main studio set.
The primary set that I use almost every day in my studio painting is made of the Horadam professional watercolors made by Schmincke, with only a few colors from other makers.
I'm using a hand-made wooden studio box that can hold 60 half-pans of paint. You can see how I made it in one of my YouTube videos HERE.
The list of the colors currently in the set (Schmincke Horadam catalog numbers):
221, 229, 230, 215, 224, 209, 217, 213, 220, 214, 218, 361, 349, 363, 366, 353, 354, 369, 474, 495, 494, 482, 485, 787, 480, 499, 481, 484, 509, 510, 475, 528, 519, 536, 525, 524, 530, 512, 534, 521, 533, 784, 657, 655, 660, 654, 661, 649, 670, 370, 645, 782, 668, 669, 663, 780, 031
and additionally: Daler-Rowney 417, Holbein W097
With all these colors on hand, I have what I think is a very versatile and well balanced set that is fit for my style of painting - usually I try to use the colors with as little mixing as I can (I also paint my comics with this set so I want the colors to be consistent and easy to get).
Schimincke Horadam series are overall really high quality professional paints with high pigment concentration. The set contains though a lot of opaque colors (I don’t mind this actually but some of you might). This brand is really popular in Japan and it’s easy to buy replacement colors, this is also a reason why it’s my primary set.
I mostly use watercolors that come in small cubes, called half-pans so I’m able to swap and line them up in the set as I wish, but recently I buy more tube watercolors (and squeeze them to the empty plastic trays) because they are a little bit cheaper.
I use a lot of brushes and my favorites change a lot, but I can recommend some of the best:
ARTETJE Aquarelliste 990 mop brushes size 10 & 12
Great, inexpensive artificial hair mop brushes that can hold a lot of water and paint and have a nice, sharp tip at the same time.
Raphael 8402 KOLINSKY size 3
Brush made from the famous Kolinsky brand natural hair - probably the best hair for watercolor brushes. Has a sharp tip and can release water and pigment steadily. I used this brush a lot even for the smaller details. The downside is the high price.
Raphael SoftAqua 845 size 6, 8, 10 and 12
These artificial hair brushes are made to imitate the petit-gris squirrel fur. They work great - hold water and pigment well, release them steadily and have a sharp point. These brushes offer a good quality and inexpensive alternative to the natural fur brushes.
HOLBEIN Waterford white cold press
This 300g/m heavyweight watercolor paper is one of the best I used with a good quality to price ratio. It’s thick so it does not warp very much with my style of watercolor painting (I don’t use so much water).
It also has a rather unyielding surface so it handles sketching with a hard pencil, intensive erasing and ink very nicely (the ink does not seep in, bleed nor spread uncontrollably).
At the same time it's a pleasure to use watercolor on this paper as it gives smooth transitions and really flat, even washes with beautiful, not obnoxious texture.
Dr Ph. Martin’s BLEED PROOF WHITE
This is white, opaque paint in a small jar, really easy to use, with relatively good covering power. I used it for some white details and highlights that are hard to achieve even with the help of making fluid. Because masking fluid cannot be made half opaque and has relatively high viscosity it’s hard to use in some cases.
Though the maker doesn’t recommend mixing this white with other paints I sometimes use it to make watercolors more opaque to paint like I was using gauche.
NICKER white Poster Colour
The industry standard for painting anime backgrounds are the NIKKER Poster colour paints. Relatively cheap, opaque, highly pigmented paints similar to gouache. I rarely use these poster colors to paint (I prefer acrylic gouache for opaque paint painting) I use the white paint with watercolors similarly to the above Bleed Proof White.
Masking fluid by HOLBEIN
to use in my watercolour paintings mainly for special effects like highlights or white text. Really useful and necessary for illustration-like watercolours such as I do. I usually apply it using an old, small brush.
This is a ceramic water tank that I saw Hayao Miyazaki using and just had to buy it! It’s big, heavy and perfect for studio painting. Stays easy to clean even when using acrylics. I strongly recommend buying one of these for any water based painting! It’s a ceramic hissen (brush cleaning tank) 筆洗 in Japanese.
You can buy it here (my size is 18.0cm).
Porcelain Mixing Tray
This is a great porcelain dish I use to mix my paint. It's small and compact, and easy to clean.
You can buy it here. Muji also has several other locations which you can ship from, which you can find here.
NITTO masking tape
I use this tape a lot in my everyday work to mask the edges of paintings so they are nice and even after I peel this tape off. I use it also to hold the watercolor paper flat on a wooden board when I paint which prevents the paper from warping so much.