The 10 Best Art Sets

Updated February 14, 2018 by Sheila O'Neill

10 Best Art Sets
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 38 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Whether the budding Picasso in your life is young or old, he or she will find one of these art sets perfect for creating their next masterpiece. We've included sets that offer all the common mediums, such as watercolors, oils, pencils, and acrylics, along with some models specifically made for beginners and children. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best art set on Amazon.

10. Art 101 142-Piece

The Art 101 142-Piece has everything a budding artist needs to create their masterpiece, from pencils to paints to pastels. This is an affordably-priced option that makes a great gift for a young relative, or a sensible purchase for the art student on a budget.
  • case looks good open or closed
  • smooth sliding drawer
  • no carrying handle
Brand Art, Inc.
Model 53142
Weight 5.7 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

9. Darice Arty Facts Deluxe

Young children of all skill levels can enjoy the Darice Arty Facts Deluxe, which comes filled with a comprehensive selection of supplies in a wide variety of colors. And parents will love the affordable price and the easy-to-carry travel case.
  • four sizes available
  • safety scissors included
  • accessories aren't very high quality
Brand Darice
Model 1103-10
Weight 2.7 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

8. US Art Supply Deluxe Creativity

The US Art Supply Deluxe Creativity comes with a range of mediums from colored pencils to watercolors, making it a good choice for artists who like to vary their work, or who haven't quite figured out their medium of choice yet.
  • wooden desk easel
  • color wheel with mixing chart
  • good balance of price and quality
Brand US Art Supply
Model KIT-82SET-E511
Weight 10.8 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. Art 101 Trifold

The innovative design of the Art 101 Trifold allows two children to access the built-in easel at the same time. It's a great choice for siblings or friends who want to get creative together. A drawing & painting guide is provided to help young artists get started.
  • six-inch ruler included
  • comes with a color wheel
  • teaches kids how to share
Brand Art 101
Model 30175
Weight 3.3 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

6. Nil-Tech Sketch

If you want to focus on the challenging, but ultimately rewarding, medium of pencil drawing, the Nil-Tech Sketch is a great option. It comes with graphite and charcoal pencils and a number of useful tools specifically designed for sketching.
  • includes multiple sharpeners
  • handy zippered case
  • doesn't offer a variety of mediums
Brand NiL-Tech
Model NT - 33
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

5. Royal & Langnickel Painting Chest

The Royal & Langnickel Painting Chest is an 80-piece collection housed in a beautiful, sturdy wooden case. It includes oil, acrylic, and water-based paints and comes with a white eraser, a palette, a palette knife, and even a bottle of linseed oil.
  • bristle and talon brushes
  • built-in brush rest
  • front panel hides 2 storage drawers
Brand Royal & Langnickel
Model RSET-ART8000
Weight 11.6 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

4. US Art Supply 133 Piece

The comprehensive US Art Supply 133 Piece is a painter's dream. It comes with everything needed to set up a small art studio in your home, including both a full-size and a desktop easel. You'll also get four pads of paper, designed for a variety of mediums.
  • two stretched canvases
  • aluminum easel has a canvas clamp
  • over 20 paint brushes
Brand US Art Supply
Model KIT-ALL-D130
Weight 18.8 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

3. Royal & Langnickel All Media

All the pieces of the Royal & Langnickel All Media store inside the easily transported wooden easel, so you can take it to the park or a friend's house without having to worry about losing components. As the name implies, it includes items for painting and drawing.
  • easel provides a stable work area
  • best for intermediate artists
  • case has high quality latches
Brand Royal & Langnickel
Model REA6000
Weight 13.2 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. Crayola Inspiration

The Crayola Inspiration is perfect for creative children. The colorful case comes loaded with 140 well-organized crayons, pencils, and markers, so the young artist will always have just the right medium and hue to complete their masterpiece.
  • markers washable for easy cleanup
  • 15 large sheets of paper included
  • the case is lockable
Brand Crayola
Model 04-2555
Weight 3.5 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

1. Online Art Supplies Hardwood

The Online Art Supplies Hardwood is an art studio unto itself, coming complete with a full-sized French easel; 12 colors of oil, acrylic, and water-based paints; plus four different brush sets. This is the perfect choice for the serious aspiring painter.
  • includes a watercolor pad
  • 2 stretched blank canvases
  • shoulder carrying strap
Brand Online Art Supplies
Weight 19.2 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

Materials Are Anything But Immaterial

It'd be nice to believe, as very few artists successfully do, that the tools of an art are immaterial to its expression. You hear such things uttered in photographic circles perhaps more than anywhere else simply because of the diversity of available photographic technology, and because of the surprising results of so many photographic competitions, many of which give their top prizes to amateurs shooting on cameras that the so-called professionals would never be caught dead using.

Painting and drawing are tougher, as the quality of the tools is likely to leave an immediate and recognizable impression on a viewer, and is subject to time in the way that a digital photograph is not. A painting–that is to say, the physical paint–will fade, and cannot be reproduced as a photograph can, though attempts at restoration and preservation of the great works is ongoing.

For this reason alone, investing in a quality art set, and continuing to invest in quality paints thereafter, is absolutely material to your expression, unless the heart of your expression is impermanence. If that's the case, you ought to be mixing your paints from berry juices, or something that won't even last as long as the cheapest paint on the market.

You want staying power for your art, and you want paints and pencils that are easy to work with and that catch they eye when applied to paper and canvas. The sets on this list either combine materials for drawing and painting, or have an even more extensive selection of tools targeted at a single style, so budding artists and serious professionals alike will have all the tools they need to express themselves on common media.

Since organization is one of the biggest problems facing creative types, these sets also include a wide quality range of storage for their constituent parts. That way, if the messy, genius artist in you wants to leave all of your work materials strewn about the studio, it'll be easier to clean up later.

A Steady Climb Toward Quality

Beyond all the theoretical posturing, you've got a very real choice to make, and whether this art set is for you or a gift for another, knowing what makes one set different from or superior to another ought to help you gain focus on your ideal purchase.

The more obvious differences that present themselves as you make your way down our top ten list all concentrate around an ideal demographic for a given set. The set on our list that's made up of crayons and markers, for example, is clearly meant for a much younger artist who's just getting into self-expression. Of course, as you're reading this there's probably a 30-something in Austin, TX with that exact marker set creating masterpieces that will skyrocket him to fame, but we can't account for that while making our choice today.

Other sets on our list have a broader appeal, featuring paints of various bases (watercolor, acrylic, oil) in addition to drawing materials. It may be difficult to tell the nuanced differences among these middle-grade sets, due primarily to the similarity of their storage and layout. Among these suitcase-style sets, the big difference is in the color availability, particularly in the pencils, so if you know your preferred palettes, you can gravitate toward the right set.

Finally, we get to the most elaborate and expensive set on our list, an art kit that is undeniably geared toward professionals and more serious students of the craft. For these very simple reasons it reaches the top of our list, and it comes with anything and everything an artist would need for his or her drawing and painting needs. Old Dickie Van Gogh could have taken one look at this set, and he might not have cut off his ear.

Dreaming Of The Past

In his epic documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams, acclaimed German filmmaker Werner Herzog takes us on a journey back to the oldest examples of human expression. Deep within Chauvet cave in southern France, cave paintings of horses, lions, rhinoceroses, and a dozen other creatures dance upon the walls.

Radiocarbon dating shows the paintings to have been produced in two distinct groupings. The more recent of these groupings was created around 27,000 years ago, while the oldest among them reaches back nearly 33,000 years. They are, according to this dating, the oldest known paintings on Earth, the oldest moment of human artistic expression known to man.

Which is all to say that, so far as we can tell, the history of painting is the history of mankind. Many philosophers and scholars believe that the expression of an exterior world, accompanied by expressions of a self (such as the hand prints found in Chauvet and other caves), mark the explicit evolution in consciousness that separates mankind from his previous evolutionary forms.

Today, our studios, and museums, and galleries are our caves. Their staying power is meager compared with that of the ancient, prehistoric caves, which will likely outlast anything modern man puts to canvas. The subject, however, remains. We seek, by whatever means necessary, to express and communicate our experience, that we may better understand the worlds around us, the worlds before our own, and the ones to come.

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Last updated on February 14, 2018 by Sheila O'Neill

Sheila is a writer, cosplayer, and juggler who lives in Southern California. She loves sitting down with a hot cup of tea and coming up with new ideas. In her spare time, Sheila enjoys drawing, listening to podcasts, and describing herself in the third person.

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