Art Supply Guide - Cecilie Okada Design

Guide to art materials useful for my art tutorials

When you follow my art tutorials, you may wonder what kind of supplies you need. I have compiled a list of art supplies for watercolor painting and colored pencils that I recommend.

Disclosure: The links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. This will help to keep this blog going.

About Watercolor paper

The best paper for watercolor + colored pencils is smooth, white, and 100% cotton. 

Cotton absorbs water very well, and such paper will have a surface that is primed for watercolor. 

When you draw with colored pencils on top of dry watercolor, you need a smooth surface for drawing details. 

The outcome of your painting depends to a certain extent on the kind of paper you use. 

I have tested a few different, smooth watercolor papers over the years, and Arches comes out as my favorite brand. It simply works well with my style of work. But other brands are just as good. If you are a watercolor beginner, I suggest using a cheaper paper for practicing first. 

Important about blocks of watercolor paper

Most of the papers listed below come in a block of paper glued together. To separate one sheet at a time, you must use a knife. Always cut away from your body. If you don’t use a knife to cut the papers loose, you will tear up the sheets and ruin your purchase.

You can paint directly onto paper on a block, with no need to mount the paper to a wooden board. But make sure to not use a lot of water. It can seep through to the paper underneath.

This blog post instructs how to stretch and mount watercolor paper. That’s how you avoid bumps when the paper gets wet.

Watercolor Paper

High quality watercolor paper

These are high quality, 100% cotton, satin-smooth watercolor paper. My favorite Arches is listed first, and then other brands that cost less.

Arches Watercolor Block, Hot Press 7″X10″,

Fabriano Artistico 140 lb. Hot Press 20 Sheet Block 9×12″ – Traditional White

Fabriano Artistico Watercolor Extra White Block 9″x12″ 300gsm HP 20 Sheets

MEEDEN 15×10.2″ Cotton Watercolor Paper Smooth Surface Watercolor Pad, Hot Pressed, 140lb/300gsm, 20 Sheets

Arteza Watercolor Sketchbooks, 5.5×5.5-inch, 3-Pack, 132 Sheets, Gray Art Journal, Hardcover 110lb Paper Book, Art Supplies for Use as Travel Journal and Mixed Media Pad

Practice paper for watercolor

This smooth paper is good for practicing watercolor. It is made to imitate cotton paper.

Fluid Watercolor Paper 850912 140LB Hot Press 9 x 12 Block, 15 Sheets

This is a cheap practice paper with one side smooth, the other side textured. It is thin (190gsm) and A4 size, which means you can easily use it for your printer. Print the free line art in One Tree Art Club library directly, without the need to trace and transfer the drawing.

Watercolor sketchbook

Ashby 100 Sheets of Practice Watercolor Paper (9″ x 12″) – 190 GSM, 100% Cotton, Acid-Free and Cold Pressed. Perfect for Painting or Drawing. Wet, Dry and Mixed Media. Bulk Pack

Canson Artist Series Watercolor Pad, 5.5″ x 8.5″ Side Wire

Tracing paper

In this blog post, you can earn how to trace a line drawing onto watercolor paper.

Bachmore 9”x12” Artist’s Tracing Paper Pad, 75 Sheets – Translucent Tracing Paper for Pencil, Marker and Ink – Trace Images, Sketch, Preliminary Drawing, Overlays 32 LB / 50 GSM

Strathmore 370-9 300 Series Tracing Pad, 9″x12″ Tape Bound, 50 Sheets,White.

LED Light tracing pad

Speed up tracing outlines for your painting by using an ultra-thin, lightweight LED light tracing pad. Simply connect to your laptop or computer with a USB cord.

NXENTC A4 Tracing Light Pad, Ultra-Thin Tracing Light Box USB Power Artcraft Tracing Light Table for Artists, Drawing, Sketching, Animation

Watercolor paint

My own collection of watercolor paint is a mix of various quality brands. The list below is based on research.

It makes painting with watercolor easier to have a good range of colors. A set with few colors usually doesn’t have cyan and magenta. These two colors are essential for mixing certain colors, especially for painting flowers. If you have to buy cyan and magenta separately, it can add up, so that a set with many colors is more economical.

Quality watercolor paint

Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolor Paint, Half Pans, Set of 24, 24 Count

GenCrafts Watercolor Palette with Bonus Paper Pad Includes 48 Premium Colors – 2 Refillable Water Blending Brush Pens – No Mess Storage Case – 15 Sheets of Water Color Paper – Portable Painting

Mungyo Professional Half Pan Size Water Colors Set in Tin Case/Integral Mixing Palette in The lid (48 Colors)

SHINHAN Professional Watercolor Paint 7.5ml Tubes 30 Color Set

With watercolor tubes, you need a palette to keep the colors in:

ShinHan Watercolor Palette 42 Colors

Practice watercolor paint

Various practice watercolors at a lower price

White gouache paint

I use white gouache a lot in my watercolor tutorials. Gouache is a kind of watercolor with highly concentrated pigments that makes it opaque. If you mix with enough water, it becomes transparent. The options below are pretty much the same.

Winsor & Newton Designers Gouache Tube, 14ml, Permanent White

Holbein Artists Gouache Zinc White 15ml (A)

M. Graham 2-Ounce Tube Gouache Paint, Titanium White

Masking fluid

Winsor & Newton Art Masking Fluid, 75ml

Schmincke Masking Fluid 25ml Blue Dispensing Bottle (50731005)

Watercolor gold paint

Gold powder & gum arabic to make gold paint

In my blog post How to Make Watercolor Gold in Four East Steps, I use these two ingredients: Gold powder and gum arabic, and a little water.

Schmincke Aqua Bronze Powder, 20ml Jar, Rich Gold, 1 Each (15811032)

Winsor & Newton Gum Arabic, 75ml

Ready-made gold paint

Kuretake : Gansai Tambi Japanese Watercolour : Gold : Large Pan

Coliro M600 Artist Mica Watercolor Paint, Metallic, Gold & Silver (6-Color/Set)

Colored pencils

White polychrome colored pencil

I use a white pencil a lot in my tutorials.

White pencils drawing pencils set Sketch Pencils 12pcs White Pencils Non-toxic Drawing Pencils Tools Set for Fine Art Supplies

Faber-Castell colored pencils

Faber-Castell Grip Colored EcoPencils – 24 Pack Colored Pencils, Pre-Sharpened

Faber-Castell Classic Colored Pencils Tin Set, 48 Vibrant Colors in Sturdy Metal Case

Castle colored pencils

I haven’t tried these, but a pack like that would be great for my small studio space.

Castle Art Supplies 120 Colored Pencils Zip-Up Set perfect for all artists. Smooth, quality color cores and coloring pencils for blending & layering in convenient, strong travel case

Castle Art Supplies 120 Colored Pencil Set for artists, featuring ‘soft series’ core for expert layering, blending and shading; perfect for coloring books and classroom

Watercolor Pencils

Derwent Colored Pencils, Inktense Ink Pencils, Drawing, Art, Metal Tin, 24 Count (0700929)

Arteza Professional Watercolor Pencils, Set of 120, Multi Colored Art Drawing Pencils in Bright Assorted Shades, Art Supplies for Coloring, Blending and Layering, Watercolor Techniques

Faber-Castell Creative Studio Goldfaber Aqua Watercolor Pencils – Tin of 12 Colors, Multicolor


I have never given much importance to using high-quality watercolor brushes. As long as brushes stay pointed and do the job, I’m happy. Make sure to clean your brushes well after a painting session. Use your fingers to make the hairs pointed each time you leave a brush to dry.

These are three sets of brushes with a wide range of sizes, from very fine to thick. When you’re painting, you use various sizes depending on the level of fine detail or broad strokes.

Set of sable brushes

Watercolor Brushes – Artist Round Detail Paint Brush Set, Sable Hair 9 Different Sizes for Watercolors, Acrylics, Inks, Gouache, Oil Painting and Tempera

Set of synthetic squirrel brushes by Zen Art.

ZenART Watercolor Paint Brushes – Smart 6 pc Black Tulip Short-Handle Watercolor Brush Set for Consistent Flow – Gouache, Watercolors, Fluid Acrylics, Inks – Synthetic Squirrel Hair, Vegan

Set of nylon brushes

Artist Watercolor Paint Brushes Set 13pcs – Round Pointed Tip Soft Anti-Shedding Nylon Hair Wood Long Handle – Detail Paint Brush for Watercolor, Acrylics, Ink, Gouache, Oil, Tempera, Paint by Numbers

Embossing tool (to transfer line art to watercolor paper)

When you transfer a line drawing to watercolor paper, you can use an embossing tool, or a hard pencil.

Valar Dohaeris Wooden Ball Stylus Dotting Tools Set Embossing Pattern Clay Sculpting Modeling Tools


When you want to soak up water and pigments in your watercolor painting, a sponge is your best tool. To soak up paint in a very tiny area, you can roll some tissue paper to make a sharp point.

Darice Natural Artist (4pc) – Includes 3 Sea 1 Rounded Artificial Sponge – Finely Grained, Highly Absorbent, Various Textures – For Pottery, Ceramics, Painting, Staining, Original Version

Tape for mounting watercolor paper

When you mount your watercolor paper on a wooden board, use this tape. Use water sparingly to wet the glue.

MyLifeUNIT White Artist Tape for Watercolor and Canvas (1-1/2 Inch x 60 Yards)

Set of boards for mounting watercolor paper

This is the best and most economical set of wooden boards I could find.

Artlicious – 11×14 Hardboard 6 Pack – Great Alternative to Canvas Panel Boards

Non-slip metal ruler with cork back

When you cut your watercolor paper loose from the woodblock, you need to cut along the edge of a ruler. Use a metal ruler with non-slip cork back. This way, you avoid that the ruler slides, and you cut in the wrong place. You also avoid cuts to your fingers! Press the ruler down firmly, and keep your fingers away from the edge of the ruler.

Westcott 10416 15″ Stainless Steel Office Ruler with Non Slip Cork Base

Breman Precision Stainless Steel 24 Inch Metal Rulers – Straight Edge Rulers with Inch and Metric Graduations for School Office Engineering Woodworking – Flexible with Non Slip Cork Base

Utility knife

DOWELL Utility Knife Box Cutter Retractable Self Loading Heavy Duty Snap Off Quick Change Extra Blades(3PCS) TPR+PP Handle Cutting Cardboard Boxes or DIY

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