Schmincke Horadam
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 a lot of opaque colors, though (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 the main reason why it’s my primary set.

With Schmincke, 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 also buy more tubes (and squeeze them to the empty plastic trays) because they are a little bit cheaper.

Mijello portable set.

I wanted to keep the number of watercolor sets I have to a minimum, so I actually use them.

The above main box is meant to be used in the studio only, so I have this smaller one that can be used both at my desk and (if necessary) to do some sketching outside. This surprisingly sturdy and compact box is a 16 color Holbein palette. It can be expanded, however, to hold 24 or even 25 half-pans if you fill in the middle row too.

It's a perfect match for the Mijello Mission Gold Pure Pigments set I have, that consists of 25 colors if you ignore the white. The Pure Pigments paints are all single pigment colors and provide excellent saturation, which is useful when painting simple sketches. Because of that, I have been using the Mijello paints more and more recently as I'm aiming for a more loose style in my paintings. I quite enjoy painting with them, and I did not have any problems - except them being runnier than Schmincke or Holbein, so you have to be careful about how you store your palettes.


I use a lot of brushes and my favorites change a lot, but I can recommend some of the best:

ARTETJE Aquarelliste 102 series brushes size 4 & 6

Great, inexpensive artificial hair watercolor brushes that can hold a lot of water and paint and have a nice, sharp tip at the same time. The tip is a bit longer than in my other brushes, so I use them for a softer touch.

Escoda Perla SINTETICO sizes 2 to 8

These are the main, everyday use brushes for most of my watercolor painting. These are made of great quality synthetic fibers, which are springy but not too stiff and can hold (and release) water well enough that I don't feel that I'm missing anything compared to natural hair brushes. This series of brushes also have a bit thicker handles than other brands, which I like a lot. The minus is that the white tips get dyed dirty blue when used - it does not impact the usability - only looks.

Raphael travel collapsible brush

A collapsible, synthetical hair brush great for traveling and outdoor sketching, but I find that I also use it a lot at my desk. It has a long tip, but at the same time, it's more round shaped than my other brushes - perfect for all these rougher, more sketch-like paintings.


HOLBEIN Waterford white cold and hot 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 or 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. I used to use the cold-pressed variation most of the time, but recently I’m growing more and more fond of the hot-press one, which has almost no texture. It’s perfect for watercolor and fountain pen art.

Additional tools

NICKER white Poster Colour

The industry standard for painting animation 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 whenever I need to opacify them or for special effects.

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.

Water Tank

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.