Resources for Watercolor Painting and Sketching

The urban sketching and watercolor resources below include items I’ve had in my urban sketch workshop kits as well as some of my other favorite supplies. By making your purchase using the links below I will receive a small commission but your price will not change. Thank you for visiting my page.

Favorite Watercolor Supplies

Some of my favorite supplies for Watercolor painting.

Watercolor Paper

Arches Watercolor Blocks

Arches is the product of five centuries of paper making experience. Arches watercolor papers are mould made in France, with 100% cotton fiber content. They are acid-free, pH-neutral, gelatin-sized, and air-dried. Sheets are 140 lb (300 gsm) weight, with 20 sheets per block. Several sizes are also available.

Brushes

Isabey Squirrel Quill Mop

The finest Siberian blue squirrel is unsurpassed in color absorption, making it a superb brush for large watercolor washes. It has a large, delicate point for unique brush strokes and line work. The genuine goose quill ferrule is hand tied with brass wires onto a natural wood handle. Available in 12 sizes and a pocket size here.

Watercolor Paint

Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors

Available in an astounding range of more than 235 colors, Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors are made by hand in Seattle, Washington. This superior-quality watercolor line includes historical hues, amazing earths, and some of the brightest and boldest quinacridones ever formulated.

My Favorites for Urban Sketching

Urban Sketching is sketching done on location and not from a photo or memory. It usually takes a minimal amount of supplies and even time but you make the kit your own. This year I’ve been spending some time introducing Urban Sketching to people around the world and I want to share the tools we’ve been using. 

Make the kit your own! Customize it with your favorite tools. Not one kit is the same.

The Sketch Book

Carry with you what fits. If you carry a small bag, get a small book. Make sure that it’s not an inconvenience to carry it around with you all day. You can have other books that are larger for days when you’re going out just to sketch but day-to-day may be more manageable with a book that fits your everyday bag.

Moleskine Watercolor Notebooks - Pocket

Small Moleskine Watercolor Book

This journal is the perfect companion to your daily carry sketch kit. 200gsm, 25% cotton cold pressed, watercolor paper is thread-bound to the Moleskine textured covers. 60 pages 3½" × 5½"

Moleskine Watercolor Notebooks - Large

Large Moleskine Watercolor Book

The latest addition to the classic hardcover Moleskine line of notebooks is for the watercolor artist on the go. 200gsm, 25% cotton cold pressed, watercolor paper is thread-bound to the Moleskine textured covers. 72 pages 5" × 8¼"

Canson Montval Watercolor Pads

Canson Montval Watercolor Pads

Canson Montval is a fine quality, acid-free, natural white, mildew resistant watercolor paper. Prized for its texture and resistance to repeated washing, this paper is suitable for all wet media techniques, including acrylic painting.

Bienfang Mixed Media Pad

Bienfang Mixed Media Pad

The fine-texture surface of Bienfang Mixed Media paper is an excellent choice for watercolors, acrylics, pen-and-ink, pencils, markers, pastels, collage, and more. The 90 lb (146 gsm) paper also erases cleanly. 40-sheet pads. 8½" × 5½"

The Waterproof Ink

These are my favorite brands for urban sketching. They’re waterproof and dry quick. 

Copic Multiliner Pens

Copic Multiliner Pen - Black 0.5 mm

Copic Multiliner Pens are fine quality waterproof, inking pens available in a variety of sizes and styles. The pigment-based ink is waterproof and won't bleed or smear when used with Copic Markers.

Sakura Pigma Micron Pen

Sakura Pigma Micron Pen - Size 03

Pigma Micron pens are acid-free and archival, making them ideal for any application requiring precision and permanance. Pigma ink is derived from a single pigment to ensure color consistency, and is fadeproof against sunlight or UV light. - Set of 6, Same Size, Black. View additional sizes and colors here.

The Travel Brushes

Water brushes are great on the go. I’ve been using the Medium and Large brushes in my watercolor kits but they are available in a wide variety of tips.

Pentel Aquash Water Brush

Pentel Aquash Water Brush

Great for sketching and drawing, the Pentel Aquash Water Brush has a durable nylon medium tip that holds its point for better stroke control. The soft, easy-to-squeeze barrel has a shape that prevents it from rolling off surfaces.

Pentel Aquash Water Brush

Set of 4 Pentel Aquash Water Brush

The Pentel Aquash Water Brush has a durable nylon medium tip that holds its point for better stroke control. Ideal for sketching and drawing. The soft, easy-to-squeeze barrel has a shape that prevents it from rolling off surfaces. - Set of 4

The Travel Palette

Whether its DIY or store bought, make sure your palette is the right size to travel with.

Sennelier French Artists' Watercolor Sets

Sennelier French Artists' Watercolor Sets

Sennelier French Artists' Watercolor Half Pans come in a range of 48 vivacious colors inspired by the original palette of the French Impressionists. Their honey-based formulation offers a smooth consistency as well as extraordinary brilliance, luminosity, and longevity. - Half Pan Metal Case, Set of 12

travel watercolor palettesTravel Watercolor Palettes

Nomad Palettes are ideal for the watercolorist on the go. Light and portable, these pocket-sized travel cases showcase your individuality by allowing you to mix and match your favorite watercolor combinations. Also get the magnet strips and pans  here to create your own palette.

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The Paint

I love Daniel Smith Watercolors and have used these paints in each of my urban sketch kits.

For your reference, here are the colors from my sketch kit:

Prussian Blue
Permanent Red
Azo Yellow
Raw Sienna
Burnt Umber
Payne’s Grey

More Favorites

Derwent Water Soluble Sketching Mixed Media (8 Count)

  • A great introduction to the world of water soluble sketching media
  • Create bold strokes and precise lines
  • Blocks are used for sweeping tone and blend easily
  • Pencils add fine detail and highlights
  • Pack includes 3 Sketching Pencils (HB, 4B, 8B), 2 Graphite Sticks (2B, 6B), a paintbrush, pencil sharpener, and a plastic eraser

Books

The Art of Urban Sketching: Drawing On Location Around The World I've shared so much of this book in my workshops because it shows off such versatile sketches!

Published in 2012

The Art of Urban Sketching is both a comprehensive guide and a showcase of location drawings by artists around the world who draw the cities where they live and travel.

Authored by the founder of the nonprofit organization Urban Sketchers (www.urbansketchers.org), this beautiful, 320-page volume explains urban sketching within the context of a long historical tradition and how it is being practiced today. With profiles of leading practitioners and discussions of the benefits of working in this art form, this inspiring book shows how one can participate and experience this creative outlet through modern-day social networks and online activity.

You’ll find more than 600 beautiful, contemporary illustrations, as well as artists’ profiles and extended captions where these urban sketchers share their stories, how they work, sketching tips, and the tools behind each drawing.

With sketches and observations from more than 50 cities in more than 30 countries, The Art of Urban Sketching offers a visually arresting, storytelling take on urban life from different cultures and artistic styles, as well as insight into various drawing techniques and mediums.

Sketching People An Urban Sketcher’s Manual to Drawing Figures and Faces

Published in 2016

Drawing people in the outside world can be a real thrill; each sketch captures a particular person and place in time. But it can also be a challenge. How do you spot a likely subject? How do you choose the person most likely to stay still? How do you draw movement for the person that refuses to sit still? Sketching People offers straightforward, practical help to give beginning artists the confidence and ability to draw all sorts of people in many different settings. In the pages of this book, readers will find:

  • How to capture the essence of character
  • Different line-work styles
  • Techniques for creating realistic skin tones
  • The key to capturing the details of street life
  • Ways to create fabric folds
  • Mastering tonal drawings
  • Conveying age differences, and more

This clearly written, fun to read book is bursting with inspirational artwork and candid advice that will help you improve your drawing skills and change the way you sketch for the better.

Sketch Now Think Later Jump into Urban Sketching with Limited Time, Tools, and Techniques

Published in 2017

Boston-based urban artist Mike Daikubara gives beginners a crash course in location sketching that you can use in any city in Sketch Now, Think Later.

Everyone wishes they could sketch stylish scenes, but busy lives leave almost no room for sitting down with a pad and pen to practicing. Many people give up on their potential hobby (and artistic outlet) because they feel they just don’t have the time to lay the groundwork. Here’s a secret though: you do! All you need is a strategy for incorporate sketching into your daily life.

Sketch Now, Think Later covers the tools, techniques and tips that author and Urban Sketching Correspondent of Boston Mike Daikubara has developed in his more than 15 years as a practicing artist, and will show you how to fully dive into any sketching situation with limited time and tools, and still be able to produce memorable, great looking, fun sketches! 

The Urban Sketching Handbook: Understanding Perspective Easy Techniques for Mastering Perspective Drawing on Location (Urban Sketching Handbooks)

Published in 2016

A good sketch starts with good bones.

The fourth book in the Urban Sketching Handbook series uses drawings and simple steps to explain the often challenging and overwhelming concepts of perspective in practical and useful ways for on-site sketching. Most books are either too abstract or don’t provide enough information that relates to what you actually do when you’re out in the busy, wide world about to start a drawing. Where do you start? How do you edit what you see to flatten and shrink it onto your paper? How does perspective work?

The Urban Sketching Handbook: Understanding Perspective helps you learn to think like an architect, to draw buildings and spaces by reducing what you see to simple, basic shapes, then adding layers in simple steps, and finally finishing your sketch with detail, tone, and color–in accurate perspective. Full of helpful tips, architect and illustrator, Stephanie Bower even de-constructs sketches to show you how to create them! Once you understand perspective, it will change the way you see the world–you’ll see perspective everywhere.

Some of the key concepts explored in this volume are:

– Basic Terms
– Basic Spatial Principles
– Types of Perspective
– Building a Sketch in Layers
– Special Conditions

Urban Sketching The Complete Guide to Techniques

Published in 2014

While most sketching guides leave the artist with static bowls of fruit and flower vases to develop their skill, Urban Sketching takes its inspiration from the living, breathing world around us! Contents include the nuts and bolts of sketching and drawing as well as a range of techniques specific to this artistic genre. Readers will discover:

  • Rules on perspective that will aid inn capturing landscapes, buildings, and objects accurately
  • Tips for capturing the essence of people in sketches when subjects are on the move
  • The art of adding notes, commentary, and even speech to sketches

Chapters on sharing sketches through social media, joining the international urban sketching community, digitizing work, and more make this new guide the quintessential resource for anyone interested in joining the exciting art movement. More than 350 full-color illustrations throughout.