Toolkit The Best Travel Watercolor Set


List Of Must-haves | Compact and Complete Travel Watercolor Palettes | Compact Starter Travel Watercolor Palette | Metallic Travel Paint Set 

Watercolor is the perfect medium that you can always have stashed in your bag ready to be used whenever you need it. You only need a few other things and you’re good to go. Setting up and cleaning up is a much simpler process as well compared to oil and acrylic. No wonder it’s the most popular medium choice of artists to pack and bring along when they’re traveling. Though they’ll also come in handy for plein air painting where you specifically want to use watercolor. Nowadays, watercolor sets are designed to be even more portable and fuss free, especially the best travel watercolor set or sets. I’m so amazed and I truly appreciate the thought that goes into the designs where a set is packed with everything you need already included. You only need to grab it and your watercolor paper and that’s it.

So what makes a great travel paint set? For me, the first thing is the sturdiness of the case besides the obvious portability of it. I’m not the most careful with my things so I need one that can stand a couple of bangs and drops without breaking. So that was more of a more personal preference. Now let’s check out below all the other details that are what I’m sure are on your list of must-haves.

TABLE OF CONTENTS: Looking for something in particular? Jump ahead using the links below:

List of must-haves that make it the best travel watercolor set
Compact and Complete Travel Watercolor Palettes

Compact Starter Watercolor Travel Palette
Metallic Travel Paint Set

Best travel watercolor set qualities:

Portability and Durability

The case shouldn’t be made of flimsy material, after all you’re going to be bringing it along with you when traveling. Then there’s the size, it should be small enough to fit in a regular sized bag. Finally, it should be lightweight enough, you don’t want to be lugging around a brick of a set.

Color Palette

It should at least have all the essential colors you need plus a few other extras. You don’t want to have to bring other tubes or sets because it’s lacking in what you need, that defeats the purpose of portability.

Set Inclusions

What else is in the set besides the paints, whether they are in tubes or pans. Does it come with a brush? A mixing area? A sponge? These inclusions help make your life easier, one less thing to pack and worry about. 

ZenART’s Best Travel Watercolor Sets

I’m proud to say that ZenART’s Aspiring Artists Watercolor Sets get checkmarks for all the things listed above. This line has 4 different sets for your various needs. They’re all specifically designed for your ease of use in mind, whether at home, in school, at the cafe, for plein air painting, and traveling. Check out all of the nifty inclusions and other details.

Compact and Complete Travel Watercolor Palettes

Our Allegro and Sereno Watercolor Palettes are at the top of the list. They are practically the same in all aspects, the only difference is the color palette. Allegro’s palette has more warm and vibrant color selections. Perfectly suited for painting those beautiful sunrises and sunsets, lovely blooming flowers, and will be great for portrait painting. Sereno on the other hand veers towards a cooler color palette. It still has those essential warm colors you need, not to worry! But it has more of the cooler color choices. So if you like painting lots of landscapes, seascapes and botanical compositions, then this set is perfect for you. 

They each both have 24 half-pan watercolor paints, #5 round water-barrel brushes, #3 synthetic red sable flat brushes, mixing areas, sponges, watercolor paper with color labels for swatching out the paints, and a splash guard to help keep everything clean. All packed in a beautiful tin case with sturdy hinges and clasps. Fantastic color selections, complete inclusions, and a durable compact case! The paints are solid, so you won’t have a problem having them on your carry-on at the airport. Perfect to have on-hand for painting during those long flights, the ultimate travel paint sets!

Portability and Durability ✔

Measuring at just 20 x 8 x 3.5cm, this compact tin case is well-built and lightweight. You don’t have to worry about it falling apart especially when you’re out and about.

Color Palette ✔

Not only do they have all the essential colors, they’re envisioned with your possible color preferences in mind and split into two palettes that you can choose from. Or have both, why not? You can pick and choose which one to use or bring with you depending on what you’re planning to paint.

Allegro Palette

24 half-pans of warm and vibrant colors, this palette is a favorite among artists. You can easily mix a variety of skin tones for your figure painting needs. And with an awesome selection of yellows and reds, you can practically paint any flower just like that.

Sereno Palette

24 half-pans of a cooler color selection, don’t worry it still has the essential yellows and reds. So if you’re looking for a palette that has a wider range of cool and subtle colors, this is the one for you. Makes color-mixing for those landscapes, seascapes, and botanicals such a breeze!

Set Inclusions ✔

I’ve spread them out in the photo below and labelled them accordingly so you can better appreciate each inclusion. The color swatch card is watercolor paper and comes unpainted with lined divisions and color labels for an even more convenient guide. Both Allegro and Sereno have the same accompanying accessories and built-ins. They come with a #3 synthetic flat brush, a #5 round water barrel brush, a mixing area, a sponge, and a splash guard. These are our best watercolor travel kits! Can it get any more convenient than this?

Compact Starter Travel Watercolor Palette

Espresso Palette

The aptly named Espresso Watercolor Palette is the most compact set of the bunch, packed with 12 essential colors that you need. This tiny package packs an awesome punch! They contain both warm and cool variations of the primary colors, plus some extras that we know you’ll find useful to have. This starter set is great for those who want to bring the most compact watercolor palette ever. Plus develop their color-mixing skills along the way, too! The size is the same as the mint tins and can be easily slipped into your pocket. 

See how it easily fits in my hand – and I have small hands! No surprise with measurements at just 9.5 x 6 x 2 cm. I’ve run around with the Espresso palette in my jeans’ backpocket and they remain safe and secure. The inside part of the lid can be used as a mixing section as well. And this compact set also comes with the always useful color swatch card. I always recommend that you swatch your colors out, that way you get to see how they look and behave on paper. Some colors are more transparent, some more on the opaque side, and some are more granulating than others.

Check out our artist co-founder Ardak Kassenova’s quick watercolor painting using the Espresso Palette below. Aren’t the colors just vibrant and lovely? 

This is the one that I always have in my everyday bag along with my ZenART B5 Artist’s Sketchbook. I just need to bring my pencil case containing a mix of a few brushes, pens, pencils and a kneaded eraser, and I’m ready to sketch and paint anytime and anywhere. The most compact travel watercolor palette in my collection of watercolors. I recommend this set for beginners and students on the go. It’s easy to bring around and has a limited amount of colors. You’ll learn how to mix the other colors you need and play around with your color-mixing. Check out our watercolor color mixing guide for a number of useful tips and tricks that you can use to expand your color-mixing skills.

Metallic Travel Paint Set

Prezioso Palette

For those who love to paint using metallic paints, we’ve got you covered too! Our Prezioso Palette has 18 gorgeous metallic colors ranging from the cooler blues and greens to the warm gold and copper. You can totally paint a whole composition painted with these shimmering metallics, how fun is that? Experiment using different colored papers, from white to grey, to black, and anything else you’d like to try them out on!

It comes with the color swatch card, a #3 synthetic flat brush, a #5 round water barrel brush, a mixing area, and a bigger sponge compared to the other sets with their 24 colors. Below you can see the effect it gives when painted on black paper. Isn’t it exciting just thinking about the many various ways of using this metallic palette?

These sets are especially designed for aspiring artists and art students, this Student line of watercolor sets are created with palettes that you can choose from based on the mood and effect that you want to achieve. There are no repeating colors on each set and they are perfectly packed with the colors that you need so you can mix an infinite range of other colors. Color-mixing and color harmony go hand in hand, so don’t miss out on our watercolor color mixing guide. If you’re just starting out on watercolor painting, I recommend you check out our watercolor for beginners article. It has all the basic how tos on different techniques you can use and a list and guide on the materials you need when starting out. 

Here are our Black Tulip and Fine Line brush sets that are also travel friendly and will go well with our best travel watercolor sets above if you want to have more brush options with you. They are compact and come in a canvas roll-up case (Fine Line) and a reusable PVC pouch (Black Tulip) for convenient carrying along. 

I hope you found this useful and helpful, and answers your questions on what makes the best travel watercolor set. So get your checklist out and see if you need to add anything to it. Take your time and remember to invest in the best quality materials you can afford. You will save yourself from frustrations, your precious time and money, and you will get to enjoy painting with more ease. 

Which watercolor travel paint set above are you partial to? Why do you like it over the others? What are the must-haves on your list? Anything you’d like to see or learn more about that we haven’t covered yet? Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll happily get back to you. Join our friendly art community Painting Inspiration Daily on Facebook. You can share your art and ideas, watch LIVE tutorials, and be inspired to paint! 

Next up on our Toolkits section, learn How To Draw A Vampire. Until then, good luck on choosing the best travel watercolor set for you! 


Kathleen is the Wordsmith at ZenART, resident artist and art editor. When God sent a shower of talents, Kathleen made sure she got a basketful of them! She’s a visual artist with practical knowledge on various fields from painting and sculpture, to costume and set design which comes in very handy when writing about various art techniques and theories. She also shares her passion for the arts through teaching. She runs her own brand of handmade wirework jewelry designs.