What kind of watercolor brush should you use?

A good watercolor brush is very important, cheap brushes tend to shed and those hairs can into your paints and your painting. If you enjoy watercolors and want to use them for a long time, then it’s worth your money to invest in good brushes.

Genuine hair brushes and Synthetic Brushes. What are the differences?

Genuine hair brushes are usually from the tail of the animal, they better recover their shape when in use. Genuine hair brushes are also generally more expensive. They also hold more water and are easier to work with.

For watercolor, synthetic brushes still hold up well. For paints, such as acrylic, synthetic brushes don’t wear out as fast. With that being said, it’s recommended that you use a sable brush over a synthetic brush for watercolors.

Different types of brushes for watercolor

(Brush description credit: dickblick.com)


“Flat ferrule, short-length hairs, set with longer hairs at one end. Useful for precise strokes, and for lines and curves, with thick or heavy color.”



“Flat ferrule, square-ended, with medium to long hairs. Provides lots of color capacity and easy maneuverability. Use for bold, sweeping strokes, or on edge for fine lines. Use heavier filling for heavier paint.”


“A mop is a round, full version of the wash brush, made of soft, absorbent natural hair. It is useful for laying in large areas of water or color, for wetting the surface, and for absorbing excess media.”


Oval Wash

“Wash brushes come in varied shapes. The oval wash has rounded hairs, flat ferrules, and produces a soft edge, with no point. A wash brush is useful for laying in large areas of water or color, for wetting the surface, and for absorbing excess media.”



“Round ferrule, round or pointed tip. Useful for detail, wash, fills, and thin to thick lines. A pointed round is used for fine detail. A detailer is a pointed round with very short hair.”


“Pointed, narrow brush with very long hair. Liners are shorter and narrower. Short handles, round ferrules. Large color carrying capacity. Useful for delicate lettering, highlighting, outlining, and long continuous strokes.”


Square Wash

“Wash brushes come in varied shapes. The square wash can produce varying shapes and widths, and often has a short, “flat-footed” handle for scraping, burnishing, and separating watercolor paper from blocks. A wash brush is useful for laying in large areas of water or color, for wetting the surface, and for absorbing excess media.”



Different kinds of hair

The best kind of natural hair brush is a Kolinsky sable brush, a Kolinsky sable brush is weasel hair. The Siberian region of Kolinsky has harsh conditions which makes the hairs much more resilient to wear, which make them great watercolor brushes. They’re a worthy investment because with the right care, they can be used for years. They’re also very expensive because they are so durable, but if you want to be a watercolor painting professional or are serious about your watercolor hobby, then it’s worth it. There’s also pure sable and red sable, which are not a durable a Kolinsky but they are easier on the wallet.

Other types of natural hair brushes include: camel hair and hog bristles. Camel hair brushes are not from actual camels, but are a variety of hairs that are generally low quality. Hog bristle brushes are great for large wash brushes because they allocate a lot of paint, and are generally low-cost.

The other types of genuine hair brushes are squirrel, ox and goat. Do not buy brushes using these hairs on round brushes because they do not hold a point well. With both squirrel and goat hair brushes are great for wash and mop brushes. Ox hair brushes are great flat brushes and square brushes.

There’s also synthetic fiber brushes, which are generally made from polyester and nylon. While synthetic brushes are much more inexpensive, they do not hold up well like genuine hair brushes. The synthetic fibers are made to mimic genuine hair brushes. If you’d like to add a synthetic brush to your set to keep costs low, it’s recommended to buy one for a round brush since they hold their point better than a genuine hair brush could. There’s also varying qualities of these kinds of brushes, so you don’t have to skimp on quality with a synthetic brush.

Hybrid or combination brushes are also an option. It’s fairly simple to explain, they are brushes with both genuine hairs and synthetic fibers.


Watercolor brush recommendations:

Kolinsky Sable Brushes

Winsor & Newton

Da Vinci

Blick Kolinsky Long Handle Rounds

Blick Master Kolinsky Sable Long Handle Brushes, Round, Size 6 (3 mm x 19 mm)

Sable & Sable mix

Robert Simmons Flat

Da Vinci

Blick Masterstroke Finest Red Sable Short Handle Round
Blick Masterstroke Finest Red Sable Brushes


Squirrel Hair

Raphael Mop

Da Vinci Flat

Ox Hair

Da Vinci Flat

Goat Hair

Da Vinci Mottler

Blick Scholastic Ox Hair One-Stroke
Blick Scholastic Ox Hair One-Stroke, Short Handle, 1/2&quot (1/2&quot x 29/32&quot)

Da Vinci Goat Mop

Hog Bristle

Winsor & Newton

Blick Hog Bristle Skywash
Blick Masterstroke Pure White Hog Bristle Skywash



Robert Simmons

Dynasty Faux Kolinsky

Blick Master Synthetic Round

Blick Master Synthetic Brushes, Round, Long Handle, Size 6 (3 mm x 17 mm)

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Art is fun

Quinn Creative


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