7 BEST Watercolor Paint Brushes - PROS Best Kept Secret!

Written by: Dalia Abdalla



Time to read 9 min

Best Watercolor Paint Brushes

I've been searching for the best watercolor paint brushes. I've tried lots of brushes to find the best ones. In my latest blog post, I'm excited to share my knowledge about the top watercolor paintbrushes that I use in my studio. These brushes aren't just tools; they're like magic wands for artists, helping us create beautiful watercolor paintings. Come with me on this artistic journey as we learn about the brushes that I love to use. Whether you're a seasoned artist or just starting to be creative, you'll find helpful tips to make your watercolor painting experience even better.

What do I look for in a brush?

  • Bristle Material: Choose between natural (sable, squirrel) for smooth paint handling or synthetic for durability and affordability.

  • Brush Shape: Pick the right shape for your needs, like pointed round for versatility or flat for washes and coverage.

  • Brush Size: Select a size that suits your style and precision requirements.

  • Handle Comfort: Opt for a well-balanced handle that feels comfortable in your hand for better control during painting sessions.

  • Water-Holding Capacity: Consider the brush's ability to hold water, which impacts your ability to achieve different painting effects.


Let's go over the differences...

Squirrel Hair Brushes:

  • Hair Type: Squirrel hair brushes are made from the fur of squirrels, typically the tails.
  • Characteristics: Squirrel hair is known for its exceptional water-holding capacity. It can hold a large amount of watercolor paint, making it excellent for creating smooth and even washes.
  • Advantages: Squirrel hair brushes are prized for their ability to deliver a consistent flow of paint with minimal effort. They excel in blending and glazing techniques due to their softness and absorbency.
  • Best Use: Squirrel hair brushes are ideal for artists who focus on watercolor washes, soft blending, and layering.

Sable Hair Brushes (Kolinsky Sable):

  • Hair Type: Sable brushes are made from the hair of a sable, a type of weasel. Kolinsky sable brushes are considered the highest quality.
  • Characteristics: Sable hair is known for its fine point and springiness, allowing for precise control and fine lines in watercolor painting.
  • Advantages: Kolinsky sable brushes are prized for their ability to hold a fine point, enabling artists to create intricate details and sharp lines. They also have good water retention.
  • Best Use: Sable brushes are a top choice for artists who require precision, fine lines, and delicate details in their watercolor work.

Synthetic Brushes:

  • Hair Type: Synthetic brushes are made from man-made materials like nylon or polyester.
  • Characteristics: Synthetic brushes are versatile and can mimic the characteristics of natural hair brushes to some extent. They are often more affordable than natural hair brushes.
  • Advantages: Synthetic brushes are known for their durability, making them suitable for artists who want brushes that last longer. They are also cruelty-free and may appeal to those who prefer animal-free alternatives.
  • Best Use: Synthetic brushes can be used for a variety of watercolor techniques, making them a good choice for artists on a budget or those looking for cruelty-free options.

My Favorite Sable Brushes

 These brushes come in a set of various sizes, allowing me to achieve a wide range of brush strokes and techniques in my artwork. The fine point tips and smooth paint flow give me precise control over my brushstrokes, ensuring my work turns out the way I envision it. 

  • Material: Sable
  • Paint Type: Acrylic, Watercolor
  • Number of Pieces: 6
  1. Variety of Sizes: The set includes round brushes in sizes #2, #4, #6, #8, #10, and #12, providing a good range of brush strokes and techniques for your artwork.
  2. Fine Point Tip: The brushes have a fine point tip, ensuring smooth paint flow and precise brushstroke control.
  3. Luxurious Wooden Handle: The brushes feature polished birch wooden handles that are well-balanced and provide a luxurious feel. They are comfortable and easy to use.

I use the Watercolor Brushes Professional Set for my painting projects because of its high-quality features that enhance my artistic work. These brushes offer a wide variety of shapes and sizes, including fine-tipped Rounds, Dagger Striper, Oval Wash, and Flats, allowing me to achieve precise details and create large washes with ease. The sable hairs in this brush set provide excellent control and consistent color flow, making my strokes smooth and expressive. 

  • Fine tipped Rounds: #0, #3, #6, #8, #10, #12
  • Dagger Striper: #3/8"
  • Oval Wash (Cat's Tongue): #10
  • Flats: #6, #10

  1. Quality Material: The brushes are made of animal hair, ensuring good paint retention and a smooth painting experience.

  2. Versatile Paint Compatibility: These brushes are suitable for use with Gouache and Watercolor paints.

  3. Large Size: These brushes are designed in a large size, making them suitable for both precise detail work and large washes.

My Favorite Squirrel Hair Brushes

These brushes are made from high-quality squirrel hair, which holds a significant amount of water, making them perfect for various painting techniques, including mop and wash. The deep crimping of the ferrule securely fastens it to the wooden handle, ensuring longevity. The combination of quality, versatility, and longevity makes these brushes an essential tool in my watercolor painting kit.

  • Set Options: Available in 3 Brushes or 4 Brushes
  • Sizes (3 Brushes Set): #0, #2, #4
  • Sizes (4 Brushes Set): #0, #2, #4, #6
  1. High-Quality Squirrel Hair Brushes: These brushes are made from natural squirrel hair, which is excellent at holding water and creating smooth strokes. They are perfect for watercolor and other liquid paints.

  2. Versatile Set: You can choose from sets of 3 or 4 brushes, giving you different brush sizes for various artistic needs. You can make thin lines or wide strokes with these brushes.

  3. Works with Many Art Materials: These brushes can be used for different art projects, like watercolors, acrylics, oils, gouache, and tempera paints. They are handy tools for artists.

I use the ARTIFY 3PCS Professional Squirrel Hair Quill Watercolor Brushes for my watercolor painting because they are really good. These brushes are made with special squirrel hair that can hold a lot of water, so I can make smooth paintings and tiny details. The set has three sizes (small, medium, and large), which helps me paint different things. These brushes are strong and don't break or lose hair. 

  • Sizes: #0, #2, #4
  • Material: Animal Hair (Squirrel Hair)
  • Paint Type: Watercolor, Gouache
  1. Special Squirrel Hair Brushes: These brushes are made from squirrel hair that's really good at holding water. They're great for painting with watercolors and gouache.

  2. Handmade with Care: Skilled artists with over 30 years of experience make these brushes. They pay close attention to putting the metal part on the wooden handle to make sure it stays in place and doesn't rust or lose hairs. That way, the brushes last a long time.

  3. A Thoughtful Gift: These brushes come in a nice black box, so they're a great gift for artists, kids, friends, or anyone who loves art. 

My All Time Favorite Synthetic Brushes

These brushes are a breeze to clean, which is fantastic for me because I'd rather invest more time in painting than in cleaning up. After I finish using them, I can just give them a quick rinse with water, and most of the paint comes right off. This means I can keep my brushes clean and ready for my next painting without the burden of extensive cleaning. 


  • Brush Set Includes: 20 paint brushes
  • Additional Accessories: Palette Knife & Deluxe Leather Roll
  • Suitable for: Oil, Acrylic, Watercolor, Gouache, and Detail Paintings
  1. Variety: This paint brush set includes a variety of 20 brushes, suitable for different painting techniques and styles. Whether you're working with oil, acrylic, watercolor, gouache, or detailed work, this set has you covered.

  2. High-Quality Synthetic Bristles: The brushes are made with synthetic nylon bristles, which can mimic the performance of natural hair brushes. They offer good spring and flexibility, making them suitable for various painting applications.

I like using the ARTIFY 24 Pieces Paint Brush Set for my watercolor painting because it has some great features. First, the brushes are made really well, so the metal part that holds the bristles doesn't come loose. They are also made of high-quality nylon. This set also has 24 different brushes, so I can pick the right one for different parts of my painting. Plus, it comes with a special bag to keep the brushes safe and organized. 

  • Bristle Type: Synthetic
  • Package Size: 10.5 * 6.5 * 6.5 inch
  • Weight: 0.81 lbs
  • The length of brush handles: 7.5" to 8.9"
  1. Versatile Set: This set includes 24 paint brushes, a palette knife, and a cloth roll, making it suitable for various artistic mediums including acrylic, oil, watercolor, and gouache.
  2. Enhanced Synthetic Brushes: The brushes in this set are made of high-quality synthetic bristles, providing excellent performance and durability.

The Transon 13pcs Round Paint Brush Set is versatile and affordable. It comes in various sizes, from small to large, so I can use them for different parts of my painting. The bristles soak up paint well, allowing me to control water and colors easily. These brushes are strong, comfortable to hold, and easy to clean. They're perfect for artists who want professional-looking watercolor paintings.

  • Size: 13 pieces in a set
  • Material: Nylon bristles
  • Paint Type: Suitable for Acrylic, Watercolor, Gouache, Ink, and Tempera
  1. Variety of Brush Sizes: The set includes 13 brushes, providing a wide range of brush sizes to choose from, making it suitable for various art projects and techniques.

  2. High-Quality Nylon Bristles: The brushes are made with high-quality nylon bristles that are known for their durability and ability to hold a good amount of paint or water. This ensures consistent and smooth brushstrokes. 

New to painting? This post has all the tips you need to know!

Most Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best beginner watercolor brushes?

Good beginner watercolor brushes include synthetic brushes, often labeled as "student-grade." Brands like Princeton, Royal & Langnickel, and Da Vinci make affordable and quality options.

Are expensive watercolor brushes worth it?

Expensive watercolor brushes, often made from high-quality materials like sable or kolinsky sable, can be worth it for professional artists or those seeking top-notch performance. However, for beginners or hobbyists, more affordable synthetic brushes can provide satisfactory results.

Does brush type matter for watercolor?

Yes, brush type does matter for watercolor. Different brushes are designed for various techniques and effects. Round brushes are versatile and commonly used, while flat brushes are suitable for washes. The choice depends on the artist's specific needs and preferences.

Are Winsor and Newton watercolor brushes good?

Winsor & Newton is a reputable brand, and their watercolor brushes are generally considered good quality. However, the suitability of a particular brush may depend on individual preferences and painting techniques.

Which type of watercolour brush would be best for very fine detail?

For very fine details in watercolor painting, a small, pointed round brush, such as a size 00 or 000, is often recommended. These brushes can provide precision and control.

What is the most used watercolor brush?

The round watercolor brush is one of the most commonly used brushes. Its versatility makes it suitable for various watercolor techniques, including washes, lines, and details.

Why Kolinsky Sable watercolor paintbrushes are so expensive?

Kolinsky Sable brushes are expensive because they are made from the hair of the Siberian weasel, known for its exceptional water-holding capacity, springiness, and fine tip. The rarity and high quality of this material contribute to the cost.

What is the difference between Winsor and Newton and Cotman?


 Winsor & Newton produces both professional-grade and student-grade watercolor paints and brushes. The professional-grade products are typically of higher quality, while Cotman is their brand for more affordable, student-grade materials. The main difference lies in the quality of materials used and, consequently, the price. Professional-grade Winsor & Newton products are often preferred by experienced artists.

Modern Pink Paper Author - Dalia Abdalla

Dalia Abdalla

Owner & Head Designer, Modern Pink Paper

Dalia is the creative force behind Modern Pink Paper. With a keen eye for detail and a love for all things stationery, she embarked on this journey to provide personalized stationery solutions. When she's not crafting beautiful paper creations, Dalia is sharing her insights and inspirations on this blog, ensuring that her readers always have a touch of beauty and creativity in their lives.