Perhaps you’re tired of using the same brushes you’ve used ever since you started painting.
Or you saw a video on YouTube or an Instagram post on your favorite art hashtags using this pen-looking contraption.
At A Glance: Our Top 5 Picks for Water Brushes
In any case, you’re in the right place – water brushes are what’s new and what’s good in the world of art.
The watercolor brush has been around literally forever in the world of art. And for years, the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” dogma has been present in the art arena.
Until now-now that the water brush finds its way into portable art kits and backpacks worldwide. Today, we intend to review the nine best water brushes that are on the market. Without much ado, let’s begin.
Best Water Brushes Calligraphy & Painting
From the quality of the brush to the durability of the water container, we’ve considered all the essential factors that make a water brush an excellent addition to your painting kit. So, without further ado, here’s the list of the 6 best water brushes.
Coming from the familiar Sakura Koi brand of art supplies, the Sakura Koi Water Brush is a brilliant product for the price. In fact, it delivers an astonishing price-to-usability ratio. Thus, the whole narrative about new art supplies being out of reach of students and hobbyists is no longer valid. It’s also wonderful for going to the wide unknown and exploring the scenery while painting.
This particular water brush comes with a number of features that make it particularly attractive for first-time water brush users. The brush tips are available in multiple sizes as per requirements, and the water container is kept separate from the brush to facilitate painting and portability. The reservoirs are much smaller than regular brushes at 4 ml and 9 ml.
This could cause you to get up very often just to refill and break the flow you’re in. An easy way around this problem is to get multiple brushes and carry on with your job with the next full brush. This is unlikely to get finished too in a single painting session. If you want to head plein air, then this also makes a lot of sense – it’s light, portable, and splits into two so water doesn’t spill.
There are a few problems with this brush, however. These problems include managing the water flow while painting (a common problem with entry-level water brushes). Another problem is that you don’t get tips as standard with this brush – you have to buy the tips as per your size choice by yourself. Outside of these problems, you really should be alright with the Sakura Koi.
- Comes with a two-piece design, best for traveling
- Very reasonably priced for the painting quality that comes out when you use these brushes
- Available in a number of water capacities as per specification
- Does not ship with brushes, have to buy them according to the usage
- The water container is far too small for the professionals
Brush Tip Material: Synthetic hair | Brush Tip Shape: Pointed | Brush Tip Sizes Available: Small, Medium, Large, and Flat | Flow Control: Durable barrel & cap design | Handle Material: Plastic | Compatible Paint Types: Watercolors and other water-based media | Additional Features: Push-button cap for easy brush maintenance
With the Derwent Waterbrush, you get a number of benefits – it’s similar to the Pentel Aquash brushes, but not quite. Especially to be noted is the anti-roll design, which is nothing short of a revolution as far as water brushes are concerned. Hence, this water brush is worth a look at least if you’re looking for a no-nonsense, highly reliable water brush.
To get water into the brush tips, you need only gently press the body from the sides. This is similar to what a few others have done in terms of water brush design. You can expect to get three different types of tips with the brush: Small and medium, which are rounded from the top; as well as a chiseled tip. You can safely use these brushes for calligraphy as well.
The construction of the Derwent water brush is such that you can come to expect a steady, controlled stream of water or ink from the brush. You can expect the output of your work and predict the performance of the brushes to a large extent. Now, we’ll come to why the anti-roll design of the brush is such a huge deal.
The problem with other brushes is that whenever you’re dealing with uneven surfaces, your brush typically just rolls off at the point of unevenness. This is dealt away with when it comes to this brush – the anti-roll feature avoids rolling off virtuously. No matter you’re painting in a small cafe or out next to a river, you’ll get a flawless painting experience anyway.
- Comes in at a reasonable price point
- Anti-roll design is revolutionary
- Good build quality
- Only three brush tips for choosing from
Brush Tip Material: Synthetic hair | Brush Tip Shape: Pointed | Brush Tip Sizes Available: Fine, Medium, and Chisel | Flow Control: Innovative valve system | Handle Material: Plastic with rubber grips | Compatible Paint Types: Watercolors and other water-based media | Additional Features: Durable brush tip for fine detailing
This is one of the most popular brushes on the market to date. And why wouldn’t it be? The versatility, agility, and quality of the end product that comes when you use these brushes are beyond reproach. Compared to other brushes, the capacity is a slightly voluminous 6 mL. Hence, you can expect this pen to last a while before it gets finished up – more focus time!
With this pen, you’re treated to one of the best experiences in the market today. The brush tips, for example, are nothing short of exemplary. There are four such tips available, and while the first three listed are best suited for painters – and the last one hits the mark when it comes to calligraphy and other fine work. With this brush, you get the following:
- A fine round brush tip
- A medium round brush tip
- A small round brush tip
- A flat brush tip
You can either get all these pens as a standalone pens or in sets (which often is a much better deal). With just the right amount of pressure on the water brush, you can get the exact amount of water to the paint and paper. The versatility of these brushes is also among the best you can get in this class of water brushes.
These brushes can be chucked into the dishwasher right after use, so you can rest assured of their cleanliness. The barrel design approach makes for a slightly leakier water brush than those that come with more sophisticated restrictor-valve-based designs. All in all, it makes for a wonderful brush at a great price point taking into account the quality of the brush.
- Design makes the design experience desirable and accessible
- Brush tips are worth writing home about; they’re that good
- Can be put right into the dishwasher after use
- Susceptible to the odd leak or two
Brush Tip Material: Synthetic hair | Brush Tip Shape: Pointed | Brush Tip Sizes Available: Fine, Medium, and Broad | Flow Control: Easy-squeeze barrel | Handle Material: Plastic with rubber grips | Compatible Paint Types: Watercolors and other water-based media | Additional Features: Clear barrel for easy color identification
A few brushes come by every once in a while which radically changes the way you think about water brushes and watercolors in general. One of these brushes is the Caran d’Arche Aquarelle, which seems to tick every box when it comes to high-quality water brush standards. With a revolutionary button that regulates water flow, you get total control over your art.
With a literal small tank in your water brush, you can expect to last multiple painting sessions without having to refill – this makes for a huge difference when you’re in the painting flow. Once you remove small interruptions in your workflow, your focus improves drastically. (Multiple credible sources cite research to support this.)
This also comes with a number of brush tips, as would be expected of a premium water brush. One of the fine tips actually functions akin to a marker than an actual paintbrush, which gives you a better variety of strokes you can employ while working. It is also worth mentioning at this juncture that the refill mechanism is similar to the AQUAnaut reviewed above.
You can get this water brush in either a brush tip (synthetic) or a fiber tip. You can rest assured about cleaning because this brush can be cleaned rather simply with just a flush of water through the tip. The plunger, however, sticks out of the pen when using it at full capacity. Besides this, it makes for a wonderful companion to your art journey.
- Button-based water-pushing design creates a considerable difference in your painting style
- Largest water content of any water brush tested by at least 2x
- Syringe-based water/ink is very easy to use, and also comes with a cap
- Plunger sticks out of the water brush
Brush Tip Material: Synthetic hair | Brush Tip Shape: Pointed | Brush Tip Sizes Available: Fine, Medium, and Broad | Flow Control: Leak-proof locking system | Handle Material: Plastic and metal | Compatible Paint Types: Watercolors and other water-based media | Additional Features: Durable construction for long-lasting use
The Japanese are known to be fussy and fastidious about… basically, anything that they do. This Water Brush pen by Kuretake has several advantages, making it a serious contender in the water brush space. Kuretake has been in the market for around a century, with its calligraphy pens considered near the best in the market.
There are three kinds of sizes on offer: small, medium, and large. All of them are rounded at the top and give a stellar performance when it comes to watercolor painting. Even calligraphy is dealt with virtuously – those of you with more literary inclinations should take note of this pen. These pens have synthetic-based brushes. These tend to work out better for shorter washes.
This is because the rate at which water exits the barrel of the brush is lesser than what you’d expect of a water brush such as the Pentel. Hence, you could use the Pentel when you intend to work for larger projects, simply because it spits out more water when you ask it to. However, if it’s the control you’re after, the Kuretade gives you unprecedented amounts of it.
You can use this as a calligraphy brush or a simple watercolor brush. The one thing which clinches the argument of choosing this brush over any other is that it is extremely value-for-money. You will get years of trouble-free service out of these brushes compared to others which will give in in less than half the time. A solid recommendation!
- Brushes are very high quality and manufactured to a fault
- Gives you superb control over the amount of water and pressure you apply
- Great for calligraphy and painting both
- Does not perform well for larger loads, small reservoir capacity
Brush Tip Material: Nylon | Brush Tip Shape: Pointed | Brush Tip Sizes Available: Fine, Medium, and Broad | Flow Control: Easy-squeeze barrel | Handle Material: Plastic with rubber grips | Compatible Paint Types: Watercolors and other water-based media | Additional Features: Self-moistening brush tip for easy use
The last item on our list comes with an artistic pedigree: since the mid-1950s, Yasutomo has been associated with the highest quality of ink-wash painting tools and items. Another Japanese name comes into the picture, this one all the way from Southern California (appearances are indeed deceptive). Their product designs are, however, as close to Japan as it gets.
With this brush, you get four different brush tips and two sizes of brushes – the brushes can be had in either a Mini or standard size, and the standard size further has small, medium, large, and flat brush tips for better control over your art. The Mini size holds around 5.5 mL of water while the regular one holds around 7 mL of water.
There is little to no bleeding, and the spring is considerably better than most other brushes on the market. To release water, you can simply press on the sides – it’s a very gentle brush, and as such deserves good treatment. The water flow on these is good enough for a relatively effortless painting experience. This product is geared more toward experienced artists and professionals.
The only detrimental factor when considering the brush is the price. It’s pricier than other offerings, but you do get a much better all-round experience in return.
- High quality of brushes and tips
- Mini brush is very useful for painting plein air
- Reservoirs are quite large – even the mini reservoir is larger than average
Brush Tip Material: Nylon | Brush Tip Shape: Pointed | Brush Tip Sizes Available: Small, Medium, and Large | Flow Control: Durable barrel & cap design | Handle Material: Plastic with rubber grips | Compatible Paint Types: Watercolors and other water-based media | Additional Features: Constructed with non-toxic materials
Best Water Brushes Comparison Table
|Product||Brush Tip Material||Brush Tip Shape||Brush Tip Sizes Available||Flow Control||Handle Material||Compatible Paint Types||Additional Features|
|Sakura Koi Water Brush Review||Synthetic hair||Pointed||Small, Medium, Large, and Flat||Durable barrel & cap design||Plastic||Watercolors and other water-based media||Push-button cap for easy brush maintenance|
|Derwent Art Waterbrush 3 Pack||Synthetic hair||Pointed||Fine, Medium, and Chisel||Innovative valve system||Plastic with rubber grips||Watercolors and other water-based media||Durable brush tip for fine detailing|
|Pentel Arts Aquash Water Brush||Synthetic hair||Pointed||Fine, Medium, and Broad||Easy-squeeze barrel||Plastic with rubber grips||Watercolors and other water-based media||Clear barrel for easy color identification|
|Caran d’Arche Aquarelle Brush||Synthetic hair||Pointed||Fine, Medium, and Broad||Leak-proof locking system||Plastic and metal||Watercolors and other water-based media||Durable construction for long-lasting use|
|Kuretake ZIG Water Brush Pen||Nylon||Pointed||Fine, Medium, and Broad||Easy-squeeze barrel||Plastic with rubber grips||Watercolors and other water-based media||Self-moistening brush tip for easy use|
|Yasutomo Water Brush ||Nylon||Pointed||Small, Medium, and Large||Durable barrel & cap design||Plastic with rubber grips||Watercolors and other water-based media||Constructed with non-toxic materials|
Buying Guide For The Best Water Brushes
Water brushes are a versatile tool for artists of all levels. Whether you are a professional artist or someone looking to explore their creativity, a water brush can be a great addition to your art supplies. Here is a comprehensive buying guide for the best water brushes that will help you make an informed decision.
Types of Water Brushes
There are two types of water brushes: refillable and non-refillable. Refillable brushes have a reservoir that you can refill with water when it runs out. Non-refillable brushes have a fixed amount of water and are disposable after use.
Water brushes come in different sizes and shapes. Some brushes have a pointed tip that is great for detailed work, while others have a larger, flat brush head that is better for blending and broad strokes. Choose a brush tip that suits your personal style or the type of artwork you want to create.
The material of the brush is important because it determines its durability and how long it will last. The most popular materials include synthetic and natural hair. Synthetic hair brushes are cheaper and more durable, while natural hair brushes are softer and more delicate, but also more expensive.
The water flow mechanism of the water brush is another important factor to consider. Look for a brush that has a consistent and smooth flow of water that is easy to control. Brushes with a valve system are preferred as they make controlling the water flow much easier.
Choose a reputable brand for your water brush. There are many brands in the market, but only a few stand out due to the quality of their brushes and customer service. Some popular brands include Pentel, Sakura, and Arteza.
Tip: When choosing a water brush, don’t forget to consider the types of watercolors you’ll use. Heavy-bodied watercolors can clog certain types of brushes, so check the manufacturer’s recommendations before buying them.
Water Brushes FAQ's
A water brush is a painting tool used for blending watercolor paints, creating washes and gradients, or adding water to dry paint. It is essentially a brush with a hollow barrel that holds water, allowing the artist to control the flow of water and the amount of paint on the brush.
To use a water brush, you must first fill the barrel with water by squeezing it or by dipping it into a water source. Then, you can dip the brush into watercolor paint and paint as you would with a traditional brush. The amount of water released from the brush can be adjusted by squeezing the barrel or by using light pressure on the tip.
The benefits of using a water brush include convenience, portability, versatility, and control. Because it holds water in the barrel, there is no need to constantly dip the brush into a water source, making it ideal for painting on the go. It can also be used for a variety of techniques, including wet-on-wet, dry-brush, and glazing.
Yes, water brushes can be used with other types of water-based paint, such as gouache and acrylics. However, they are not recommended for use with oil-based or solvent-based paints.
To clean a water brush, simply rinse it with water until the water runs clear. Gently squeeze any excess water out of the brush and shape the bristles. Avoid using harsh soaps or solvents, as they can damage the brush or alter the absorbency of the fibers.
Water brushes come in a variety of sizes and shapes, including round, flat, and pointed brushes. They can also range in size from miniature to large. Some water brushes have synthetic fibers, while others have natural hair fibers.
The lifespan of a water brush depends on how well it is cared for and how frequently it is used. With proper care, a water brush can last for several years.
We truly appreciate that you’ve taken the time to read our article on the best water brushes. It is our hope that we’ve provided helpful information and made your search for the perfect water brush easier and more exciting! As you can see, different water brushes are suitable for various needs and preferences, so it’s important to find the one that aligns with your specific artistic requirements.
Out of these 6 best water brushes, here are our top three recommendations:
- Sakura Koi Water Brush is an ideal option for first-time water brush users who want an affordable option with multiple brush tip sizes.
- Derwent Art Waterbrush 3 Pack is a good option for artists who appreciate thoughtful design features like anti-roll design and a steady, controlled water flow from the brush.
- Pentel Arts Aquash Water Brush is the right choice for versatility and reliability in different settings, with easy-squeeze barrels and dishwasher-safe features for convenient maintenance.
We encourage you to explore these top recommendations and see how they can transform your artistic experience. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced artist, a water brush can be a powerful tool in your painting journey. Do not hesitate to try out different brushes to find the best match for your artistic style and preferences. Happy painting!
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