While watching countless videos on YouTube can be quite effective, simply reading book on the basics can help teach the entire watercoloring process from start to end in a much more structured manner.
To guide the aspiring artist on their journey, we rounded up some of the best and most recommended watercoloring books that we personally and many others find ourselves relying on time and time again.
Not only have many of these books withstood the test of time, but they will adequately convey important aspects of watercoloring that you might not have considered, especially if you are a self-taught artist.
But for the more seasoned artists reading this, you will also find some great recommendations in this list for both intermediate and advanced skill levels.
Here’s our list of the best watercolor painting books:
Everyday Watercolor: Learn To Paint Watercolor in 30 Days
Watercolorist Jenna Rainey covers all the essentials that any beginner would want to know in this 224-page book.
Broken into the 5 easy-to-read sections:
- Form, Perspective, and Light
- Complex Shapes and Forms
- Value, Volume, and Depth
This book is perfect for beginner watercolorists who have their supplies at the ready but not sure where to go first.
Jenna will walk you through all the essentials that you absolutely must know when watercoloring.
What we (and many other artists) loved about this book was the structure.
If you stick with this book for 30 short days, you will definitely see a marked improvement in your work. Others who have gone through this book have said that “[Everyday Watercolor]…has been so helpful to me” and that “I might be in love with this book”.
Embracing that “creativity is an inherent human trait”, watercolorist Kristin Van Leuven takes you through the world of watercoloring with a contemporary lens.
What really set this book apart was not only its importance of color theory (the first section within the book after essential supplies to have on hand), but also the exploration of resist techniques and the focus on popular subject matters including botanicals (flowers, greenery, and wreaths) along with animals, landscapes, faces, and more.
The structure of the book will not only foster a terrific learning environment for you, but will reinforce proper techniques for watercolors.
The skill level of Modern Watercolor tends to skew a hair bit more intermediate.
Texture Techniques For Winning Watercolors
For those watercolorists that feel they are a bit more advanced and looking for recommendations, this book will open your eyes to some remarkable techniques that will not only make your artwork look amazing, but will also give you more technical insights on how to become better.
This book, which originally was published in 1999 features 130 pages dissecting the watercolor work in great detail. When flipping through the pages you are greeted with full page paintings along with smaller detailed shots of the painting to help explain the techniques employed further.
The Complete Watercolorists Essential Notebook
Gordon MacKenzie will take you on a journey through the concepts of watercoloring in this highly-revered guide that has served watercolorists for years.
What makes this book so special (and the reason why we included it in our list of best watercolor painting books) is that instead of diving deep into the details or techniques of watercoloring, this book takes almost a mores hands-off approach.
Instead of rules to follow while watercoloring, this book embraces the process instead.
Giving you concepts to paint by, this book is great not only for absolute beginners who still haven’t even gotten their brush wet yet, but for those who strive under a more of an informal structure.
But as ‘loose’ as the concept of watercoloring may be within this book, it still features stunning paintings and will give you an idea on how to achieve similar, if not the same, effects.