Watercolor is heralded as one of the most accessible painting mediums there is, suitable for any age and skill level. Beloved for their ease of use and portability, watercolors require little in the way of equipment. While the end result is dependent both on happy accidents and on the skill of the artist, a good brush is also part of the equation. Watercolor brushes are traditionally made from natural materials, but there are now many synthetic options available, designed to retain water and evenly transfer pigment across the paper. Size, shape, and flexibility all determine the kind of effect a particular brush will produce. If you are new to watercolor, take a look at these synthetic watercolor brush sets to find the ideal tools to get you started.
1. Scrawls Art Watercolor Brushes and Paint Set
This is the perfect starter kit for beginners wanting to learn how to watercolor. This set includes 12 brushes AND 36 cake colors in a sturdy case! The brush set includes both round and flat brushes in a range of sizes, making it perfect for practicing different techniques. The watercolor cakes are nontoxic and safe for young artists. While the paints are not as blendable as professional grade products, the ample color choices and brush options make this a superior introductory set.
2. Princeton Real Value Brush Set
These student-grade brushes are made of Golden Taklon, a high-quality synthetic hair ideal for water-based media. Less floppy than squirrel hair, Taklon has a bouncy feel and steady flow rate similar to sable or hog hair. Though a bit less durable than natural bristle brushes, Taklon brushes hold their shape even with hard use, and their “snap” makes them well suited both to fast sketching and to detail work. This set comes with six well-made brushes that won’t shed on your painting. A useful range of brush sizes and shapes, including two rounds, two shaders, and two liners, makes it a great upgrade that still won’t break the bank.
3. Zen Art Professional Brushes for Watercolor
These high-performance, synthetic and squirrel-and-synthetic brushes have many of the qualities of ones made from natural hair. Designed specifically for water-based mediums, the 14 brushes in this set come in a variety of shapes, including cat’s tongue, flat, round, filbert, angle, fan, and rigger. With superior water absorbency, these brushes retain their shape for a crisp, even brushstroke, and their short handles offer greater control. Use the water-loving squirrel-and-synthetic brushes for washes and filling, and the smaller, full-synthetic brushes for detail work. The brushes come packed in a roll-up carrying case perfect for taking on painting expeditions.
4. Heartybay Brush Set
This 10-piece set includes four different brush shapes—liner, round, filbert, and flat–in a range of sizes. The shorter brush handle allows for greater control with detail work while still providing a comfortable grip. Brush heads may start to lose shape after heavy use, but this sturdy, versatile brush is an ideal choice for beginners, teachers, or artists wanting an affordable set of brushes for crafts.
5. Da Vinci Watercolor Brush Set
A favorite of experienced watercolor artists, da Vinci’s Cosmotop Spin brushes hold more water and retain their shape better than other synthetic brushes. Five different diameters of synthetic filament blended together make this brush act like one made of natural hair when it comes to delivering an even flow of paint. Each brush is handmade in Germany with handles of sustainably sourced wood. This set of three medium-sized brushes comes with an oval for broad strokes, a slant liner for detail work, and a quill brush bound with copper wire for washes, all packed in a beautiful cloth-covered box with a magnetic closure. While the initial outlay may seem steep, with some care these brushes will last you a lifetime. As a reward for your hard work, or as an elegant gift for a fellow artist, this set can’t be beat.