Best Watercolor Brushes For Beginners’ Guide
Looking for the best watercolor brushes for beginners? Glad you’re with me today, because I started taking watercolor painting lessons early – I mean early. I was in the second or third grade. We met in the local recreation center’s upstairs room with our materials in hand . Good times!
Not only did I get to graduate to watercolor paint in tubes, I got my first taste of using “real” professional brushes -yay!
Generally, watercolor brushes tend to have softer bristles. They need to be to accommodate more delicate steps like building washes and accepting color transitions. Remember, you’re going to be painting on slightly textured paper, and you don’t want coarse brush bristles for that.
✅ If you’re pressed for time, I have listed the top 3 right here so you can jump ahead to any of these brands to learn more:
|#1 Princeton Neptune|
|#2 Winsor Newton Series 7||#3 Princeton Elite Series|
Types of Watercolor Brushes
These are the main types of brushes used in watercolor painting. They also have a sizing system and many times you’ll see the size on the handle somewhere. There is a “#” symbol next to the size, which is usually a single digit, e.g. #2, #4, #8 and so forth.
Round – Round brushes look like their name when examined close-up, they have a tapered design and made to fill in small spaces, as well as adding details.
Spotter – A short round brush made for adding small details.
Flat – A wide bristle brush (there are size variances) used to fill in large areas. They come in a range of sizes and are used for washes – large areas, such as skies in a background, would mostly be carried out with flat brushes.
Angled Wide – These brushes have a slanted look to the bristles on one side, they have their place in creating washes.
Large Wide Brush – These do the work of the above flat and angled brushes, but on larger-scale areas, especially when you’re focusing on one color at a time. They look kind of similar to the kind of brushes used in house painting.
Mop – This kind of brush has poofy soft bristles and used for washes and blending. Nice to have, but harder to keep clean.
You don’t need a whole lot of brushes – in order of importance, you need a few rounds and one wide when starting out. I would select at least three Rounds in different sizes, 2, 4, and 6 which you’ll need for small strokes and details.
You want to try to get the feel for what they each do differently regarding strokes, blends, and washes when you practice – the other types can come later.
As a refresher, here are the four main parts of a brush….
Synthetic or Natural Bristle?
You can also find synthetic and natural hair bristle brushes.Just remember that natural hair will cost more, but with a certain amount of diligence you will be able to find good synthetic bristle brushes if price is an issue for you. I will show both so you can make an informed decision.
Watercolor Brush Beginners Set by Majestic Royal
Part of the problem is, when shopping for brushes, the issue of picking them out individually or looking for a set. If you can get a pack with more than one for a good price, the thought of looking for the individual brushes a la carte seems extravagant as they tend to cost more that way.
However, not all brush sets are a great deal – This one I found happens to have one each of the essential watercolor brush types included – the large wide, an angled, two round and one liner for small details. The synthetic bristles are made form nylon and will snap back well.
My first set was made from nylon like this one. The brass ferrule casing looks excellent and sturdy. If you’re about to start lessons soon and don’t want to bounce around looking for the most important brushes one by one, then this is an excellent set to get started with!
Princeton Synthetic Sable Bristle Watercolor Brush Set
Every pro I’ve spoken with says that animal hair bristles are the best choice (the animal in question is usually horse or wild boar.) Kolinsky sable is top notch, bar none. The creature that bears the coat that produces the bristles, dwells in a harsh winter climate.
Which may be why the brushes are highly prized, as these animals need a luxurious coat to survive a Siberian winter! But – these are NOT in everybody’s price range. That’s where a set like this comes in…The label reads “synthetic Kolinsky sable” but don’t let that sway you in the wrong way…at a fraction of the price, these brushes can hold their own and support your new endeavors, and four of the most important brush types are included in the set.
Princeton Neptune Series 4-Piece Set
From what I have heard a lot of consumers and artists alike really enjoy Princeton brushes and claim they are made well. The Neptune series is rated very highly. Boasting the “thirstiest brushes yet” this set is porous and can handle color grab well and retain their shape easily.
The largest one has a pretty aqua color handle which really stands out nicely. Made of synthetic squirrel bristle, they hold a point well and have great snapback. In addition to the larger aqua green wide brush, there is also included a 4 round, 12 round and one-half oval wash.
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Basic Brushes For Watercolor Painting by Susan Scheewee
I used to watch this show that came on PBS in the early afternoon that featured watercolor artist Susan Scheewee. She came on right after the beloved Joy of Painting with Bob Ross half-hour. I was always glad to stick around and watch her techniques. She did some amazing work on flowers that I recall today!
She does have her own line of materials, including brushes, which receive a lot of favorable comments from owners.
Only problem is that they don’t come in sets. I checked more than once but they are only sold individually like these above. Still, I would highly recommend them! You can handle watercolor and gouache with the best of them with these brushes.
Winsor and Newton Series 7 Watercolor Brush Set
Saving the best for last …these are real Kolinsky sable!
And now I present this beauty made by one of my favorite art supply brands, Winsor and Newton. The real deal handcrafted in England, you get four round brushes, sizes 0-4 all exquisitely handcrafted in their very own gift box as a finishing touch. Beginners and non-beginners alike will treasure this set for years to come.
Enjoy an evening of painting like a king or queen. Just be warned, as they are genuine sable, the price is a good bit more than what you may be expecting, but nevertheless, this set may become your BFF…straggle-free hairs, great snapback, excellent color retention.
Hopefully I didn’t “split hairs” too much here LOL! as far as providing the rundown on finding a good watercolor brush set for beginners. I’ve had some hits or misses, some that were exceptionally good and some that were not.You have a whole world ahead to explore with using watercolors to look forward to.