Marilyn knows how to present the dullest topic in an interesting and easy-to-read way. When she’s not teaching English Literature at a local school or writing for our site, Marylin loves to knit and bake for her two grandchildren.
Julie owns a shop specializing in sewing equipment and accessories. No wonder she knows everything when it comes to technical specifications of practically anything we review. In her free time, Julie loves quilting and scrapbooking.
Last updated: July 18, 2021
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At face value, watercolor brush options seem quite similar, which makes choosing from among them a challenging feat. However, dedication and the right kind of effort should allow you to get the best watercolor brushes in the market. Notably, getting the right brushes will only be possible if you know what to look for as well as what to avoid.
To fine-tune this brush purchase process, you may need to list all the features you’ll see in potential picks. Further, noting down the effects of each brush feature may prove useful when figuring out if the purchase is worth it. The number and type of brushes, size, bristle material, and durability are the basic features where these watercolor brush picks are concerned. These could all affect how you use and what you use the brushes for. Additionally, the longevity of the brushes is determined by the bristle material and the durability of the handles. If you’ve collected all the relevant information, the final task, which is selecting the best watercolor, becomes a walkover.
Being an Australian brand, Mont Marte has outperformed expectations by being able to provide art supplies in over 70 countries in the world. That should be enough of a testament as to what to expect of the Mont Marte Art Paint Brushes Set.
Also, as you can see, the brush set is our editor’s choice, which means we rank it quite highly. Notably, potential buyers who insist on a versatile pick shouldn’t shy away from the Mont Marte Art Paint Brushes Set.
With this set, you can paint round edges, make broad brush strokes, ensure your details are okay, and lots more. This is because filbert, round, flat, angle, rigger, liner, and mop brush types are incorporated into the set.
These different brush types also vary in sizes, which is understandable. The range for the whole pack is between 3/0 to 12. Further, within this range are 15 different brushes to pick from which all measure 15” in length.
Also, the Mont Marte art supplies manufacturer has opted for Taklon as the bristle material. One benefit that accrues from that bristle material choice is the ease of cleaning. Further, it’s harder for these bristles to get damaged by insects or paints.
As for the rest of the brushes’ construction, it includes wooden handles and aluminum ferrules. What’s more, if you have acrylic paints in addition to watercolors, there’s no need to get an additional set. The Mont Marte would work for both paint types.
Lastly, the storage of the set shouldn’t be hard to hack. The zippered bag provided may help a bit with that. However, do remember to thoroughly clean your brushes and reshape them before you can store them.
What are its best features? We liked that a brush bag that also serves as a brush organizer is provided with the purchase. The brushes can be used for acrylics in addition to watercolors. Having various brush types for your different projects is beneficial, and you get that with the Mont Marte set. The bristles are seemingly easy to clean.
What could be improved? You may need to allow the whole set to breathe for a while to get rid of a pungent chemical smell.
Considering how versatile round brushes are, some of you may look to own this Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable Watercolor Brushes set. You can even take on whole projects with this as long as they aren’t very big.
The price of this brush set is jaw-dropping and may put some of you off from buying it. However, extremely high-quality brush construction materials have been used on this set. They include nickel-plated ferrules and kolinsky sable hair.
If you ask around in painter circles, kolinsky sable hair is generally highly rated for oil and watercolor brushes. Also, the weasels whose hair is used to create these brushes are hunted sustainably.
Notably, a professional painter would find the cost worth it since the bristles make their work easier. Additionally, the brushes are likely to last long enough to offset the price.
Each of the brushes in this set is elegantly designed and crafted by hand. Additionally, the case/organizer is just as elegant as the brushes.
You can as well use the brushes included for different purposes after seeing the varying sizes they come in.
What stands out? The quality of the brush materials is top-notch. In addition, there is an element of sustainability in the sourcing of the hairs used to make these brushes. Another notable positive is the elegance of the whole set, including the case.
What cons did we manage to find? This professional watercolor brushes set is highly-priced.
If a single brush type in a set just won’t cut it for you, the ZenART Professional Watercolor Brush Set may suffice as a viable pick. Once you receive the squirrel hair and synthetic watercolor brushes, you should count them to ensure they are 14.
The cat’s tongue brush included is capable of handling fine lines, medium strokes, and painting large areas. It is no wonder that it is named a three-in-one brush. However, even with this inclusion, there are seven other brush types in the ZenART Professional Watercolor Brushes Set.
Also, the manufacturer has stolen a page from the maker of the Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable Watercolor Brushes and used nickel-plated ferrules. Since these ferrules are a component of the brushes, they play a part in ensuring the set lasts you a while. After all, they seem to be capable of keeping rust and the resulting damage at bay.
Aside from the long-lasting ferrules, the handles seem dependable as well. They are sourced and crafted from Birchwood, which is relatively durable. This durability is further enhanced by the 7 coats of UV layering on top of the wooden handles.
Finally, the brushes in this pick should all be under 10” in length, although the size might vary slightly from one brush type to the next.
What do we love it for? There are enough brush types in this pick to make it one of the more versatile sets on the list. Construction seems dependable on the ferrules and handles. The UV protection may even help the brushes last a lot longer. You can also see a case pictured above for storing the brushes.
What were we disappointed with? There are some painters who mentioned that the bristles in this set shed into their paintings.
Another kolinsky sable watercolor brushes set seems to have been featured on today’s list. This time it is the Creative Mark Rhapsody Deluxe Gift Set. The bristles used here are mainly derived from the tail of a male Kolinsky Sable weasel.
Just like the Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable Watercolor set, the brushes are all round-tipped options. Since the Winsor set was expensive, expect to spend a pretty penny if you are to get this set as well.
There are five brushes packed into the case that will arrive at your doorstep after purchase. These five brushes are 0, 2, 4, 6, and 8 in order from the smallest to the biggest.
Like other high-quality watercolor brushes, this set is made with solid wooden handles. Further, connecting the handles and the bristles are chrome-plated brass ferrules.
What stands out? The case, ferrules, handle and bristles are all impressively designed. There are different sizes to the round brushes included in the case.
What cons did we manage to find? Like other sable watercolor brushes acquiring this set will put a relatively big dent in most people’s pockets.
As for the D’Artisan Shoppe Artist Paint Brush Set, there are 15 brushes with grey handles and ferrules. The only differences in color come in the bristles, where some are white while the rest have a brown pigment.
These watercolor brushes work well for beginners since there are so many different types to choose from. As such, you can experiment with each brush type to see the kind of strokes they provide. However, just so you are prepared, we will provide a guideline of what to expect from varying brush types later in the write-up.
Notably, there is a lightweight carry case shown alongside the image of the brushes. You would be right to assume it is part of the package and may be useful if you don’t have a dedicated storage space for your brushes.
Additionally, it seems that the brush bristles are made from different materials, including hog and sable hair, as well as synthetic fibers. Worth noting is that a higher percentage of the brushes out of the options you have are synthetic.
Furthermore, you may not need to buy another brush set after you get started with this one. Its compatibility with multiple paint types will reduce the need for other brush purchases.
Why is it special? The type variety that you get with this brush set may be quite useful for beginners. This set can handle multiple types of paints easily. These are ideal travel watercolor brushes thanks to the lightweight case.
What are the flaws? Shedding seems like a big problem that accompanies the use of these brushes.
For detailing with your watercolors, you might want to use the AIT Art Premium Detail Brush Set. These short-handle round brushes will provide you the stability needed to ensure all painting details are perfect.
You wouldn’t be mistaken to think of these as professional watercolor brushes. They are all handmade in the USA, and the makers use kolinsky Russian red sable hairs as the raw material for the bristles.
The said bristles are held tightly by the high-quality ferrules as well. Notably, there is little chance of damage coming to the ferrules. This is also one reason why the brushes don’t shed.
What stands out? These kolinsky sable watercolor brushes feature superior handmade construction. The brushes are more affordable than other sable options.
What cons did we manage to find? The manufacturer could add a few more types of brushes to the set for different uses. Unfortunately, the dip in price carries with it a drop in quality as well when compared to other sable picks.
The Transon Round Watercolor Detail Paint Brushes pick is another set that consists only of round brushes. This time there are eight size options in the selection.
Furthermore, you get double-crimped ferrules to hold the bristles in place, which also happen to be rust-resistant.
Speaking of the bristles, they feature unique construction which comprises of goat hair and high-graded nylon. These bristles are what makes the set useful when using watercolors, gouache, inks, and acrylic paints.
The goat hair and nylon bristle construction means that the set will be more affordable than Kolinsky Sable purchases.
What makes it stand out? The brushes are priced affordably. They also work with four different types of paints.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind? There seems to be a lot of shedding in these brushes. You only get one type of brush in the whole set.
The next watercolor brushes on our list are in the Winsor & Newton Cotman Short Handle Brush Set. This option comes from the same factories as the premium pick. However, there is a night and day difference between the two.
Worth noting is that these are the only fully synthetic watercolor brushes to make it onto the list in terms of bristle construction. The brushes are organized in a simple case.
Additionally, seven brushes are crammed into the storage case. Notably, there are almost as many brush types as there are brushes in the set. The difference of one is brought about by having two round-type brushes included.
One positive aspect of the brushes to look forward to is the soft filaments. These have been known to provide superior flow control over your watercolors. The springiness of the bristles is also worth praising.
Lastly, synthetic bristle fibers are well regarded in terms of ease of cleaning.
Why are we impressed? The bristles in these watercolor brushes are a cinch to clean, offer unmatched flow control, and the spring in them is impressive. A simple storage case may help keep these synthetic watercolor brushes organized. Lastly, there are six varying brush types in this set.
What negatives must you be aware of? These watercolor brushes may not last as long as other more expensive picks.
You may opt for the Magic Touches Artist Paint Brushes, which are a good pick as well. On the rear end, they come fashioned out of polished Birchwood while the front holds red sable hair bristles. In between these two are high-quality copper ferrules.
The bristle construction seems to allow the brushes to hold more paint. Also, the control you will get over how you use your paints is worth the set price. Finally, you can also easily classify these brushes as professional-grade tools since they meet the necessary criteria to give users top-notch results.
What are its best features? The brush bristles are made from sable hair, which is quite dependable in terms of paint holding and flow control. The rest of the brush construction also seems stable.
What could be improved? These brushes shed more than other sable hair picks.
Things to Consider
Even with a smaller watercolor brushes list, you may find making a final selection to be complicated. That said, a watercolor brush buying guide can eliminate the last bits of doubt, allowing you to choose a set that would serve you exceptionally well.
Types of paint brushes
The list above has exposed that there are multiple types of paintbrushes. They are used for varying painting scenarios, and according to the effects the painter would like to achieve in their image. The information below allows you to make sense of these different paintbrush types when you come across them.
On the brushes list above, only the Magic Touches Artist Paint Brushes set omitted round brushes from its setup. The others all had round paintbrushes in their offerings, while some were exclusively made of round brushes. That alone should show you how essential round brushes are in a painter’s tool kit.
Once you get to look at one round brush, you would see a pointed tip on the bristles. You can use round brushes to work on details, draw thick and thin lines, and tackle wash and fill painting. Seeing as though the round brush is capable of pulling off all these, it is seemingly a jack of all trades.
Pointed round brushes take after the round brushes in their overall outlook. That said, a critical difference should be evident in the size. Pointed round brushes are thinner, and the tips are sharper.
Due to the small surface area, these brushes are used for detailing and creating fine lines. When necessary, they handle the retouching and spotting of some of your artwork.
A bold stroke may require a flat brush to materialize. The shape of the bristles being square-ended or flat is perfect for the job. Also, if you want to fill in a large section of your painting, a flat brush may help you do it quicker.
If a flat and a bright brush were placed together, you probably wouldn’t tell them apart from a distance since the bristle design is relatively similar. For the bright brush, however, the hairs seem to curve inward at the tip. This is a detail you may not see well if you’re not close enough.
Just like flat brushes, you can use heavy colors with your bright brush. Finally, bright brushes are perfect for short controlled paint strokes.
A filbert may also seem relatively thick at the tip. The oval tip, medium to long hairs, long handles, and flat ferrules may all serve as distinguishing factors. Lastly, working on rounded edges and blending would be easiest with a filbert brush at your disposal.
As for fan brushes, you can’t miss them when looking at different brush types. They will look a lot like handheld fans where the bristles are flat and widely placed. As such, they end up taking a rather triangular shape.
For a smoothing or blending job, these fan brushes are the most ideal. Further, they allow painters to tackle special effects on their projects.
Liners stay true to their name and work best for highlighting, lettering, outlining, and other jobs that need thin continuous lines. Characteristically, liners have narrow bushes and seemingly long hairs.
Detail round brushes use shorter hairs than other round brushes. This also allows the tip to be slightly thinner. Their job, as implied, is detailing.
There are both oval-shaped and square-shaped wash brushes. The two have flat ferrules, although they differ in functions. Oval shaped mop handles help create soft edges with no point.
On the other hand, one unique use of the square mop brush is to separate watercolor paper from blocks. Finally, square mops can help scrap or burnish paint.
Features to consider when choosing watercolor brushes
With the brush type selected, the last step is to make a decision on what features in the set are best for you. You might find doing that is a cinch with the information below.
If you’re painting a large area, then a large brush seems like the best tool for the job. However, if you try to use a large brush for details, you are likely to fail. The good thing about most brush sets is they come in a variety of sizes. However, make sure the set you’re eyeing has the right brush sizes for the painting jobs you plan to take on.
The various bristle materials have varying properties with regard to how they let the paint flow from them, how much control they offer, whether they are capable of handling heavy colors, and more. This will mean that the bristle materials fit varying painting styles for different people.
Nonetheless, it is widely accepted that Kolinsky Sable hair like in the Creative Mark Rhapsody Deluxe Gift Set is the best bristle material. That and the rarity of the hairs makes brushes made from it expensive to obtain.
Handle quality can also make or break the watercolor brushes. One example is if the brush handles are easy to break, you definitely won’t enjoy using them.
The Mont Marte qualifies for use by professional painters and beginners alike. Brush type variety is seemingly an asset for the set. Add the ease of cleaning, compatibility with other paints, and the construction, and you can see the brushes deserve such a high rating.
Finally, the ZenART Professional Watercolor Brush Set gets the third-highest rating. A solid build for each of the brushes, different brush types to use, and a carry case are all part of the purchase. There is little more a beginner could ask for. You can engage with other like-minded shoppers and us on which brushes you like and dislike, as well as the reasons why by commenting below.