The Best Watercolor Brushes for Beginners

Aug 13, 2021 | 3 comments

Starting your watercolor painting journey and looking for the best watercolor brushes for beginners? Look no further. We have gathered our favorite picks for you!

Watercolor brushes come in a lot of shapes and sizes. There’s a flat brush, angled brush, fan brush, round brush, oval brush, and many more. For beginners, it’s recommended you start with using a round brush and a flat brush. 

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Table of Contents

Types Of Brushes For Watercolor Painting

Brush Sizes

Best Watercolor Brushes for Beginners

What about waterbrushes?

Final Thoughts

Types Of Brushes For Watercolor Painting

Watercolor brushes vary in the materials they are made of. The most important thing you need to consider is its bristles.

The bristles define the brush performance, its lifespan, and its cost. A good watercolor brush should be able to hold water and paint inside of it, spread the paint smoothly, and retain its shape well.

A watercolor brush can be made of natural or synthetic fibers, or sometimes a combination of both, and the best among them (and also the most expensive) is the sable fiber. Despite this fact, the cheaper materials do a fine job as well.

Popular natural brushes are made out of goat, ox, squirrel, or hog hair, while non-natural brushes are made up of synthetic fibers.

After the bristles, the next important thing you should pay attention to is the brush’s shape and size. Here are several kinds of brushes and their uses:

  • Round Brush – the most versatile brush. They can make both thin and thick strokes.
  • Flat Brush – also used for thin and thick strokes but used best for painting backgrounds in hard, severe strokes
  • Wash Brush – have a similar use with flat brushes but are much bigger and are used best for covering large areas
  • Oval Brush – suitable for applying lots of paint and blending

Brush Sizes

The brush size is the indicator of how much liquid it can hold and how thin or thick the strokes can be. Bigger brushes are used to cover larger areas whereas smaller brushes are for details and fine strokes.

When it comes to brush sizes, it mostly depends on what kind of painting you’re doing. Here are the basics we recommend you get:

  • Size 6 – For beginners, a size 6 or 8 is a good choice. It’s small enough to paint details but also big enough to cover a large area.
  • Size 2 – this brush size gives you flexibility. It allows you to paint smaller paintings and finer details that would be too difficult to execute using a brush size 6.
  • Size 12 – this large brush size is great to have to allow you to make bigger strokes and paint larger washes. 

best watercolor brushes for beginners DPC

Best Watercolor Brushes for Beginners

Heartybay Paint Watercolor Oil Painting Brush Set

This paintbrush set is an affordable 12-piece set that provides enough variety and versatility – perfect for beginners. This is not only for watercolors but also works great for acrylics and oil painting.

This set has all different kinds of brushes in various sizes: round, flat, angled, fan, and filbert.

The brush bristles are synthetic but are soft and durable, even without harsh and expressive strokes. The nickel ferrule is sturdy nicely securing the bristles so there are no signs of shedding when the brushes are used. The handle has a nice feel and is comfortable to grip when used to paint.

Overall, this brush set is one of the best watercolor brushes for beginners and casual artists because of its incredible quality and performance at a very affordable price.

What We Like:

  • Affordable price
  • Works well with acrylic and oil paints
  • The bristles are flexible and durable

What We Dislike:

  • Not really suitable for professional use

Winsor & Newton Cotman Short Handle Brush

If you have read some of our previous articles, you’d know that we love Winsor & Newton. This brand is one of the most trusted art supply brands in the market because of their incredible products, so of course, this brand makes it on our list!

These brushes have synthetic fibers for their bristles and have a premium quality to them. The thicker brushes are springy and firm, while the thinner brushes have great color pickup and flow.

The brushes have short handles so they are incredibly easy to control and are well-balanced and comfortable to hold.

The ferrules of the brushes are brass with nickel plating so they are rust-free and are well-built so there’s no clogging of paint in them.

This set comes with 7 different brushes and is enough to quickly start your watercolor journey!

What We Like:

  • Great quality bristles
  • Great design
  • Professional-quality performance

What We Dislike:

  • Expensive

Princeton Real Value Brush Set

These student-grade brushes are made out of high-quality synthetic hair, Golden Taklon, that’s great for water-based paints. Golden Taklon is less floppy than squirrel hair so it has a bouncy feel and has a steady flow rate similar to sable. This synthetic fiber holds the brush shape even with extensive use.

These brushes are great for both detailed painting and quick sketching.

The set comes with six kinds of brushes including round, angle, and shader brushes.

This set is great for beginners because the quality is quite good and the price tag is on the cheap side.

What We Like:

  • Cheap but good quality
  • The bristles do not shed
  • Can be used with various media (acrylic, gouache & oil)
  • Great for detailed work

What We Dislike:

  • Not suitable for professional artists

Mont Marte 15-Piece Art Paint Brushes Set

Mont Marte is the leading Australian Art Supply brand that produces great quality products and their brushes are simply impeccable. This set in particular has 15 professional-style handmade brushes.

The design is classic and durable, with an aluminum ferrule that grips the bristles tight. The handles are comfortable to grip that even after long hours of paintwork, there’s no sign of a fatigued hand holding the brush.

The bristles are excellent as well. It picks up color very well and does not show signs of shedding even with extensive strokes.

The set comes in a light zip case which makes it portable and easy to store.

What We Like:

  • 15 brushes of different variety
  • Affordable
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Portable zip case for easy storage

What We Dislike:

  • Not meant for professionals

Zen Art Professional Brushes for Watercolor

If you are looking for a watercolor brush set that can compare to professional-grade brushes, this is it.

This pack has all sorts of brushes you’ll need. It’s a 14-piece set with 5 round brushes, a cat’s tongue brush, a round brush, a rigger brush, a filbert brush, an angled brush, 2 flat brushes, a fan brush, and a palette knife.

The bristles in this brush set are made up of two kinds of fibers – black squirrel and Japanese synthetic fibers. The black squirrel fiber blend provides great color pickup, smooth flow, and great blend, while the synthetic fibers give a firm shape and great bounce to the brushes.

The brushes have short handles made in lacquered birchwood that are ergonomic. They also have corrosion-resistant nickel-plated ferrules that hold the bristles tightly to avoid shedding.

These brushes are designed by artists and crafted by master brushmakers so they are of high quality and have great performance. And what’s even better is that these brushes come with a satin case and a year of warranty.

What We Like:

  • Great performance
  • Wonderfully soft but durable bristles
  • The palette knife is a great addition to the set
  • Ergonomic brush handles

What We Dislike:

  • Very expensive for a beginner set

Da Vinci Watercolor Brush Set

This is another trusted brand when it comes to painting supplies and their watercolor brushes come in a huge range of prices. You can get professional-quality brushes that cost up to a thousand dollars or get a set that is a few hundred bucks cheaper.

Performance-wise, the Da Vinci brushes are immaculate. It has great pigment retention and the flow is very smooth. Their sable brushes are a crowd favorite because of their springiness.

Craft-wise, these brushes are aesthetically pleasing. Crafted in Germany, the brushes have a nickel or gold-plated ferrule that does not rust or let the bristles fray. The handles are also made to be the most comfortable to grip.

The Da Vinci brushes are premium and are highly recommended for professional artists. And if you have the budget, these brushes can also be great for beginners.

What We Like:

  • Excellent performance
  • Smooth flow and incredible color pickup
  • Durable and springy bristles
  • The brushes can be purchased individually

What We Dislike:

  • Expensive price tag

Inspired Art Paint Brush 15-Piece Set

This brush set is as versatile as it gets. Watercolor, acrylics, gouache, and oil paints, no matter what media you prefer, these brushes perform excellently.

The set comes with 15 brushes including a round, flat, fan, rigger, and filbert brush. And these brushes are housed in a nice portable case, a great thing when you like painting outside.

The bristles of these brushes are made from a combination of hog and goat hair which is superior to other synthetic fibers.

The ferrules of the brush are double-crimped and there’s no sign of shedding as the bristles are held tightly.

The brush handle is of premium quality, too. It’s comfortable to grip and lets you control the head of the brush beautifully.

What We Like:

  • The natural bristles are durable and can work with other media like acrylic
  • Ergonomic handle
  • The set comes with a case and pop-up stand

What We Dislike:

  • Slightly expensive

What about waterbrushes?

Waterbrushes are those brushes with plastic barrels that you can put water in. Technically, waterbrushes are a genre of their own and not really a watercolor brush. While waterbrushes can be used for quick watercolor sketches and adding color to ink drawings, this tool just doesn’t have the same qualities as legit watercolor brushes.

Waterbrushes are great for lettering and brush calligraphy, which is what they are made for. They are easier to control than paintbrushes when doing calligraphy and the water in the barrel helps you dilute or saturate your paint.

Final Thoughts

And that’s it for watercolor brushes! I hope this article helped you in learning more about watercolor brushes and helped you find your first painting tools.

We’ve listed seven of the best watercolor brushes for beginners in our opinion and these tools can quickstart your journey in arts. Just a quick tip: no matter how detailed and overwhelming the descriptions you see online, just pick the “perfect” brush set for you. Don’t be afraid to try different shapes and sizes so you’ll experience how each performs.

Don’t be afraid to start small. I personally started with only 5 brushes and from then on, grew my collection according to my needs as I continued on with this watercolor painting hobby.

For more articles like this, please visit our blog! If you liked this blog and found it helpful, do share it with your family and friends! 😀

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