Pan versus liquid watercolors for kids!

Updated: Mar 11, 2019


Pan watercolors on the left, liqud on the right

Have you ever wondered what the difference between liquid and pan watercolors is? I discovered liquid watercolors a while back and now I use them all the time with my kids. Before that we always used the pan watercolors. Lately we've been going back and forth between pan watercolors and liquid watercolors. They are both great for different reasons! Watercolors are my favorite material for process based art!


Liquid watercolors come in containers and you pour out a little at a time. The colors are very bright and concentrated, so you add water to them. You will also need something to put them in. I find that an ice cube tray works great. You can add more or less water in different holes of the ice cube tray to create lighter or darker values of each color. Just like pan watercolors, you can apply them using a paint brush, or my favorite way to apply them is using q-tips. They need to be the wood stick q-tips otherwise they will get wet and go all floppy on you. Put a different q-tip in each color and kids can get right to painting! They can create a variety of lines and dots with the q-tips and they don't need to worry about mixing colors! Liquid watercolors are best when you are working with a group of kids or kids who have no experience painting. What I love about them is I can just set it up and kids can figure out what to do with them on their own!