Top 6 Best Beginner Watercolor Brushes: Top Picks for New Artists

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Watercolor painting is a form of art that has enamored hobbyists and professional artists alike for centuries. This accessible medium allows for a wide range of artistic expression, from delicate washes to bold and vibrant compositions. Central to this art form are the brushes, which can significantly affect the outcome of a painting. For beginners, the choice of the brush is as crucial as the stroke itself, as it allows for an exploration of different techniques and textures with ease and precision.

When starting out, beginners should look for watercolor brushes that are versatile, durable, and capable of holding a good amount of water and pigment. Typically, these brushes come in various shapes such as round, flat, filbert, and mop, with round brushes being especially favored for their adaptability. The bristles are another important consideration; they can be made of natural hair, synthetic fibers, or a blend of both. While natural hair brushes are known for their superior water holding capacity, synthetic brushes are praised for their affordability and resilience.

Our focus centers on ensuring that newcomers to watercolor painting are well-equipped to begin their artistic journey. Identifying the best beginner watercolor brushes involves examining factors like comfort, bristle quality, and responsiveness. We believe that the right set of brushes can significantly ease the learning curve, allowing budding artists to develop their skills with confidence. With extensive research and hands-on testing, we’ve compiled a list of watercolor brushes that strike the perfect balance between quality and user-friendliness for beginners.

Top Beginner Watercolor Brushes

Before exploring the wide world of watercolor, it’s essential to have the right tools. We have curated a selection of brushes that are perfect for those starting their artistic journey. These brushes offer a balance between quality and affordability, making it easier to learn the techniques without worrying about the cost. Whether you’re practicing brush strokes or blending colors, our list will guide you to the best options for beginner artists.

1. Princeton Neptune Series

We find the Princeton Neptune Series brushes an exceptional choice for beginners due to their handling of water and paint, ease of use, and exceptional value.


  • Mimics natural squirrel hair finely, offering a smooth application of watercolor
  • Retains a substantial amount of water, reducing the need to frequently reload the brush
  • Offers a diverse range of brush shapes to experiment with various strokes


  • Might be slightly pricier for absolute beginners compared to generic sets
  • Synthetic bristles may not satisfy purists who prefer natural hair
  • The large brush sizes may not suit those looking for finer detail brushes

Ever since our first stroke with the Princeton Neptune Series, the way they enable seamless color blending across our watercolor paper has impressed us. Their capability to simulate natural squirrel brushes—albeit in a synthetic form—is remarkable. We’ve noticed they’re especially good for washes and smooth gradient rendering due to their excellent water retention.

The versatility in the brush shapes within this set has broadened our artistic horizons. Jumping from broad washes with the Aquarelle brush to detailed lines with the Round Size 4, we’ve been able to tackle a variety of watercolor techniques. This has been handy for days when our project scope swings from broad landscapes to intricate patterns.

We’ve observed a particularly beneficial factor for beginners: the brushes are forgiving. They hold a generous amount of water which gives us time to manipulate the pigment on the paper before it dries. However, we should note that the larger sizes included might not be the first choice for those who primarily work on smaller scale pieces with finer details.

In our sessions, cleaning and maintaining these brushes have been stress-free, reflecting their quality and durability. This resilience against wear makes them a smart long-term investment. The smooth wood handles feel comfortable to hold for extended periods, and despite our rigorous use, the brushes have not shed.

In conclusion, the Princeton Neptune Series serves as a bridge between amateur and professional quality, giving beginners an edge in their artistic pursuits.

2. Paintcrush Watercolor Brush Set

We think this Paintcrush Brush Set is a wise choice for any beginner due to its quality, comfort, and versatility.


  • The ergonomic short handles allow for precise control.
  • Inspirational messages on the brush handles boost your creativity.
  • Multifunctional brushes can be used with different paint types.


  • Beginners might need time to explore the best use of each brush style.
  • The small size may not suit those used to larger brushes.
  • Only six styles may limit some artistic expressions.

After spending some time with the Paintcrush Watercolor Brush Set, we have to say, it’s been quite an experience. The short and sturdy handles fit comfortably in our hands, avoiding slippage and reducing fatigue, which is crucial for us during longer painting sessions. Each stroke feels intentional, aiding in creating the precise watercolor effects we’ve been aiming for.

The brushes come with an aesthetic plus – quotes on each handle that serve as little motivational nudges. It’s a unique touch that keeps our spirits high when we’re deep into the nuances of watercolor painting. Moreover, the versatility of the set, with its various brush types, has proven invaluable as we experiment with different strokes and techniques.

Transporting the brushes in the included canvas pouch has simplified our painting adventures outdoors. It’s roomy and protects our brushes, ensuring they’re in top condition whenever inspiration strikes. The artistic journey feels more joyful with these tools at our fingertips, rightfully so for any beginner looking to start on the right foot.

3. ZenART Watercolor Brushes

If you’re venturing into the world of watercolor, these ZenART brushes will satisfy with their balance of quality and ease-of-use.


  • Exceptional blending capability due to fine synthetic bristles
  • Range of shapes and sizes caters to various strokes and techniques
  • Durable construction means they retain shape after many uses


  • May not mimic the exact feel of natural hair for purists
  • Short handles might not suit those used to traditional long handles
  • First-time prepping required as per the care guide

Upon using these brushes, we noticed the bristles held water and pigment remarkably well, allowing us to lay down washes with confidence while also executing fine lines with the rigger and detailing with the rounds. Their short handles felt comfortable, reducing fatigue which is a boon during longer painting sessions.

The synthetic hair offers a balance between softness and firmness. It gives enough ‘snap’ for precise control yet is flexible enough for those delicate, flowing lines that define good watercolor work. The array of brush types in the set is perfect for beginners who are still discovering their favorite styles and techniques.

We must say, these brushes are easy to clean – a wonderful feature that keeps maintenance simple. The sturdy case that comes with it offers convenient storage and transportation, making this set a great travel companion for painting en plein air. Despite the initial care necessary to prepare the brushes for use, it’s a minor step considering their overall performance.

4. CHROMATEK Watercolor Pen Set

If you’re dipping your toes into the colorful world of watercolors, this set from CHROMATEK is a delightful starting point.


  • Seamless blending capabilities
  • A range of vivid colors to choose from
  • Accompanied by helpful tutorials for beginners


  • Pen labeling might be confusing due to recent name changes
  • Limited to 27 colors, which may be restrictive for some
  • Brush tips may fray with extensive use

When we first got our hands on the CHROMATEK 30 Watercolor Brush Pens, the variety of colors instantly sparked our creativity. There’s a sense of excitement when picking a shade and watching it glide effortlessly across the paper.

The blending brush included has been a real game-changer for us. It’s remarkable how it melds colors together for that authentic watercolor effect without the mess. Especially for beginners, being able to experiment without committing to a full paint set and brushes is a boon.

One challenge we’ve faced is the renaming of pen colors from the ones mentioned in the tutorial videos. It required a bit of back-and-forth to match them up, but it’s a small hitch in an otherwise smooth journey. Despite the pen tips showing signs of wear after extensive use, the overall experience has been positive. These pens encourage exploration into the art of watercolor with an assurance that’s hard to find elsewhere.

5. ARTEGRIA Watercolor Brush Set

We find this set to be a fantastic ally for those venturing into watercolor painting, thanks to its versatility and quality build.


  • Bristles hold paint well for smooth application
  • Set includes a variety of shapes for different strokes
  • Durable build with no shedding observed


  • May require a breaking-in period for optimal softness
  • Not real animal hair, which might affect performance for some
  • The finer brushes might be too delicate for heavy-handed beginners

Just yesterday, we spent some time experimenting with these ARTEGRIA brushes. Immediately, we took note of how comfortably they fit in our hands, suggesting long painting sessions wouldn’t lead to discomfort. The variety of brush shapes provided us with the means to tackle diverse watercolor techniques – from the smallest details afforded by the fine-tipped rounds to the broad strokes made possible by the flats and oval wash.

Throughout the process, the bristles impressed us with their capacity to hold water and pigment. This trait alone allowed for a smooth, consistent flow of color onto paper. The seamless transition between brushstrokes is something beginners will appreciate as it lends a sense of control and ease.

Durability is a trait we can’t overlook. Post-use, the brushes retained their shape and finesse — a clear sign of meticulous craftsmanship. We’ve encountered no bristle loss, suggesting these brushes are crafted to last. They feel like a smart investment, especially considering the affordable price point. For those just starting or looking to expand their toolset without breaking the bank, this ARTEGRIA set seems to strike the right balance between cost and quality.

6. ArtShip Design Brush Pens

If you’re dipping your toes into watercolor art, these ArtShip Design Brush Pens are a delightful investment for ease and convenience.


  • They mimic traditional watercolor brushes with their flexible nylon tips, giving us that authentic painting feel.
  • This kit is particularly travel-friendly since it banishes the mess of conventional watercolors.
  • The variety of colors in this set instantly broadens our creative palette without needing to mix paints.


  • We noticed the paint flow can be inconsistent, so there’s a learning curve to achieve the desired effect.
  • These pens might not replace the nuanced control you get from classic brushes and paints.
  • For those who are more traditional with watercolors, the feel might not quite match up to standard brushes.

When we picked up ArtShip Design’s watercolor brush pens, the first thing we noticed was the impressive spectrum of vibrant colors. The pens feel sturdy in hand and offer both broad and fine strokes with ease, making them perfect for different artistic expressions, from sketching to filling in larger areas with color.

Our creative hours were free from the typical setup or clean-up associated with watercolor paints. It’s a game-changer for those moments of spontaneous inspiration or when we’re on the go. Switching between colors is seamless, allowing us to stay in the flow of our work without interruption.

We must admit, though, it took a moment to get a hang of the water flow from the brushes. Initially, it may seem as though the paint isn’t releasing evenly, but with a little practice and patience, the technique comes naturally. Overall, these brush pens are a fantastic resource for anyone starting their journey with watercolors or looking to add a no-fuss option to their artistic toolkit.

Buying Guide

When selecting the best beginner watercolor brushes, we should look for a few key features. Start by considering the brush size. For most beginners, a range of small, medium, and large brushes allows for a variety of strokes and techniques.

Brush Shape: Our choice of brush shape is equally important. Round brushes offer versatility for detailed work, while flat brushes are ideal for bold strokes and washes. A pointed round brush can be especially useful for fine lines and detail.

Bristle Quality: The bristles should be soft and flexible, yet strong enough to hold water. Synthetic bristles are more affordable and durable, making them a good choice for beginners. However, ensure they have a fine point when wet and can spring back into shape after each stroke.

Handle Comfort: The brush handle should fit comfortably in our hand. A smooth, lightweight handle can help prevent fatigue during extended painting sessions.

FeatureWhat to Look For
SizeSmall, medium, and large
ShapeRound, flat, and pointed round
Bristle QualitySoft, flexible, synthetic
Handle ComfortSmooth, lightweight, comfortable

Ferrule: Our brushes should have a secure ferrule—the metal band that connects bristles to handle. It shouldn’t wobble or shed bristles, as that can affect the brush’s performance and the integrity of our artwork.

Above all, we should ensure the brushes maintain their shape and distribute paint smoothly and evenly. We don’t have to invest in the most expensive set, but good quality brushes can make our watercolor experience more enjoyable and successful.

Frequently Asked Questions

When starting with watercolor, it’s essential to understand the brush types, sizes, and qualities that can serve you best. Knowing the differences between synthetic and natural brushes, as well as the brands and grades suitable for beginners, will equip you to make the best choices for your art.

What are the essential types of brushes needed for beginning watercolor artists?

We typically recommend a few key types of brushes for beginners. A round brush is versatile and can be used for both detailed work and broader washes. A flat brush is excellent for bold, straight lines and filling large areas. Lastly, a smaller detailed brush is crucial for fine work.

Which brush sizes are recommended for watercolor novices to start with?

For those new to watercolor, we suggest starting with a small selection of sizes. A size 6 or 8 round brush can be your workhorse for most tasks. A 1-inch flat brush will cover larger areas quickly, and a size 2 or 3 round brush will be enough for detailed work.

What characteristics should one look for when selecting a beginner’s watercolor brush set?

Ideal brushes for beginners should have a fine point, a good spring, and the ability to hold water. Brushes that keep their shape well and distribute color evenly will make the learning process smoother.

How do synthetic and natural brushes compare for beginner watercolorists?

Synthetic brushes are typically more affordable and durable, making them a good choice for beginners. They are easier to clean and maintain. Natural brushes, while often pricier, have superior water holding capacity and can achieve a finer point, which can be advantageous as you progress.

Are there specific watercolor brush brands that are recommended for those just starting out?

Many brands offer quality brushes suitable for beginners without the higher cost of professional-grade supplies. Brands like Winsor & Newton Cotman, Princeton Art & Brush Co., and Da Vinci offer starter sets that are both high in quality and affordable.

What are the advantages of using student grade versus artist grade brushes for beginners?

Student grade brushes are more cost-effective, which is ideal for beginners who are practicing and learning. They offer good performance without the investment in artist grade brushes, which are better suited for more experienced artists who require finer control and longevity from their brushes.

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