WATERCOLOR BRUSH CHOICES

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Watercolor Techniques

Brushes are the main tool a watercolor artist uses to make paint marks on paper. They come in a variety of materials, sizes, and shapes. The effect the artist desires to achieve often dictates which brush is the best choice.

The main brush shapes are rounds and flats. There are a range of sizes. Often just several round brush sizes and a flat brush are all that's needed to start painting. The brushes should hold a good amount of water, and the bristles should be springy.

Watercolor brushes may be made from natural or synthetic fibers. Sable brushes are often considered best. They hold a large amount of color, clean easily, and form a good point. Other useful and less expensive natural fiber brushes are made from squirrel and goat hair. Synthetic brushes are cheaper than sable brushes, and many of them are made to mimic sable's characteristics. They may be harder to clean than sable, but are generally quite sturdy. Most are made of nylon.

Take care of the brushes. Use them only for watercolor painting. Don't stand their heads in water. Clean them after a painting session, maybe using a little soap, and reshape them while wet. Protect them when carrying them.

Watercolor Brush Shapes

  • Round - comes to a point and can paint many shapes
  • Flat - can paint flat on the end, on a corner, or on the side edge
  • Oval - rounded, flat shape
  • Fan - used for special effects, the brush is flat and spread out
  • Filbert - flat with an oval shape, good for blending
  • Egbert - long version of filbert
  • Bright - flat, short bristle brush, about equal length and width
  • Rigger/Liner - long, thin brush for lettering, lines, long strokes
  • Cat's Tongue - an oval brush with a flat point at the end
  • Angle Shader - flat brush with the end shaped at an angle
  • Mop - round, full wash brush
  • Wash - used to apply large areas of color
  • Hake - used like a wash brush with a long handle
  • Dragger/Striper - good for making delicate lines
  • Scrubber - scrub paint off the painting

Watercolor Brush Resources

watercolor brush types and sizes

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Watercolor Techniques - Brush Choices