I love watercolor painting and the paints themselves. I am not really 100% why but I love looking at a palette of beautiful paint. I guess I am easy to please or an artist! lol
Watercolor paint does come in many options; pan/cakes and tubes which house transparent paint or paint you can see through. Opaque watercolor paint is called Gouache paint or non-transparent. Usually gouache paint has a watered-down acrylic feel in consistency. The white is often used in watercolor for a non-transparent-ness effect.
Now tube watercolors are more concentrated in solubility and mix evenly, plus you do not need much paint to mix a lot of pigment. If a tube dries up on you because it has not been used in a while…..toss it! A dried up tube of watercolor is no longer good to use. So, in that regard buy small tubes vs. the larger size. Now, if you have a palette and like to enter the tube watercolors in the little spaces you can empty a tube of pigment into one of the wells and let it dry directly from the tube. That will not hurt the paint from a fresh tube.
There are half-pan and full pan referring to size, usually half pans are about 1/2 inch square size.
English Winsor and Newton watercolors are pretty much known and come in different grades; student and or professional grade. Which means a student grade has less pure pigment and more fillers, therefore not as bright in hues and values. A professional grade paint will have more pure pigment resulting in brighter colors and better quality with more staining.
German Schmincke watercolors are bright and strong in pigment or hue. Fabulous paints to work with, very rich in color. I think they come in pans and tubes. Italy’s brand Maimeri paints are fabulous in richness and colors housed in tubes.
There are many watercolor paint manufacture, you need to try different brands to figure out what works for you. A cheap dollar set will not have the quality compared to W&N paints for example. The most expensive paints are costly for a reason but will not make you a better watercolorist at the same time. You want a good priced set that offers high quality.
Page of London watercolour sets from England made in the 50’s and 60’s are Fabulous! Most people hunt the sets down for the lithograph printed colorful tins not the paints, but the paints work well and are extremely transparent in nature. I recommend buying yourself a set and experimenting with them.