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Best Watercolor Brushes 2022

Watercolor painting has long been considered one of the top mediums for creative art. The semi-transparent look of watercolor allows the paper to give a painting a natural luminosity. As a fast-drying medium, the artist must work quickly as they blend colors while managing the water balance. That sense of urgency can create spontaneous and beautiful results. 

However, that balance and the overall delicacy of the medium requires the artist to wield a top-quality brush. For watercolor brushes, the most important characteristic is how well it holds water. Traditionally, natural sable hair brushes have been considered the top choice, but synthetic brushes are making inroads. The key strength that artists cite for sable is the water holding strength, but synthetics offer a vegan-friendly alternative at a more affordable price.

Choosing the right brush for watercolor can be challenging, but we asked the top Brushware artist brush manufacturers to present their best options. Here is your list of the best watercolor brushes for 2022.


Gordon Brush: Pure Red Sable Round Pointer Watercolor Brushes (0430-Series)

These watercolor brushes from Gordon Brush are made with a short black lacquered handle with a nickel-plated ferrule. This brush is ideal for one-stroke painting as well as many other techniques. A round brush comes to a fine point and its stroke is more organic. More information at


Part # Trim Size Overall Length Diameter
0430-00000 3/8″ 0 6-1/2″ 1/16″
0430-00200 1/4″ 2/0 7″ 3/32″
0430-00300 1/4″ 3/0 6-5/8″ 1/16″
0430-01000 3/8″ 1 7″ 3/32″
0430-03000 1/2″ 3 6-5/8″ 1/8″
0430-04000 9/16″ 4 6-7/8″ 1/8″
0430-05000 5/8″ 5 7-3/8″ 5/32″
0430-06000 3/4″ 6 7-1/2″ 3/16″
0430-07000 3/4″ 7 8″ 9/32″
0430-08000 1″ 8 7-1/2″ 7/32″
0430-09000 1″ 9 8-3/4″ 1/4″
0430-10000 1-1/8″ 10 8-1/8″ 15/32″
0430-12000 1-3/8″ 12 9″ 5/16″


Gordon Brush: Pure Red Sable Flat Watercolor Brushes (0611-Series)

This series of brushes from Gordon Brush will retain its body when wet, which is the true test of a sable brush. The seamless nickel-plated ferrule and lacquered handle, make these brushes a great value. A flat brush is more angular, and the stroke appears straighter. More information at


Part # Trim Size Overall Length Diameter
0611-02000 1/4″ 2 7″ 1/8″
0611-04000 3/8″ 4 7″ 3/16″
0611-06000 7/16″ 6 7-1/4″ 1/4″
0611-08000 7/16″ 8 7-1/2″ 3/8″
0611-10000 1/2″ 10 7-1/2″ 7/16″
0611-12000 9/16″ 12 7-5/8″ 5/18″


Gordon Brush: Pure Red Sable Scripto Liner Watercolor Brushes (6146-Series)

These watercolor brushes from Gordon Brush are made with a black lacquered handle and a seamless nickel-plated ferrule. The extra-long liner is designed to hold a lot of paint so you can make thin lines longer. More information at

Part # Trim Size Overall Length Diameter
6146-00200 11/16″ 2/0 6-1/2″ 5/32″
6146-00300 5/8″ 3/0 6-1/2″ 1/16″
6146-01000 3/4″ 1 6-3/4″ 3/32″
6146-02000 7/8″ 2 7″ 5/32″
6146-03000 7/8″ 3 7″ 3/16″
6146-06000 1″ 6 8″ 7/32″
6146-08000 1-1/8″ 8 8″ 9/32″


Water Lily® by Dynasty®


Hand-made by the fine people at F.M. Brush Company, Water Lily is crafted from a cruelty-free synthetic, lightweight glare-free ferrule and light shimmer coral handle. These brushes are soft and thirsty. The proprietary blend of material has spring and snap. You’ll find its unique combination of synthetic fibers make it the perfect tool for traditional watercolor, inking and art journaling. The rounds bounce and the flats chisel. A brush for every need, Water Lily has 11 different styles and 55 different brushes. More information at

Series Size Shape Item# Barcode
7700-A 1/4 Angle 28140 0183762814045
7700-A 3/8 Angle 28141 018376281411
7700-A 1/2 Angle 28142 018376281428
7700-B 2 Bright 28145 018376281459
7700-B 4 Bright 28146 018376281466
7700-B 6 Bright 28147 018376281473
7700-B 8 Bright 28148 018376281480
7700-B 10 Bright 28149 018376281497
7700-B 12 Bright 28150 018376281503
7700-CT 1/2 Cat Tongue 28155 018376281558
7700-CT 3/4 Cat Tongue 28156 018376281565
7700-CT 1 Cat Tongue 28157 018376281572
7700-DAG 1/4 Dagger 28160 018376281602
7700-DAG 3/8 Dagger 28161 018376281619
7700-DAG 1/2 Dagger 28162 018376281626
7700-FAN 2 Fan 28165 018376281657
7700-FAN 4 Fan 28166 018376281664
7700-FAN 6 Fan 28167 018376281671
7700-FIL 2 Filbert 28170 018376281701
7700-FIL 4 Filbert 28171 018376281718
7700-FIL 6 Filbert 28172 018376281725
7700-FIL 8 Filbert 28173 018376281732
7700-FIL 10 Filbert 28174 018376281749
7700-FIL 12 Filbert 28175 018376281756
7700-FW 1″ Flat Wash 28180 018376281800
7700-FW 2″ Flat Wash 28181 018376281817
7700-L 0 Liner 28185 018376281855
7700-L 1 Liner 28186 018376281862
7700-L 2 Liner 28187 018376281879
7700-L 3 Liner 28188 018376281886
7700-L 4 Liner 28189 018376281893
7700-OV 1/2 Oval 28190 018376281909
7700-OV 3/4 Oval 28191 018376281916
7700-OV 1 Oval 28192 018376281923
7700-Q 3/0 Quill 28193 018376281930
7700-Q 2/0 Quill 28194 018376281947
7700-Q 0 Quill 28195 018376281954
7700-Q 2 Quill 28169 018376281961
7700-Q 4 Quill 28197 018376281978
7700-Q 6 Quill 28198 018376281985
7700-R 3/0 Round 28200 018376282005
7700-R 2/0 Round 28201 018376282012
7700-R 0 Round 28202 018376282029
7700-R 1 Round 28203 018376282036
7700-R 2 Round 28204 018376282043
7700-R 3 Round 28205 018376282050
7700-R 4 Round 28206 018376282067
7700-R 6 Round 28207 018376282074
7700-R 8 Round 28208 018376282081
7700-R 10 Round 28209 018376282098
7700-R 12 Round 28210 018376282104


Faux Squirrel® by Dynasty®

Conventional wisdom has always said that Natural Hair brushes give the artist the best results – but times have changed and so has conventional wisdom. The right synthetics in the right shapes can open up a whole new world of possibilities for the artist. Combine the perfect synthetic with fine craftsmanship and you have a brush that surpasses the original. That’s exactly what F.M. Brush has done with the Faux Squirrel Collection. Master Brush Makers use only synthetic that best matches natural hair in color, quality, strength and flag. Each brush is handcrafted to exacting specifications – the same specifications used on natural hair brushes. More information at

Style Series Size
Angle 1827A 1/4, 3/8, 1/2, 3/4, 1
Aux Reservoir Liner 1827RL 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12
Dagger 1827D 1/4, 3/8, 1/2
Fan 1827FN 2, 4, 6
Flat 1827F 1/2, 3/4, 1
Oval Wash 1827OV 3/4
Quill 1827Q 3/0, 2/0, 0, 2, 4, 6
Rigger 1827RIG 10/0, 2, 4, 6
Round 1827R 10/0, 3/0, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20
Shader 1827S 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12
Super Flat Wash 1827SF 2
*Wave® Angle 1827WVA 1/4, 3/8, 1/2
*Wave® Filbert 1827WVFIL 8
*Wave® Flat 1827WVF 8, 12
Whale’s Tail 1827WT 1/4, 1/2


Faux Kolinsky® by Dynasty®


With over 93 years of brush-making experience, F.M. Brush Company has developed a proprietary blend of techno-synthetics that recreate all the attributes of Siberian Sable brushes, but is a socially responsible alternative to animal hair. The Faux Kolinsky series by Dynasty mimics the elusive natural tip of a kolinsky brush, paying special attention to replicating the very fine tip. Its performance is unmatched, with its generous reservoir. Faux Kolinsky is assembled in America. The brushes are elegant with a cupro-nickel ferrule and long satin black Albata handle. It matches the traditional Kolinsky sizing, ranging from round sizes 3/0 to 16. More information at

Style Series Sizes (contents)
Fan 1114FN 6
Flat Wash 1114FW 3/4
Liner 1114L 2/0, 2, 3, 4
Oval Wash 1114OW 3/4
Round 1114R 3/0, 2/0, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16
Spotter 1114Spt 5/0, 3/0, 1, 2, 4


Zahn Unique Brushes: Meisterklasse Kolinex

Founded in 1907 and located in Bechhofen, Germany, with 110 employees, Zahn Unique Brushes manufactures high-quality synthetic brushes for private label distribution. So, while artists may not know the name, there’s a strong chance they’ve come across a Zahn brush under one of the many brand names as the company sells approximately 5.2 million artist brushes per year (8.6 million overall brushes). The brush maker says the private label option allows the company to focus on producing top-quality brushes instead of distribution and consumer marketing.

Zahn’s 2022 recommendation is the Meisterklasse Kolinex series, The vegan, ecological and powerful alternative to natural Kolinsky and sable hair. The Meisterklasse Kolinex hair filament is made of high-quality PBT (polybutylene terephthalate) with superior lifetime and resistance. The individual filaments are highly tapered in order to receive a perfectly pointed brush shape. Additionally, the filaments are slightly crimped in order to imitate the natural inhomogeneity of Kolinsky hair. Single brush sizes and shapes are made of individually composed blends of different hair diameters (e.g. 0.07mm, 0.10mm, 0.12mm) in order to obtain a maximum density of the brush body.

The Meisterklasse Kolinex series imitates the typical “belly shape” of a Kolinsky hair brush through the optimal composition of different lengths and crimping positions of the individual filaments.

KOLINEX vs. Natural Kolinsky / Sable

  • KOLINEX brushes are 100% vegan
  • KOLINEX brushes have a longer lifetime because of high-quality PBT filament
  • Due to the perfect imitation of the “belly shape” and the high density of the brush body, KOLINEX brushes have a nearly identically superb paint holding capacity as natural Kolinsky /
    sable hair brushes
  • KOLINEX brushes are easy to clean and have a very good chemical resistance
  • KOLINEX brushes come to a needle-sharp point due to the highly tapered filaments and show a great shape retention even under extensive use
  • The elasticity and spring of KOLINEX brushes is considerably higher
  • KOLINEX brushes offer a much better cost-performance ratio than natural Kolinsky / sable hair brushes
  • KOLINEX brushes work with all kinds of painting media
  • KOLINEX brushes are available in every possible size and shape

More information at

Watercolor Brush Components

Image by istockphoto/Sonya_illustration

The Handle

Hardwood handles are always preferred by watercolor artists, but the key to a good handle is finding an option that is durable and feels comfortable in the artists hand.


The ferrule is generally metal and connects the brush to the handle, while also serving as a barrier to protect the handle from any water held in the brush belly.


The heel is where the brush fibers are bundled and clamped in. It should be neatly packed and no glue should be visible.


The tip of brush is where the bristles actually apply the paint to the paper. There are many options for the shape of the tip ranging from a fine point to fanned, with the options providing various effects.


Above the tip is the belly, where the brush head holds the water and paint. The amount of water it will hold directly affects the artist’s stroke.

Gordon Brush: Watercolor Brush Guide

Watercolor painting is delicate and unforgiving in nature, which is why using the best watercolor brushes can help you work within the medium and help you deliver exceptional, beautiful results.
A good watercolor brush should do at least one fundamental thing: hold water well. Watercolor brushes made of synthetic hair do a fine job, but those with natural hairs have much better liquid-holding capacity. Watercolor brushes have soft bristles that can be easily moved around the page. This is due to their fibrous anatomies, which excel at picking up and retaining water for lengths of time. They also tend to feel more like extensions of the artist’s hand since they’re more sensitive to shifts in pressure.

Watercolor paint brushes come in a variety of shapes, sizes and hair types. Pure Red Sable brushes are some of the best and most versatile for water coloring. As with most kinds of art supplies, watercolor paintbrushes ultimately come down to personal preference. The choice rests on the watercolor techniques you like to use, how much you’re willing to spend, and how certain brushes feel in your hand.

Round brushes are the most versatile and widely used brush for watercolor painting. Their shape makes them suitable for small details and delicate lines, but also for broader strokes and washes. Watercolor brushes are optimized to work well with the fluidity and delicacy of watercolor paints and techniques. A good watercolor brush should not shed more than a couple of hairs and should balance well in the hand; the handle should not feel too fat. The brush should be durable, and the handle should not come loose at the ferrule. Lastly, there should be minimal warping or swelling of the wood over long periods of soaking.

The brush must also have a quality called “snap,” which allows the brush to respond and rebound quickly as the amount of downward pressure applied to it on the surface of the paper is varied. Snap refers to the action of the damp brush hairs snapping upright after they are pulled down and sideways to the handle. This is most important, for this resiliency allows the artist to create a variety of paint widths within the same stroke of the brush, sometimes referred to as “action.” A brush with no snap bends and does not rebound at all. This is not a good watercolor brush to use — it has no action.


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