on amazon for about 20€ which makes the paper costing only 0,50€ per a4 sheet

  18. We live in a disposable consumer driven society. It’s hard to not want the latest and greatest, thinking it’s going to improve your art game, but expensive doesn’t impart good design or talent. The truth is that so much more goes into a finished work of art. I might change the order of importance to: 1) Hard Work & Dedication, 2) Talent combined with passion, 3) Paper, 4) Brushes and 5) Paint.

    You can definitely see all the hard work and editing that goes into your channel. You took a whole lot of research and info and put it into 12 minutes of solid content. Thanks for another great video!

  19. After many years, my local chain bookstore decided to stock some cheap watercolour paper and gouache. I honestly adore it as much as or more than my expensive stuff. I bought a pad of A4 derwent academy watercolour paper for $5 and the gouache for $5.20. The paper warped a bit but I could still do the wet on wet technique and the gouache blended really easily even though I got a set of 12 for $5.20. If you are really broke (like me), look around and there should be quality cheap options (or just get 2nd stuff).

  20. water colour paper is quite pricy so I have a hack…Card! You can get different colours with different textures and they are so cheap in bundles. Plus they hold water really well and are very thick! Try ebay or Amazon

  21. I have only recently started watercolor painting. I find your information so helpful. I was surprised to learn the paper used causes such a difference in results. I’m learning so much! Thanks

  22. I absolutely agree with everything you said. The paper really does matter, when it comes to vibrancy and achieving certain watercolor effects. I was so frustrated when I was first trying out watercolors. I didn’t understand until later that my inexpensive cellulose wc paper had certain limitations. That realization was a huge stress-reliever, when using that paper thereafter.

    I greatly appreciate all the time and work you put into this video to explain how paper kind and quality really does vary no matter what quality the paints are. This is so important for budding artists. Thank you Mako! 💕

    PS – I’ve actually been planning a blog post about watercolor tips and suggestions from my own experience learning watercolors as a new medium. In the post, I’m planning to include suggestions on what to invest more money on, if at all, given the objective of trying watercolors. For example, some people may solely want to try them for coloring books, therefore the focus would mostly be on what paints (and brushes) to get rather than the paper, which would obviously already be provided for in the coloring book. On the other hand, hobby artists who might gift their artwork or even decide to sell some of them, would have different things to consider when choosing art materials, and so on and so forth. So, with that in mind, would it be okay with you if I reference this video in my post?

  23. What kinds of papers do you recommend on watercolor except watercolor paper since my parents say watercolor paper and oslo are the same, which isn't. I tried using oslo and bond which didn't work.

  24. i bought fabriano wc paper a year ago and then i ran out so i bought canson cos i thought its good and whenever i work with canson, the results are very crappy, unlike fabriano's. It made me think that im losing my skill eventually but it was the paper lmao

  25. Mako you know exactly what I'm looking for. I'm new to watercolours and have no idea which watercolor paper to buy, I know Arches is good but should I go with cold pressed or hot pressed. I've not used any but I can't afford to buy both to test them. I know they differ in texture, I draw both detailed and non detailed work. I was leaning towards hp but everyone is raging bout cp, I'm clueless, help me! I don't know what to do

  26. Fabriano Sheets are great, We've used Arches for our projects and its just a dream to work with, color and different techniques just shows! Traditional painting requires a lot of investment for the best products.

  27. I've been painting with watercolor and gouache for 30 years, and was told back then that if you could afford only one paint set, it should be Prang-that surprised me because that is what we used in school.

  28. Ur experience was a little bit like mine……..ur channel is the best for beginners to learn art…….thanks mako…..

  29. No, the watercolour doesn’t matter. You showed that. It’s because the artist matters. All of them are beautiful!

  30. For me, if only counting the watercolor : from 1$ price to 10$ price the quality is enhanced to that of chalky, muddy, and very low quality to that of decent, vibrant color. But, of course every pigment is that of low quality and mostly hue rather than true color. And then, from 10$ to 20-30$ price range, the quality is some of the best, you can get the 6,8 or 12 sets with some real pigment, and mosly 2-3 pigment. The permanency and tranparancy is great also. And then from 30$ to that above it (the same standard 12 set) the only thing that gets better is mostly the permanency, how it held up againts light, and you can find some single pigment if lucky. Sometimes, there's also uniwue characteristic like flow and granulation. But, That's it. The most notable difference is from 10$ to 30$ watercolor. So for me, except i have some specific characteristic, i will buy the 30$ one. All of this, considering the availability in my country and the price range in my country, with the 6-12 set color.

  31. Doesn’t even have money enough to buy the expensive ones on a regular basis. I go for Canson, honestly just because it’s the only one that is in a reasonable price range for most people.

  32. Remember the undyne costume you made (from undertale)? Could you make susie from delta rune? Srry just a random request

  33. This is wonderful. I use both canson and arches depending on what I need. I understand how canson performs so I don't mind it's weaknesses- I don't do a lot of flat washes with it. Ive tried fabriano as well.

    As a beginner, I try to strike the balance between volume and perfection. Volume makes me more productive but that glass ceiling is there and when you're ready to take the next step and feel like the materials are what's holding you back, make the commitment and take the next step. Also, expensive matls can be counter productive because you might feel like you're wasting money and can be quite intimidating.

    I use the most basic materials. And now use combination quality for paper and a small professional quality paint set. I've produced crappy outputs and good outputs on both paper.

  34. Yo Maco, My watercolor supplies has used up, can you give me another. BTW thanks for watercolor Tips Do and Dont.

  35. Such a good, well structured video, clearly showing how the papers and paints react! it must have taken a lot of hard work to make this video and I'm grateful for it thank you 🙂

  36. Great Video! I just started with Watercolours and i watched most of your videos about it, they helped a lot! 🙂
    Question: Does the paper affect how well the colours lift and how well the colours reactivate with water? Sometimes it just feels like the colour dos not move when I try to reactivate it with water…
    At the moment I use the Canson XL Watercolour Pad and the Farber Castell Goldfarber Aqua.
    Any suggestions for good watercolourpaper, thats not too expensive and easy to get in germany?

    Greetings from Bremen in Germany 🙂

  37. i love prang paints. they are about $15 for 20 colors where I am. They are great for washes. I recently bought W&N cotman ($35) and I’m trying to adjust to the higher pigment load. Prang paints are not particularly translucent or pigmented but if you add tons of water they make great even washes. W&N are translucent but so pigment compared to prang that i’m not sure how much water to use. I use bee 100% cotton paper, external cold press, 140lb

  38. Using paper in the Arches level quality is a whole different experience, it's amazing; but as I'm not a professional, I kind of feel that it's wasted on me. I generally use Aquabee and Strathmore 500 BUT I have to say I actually maxed out on those paper before (they stopped taking layers of paint after too many layers) so while I like them, I realize that they have a limit. I've used Canson XL, it's not bad, like I would not do like an extensive painting but a cute illustration with few layers is fine, you have to be more careful about water control though. I feel like paints do matter to a beginner, but only to the level where you have to be painting with a set that isn't chalky; the first Reeves set I had actually made me want to throw myself off a cliff. Brushes I feel matter almost not at all as long as they hold a point and don't shed all over your paper, you can make almost anything work.

  39. Wow, you really get into it here, very interesting and kinda sad really. Canson started with a bang back in the day. I was just reading about them from when they first opened their mill. And now everyone hates them. Well, as a person of little coinage I still love my Canson cuz compared to printer paper it's effing amazing haha
    One other point I want to point out is ,apparently, "cheap" and "expensive " depends greatly on geography. Seriously Prang? 1 dollar? How? Where? That 💩's gonna cost ya a fist full of dollars here in the U.S, as far as I can find that is. I actually found that little W&N set you showed, the square one, for 7 bucks, the same and cheaper than most small sets of prang. I have found one U.K. store that sold there house brand for more than Daniel Smith. And then, of course there us in the U.S where you have to sell your first born or your soul to buy ANY kind of real paint. WTF is that about? I feel bad I don't buy from my own people , but….hahaha jk no I don't, the greedy bass turds! But, seriously… very interesting video, especially to see what you call cheap and expensive. 🤗

  40. I don't use watercolor, I don't paint, I couldn't even tell a difference between a paintbrush and a feather duster.
    But everything you do is just so relaxing and inspiring, it really awakens my artistic curiosity !
    So if I ever take the plunge, thank you in advance for all your advices 🙂

  41. Can you please try meiliang or pretty excellent (yeah that's the name) watercolours? They are 20$ for 36 colours half pan in a tin.

  42. And here I thought buying this Canson block was a good idea… oops.
    Welp, time to go get paper with cotton, I guess o)-(
    EDIT: I ended up buying 100% cotton paper and JESUS CHRIST the difference is abysmal, thanks!

  43. I bought Phoenix cold press watercolor paper for practice and Bee Paper cold press watercolor paper for keeps. The quality between the two is pretty wide. Just putting brush to paper is so much joy with quality paper. But I am a beginner so I can’t use pricey paper all the time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *