What is the difference between student and professional grade watercolor paint?

What is the difference between student and professional grade watercolor paint featured

Student vs Professional Grade Watercolor Paint: Understanding the Difference

When it comes to watercolor painting, the choice of paint can greatly impact the quality and outcome of your artwork. There are two main categories of watercolor paint: student grade and professional grade. Understanding the differences between these two types of paint can help you make an informed decision about which one is best for your needs.

Quality of Pigments

A major difference between student and professional grade watercolor paint lies in the quality of the pigments used. Professional grade paints often contain higher concentrations of pigment, resulting in more vibrant and intense colors. These paints also tend to have a wider range of colors available, allowing for greater versatility in your artwork.

On the other hand, student grade paints generally contain lower pigment concentrations and may include fillers or additives to extend the paint. This can result in colors that may appear dull or less vibrant, and may not mix as effectively as professional grade paints.


Lightfastness refers to a paint’s ability to resist fading or changing color when exposed to light. Professional grade watercolor paints are usually made with higher quality pigments that have been tested for lightfastness. This means that the colors will maintain their vibrancy and integrity over time, even when displayed in a well-lit area or exposed to sunlight.

Student grade paints, on the other hand, may not have been tested for lightfastness or may have lower ratings in this area. This means that the colors may fade or change over time, which can affect the overall appearance and longevity of your artwork.

Transparency and Opacity

Transparency and opacity are important characteristics to consider when choosing watercolor paint. Professional grade paints are often known for their high transparency, which allows for layering and blending of colors to create subtle and complex effects. These paints allow the white of the paper to show through, creating a luminous and ethereal quality in your artwork.

Student grade paints, on the other hand, may be less transparent and more opaque. This can make it more challenging to achieve the same level of depth and nuance in your paintings, as the colors may cover up the underlying layers or lack the same level of luminosity.

Price and Availability

Another consideration when choosing between student and professional grade watercolor paint is the price and availability. Generally, professional grade paints tend to be more expensive than student grade paints. This is due to the higher quality pigments and manufacturing processes used in professional grade paints.

Student grade paints, on the other hand, are typically more affordable and widely available. They are often marketed towards beginners or hobbyists who may not need or want to invest in more expensive materials.

Recommended User Levels

Due to the differences in quality and performance, student grade paints are often recommended for beginners or those who are just starting out with watercolor painting. These paints provide a more budget-friendly option while still allowing artists to explore the medium and develop their skills.

Professional grade paints are typically recommended for more experienced artists or those who are looking to create artwork with a higher level of detail, depth, and color intensity. These paints offer a greater range of possibilities and can produce stunning results in the hands of a skilled artist.

In conclusion, the main differences between student and professional grade watercolor paint lie in the quality of pigments, lightfastness, transparency and opacity, price and availability, and the recommended user levels. Consider your needs and budget when making a choice, and remember that the quality of your materials can greatly influence the final outcome of your watercolor artwork.

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