A Guide to Watercolour Brushes

Watercolour Wash Brushes

The most popular watercolour painting methods require huge amounts of dilute colour – the brush is loaded with watercolour paint and water and applied to the paper in very thin washes. For very watery watercolour techniques the watercolour painter requires a brush with good liquid holding capacity.

Natural hair brushes are superior to synthetic hair brushes for liquid holding capacity. Natural hairs have a central structure known as the Medulla. This is covered by a thick layer known as the cortex, which is in turn encased within the cuticle, which is made up of lots of tiny scale-like fibres. The hollows and indentations found on the surface of the cuticle pick up water and pigment really well, which is why natural hair is considered the best for liquid holding capacity – once the brush is pressed against the paper being painted on, all the liquid and pigment is deposited on to the surface. Soft fine hair is particularly favoured for wash applications as it has less of a ‘snap’, and will create gentle fluid marks with no crisp edges.

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Squirrel Wash Brushes

Squirrel hair is often used for wash brushes – each individual hair tapers to a fine point and is wider in the middle, this contributes to the liquid holding capacity and is often referred to the ‘belly’ of the brush. The tapering of the squirrel hair to a fine point means that the brush itself will also taper to a fine point, making squirrel mop brushes perfect not only for broad washes of colour, but also for finer detail work (lines and dots). Cheaper Squirrel hair brushes that have a blunt tip that does not taper to a fine point may have been made from squirrel hair that has already been cut in the past, and these are not suitable for detail work. Squirrel mop brushes are bound in a quill ferrule with twisted brass threads to replicate the traditional brush manufacturing processes of the past. As well as round mop brushes that taper to a point in this way, squirrel hair is also used to make oval shaped washes such as the Jackson’s English Oval Wash, and bright/flat brushes, allowing the artist to make broad rectangular marks on their work. Most squirrel hair for brushes comes from Canada or Russia. The Kazan Squirrel hair is brown-black in colour, and is the finest variety of Squirrel or Petit Gris hair. Squirrel hair brushes are incredibly soft, and are so soft they are often also used in make-up brushes. The downside of this characteristic is that there is next to no ‘snap’ or ‘spring’ in the brush hairs, they don’t ‘ping’ back into place in the way that a synthetic brush might, and so it is not as good for dramatic or punchy marks, and is not the kind of hair one would use if one was looking for a brush that enabled you to have full control over your painting. Something like a spotter, where the brush hairs are very short, and therefore have greater spring anyway (irrespective of what hairs are used) allows you to have full control of where you paint goes on to your work, and is ideal for detail work, and I shall discuss these further a little later. All squirrel hair brushes are made from the hair of long haired squirrels, so unfortunately, in the UK, you will not be able to make your own from the pests in your back garden!

Sable Brushes

The world of sable hair brushes is a lightly confusing one, but here I will attempt to explain all that you really need to know in terms of watercolour painting brushes. At Jackson’s Art Supplies, we sell 3 types of ‘sable’ hair – 2 of which are not sable at all! But I will explain. First of all, the least expensive will be referred to as Pure or Red Sable. With this hair we sell a number of ranges which include:

Isabey Series 6222 Liner Pure Sable brushes

Jackson’s Red Sable Rounds (Series 910)

Jackson’s Red Sable Fans (Series 912) – fan shaped and ideal for blending as well as broad swathes of colour

Jacksons’s Red Sable Spotters (Series 913) – a very short round that allows for maximum control, suitable for detail work – highlights, spots, dots and very fine short lines

Jackson’s Red Sable One Stroke (Series 916) – a long flat sable hair brush

Jackson’s Red Sable Brights (Series 917) – A short flat sable brush

Jackson’s Sable Reservoir – a truly unique brush designed to achieve longer flowing lines. The sable round has shorter squirrel hairs bound around the base of the sable hair, adding to the belly of the brush and increasing its liquid holding capacity. This allows you to achieve longer lines without having to dip your brush in more paint as frequently.

Pro Arte Pure Sable Series 3 Rounds and the Pro Arte Renaissance Sable Flats, Riggers and Rounds

Pro Arte Renaissance is the superior sable hair brush range from Pro Arte and is a little more expensive than their regular pure sable. However both possess all the qualities of good sable hair, and are made to the standard that is expected from Pro Arte. The Renaissance is a particularly well finished brush with a lovely brass coloured ferrule and deep green handle.

Winsor and Newton’s Pointed Round/ Winsor and Newton Sable Rigger/ Winsor and Newton Sable Round

These being natural hair brushes, have a good liquid holding capacity, and a better spring than squirrel hair brushes, but the hairs are not as fine as the other sable hair brushes, and this is reflected in their lower price. Still an absolute joy to work with, they have a good lifespan provided they are looked after well. However it has to be said that for a significantly higher quality of sable brush we recommend you investigate the Kolinsky Sable brushes.

What is a Kolinsky Sable Brush?

A Kolinsky is a different animal to a sable. It is a weasel from the mink family native to Asia, whose tail hairs are used in the manufacture of superior watercolour and make up brushes. Male Kolinsky hair is used for the very best Kolinsky brushes because of its superior strength, slenderness (which contributes to liquid holding capacity), and resilience (which contributes to brush lifespan). The majority of Kolinsky brushes available on the market will use some female kolinsky hair in the mix, at a ratio of around 60 (male):40 (female). Although Kolinsky hair brushes are of a higher quality, those brushes who mention ‘Tajmyr’ or ‘Tobolsky’ before ‘Kolinsky’ in their description are referring to where those particular Kolinskys are from. Kolinskys from the River Tobol (Kazakhstan) and from Tajmyr in Siberia are known to possess hairs with stunning elasticity with extraordinary fine tips – which make them incredibly well suited to delicate and detailed watercolour painting. They hold sharp points and achieve crisp edges as well as maintaining excellent colour holding capacity.

Jackson’s Art Supplies Sells the following Kolinsky hair watercolour brushes:

Da Vinci Artissimo (Tobolsky Kolinsky)

Da Vinci Maestro Series 10 Round

Da Vinci Maestro Series 1203K Liner

Da Vinci Maestro 1301 Flat

Da Vinci Maestro Series 35 Round

Da Vinci Maestro Series 910 Retractable Round – perfect for travelling with, as well as painting en plein air

Daler Rowney Diana Kolinsky Sable Brushes

Isabey Series 6228 Kolinsky Sable Rounds

Jackson’s Kolinsky Sable Liner/Sable Rounds

Pro Arte Kolinsky Sable Rounds

Raphael Series 8404 Rounds

Winsor and Newton Series 7 Rounds – So called as they were originally made to order by Queen Victoria, who’s favourite size brush to paint with was said to be a size 7.

Other Natural Hair Brushes

Goat Hair

Goat hair is an inexpensive natural hair that is also suitable for wash brushes. Their low cost is thanks to the wide availability of the hair. Goat hair brushes are most likely to vary hugely in terms of the quality available as many manufacturers will make and sell goat hair brushes made from the second cut, i.e., the hair will not taper to a fine point and the result is that the brush head will spray and have a rounded end. Many of the very cheapest watercolour brush sets for schools will contain a goat hair brush that looks like this. On the other hand, a goat hair brush made from the first cut and from good quality hair will taper beautifully, and will be considered a very close substitute to the finest squirrel hair brushes. Goat hair is soft yet resilient. The majority of goat hair used is white, but Winsor and Newton and Daler Rowney also offer dark goat hair brushes. The painter Ron Ranson, famous for his use of the goat hair hake brush in his work, once found that many Chinese hake brushes available on the market were fluffy when new, and required a lot of wearing in before the hairs of the brush possessed the sleekness the sought in his hake brushes. His own hake brush as made by Pro Arte claims to not need any wearing in, and is suitable for painting in bold, impressionistic techniques.

Jackson’s Art Supplies sells a number of Goat Hair brushes, including:

  • Daler Rowney Black Goat Round Mop
  • Daler Rowney White Goat Oval Wash
  • Pro Arte Ron Ranson Hake
  • Unbranded Goat brushes for Chinese Painting
  • Jackson’s Hake Brushes
  • Winsor and Newton’s Dark Goat and White Goat Brushes

Badger Hair Brushes

Badger hair used in the manufacturing of watercolour brushes is mostly sourced from China. A high quality badger hair brush, i.e., one that tapers to a very fine point, can be as good in quality as a squirrel or Kolinsky sable brush. The finer the point that each hair tapers to, the more elastic the spring, and the softer the hair. Jackson’s Art Supplies only sells badger hair brushes of good quality. You can see this in the way that the brushes look – a good badger hair brush will have hairs that go from pale to dark in colour along each individual hair, whereas a lesser quality badger hair brush will appear a more uniform grey along the length of the hair. They will also not taper to as fine a point.

Badger Hair brushes by Jackson’s:

Jackson’s Series 602 Badger Fan

Jackson’s Speciality Brushes – these brushes are specially designed to cater for a range of specialised marks favoured by many watercolour painters. Shapes include a sky stippler, soft hair stippler, stippler fan, comb foliage, foliage and dagger brushes.

We also sell a few varieties of Pony hair brushes which do not taper to a point, so are not as good for detail work, but are soft enough to lend themselves well to wash applications.

Winsor and Newton Pony and Goat Hair Brushes

Daler Rowney Graduate Pony Brushes

Synthetic Hair Brushes

Synthetic Brushes for Precision, Spring, Detail and Expressive Marks

Synthetic hair will not have the scale-like cuticle layer that natural hair possesses, although some of the recent developments in synthetic hair manufacture have attempted to replicate this. The outcome of this is that synthetic hair brushes simply do not hold as much liquid as natural hair brushes. However synthetic hair brushes do have their place in water colour painting. They possess a greater spring, they are more resilient and if looked after, have a much greater lifespan. Their characteristics make them suitable for watercolour painting techniques that demand greater control, and crisper, bolder marks. Toray hair is a very fine nylon hair which is favoured by many artists for detail and crisp marks. Pro Arte’s Prolene hair is another very popular type of synthetic hair – it is a brown glossy nylon hair, which is soft and fine, and has impressive spring and resilience. Similarly, the Jackson’s Studio Synthetic brushes possesses these qualities, and after trying them out for the first time, a lot of artists see the advantages of using both natural and synthetic hair brushes in their painting practice.

Synthetic brushes for watercolour available at Jackson’s Art Supplies include:

Jackson’s Artica Synthetic Brushes – made with white Toray hair and available as rounds. Particularly suited to detail work thanks to soft, springy, resilient hair

Daler Rowney Dalon Brushes – Available in rounds, flats and liners, the Dalon hair is one of the oldest synthetic hairs available. It was originally designed to replicate the qualities of sable hair, and each filament is tapered to a point. It is golden in colour and silky, and possesses good spring. Many artists have remained loyal to the Dalon brush for many years. It also lasts and lasts!

Daler Rowney Graduate Brushes – A few of the brushes in the Graduate range, including riggers, filberts and angle shaders, are made will a good quality synthetic hair with an attractive dark tip, perfect for students, beginners and hobbyists.

Escoda Perla Series 1430 – Keeps an excellent point and like the Jackson’s Artica Synthetic Brushes, uses the soft Toray hair that offers fantastic control and resilience.

Jackson’s Silverline – A whole range of red Toray synthetic haired brushes that are suitable for all levels of ability. Available in a range of unique shapes that aid in creating vibrant marks, including angled shaders, swords, combs, daggers, half liners (slightly longer than a round but not as long as a rigger), deerfoots, rounds, cats tongues, brights and fans.

Jackson’s Studio Synthetic – An excellent value range of brushes perfect for students, but good enough for professionals too. These brushes offer spring, a soft and silky hair, with good liquid holding capacity. Available as riggers, rounds and flats.

Winsor and Newton Cotman Brushes – A range of brushes to complement the Winsor and Newton Cotman range of watercolour pans and tubes. These are suited to the beginner or hobbyist and are well priced. Available in long rounds, rounds, one stroke flats, angled flats, riggers, mops, wide washes and fans.

Pro Arte Prolene brushes by Pro Arte were the original brush range developed by Pro Arte designed to replicate the qualities of sable hair. Static is removed from the synthetic hairs in order to optimise performance. Prolene is very popular among students. More recently, Pro Arte developed the Prolene Plus range of brushes, developed to improve upon the standard of the original Prolene hair. The Prolene Plus brush range offers rounds, one strokes, and filberts, whereas the Prolene brushes offer rounds, riggers, flats and swordliners. Pro Arte also manufacture the very unusual looking, ergonomic Miniature synthetic brushes. These are available in flats and rounds and offer maximum control and precision for fine detailed work.

Mix Hair Brushes

Mix hair synthetic-natural brushes are more affordable than 100% natural hair brushes, but they also offer a greater snap to the brush, and are more likely to have a longer lifespan. There are also some mix brushes that use different natural hairs, either for cost reasons or to take advtanges of the varying qualities that each hair possesses. The variety of mix hair brushes is vast so here is a run-down of our favourites.

Sable/Synthetic Mixes:

Jackson’s Icon Sable Synthetic Hair

Jackson’s Icon brushes make use of the latest in brush technology, replicating the scales of a natural hair by carving indentations into the surface of each individual synthetic hair. These are then treated to remove any static electricity. This means that the hairs do not stick together and allow a flowing movement. They are then added to genuine sable hair to create a beautiful brush at a fraction of the price of the finest sable brushes. Icon brushes are available as rounds and flats.

Pro Arte Connoisseur Red Sable/Prolene

The Connoisseur brush range is available in rounds and flats, and is designed with precision in mind. However though using the famous prolene hair, which was specifically designed to replicate sable, it does also have good liquid holding capacity and resilience.

Winsor and Newton Sceptre Gold II

Also suitable for use with oil or acrylic, the Sceptre Gold is another brush primarily manufactured to offer an affordable brush with many of the qualities of pure sable. Available in fan shape for blending, pocket brush for travelling, rounds, long rounds, long lettering, and one strokes.

Da Vinci Petit Gris Mix

Da Vinci’s excellent Blue Russian Squirrel brushes are surprisingly made from a mixture of pure squirrel hair and imitation synthetic squirrel hair, although most painters cannot tell the difference. These brushes are as soft and have the same movement as a regular pure squirrel hair, but will last longer. They are best suited to watercolour and silk painting techniques.

Travel Brushes

Retractable brushes are ideal for storing in a watercolour travel set and taking out of doors to paint. It may be that you have bought a travel watercolour set and the brush in the set needs replacing, and at Jackson’s Art Supplies we sell a number of professional and superior grade retractable watercolour brushes. You don’t need to compromise on quality when painting out of doors! The retractable brushes that we sell include:

Jackson's – Red Sable, pure sable, nylon, travel Artica Round

Da Vinci – Kolinsky Sable

Pro Arte – Prolene Plus Synthetic Retractable Brushes

A Guide to the Different Shaped Watercolour Brushes Available at Jackson’s

A variety of different shaped and sized watercolour brushes in your paintbox will equip you for creating paintings with a diverse range of marks. Having the freedom to select the brushes that best suit the marks you wish to make will also enable you to make the paintings that you want to make - full of self expression and vibrancy. Here’s a guide to all the different watercolour brushes available at Jackson’s Art Supplies by shape.

Round Brushes

Round brushes are formed of a cylinder of hairs that taper to a point at the end. Round brushes are the most popular and most common shaped watercolour brush. The smaller sizes are particularly well suited to fine detail, the larger sizes for washes, and all are good for lines of varying thicknesses. The size of the marks made with a round brush can be manipulated by the amount of pressure applied when pressing the brush to the surface being worked on. Retractable travel watercolour brushes tend to be round in their shape.

Available Round Brushes at Jackson’s Art Supplies:

Sable Rounds (good liquid holding capacity but do not keep shape for as long as synthetic hair brushes):

Isabey Series 6228 Pure Kolinsky Sable

Nickel plated brass ferrule and black coloured, green tipped handle. ‘It feels terrific when painting’ (Customer Feefo review, 2012)

Jackson’s Tajmir Kolinsky Sable Series 1205 Round Brushes

These are our highest quality sable brushes with all the qualities you would expect of an exceptional sable brush - great holding capacity, control, spring and a fine point which with the right care, will keep its shape.

Jackson’s Kolinsky Sable Round Brushes

Possess good liquid holding capacity and a fine point. Incredible value for money.

Jackson’s Red Sable Brushes

A comparatively inexpensive yet well made, reliable range of sable brushes. Also available as fans, spotters, one strokes and brights.

Jackson’s Sable Reservoir Series 91R (Available in a size 1 only)

An unusual watercolour brush with a fine centre of pure sable which is wrapped in a base of squirrel hair. Maximises the liquid holding capacity of the brush for long flowing lines.

Jackson’s Tajmir Kolinsky Sable Round Brushes Series 1205

Highest quality sable is used in the manufacture of these brushes. Great holding capacity, control and spring, with a fine point.

Pro Arte Kolinsky Sable Series 1 Round Brushes

These brushes are made with such a generous specification that each brush equates to comparable brushes at a size larger.

Pro Arte Pure Sable Series 3 Round Brushes

Lower priced sable watercolour brushes that are particularly well suited to serious amateurs and student painters. These rounds are flexible and with a good point.

Pro Arte Renaissance Sable Short Handled Round Brushes

The Renaissance Range of brushes also offers flats and riggers. These are affordable sable brushes that do not claim to be the best available, but are reliable and do the job consistently for painters of all levels.

Raphael Paris Series 8404 Kolinsky Sable

An exceptionally well made brush for professional watercolour painters. Made with the finest Kolinsky Sable hair.

Winsor and Newton Series 7 Pure Sable Brushes

Arguably the most famous Sable round watercolour brush, The Winsor and Newton Series 7 was originally conceived to meet the demands of Queen Victoria, who ordered Winsor and Newton to make her a size 7 brush. A recent customer Feefo review of the range stated that the customer had ‘tried others, but I’ve yet to find a better sable brush than Winsor and Newton’s’.

Pro Arte Kolinsky Sable Series 1 Brushes

Made with such generous specification that each brush equates to comparable brushes at a size larger. Possesses a weighty handle that provides comfort and balance when working. A fine quality 100% sable hair brush.

Winsor and Newton Watercolour Sable Round Brushes

A more affordable sable brush from Winsor and Newton. Holds colour well, and is made from high quality Kolinsky Sable, encased in a birchwood handle, bound with a seamless nickel ferrule.

Synthetic (more spring than sable yet less colour holding capacity)

Escoda Perla White Toray

White Toray synthetic hair (also used in the manufacture of Jackson’s Artica Brushes) is one of the softest known synthetic hairs used for watercolour paint brushes. This brush combines 3 diameters of filament as well as 3 different lengths of filament to achieve the optimum shape and performance for liquid holding capacity and spring.

Jackson’s Artica

Cured to improve spring and resilience. A soft yet controlled application. Also available in a retractable travel version. Made of a similar white toray hair as used in the Escoda Perla range.

Pro Arte Prolene Plus Synthetic Series 007 Round

A superior synthetic hair brush, that performs remarkably similarly to a pure sable brush. Very popular among professional watercolourists. Also available as a retractable, as well as a round, one stroke (flat) and filbert.

Pro Arte Prolene Synthetic Round Brushes

A very popular brush among painters of all abilities, the round Prolene brush was one of the first synthetic hair brushes to be designed for watercolour painters. It possesses a good spring and resilience.

Jackson’s Silverline Round

Part of an extensive range of different shaped brushes, best suited to student - amateur painters. The synthetic hair used in the silverline range is shiny, golden, cheap and cheerful. A perfectly fine brush that will last, but the liquid holding capacity is not as good as more expensive synthetic hair brushes.

Jackson’s Studio Synthetic Round Brushes

An incredibly popular range of fine, synthetic haired brushes with impressive liquid holding capacity and spring.

Pro Arte Miniature Round Brushes

Also available as flat brushes, these have a comfortable, weighted, ergonomic handle that allows you to achieve very fine detail and control consistently over long painting sessions. The brush heads are very small, and designed for the most intricate of detail watercolour painting.

Winsor and Newton Cotman Series 111 Round Brushes

These synthetic watercolour brushes are primarily for students painting with Cotman watercolour paint. Production methods echo those adopted by sable brush manufacturers at Winsor and Newton for the past several hundreds of years.

Winsor and Newton Cotman Series 222 Long Round (Designer’s Round) Short Handled Brushes

These brushes are half way between being a conventional round and a rigger. A slightly longer hair than a conventional round means a little more holding capacity. The short handle allows for a greater degree of control, and as a result this brush is best suited to fine detail and lines where accuracy is key.

Mixed Sable and Synthetic Rounds - Combine the key characteristics of holding capacity (sable) and ability to keep shape (synthetic)

Jackson’s Icon Sable/Micro Synthetic Brushes

Also available in flats and quill rounds. Tiny indentations in the synthetic filaments replicate those found the in the sable filaments, and help to hold more liquid. Icon brushes are treated with anti-static technology to prevent the hair filaments from sticking together, always enabling a free and consistent flow of colour. A Feefo customer review stated that the Icon brushes were ‘well balanced in the handle and comfortable to use’.

Pro Arte Connoisseur Series 100 Rounds

The proportions of sable and synthetic hair are carefully calculated in order to produce the best possible mix hair brushes. This not only means that each brush in the range consistently possesses good spring, holding capacity and resilience, but it also means that prices of the brushes are kept affordable. Incredibly good value.

Winsor and Newton Sceptre Gold II Series 101 Round Brushes

Best suited for creating fine detail, lines and washes. Sceptre Gold brushes are a sable and synthetic mix that perform as well as the Pro Arte Connoisseur brushes. The resilience of the synthetic hair makes them also suitable for oil and acrylic painting.

Travel Retractable Rounds (Sable)

Isabey Retractable Sable

A large enough diameter in the cap makes it easy to remove and replace without splaying or damaging the hairs, although some care and attention is needed. This Isabey retractable sable watercolour brush is good for incredibly fine detail, and is of excellent quality.

Jackson’s Retractable Sable size 4

Good price and reasonable quality for painters of all abilities.

Travel Retractable Brushes (Synthetic)

Jackson’s Retractable Nylon Round Brush

A resilient brush that keeps to a point. Recommended for students.

Jackson’s Round Travel Artica White Synthetic Watercolour brushes

A high quality synthetic brush that uses synthetic hair made with the latest technological advancements, meaning excellent holding capacity. This travel brush forms part of a larger Artica range which also includes full size round brushes.

Pro Arte Prolene Plus Retractable Brushes

A rare range of brushes because they offer rounds, filberts and flat in retractable form, meaning that those who like to travel light do not need to compromise on the kinds of marks they can make out in the field. A range of beautiful synthetic hair brushes, made of Prolene Plus, which is renowned for its similarity to sable. A set comprising of all 3 brushes in the range is also available, as well as full size versions inrounds, one strokes and filberts. “This is such a classy brush to use, it really looks and feels great” (Customer Feefo review).

Winsor and Newton Sceptre Gold II Pocket Brush

This size 2 sable and synthetic brush is ideal for outdoor sketching. It has a protective cap which comes off and attached to the other end of of the brush head, thus becoming the handle.

Sable Liner and Rigger Brushes (for long, flowing, fine lines)

Isabey Series 6222

A nickel plated brass ferrule binds this brush. Keeps its point very well.

Jackson’s Kolinsky Sable Series 921 Liner

Very long haired brush made with pure red Kolinsky sable hair. Requires proper care and attention to optimise performance and longevity.

Pro Arte Renaissance Rigger brushes

These pure sable brushes are made at the lowest possible cost to keep prices low whilst maintaining the high quality synonymous with the Pro Arte brand. Sable is the ideal hair to use in the production of rigger brushes due to the holding capacity, softness and ability to create long flowing delicate lines with clean edges and no ‘breaks’.

Winsor and Newton Sable Pointed Round Extra Fine Tip

The pointed round is slightly shorter in length than a conventional rigger, but is made with an extra fine taper point for the finest of detail work and accuracy. The belly of the hair provides colour holding.

Winsor and Newton Sable Rigger Brushes

Winsor and Newton Sable riggers possess an extra fine point for lines, long scroll work as well as detail. As a customer review once remarked, these brushes ‘hold lots of paint, and have a lovely fine point’.

Synthetic Liner and Rigger Brushes (for long flowing fine lines with more spring and less holding capacity)

Jackson’s Silverline Series 984 Half Liner

A half liner has Toray hair length half way between a conventional round and a liner or rigger. The best of both worlds; idea for fine detail and control whilst having good holding.

Jackson’s Studio Synthetic Rigger Brushes

A staff favourite at Jackson’s, the hair used in the Studio Synthetic range is of high quality and surprisingly similar to sable in its characteristics, considering the affordable price. This rigger has good spring and impressive colour holding capacity, so long flowing lines are not easily broken.

Pro Arte Prolene Synthetic Rigger Brushes

The original synthetic hair watercolour brush by Pro Arte, it possesses good spring and is reliable and resilient. A popular brush for painters of all abilities, but particularly favoured by students. Also available in the range are fan brushes, rounds, flats and swordliners.

Winsor and Newton Cotman Series 333 Riggers

Suitable for students, the Cotman brushes are designed for use with Cotman watercolour paint. The rigger is best suited to lines, long scroll work and details.

Mix Hair Liner and Rigger Brushes

Winsor and Newton Sceptre Gold II Series 303 Long Lettering Brushes

A sable and synthetic mix brush that combines the resilience and spring of synthetic hair, and the holding capacity and softness of sable hair. These long lettering brushes have an extra fine point which is suitable for long scroll work and detail. The hair is longer than the Series 202 Designer Long Round brushes, also in the Sceptre Gold II range.

Natural hair Swordliners (for long flowing lines, maximum holding capacity and ability to vary the width in a single stroke)

Jackson’s Squirrel Swordliner

Favoured for painting fine lines and foliage.

Jackson’s Speciality Dagger brush

A badger hair dagger shaped brush that is very useful in foliage and botanical painting.

Synthetic Swordliners and Daggers - Greater spring than natural swordliners, slightly less holding capacity

Jackson’s Silverline Series 983 Dagger

A triangular shaped Toray brush head which tapers to a very fine point. Very useful when painting blades of grass and long leaves.

Jackson’s Silverline Series 981 Sword

Also angled but with longer Toray hair and at a steeper gradient, this sword liner would be good for long flowing ‘ribbon’ like lines than undulate in their width.

Pro Arte Prolene Synthetic Short Handle Swordliner Brushes

Swordliner brushes are very useful for painting long flowing lines, the thickness of which can be manipulated by varying the amount of pressure you place on the brush. They are also great in painting natural forms, in particular blades of grass. Prolene hair has good spring and will enable you to make clean edged and vibrant marks.

Sable Spotter (short haired rounds for dots and short lines)

Jackson’s Red Sable Series 913 Spotters

Well made and reliable pure sable brushes at a very low price.

Mop and Wash Brushes (squirrel hair) - for broad washes, fine detail and unparalleled holding capacity

Isabey Series 6234 Petit Gris Kazan Squirrel

Quill mounted, and available in extra large sizes for the broadest washes possible. Customer Feefo review: ‘Lovely brush!’

Jackson’s Squirrel Mop Series 828

Incredible holding capacity, very soft hair. Ideal for a multitude of painting marks, from fine pin-point detail to broad washes. Suitable for painting wet-into-wet as well as for painting hard-edged, long-stroke marks. A customer review once said of the Jackson’s Squirrel Mop that ‘it’s ability to hold paint has improved my wash technique so I am really pleased with it’. This squirrel mop is also a lot cheaper that most if not all its branded rivals and is of the highest quality.

Pro Arte Renaissance Squirrel Mop

A high quality squirrel mop. The hairs are densely packed into the binding, creating a superb “belly”. The brush as with all Pro Arte brushes is very affordable, compromising on price where possible, but never on quality. Winsor and Newton Pure Squirrel Mop – the finest blue Russian squirrel hair is used in these professional artist quality mop brushes. The tip of each brush head is incredibly fine and backed up with a generous belly that can hold vast quantities of water. The hair is bound in a ferrule made of goose quill. Squirrel mop brushes are also popular among artists who paint on silk.

Raphael Series 800 Pure Squirrel Aqualine brushes

These hi-tech looking blue handled brushes are based on the specifications of a traditional french quill mop. They are made of 100% Pure Kazan squirrel hair.

Isabey 6235 Pure Squirrel Oval Sky Wash and Jackson’s Pure Squirrel Series 888 Oval Sky Wash

Both are made with pure squirrel hair with a Nickel plated brass ferrule, and a shape which is particularly useful when painting clouds and skies.

Isabey 6236 Pure Squirrel Flat Wash

Pure Squirrel hair wash brush, nickel plated brass ferrule, and a blue coloured grey tipped lacquered handle. Flat Wash brushes are good for achieving a clean edge on your wash, as well as evenly distributed rectangular marks.

Winsor and Newton Series 140 Dark Goat Brushes

The dark goat hair used in this wash brush is a little coarser than sable hair, yet sufficiently fine for a wash brush. It is also a lot cheaper than squirrel hair. As well as washes, the brush is suitable for soft blending. The hair is bound in a seamless nickel plated ferrule with a blue polished handle.

Winsor and Newton Series 240 White Goat Brushes

White Goat hair is a more affordable alternative to sable and squirrel hair which is a little coarser, yet still applies washes well. The hair of this wash brush protrudes 1 ½” from the ferrule. Bound in a seamless black aluminium ferrule with a smart white polished handle which has a black tip.

Winsor and Newton Series 340 Pony and Goat Hair Brushes – Pony and Goat hair mix brushes are affordable yet possess good holding capacity to be used for watercolour wash brushes. These brushes can also be used as duster brushes in drawing. The hair is 2” long from the ferrule.

Jackson’s Icon Sable/Micro Synthetic Quill Rounds

Fantastic precision and control from a brush that replicates the shape and performance of a traditional squirrel mop brush. High colour holding with a feel just like pure sable.

Winsor and Newton Cotman One Stroke Flat Wash Series 666 Brushes

A synthetic short flat brush, suitable for students and beginners, and designed primarily to be used with Winsor and Newton’s student range of watercolour, known as ‘Cotman’ colours. Synthetic one stroke brushes have a very good spring, and as a result are particularly good as achieving clean edges and bold rectangular marks. The long handle also makes it easy to use when applying washes. In addition to this, the flat wash is also a great brush for applying glazes and varnishes. Winsor and Newton’s Cotman range of brushes also includes long rounds, rounds, angled flats, fans, riggers and mops.

Winsor and Newton Cotman Series 999 Synthetic Mop Brushes

Synthetic mop brushes do not hold as much liquid as natural hair mops, however they are a lot cheaper than the finest squirrel mops brushes and are therefore ideal for amateur or student painters. A domed shape brush that is best suited to wetting paper (perhaps for painting wet into wet) and for controlling large washes.

Winsor and Newton Sceptre Gold II Wide Wash Brushes

The wide wash brushes in this range have a short handle for optimised control. The hair is a mix of sable and synthetic, which means that there is a good liquid holding capacity as well as resilience, and an affordable price.

Hake Flat Brushes

For ‘fast and loose’ painting approaches often associated with Chinese painting, where brush marks are made economically whilst still serving the purpose of describing the subject as fully as possible. Usually made with very soft white goat hair. Also useful for washes and backgrounds.

Jackson’s Hake Goat

An inexpensive hake brush, which is excellent value for money. It is also available with an angled head, which one Feefo customer reviewer praised as is it ‘almost as easy to use as a fountain pen’.

Pro Arte Ron Ranson Hake Brushes

The artist Ron Ranson has built a career on his expertise with the hake brush and a ‘fast and loose’ technique. However in his own work he found that many hake brushes on the market became too fluffy and did not have a long life span, so he decided to work with the brush makers at Pro Arte to develop a superior hake brush for his preferred approach to painting. As the brush is made with 100% goat hair it is recommended that the brush be washed in cold water to prevent the hairs from shrinking. A very delicate, soft haired brush.

Flats, Brights and one Stroke Brushes

Square-edged for crisp edges, bold rectangular marks and broad deposits of even colour.

Sable Flats

Jackson’s Red Sable Series 916 One Stroke Brushes - longer hair than bright brushes than retain more liquid for longer, flowing marks.

Jackson’s Red Sable Series 917 Bright Brushes

shorter hair than one stroke for shorter, more square brush marks.

Pro Arte Renaissance Sable Flat brushes

The Renaissance range from Pro Arte was developed to run alongside the Prolene range of synthetic brushes. 100% sable at a good value price.

Winsor and Newton Artist’s Sable One Stroke brushes

One stroke brushes are short haired flat brushes , good for edges, solid shapes and applying washes. So-called as they were originally designed for one stroke applications by sign writers.

Squirrel Flats

Jackson’s Pure Squirrel Series 806 One Stroke

A square ended brush made with the finest squirrel hair. Superior holding capacity to synthetic flats, and comparable to sable flats. More flexible than sable and ideal for flowing broad lines.

Sable Flats

Jackson’s Series 824 Pure Squirrel Bright Brushes

Shorter hair than the One Stroke - the effect of which is that marks made are crisper and more square, and the liquid holding capacity is marginally reduced.

Synthetic Flats

Jackson’s Silverline Series 988 Bright

Golden coloured Toray hair watercolour brush which is square ended for rectangular broad marks and fine lines.

Pro Arte Prolene Synthetic Flat Brushes

Prolene synthetic hair was one of the very first synthetic hairs to be developed for water colour brushes, and was done so in order to offer a less expensive alternative to sable that had many similarities to this sought after hair. Prolene offers good spring and resilience and is favoured among students and professionals alike. As well as flat brushes for crisp edges and lines, Prolene brushes are also available as fan brushes, rounds, riggers and swordliners.

Pro Arte Miniature Flat brushes

Square ended flat brushes for crisp edged marks. Ergonomically designed for optimum comfort and performance during long, detailed and intricate painting sessions.

Winsor and Newton Cotman Series 777 One Stroke Brushes

Winsor and Newton Cotman Series 777 One Stroke Brushes - These synthetic short flat brushes are suitable for applying washes, or shapes with clean edges with. The handles of these brushes are made of a clear acrylic and have a bevelled end, which can be used for burnishing, scraping, or as a palette knife. A highly versatile mark making tool for any student water colour painter.

Mixed Sable And Synthetic Flats

Jackson’s Icon Sable/Micro Synthetic Brushes

Excellent colour holding capacity and a shape that lasts, even with continuous use. A well balanced handle for comfort over long painting sessions.

Pro Arte Connoisseur Series 99 Flat Brushes

Comparable to the Icon Sable/Micro Synthetic brushes, the Connoisseur range is made of carefully calculated proportions of sable and synthetic prolene hair, meaning that the performance of the brush is consistently high, with good spring, holding capacity and resilience.

Pro Arte Series 008 Prolene Plus One Stroke Flats

Made with Prolene Plus hair, known for its similarity to sable. A high performance brush, also available as filberts, rounds, in sets and as retractables.

Winsor and Newton Sceptre Gold II Series 606 One Stroke Brushes

A one stroke is a short haired flat brush. These are particularly good for clean edges, shapes and applying washes. The Sceptre Gold II range is made of the finest synthetic and sable hair, creating a brush that is more affordable and also more resilient than a pure sable brush.

Angled Flats

Winsor and Newton Cotman Synthetic Watercolour Brushes

Series 667 Angled Flat – The Angled flat can be used like a swordliner, using the point to created flowing fine lines, or the whole head of the brush can be painted with to create curved or straight wedges. Designed for use by students and beginner water colour painters, Cotman brushes are long lasting and perform consistently well.

Fan Brushes (for blending, textures and softening edges)

Winsor and Newton Sceptre Gold II Series 808 Fan Brushes – A sable and synthetic mix brush, with good spring as well as holding capacity and a relatively soft feel. A popular brush among professional water colour painters.

Jackson’s Red Sable Series 912 Fans

Inexpensive sable yet well made and reliable.

Jackson’s Silverline Series 989 Fan

Made with soft synthetic Toray hair.

Pro Arte Prolene Synthetic Short Handle Fan Brushes

Made from one of the original synthetic hairs designed for use with watercolour. Prolene is infinitely longer lasting than sable and keeps its shape better. The hairs are silky, springy, and good for making vibrant marks as well as subtle washes. Other shapes available in the range include rounds, riggers, flats and swordliners.

Winsor and Newton Cotman Series 888 Fan Brushes

A synthetic fan which compares well to the Pro Arte fan brush. Ideal for student and beginner water colour painters.

Miscellaneous ‘one-off’ Watercolour Brushes/h3>

Jackson’s Hog Scrubber Watercolour Brush

Designed for lifting colour from heayweight watercolour paper. A short, stubby, stiff-haired brush not designed for applying watercolour with.

Jackson’s Silverline Brushes

This range of synthetic Toray hair watercolour brushes is made up of many unusual shapes, designed for ease of use when painting popular subjects in watercolour such as foliage, figures and architecture. The Silverline range is very popular among hobbyists, amateur painters, and those looking to explore mark making in their work. Also available in the range are fans, rounds and brights.

Series 980 Shader

Similar to an angled flat, particularly useful in painting lines of varying widths

Series 982 Comb

Comb shaped so that blades of grass can be painted in a fraction of the time it would take with a round brush

Series 985 Deerfoot

A short and stubby brush which has a slight angle on the end. It is good for creating texture, for example sand- like marks on a beach scene.

Series 987 Cats Tongue

Very much like a filbert brush that tapers to a point, the cats tongue is a useful brush for both broad and fine marks.

Jackson’s Speciality Watercolour Brushes

A selection of badger hair watercolour brushes that are specially designed to help with the painting of nature.

Jackson’s Series 433 Soft Hair Stippler

A badger hair brush that is shaped like a round that has had its tip cut off, so that the hairs splay out and create and short and stubby shape. This brush is popular among painters who depict foliage, grass and trees in their work.

Jackson’s Series 007 Sky Stippler

With a large colour holding capacity this brush is great for wash work, stippling grasses and working with skies.

Jackson’s Stippler Fan

Available in only small or medium size, the stippler fan is stiffer than a regular brush, and is good for stippling texture on to trees and bushes.

Jackson’s Deerfoot Stippler

Much like the Silverline Deerfoot Stippler, this is particularly good for creating coarse looking texture.

Jackson’s Comb Foliage

A flat natural stippling brush for all kinds of foliage depiction. It is best used with fairly dry paint.

Jackson’s Foliage

A single length hair brush that is good for texture effects with fairly dry paint.

Pro Arte Prolene Plus Series 009 Filbert Brushes

Prolene Plus is the finest hair developed by Pro Arte to replicate the qualities of natural pure sable. Excellent holding capacity and and soft spring that is favoured by many watercolour painters.

Sofft Tools (Synthetic)

These sponge based tools are primarily for use with Pan Pastels, but are said to be suitable with all kinds of water based media as well. They are very much like make up sponges, some have a plastic handle, and the small sponge head fits on the end, and is good for making small blended marks. For larger expanses of colour, the Sofft tools range also includes larger sponges without handles, which also have the potential for creating vibrant, bold, or more subtle washes of colour.