Top 5 Best Synthetic Brushes for Watercolor: Top Picks for Artists

We independently select all products and services. If you click through links we provide, Mighty Deals may earn a commission.

Watercolor painting is a storied art form beloved for its ethereal qualities and translucency. It’s an art that dates back centuries, allowing artists to explore the nuances of light and color. In recent years, advancements in synthetic brush technology have revolutionized watercolor painting. These synthetic brushes now offer performance comparable to natural hair brushes while also being cruelty-free and more durable. For watercolor artists, from beginners to professionals, synthetic brushes are an essential tool for creating delicate washes and intricate details.

When selecting synthetic brushes for watercolor painting, it’s crucial to consider the brush’s ability to hold water, its point retention, and the smoothness of the brushstroke it can deliver. The right brush should come to a fine point for detailed work and have enough body to hold a good quantity of paint for broader strokes. Equally important is the durability of the brush – a high-quality synthetic brush will maintain its shape and performance over time, resisting wear down from the abrasive action of the watercolor paper.

We understand that every brush stroke is crucial to a watercolor masterpiece. Hence, we carefully scrutinize an array of synthetic watercolor brushes, evaluating them on their water retention, precision, and longevity to guide you to the best choices available. Whether you’re rendering a subtle gradient sky or defining sharp lines in a landscape, the right brush can make all the difference.

Top Synthetic Brushes for Watercolor

We’ve carefully selected the finest synthetic brushes that offer consistency, durability, and a fine touch for watercolor artists. Our list represents quality choices that cater to various techniques and preferences, ensuring every artist finds the perfect tool for their creative endeavors.

1. Princeton Neptune Synthetic Squirrel Brushes

We think these brushes are a must-have for watercolor enthusiasts seeking precision, smoothness, and longevity in their painting tools.


  • Mimics natural squirrel hair’s softness and water retention
  • Durable and retains shape after many uses
  • Animal-friendly and reasonably priced compared to natural hair brushes


  • Limited flexibility for those accustomed to natural hair brushes
  • May require adjustment for artists switching from stiffer brushes
  • Some may prefer a more extensive range of brush sizes

I’ve had the pleasure of working with the Princeton Neptune series on my latest watercolor projects, and it’s like they were a natural extension of my own hand. Their ability to soak up pigment and glide across paper makes blending colors an utter joy. Whether I’m focusing on intricate details or broad washes, these brushes provide a level of control that is truly impressive.

We often forget the importance of a brush that maintains its point, but this set holds up exceptionally well to the rigors of daily use. Despite their soft bristles, these brushes keep their shape, allowing for consistent strokes and reliable precision that has significantly elevated the quality of our work.

Having used these brushes extensively, we’ve noticed that they release water smoothly, which is vital for achieving those soft gradients that bring a watercolor piece to life. Of course, they’re synthetic, which might not suit purists, but their performance has won us over, and their affordable price point makes them accessible to both professionals and hobbyists alike.

2. Da Vinci Grigio Synthetic Brushes

We believe these brushes are a prime choice for watercolor artists who prefer synthetic bristles with the performance of natural hair.


  • Mimic natural mongoose without the ethical concerns
  • Retain shape and have a good snap
  • Sustainable and well-crafted design


  • Pricier compared to some synthetic sets
  • May not suit those accustomed to traditional hair brushes
  • Limited size variation in the set

After painting with the Da Vinci Grigio Synthetic Brushes, we’ve noticed the fibers’ high elasticity and strength are quite impressive. They seem to absorb pigments well, allowing for smooth application and a fine touch on the canvas. Furthermore, the different diameters and slight texture give these brushes a natural brush feel without using animal products.

The brushes are remarkably resilient. Even after repeated use and cleaning, they maintain their shape. This aspect is crucial for detailed work where each stroke needs to be precise. The sustainable wood handles and nickel-plated brass ferrules also speak of the quality in manufacturing.

We’ve used many synthetic brushes, but the experience with Da Vinci Grigio Set is noteworthy. The balance between softness for blending and firmness for control strikes the right chord. While they might be an investment, it’s apparent why: the craftsmanship and performance justify the cost.

However, if you’re transitioning from cheaper synthetics or natural brushes, there might be an adjustment period. You’ll have to familiarize yourself with the different feel and reaction of these fibers. Notwithstanding this, we find ourselves reaching for these brushes again and again, whether we’re laying down washes or working on fine details. Their versatility and durability make them a standout.

3. ZenART Faux Squirrel Brushes

If you’re on the hunt for top-tier synthetic brushes that mimic natural hairs, we can heartily recommend this set for your watercolor projects.


  • Superior blend of firmness and softness ideal for watercolors
  • Durable build with no shedding or shape loss
  • Convenient, portable PVC case included


  • May not match the exact feel of natural hairs for purists
  • Only six sizes, which might limit some artists
  • Shorter handles can be an adjustment for those used to traditional brushes

Having recently put the ZenART Faux Squirrel Brushes through their paces, our impressions are largely positive. Their performance strikes a remarkable balance—soft enough to tease out subtle gradations of color, yet firm enough to keep strokes crisp and well-defined. We’ve enjoyed the responsive nature of these brushes, especially the spring and snap that make for a satisfying watercolor experience.

Throughout our sessions, we’ve noticed that these brushes absorb water and pigment well, which is crucial for seamless blending and layering. Although they’re synthetic, they have a quality that rivals natural hair brushes, giving you control over both broad washes and fine details without the guilt of using animal products.

With brush maintenance being a necessary chore, the resilience of these brushes is a plus: they’ve resisted the usual pitfalls such as fraying or handle loosening, even after multiple washes. The compact waterproof case they come with is a boon for artists who travel or enjoy outdoor painting sessions—it certainly has made our life easier.

Ultimately, the ZenART Faux Squirrel Brushes have proven their worth on our palettes, laying down colors with both precision and grace. Perfect for artists who prefer vegan options without sacrificing quality, this set has become a valued part of our watercolor toolkit.

4. CHROMATEK Watercolor Brush Pens

For ease of use, vibrant colors, and versatility in watercolor painting, these pens are a solid addition to any artist’s toolkit.


  • Easy to control with a real brush tip.
  • Vivid colors that blend well on paper.
  • Helpful video tutorials for beginners.


  • Limited to 27 colors for those needing a wider palette.
  • Pen names may differ from those in the tutorial.
  • Some may prefer traditional brushes for certain techniques.

Having recently used the CHROMATEK Watercolor Brush Pens, we were struck by how user-friendly they are. The tips offer superb control, which is ideal for detailing and achieving precise strokes that mimic those of traditional brushes. The colors lay down on the paper with an impressive vibrancy, and the blending brush included in the set effortlessly melds colors together to create smooth transitions and gradations.

Our experience with the video tutorials was enlightening. As a beginner, the guidance provided by these tutorials was invaluable, helping us to quickly elevate our basic techniques. The quality of the included tutorial pad met our expectations as well, being of a heavy-stock watercolor paper that handled the pens’ moisture without warping or pilling.

After experimenting with these pens, there are a few limitations to keep in mind. While 27 colors offer a broad range, ambitious artists with a need for a more extensive palette may find themselves reaching for additional shades. Also, in the transition from tutorials to independent use, we noticed the colors were renamed, which caused a momentary confusion. Lastly, traditionalists may still prefer their usual watercolor brushes for specific textures and effects that may not be as easily replicated by brush pens.

In summary, CHROMATEK’s Watercolor Brush Pens are a delightful find, especially for those embarking on their watercolor journey or seeking a convenient, no-mess alternative to traditional paints. The blend of control, vivid hues, and supportive learning materials make them a worthy tool in our artistic endeavors.

5. ARTEZA Watercolor Brush Set

We believe this brush set from ARTEZA is a splendid choice for artists who value quality and versatility in their watercolor tools.


  • Diverse brush shapes cater to all artistic needs
  • Synthetic bristles remain intact, ensuring precision
  • Usable with a variety of mediums beyond watercolor


  • Larger brushes may be overwhelming for beginners
  • Cleaning requires extra attention to maintain quality
  • May not match the performance of high-end professional brushes

Crafting the latest watercolor piece with these ARTEZA brushes felt intuitive and comfortable. The selection of shapes allowed us to effortlessly transition between broad washes with the larger flats and fine details using the smaller rounds. This versatility not only speeds up the painting process but also nurtures creativity.

In use, the synthetic bristles presented no issues with shedding, a common annoyance we’ve found in other sets. The brushes are well-constructed, which instils confidence that they can endure numerous painting sessions. They maintain their shape after washing, which is essential for consistent stroke work in future projects.

The convenience of this set as a one-stop shop for various artistic pursuits is noteworthy. We’ve used them with watercolors to great effect and found they also perform admirably with thinned acrylics. This adaptability makes the ARTEZA set a strong contender for your art supply arsenal.

Buying Guide

When we’re looking for the best synthetic brushes for watercolor, several features stand out. First, let’s consider the bristles. They should be durable and capable of holding a fine point. Synthetic brushes are known for their resilience and ability to mimic natural hairs, so aim for ones that feel springy and snap back into shape after each stroke.

Ferrule: The ferrule is the metal band that connects the bristles to the handle. Make sure it’s securely fastened and rust-resistant to prevent damage over time.

Handle: We prefer a comfortable handle. Look for an ergonomic design that feels balanced in your hand. It’s usually made of wood or plastic—each has its advantages in terms of weight and feel.

  • Size: Size matters greatly. Have a range from small detail brushes to larger wash brushes.
  • Shape: Different shapes like round, flat, filbert, or fan serve specific purposes in watercolor painting.

Performance: Test if the brush can hold a good amount of water and pigment, an essential feature for watercolor brushes to ensure smooth color flow on the paper.

Price: Price is an indicator, but not always of quality. High prices don’t guarantee the best experience, nor do low prices signify poor performance. We recommend finding a balance between cost and the attributes that are crucial for your painting style.

Maintenance: Choose brushes that are easy to clean and maintain as this prolongs their lifespan and ensures the purity of colors in your work.

Using this guide, we hope to make the selection process simpler and more efficient, providing us with the tools needed for exquisite watercolor creations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Selecting the right synthetic watercolor brushes is essential for achieving desired effects in your art. We’ll address common inquiries artists have about these tools.

What are the distinguishing qualities of high-quality synthetic watercolor brushes?

High-quality synthetic watercolor brushes typically offer excellent liquid holding capacity and a fine point for detailed work. Their bristles spring back to shape easily and maintain durability over time.

How do synthetic waterbrushes compare to natural sable brushes in performance?

Synthetic brushes have come a long way, now closely mimicking the performance of natural sable brushes. They offer a comparable feel and flexibility, with the added benefit of being more affordable and less prone to damage from painting mediums.

Can beginners achieve professional results with synthetic watercolor brushes, and if so, which are recommended?

Yes, beginners can achieve professional results with synthetic brushes. We recommend starting with brushes that have a mix of filament types to provide both durability and finesse.

What types of synthetic brush bristles are considered best for watercolor painting techniques?

Synthetic bristles made from taklon or nylon are often favored for their ability to mimic natural hair brushes, providing smooth application and a good degree of absorbency for watercolor techniques.

How should one determine the appropriate sizes of synthetic watercolor brushes to use for various projects?

The size of synthetic brushes should correspond to the detail and scale of your project. A variety of round and flat brushes ranging from small to large will equip you for most watercolor tasks.

Which brands are recognized for producing the most durable and effective synthetic brushes for watercolor artists?

Brands such as Winsor & Newton, Da Vinci, and Princeton are renowned for their durable and effective synthetic watercolor brushes that are beloved by artists worldwide.

Related Articles:

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00