In the second post of the ‘All About’ series, I chose to talk about one of the most asked questions in my Instagram: watercolour brushes. The variety of brands and models is so great, that people who are starting in this world are left with many doubts about which one to choose. When I started painting 10 years ago, I followed exactly what the teachers said and I didn't really know the differences between the brushes, nor exactly what I liked. As a result, I suffered a good few years until I finally felt comfortable painting or even talking about watercolour.
Finally now, I understand what best suits my painting style and it was thinking about it that I decided to summarize about brushes, so that you don't have to go the same long way as I do. Ready to start?
First, what do I need to know about the brush?
Unlike papers, which have a short list of requirements, when it comes to watercolour brushes, this changes a little. The only thing you really need to consider:
- It has to be SOFT.
That's right, in capital letters so you don't let this essential information pass. The softer the brush, the better. Very hard brushes do not absorb water well (the base of the watercolour) and can leave the drawing with an inhomogeneous aspect, since they are more difficult to handle.
Now that you know the most important thing, let's move on to the next features:
It is likely that you will not find a complete list of formats here (with each passing day, I see something new out there). However, I chose 6, which are generally the most used by artists.
# 1 Round Brush
By far, the most suitable model for those just starting out and who, in particular, I love the most. Rounded models are great because they have no ends and therefore do not carry water in an irregular way. About 80% of my arts I make with a round model from Keramik, size 4.
# 2 Flat Brush
It bears this name because it is straight at the ends and has a “flattened” appearance. It is the ideal model for making backgrounds and working with more marked and angular effects. Although not the first option for many artists, it is a model that I like a lot, especially for larger areas and designs.
# 3 Beveled Brush
The beveled brush resembles the flat, however, it has a shorter corner than the other. It can be used for backgrounds, but it is especially used to make more circular details (like a compass, you know?).
# 4 Cat Tongue Brush
A brush model that I use little, because I don't usually work with such rounded corners and I haven't gotten used to it yet. However, it is the perfect model for finishing in circles and creating more curved botanical elements. I, in particular, find this curve he leaves a charm.
# 5 Fine Brush
Brush that could enter the round category, but that has its particularities. Due to its more refined shape, we use it to make details, lines and punctuate corners that are not possible with larger brushes. If 80% of my arts I do with a round brush, the other 20% are with a thin brush, size 0.
# 6 Fan Brush
Just like the cat tongue brush, this is a format that I use very little. I love to do spatters in the work with him, for this loosening he has in the bristles.
And finally, an extra model quite interesting:
# 7 Pituá Brush
Brush model most used for art with stencil, eventually serves to give a certain texture in the paintings. It is the perfect example that the hard brush does not retain water, so I only use it for finishing trees and other details.
Just as there is a variety of models, there is an even greater range of sizes when it comes to brushes. It is interesting that you keep in mind the size of the work you intend to paint and the technique you intend to use so that you can then choose the sizes of your brushes. If your style requires small brush strokes, smaller brushes should be chosen. However, to fill large areas of color, larger models will be more useful.
The sizes of the brushes are classified by numbers ranging from 001 (in some brands) to generally 20 or 25. BUT ATTENTION: the same number can vary from brand to brand, so if you are looking for a size specific, it is always good to buy from a well-known brand or to see it in person first, so you will not be disappointed. This difference you can see in the image of Fine Brush posted before, where there are two brushes of the same size, 0, but of different brands. The result is two varied strokes.
Natural Bristle Brushes
Natural bristle brushes are made from the coat of some animals. According to Wikipedia:
The hairs can be natural - any soft hair or animal bristle, such as pig or mink - or synthetic, usually filaments of nylon extruded. The most used natural hair: Kolinsky mink (the most expensive and rare), red mink, weasel, Russian mink, pig ear, badger, mongoose, coati, squirrel, ox ear, camel, pony (for school brushes), goat (for cheap makeup brushes) and horsehair (for brushes only).
Naturally, because they are real coats, they tend to be lighter, softer, have much longer durability and carry more water. Unfortunately, what the brands do not count on is how the production happens and whether or not the animals are abused. When in doubt, I avoid using it. In addition, it has a much higher price, because they are produced manually.
Synthetic Bristle Brushes
As the name says, they are brushes produced with artificial fibers. They have different levels of quality, durability, firmness ... The important thing is to choose a good brand and you will not realize that they are not natural. The two brands I like and use most regularly are Keramik and Condor.
Finally, which brush to choose?
Since there are so many options, you must be wondering which model to start with. As I said before, the round brush it is the most recommended for beginners, because of its ease of use and the way it carries water onto paper. If you want a tip to make your first purchase, I would recommend: 1 in size 0 or 2 for details, one second in size 4 or 6 for medium designs and a bigger 10 or 12 for backgrounds. If you want to invest in a bigger flat brush , it's a legal option too. Always focusing on softness of the chosen brush.
However, everything will be a matter of testing, practice and more testing. You need to adapt to the chosen material and see if it matches your technique or not. And that, only you will be able to say 🙂
So, my tip is - buy a few brushes at the beginning, practice, test with the most varied models and sizes and don't be afraid to make mistakes. It is by making mistakes that you learn and that is how you will get to know the artist inside you!
Did you like it? If you have questions or want to suggest something, just leave a comment below.
And if you want to know more about watercolour, I have a post about vectorization of the works and a little tutorial about papers. Learn more!
Merci for following me, Francy ♥
Eu amei !! Me ajudou muito ! Obrigada querida!🧡
Fran ♥️ says
Fico feliz em saber que meu conteúdo foi útil, Amanda! Volte sempre 🧡