Last updated: August 11, 2021

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Welcome to our big watercolour brush test 2021. Here we present all the watercolour brushes we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web. We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best watercolour brush for you. You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy a watercolour brush.




Summary

  • Round brushes are very suitable for watercolour painting. Real hair and synthetic brushes have very good stroking properties. Especially marten hair is well suited for watercolour painting.
  • When choosing a suitable watercolour brush, you should consider the material, the finish and the stroking properties.
  • Depending on size and quality, you can buy individual watercolour brushes for as little as one euro. Real hair brushes are usually more expensive than brushes with synthetic hair.

The best Watercolor Brush: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a watercolour brush

Which shapes are suitable for watercolour brushes?

Whether long or short, thick or thin: every painter has his or her preferred brush for working with watercolour. To begin with, round brushes of different sizes are best suited. You can find their advantages and those of others here:

  • Round brushes: These are the "basic tools" for watercolour and converge to a point at the front. Small sizes are used for detail and line painting. Large versions hold a particularly large amount of water and paint and are perfect for initial priming or colouring. They are the all-rounders among the watercolour brushes.
  • Fan brushes: Also known as effect brushes. Ideal for blending, blending into each other or painting grasses and textures, but does not hold much water as it is very thin.
  • Flat brush: This flattened tool picks up a lot of paint and is suitable for painting edges and corners.
  • Washing-up brush: The ideal complement to a large round brush, it is particularly suitable for glazing and absorbs a lot of water.

This list is not exhaustive - but it represents the most common watercolour brush shapes.

What material should watercolour brushes be made of?

Watercolour brushes must be made of soft fibres: Either synthetic or real hair. The former are cheaper and also ideal for vegan artists. There is a wide range of synthetic brushes. However, good care must be taken here. So always clean the watercolour brushes thoroughly. Natural hair brush es absorb a lot of moisture, which is of course important for watercolour painting. These watercolour brushes also retain their shape and resilience (with good care). If you opt for real hair, red sable hair is recommended in addition to sable, feh hair and polecat. The price may seem high at first, but you will notice immediately what a fine style of painting you create with it.

Please note that the correct storage of the watercolour brush is extremely important. Acrylic brushes made of real hair rot very quickly.

When caring for your brushes, make sure to wash them out thoroughly after use and never store them upside down. (Photo: jadson-thomas-164235 / pexels.com)

How should watercolour brushes be cleaned?

Brushes should be washed quickly after each painting session. For watercolour brushes, artist's soap or curd soap is suitable for removing the paint. Make sure that the brushes are thoroughly rinsed again with warm water afterwards. If necessary, bring the tips of the watercolour brushes back into shape - high-quality products spring back by themselves. Allow them to air dry well and do not place them upside down anywhere! Better to put them in a jar with the handle down or place them in a brush folder.

Decision: What types of watercolour brushes are there and which is the right one for you?

Basically, you can distinguish between five different types of watercolour brushes:

  • Round brush
  • Flat brush
  • Fan brush
  • Tractor brush
  • Washing-up brush

Due to the different modes of action and uses, a specific watercolour brush is best suited for you. Since not every brush is the same, there are different advantages and disadvantages. In the following section, we would like to describe the individual types in more detail and explain the differences. To make it easier for you to decide, the advantages and disadvantages of the individual watercolour brushes are clearly compared.

What distinguishes a round brush and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

In a normal round brush, the hairs are connected in a round opening in the hair holder. The round brush (also pointed brush) is therefore particularly suitable for detailed and watery picture compositions.

Advantages
  • Fine hair
  • Detailed
  • Adjusted stroke
Disadvantages
  • Field of application is limited

Furthermore, you can draw lines of different thicknesses and create watercolour-like areas. Nevertheless, its range of use is somewhat limited in acrylic painting, which derives its appeal very much from pasty addition of colour.

What distinguishes a flat brush and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A flat brush, which can also be called a cat's tongue brush, is also very suitable for watercolour painting. Their hairs are usually made of pig bristles, which is quite stiff and therefore can only hold a little paint and water. However, there are also many higher quality brushes, such as those containing cattle hair or synthetic fibres.

Advantages
  • Suitable for drawing houses
  • Suitable for ornaments
  • Various qualities
Disadvantages
  • Can hold little water
  • Rigid (positive and negative)

A variation of the flat brush is the flat brush, which has a slanted edge and can be used to paint houses, ornaments and also roofs in a natural way.

What are the characteristics of a fan brush and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Fan brushes are brushes whose hairs are arranged in a fan-like spread. This type of brush is particularly suitable for grasses in a meadow or fur structures. In addition, the fan brush can also be used very well for painting large areas such as walls and facades, as this brush can be quite large.

Advantages
  • Suitable for grasses, meadows and fur structures
  • Spreads well
  • Good for large areas
Disadvantages
  • Cannot pick up much watercolour

A fan brush cannot pick up much watercolour because its hairs protrude radially from the brush holder. However, the brush is mainly good for spreading paint on the paper.

What distinguishes a tractor brush and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Unlike normal round brushes, tractor brushes have significantly longer pores. This is why they can not only take up more paint, but also develop a very sweeping momentum when painting.

Advantages
  • Longer hairs
  • Can absorb more paint
  • Sweeping momentum
  • Straight lines
Disadvantages
  • Field of application is limited

With this brush you can create wonderful straight lines and also paint tree branches. In addition, many graphic elements are no problem.

What are the characteristics of a wash brush and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Although wash brushes have a very high hair content, they are very loosely combined and absorb an enormous amount of water because they are often made of feather hair, which has an extremely high water storage capacity. It is not primarily intended for applying the paint, but rather for painting and distributing the paint on the paper with water.

Advantages
  • Loosely bound
  • Absorbs an extremely large amount of water
  • Ink can be spread quickly on the paper
  • Soft colour gradients
Disadvantages
  • Not flexible
  • Hardly controllable
  • Flowing blurred edges

This brush can be used to create glazes, such as the sky or a large sea surface. It is also good for lifting paint off the paper.

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate watercolour brushes

In the following, we will show you which criteria you can use to compare and evaluate watercolour brushes. This will make it easier for you to get an overview and decide on a suitable watercolour brush. In summary, these are the following criteria:

  • Quality
  • Material

In the following, you can read about the respective criteria and find out why it makes sense for you to purchase a watercolour brush under these aspects or not.

Quality

Go for high-quality watercolour brush es right from the start - they are cheaper in the long run than cheap alternatives. Look for a tapered tip on round watercolour brushes. Good quality brushes are characterised by the fact that no individual hairs stick out. Very good brushes made of human hair or synthetics can often be recognised by the fact that their hairs are protected by a plastic tube. Incidentally,poor quality brushes can also be heard. If you shake the brush and the metal plate in which the hairs are bound together wobbles, this is a clear sign of poor quality.

Material

The material of the brush hairs is decisive for the quality of your creative work. Make sure that you buy the right brushes for the medium you prefer. Buy high quality right from the start - there is no point in buying cheap brushes, you will soon notice this when painting. If you still have an old brush or two at home, don't throw it away. Compare the feeling when painting with a 0-8-15 watercolour brush with that of a high-quality synthetic or real hair brush such as Marder. Real hair brushes are initially very expensive to buy, but it is worth it especially if you paint watercolour frequently.

Picture sources: pixabay.com / Pexels

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