We can find a wide types of watercolour brushes with very different shapes, sizes and types of hair. In fact, there are so many different versions and brands that if we wanted to try them all we would end up overwhelmed and bankrupt. Therefore, today we want to help you find the best options for your future projects and accompany the best paintings. In this post we present the different types and applications of all types of watercolours brushes.

Step 1: the type of hair

The type of hair directly influences the performance and resistance of the brush. This explains some differences that we can find, especially at the price level. In general, a good brush should retain enough paint and water, as well as be able to release it gradually and uniformly. In addition, the brush should return to its original shape once the stroke is completed.

Despite the advances in synthetic fibers, the most valued hair for watercolour brushes continue to be of animal origin. If you have read a review or spoken with an artist who has mastered this specialty, they will surely recommend Sable’s hair, an animal better known as Marta Cibelina. This mustelid is raised on farms in northern Asia, where it originated. There are still some doubts about how he is raised and if they are executed just to get the hair.

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The best sable hair is called Kolinsky because it comes from a weasel that lives in the Siberian region of Kolinsky. The extreme weather conditions make these animals breed resistant and elastic hairs. Sable brushes, if properly cared for, will retain their shape and texture for years. On the contrary, like leather coats, they are the most expensive.

Below the quality of the watercolour paint brushes, we find squirrel hair and goat hair. Its benefits are ideal for washing or sweeping techniques, which require a lot of water. Therefore, its applications are also suitable for ink drawing, where they also have excellent qualities and precision. If you like this type of technique, pig bristle brushes are the most durable and economical. In part, this is due to the fact that the brush is usually larger, which allows to transport and distribute the paint better.

Finally, the synthetic fibers. They are usually made with nylon or polyester, their design is designed to mimic the performance of animal sows at a lower cost. It is true that they do not last as long and do not retain so much ink, but their benefits are getting better.

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Step 2: the shape of watercolours brushes

As in the rest of painting techniques, watercolour brushes have different shapes, adapted to different types of tasks. Therefore, this point will depend on the type of work that the artist usually does. Since brushes are expensive, you usually buy the least amount of brushes capable of performing the widest variety of tasks.

Since each artist can classify the brushes according to their preferences, therefore, we have selected 3 common values to refine our selection.

  • The round brushes. They are the most versatile and therefore are the most used. From details to big strokes, its form adapts to most jobs. On the other hand, flat brushes allow more linear strokes, but they are not so practical for details or very precise tasks.
  • Details and high precision. For tasks where we have to demonstrate a surgeon’s pulse, it is advisable to use brushes to touch up. They are also round, but in this case the bristles are shorter for more control.
  • Sweep brushes. They are like flat brushes but bigger and wider. They are indicated to distribute greater amounts of water and watercolour throughout the paper. Thus, a more rapid and extensive diffusive or wet effect is achieved.

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Step 3: the size

Finally, the size of the watercolour brushes should match our style of painting. Currently, we can find measurements that range from 0000 to 50, but you probably do not use most of them. The rounds are the most important, since they serve for a multitude of tasks, but it is also advisable to incorporate a flat or sweeping. This will allow us to explore new techniques, as well as improve our efficiency and productivity.

– Our recommendation:

If you are going to buy your first watercolours, you should have a small one (size 3), a medium one (5-6) and a large one (10-12). With them you can perform all kinds of projects completely. Little by little, as you find our style and way of painting, we can incorporate other sizes and qualities. In this case, this post we published a few days ago, where we approach the watercolour brushes that every artist should have.

And you, what watercolour brushes do you usually use? What is your favorite?