Gouache is a unique and vibrant medium that has been used by artists for centuries. It’s perfect for creating illustrations, paintings, and designs with a bold look. To get the most out of gouache, you need the right brush.
When choosing a brush for gouache painting, there are several factors to consider. You want a brush that is soft and springy enough to apply thicker gouache paint straight from the tube. However, you also want one that is absorbent enough to create washes and glazes. Synthetic brushes tend to be more affordable than natural hair brushes. Plus, some synthetic brushes offer a similar level of performance and control.
To help you find the perfect paint brush, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best gouache brushes for artists. Each brush has been carefully reviewed based on its features, quality, performance, and price.
Da Vinci Petit Gris Pur Blue Squirrel Brushes
Attributes: ultra soft and absorbent, round, flat & quill shapes, starts at $7.86
The Da Vinci Petit Gris Pur Blue Squirrel Brushes are made from high-quality squirrel hair. The bristles are ultra soft and absorbent and therefore great for creating delicate washes and glazes. These brushes come in several different shapes, including flat, quill and round.
Flat shaped brushes are great for creating large, even washes. These brushes not only hold a lot of water, but a lot of pigment too. So vibrant washes full of colour can be created. This is fantastic for creating backgrounds, sky sections or glazes of colour.
The quill brushes are similar to mop brushes, however they taper to a point. These brushes are densely packed with bristles, which means they hold a lot of colour. With a quill brush, expect to be able to achieve techniques like washes, but also to vary the line width with the tip. This enables artists to be expressive and create loose, painterly effects with the paint.
Most of the brush shapes are made from genuine squirrel hair, however the flat and round brushes are made from a blend of natural and synthetic squirrel hair.
Bear in mind that squirrel hair is incredibly soft and can act ‘floppy’. This is like how you would expect a mop brush to behave. Squirrel hair does not have the same ‘snap’ or elasticity as kolinsky sable. However, it is cheaper and has superior absorbency.
The thicker and longer handle improves the feel and balance of the brush in the hand.
Escoda Perla Toray White Synthetic brushes
Attributes: springy, synthetic, large range of shapes and sizes
These brushes are made with white toray filaments. The filaments make them ideal for gouache or watercolour painting, as they provide excellent control and taper to a point for a soft application.
The round brush combines three diameters and three different lengths, making it versatile enough to use in any project. Additionally, the Perla flat brush has a flat plane of white toray fiber which is great for creating lines and square designs.
These brushes are known to hold their shape, more so than other synthetic brands on the market. Even after years of use, the shape of the brush will remain consistent. They have a slight springiness which gives good snapback, allowing for controlled application of paint and improved control over the brushstroke.
The bright shape is great for creating outlines, or using with the dry brush techniques to create the appearance of texture on the paper. Then the round shape is designed for creating small details.
For gouache artists who like to work with paint straight from the tube, to create vibrant, block colours and opaque marks, this brush would be a perfect option.
Escoda Prado Tame Synthetic Brushes
Attributes: springiness offers control, synthetic kolinsky starts at $10.42
The Escoda Prado Tame Synthetic Brushes are a great choice for gouache painting as well as watercolour painting.
These brushes feature a unique blend of synthetic and natural fibers that provide a smooth, even application of paint. The filaments have been designed to behave like kolinsky sable. They are springy, with a snap to them, similar to kolinsky sable. However, they also have brilliant water holding capacity.
The brushes look and feel luxurious, with burgundy lacquered handles and a nickel plated brass ferrule. This brush is a little more expensive than other synthetic brushes on the list, with prices starting at $10.42.
The bristles are soft and flexible, allowing for precise control when painting. The handles are lightweight and ergonomically designed to fit comfortably in your hand, making it easy to use the brush for extended periods of time. Additionally, the brush is super resilient and reliable, withstanding heavy pressure and more gestural painting techniques, such as dry brushing or scumbling.
If you enjoy painting with watercolour, acrylic or oil, this brush can be used with all mediums! The synthetic fibres make it suitable for use with soft body acrylics and the soft, yet springy fibres are useful when using with runnier oil paints that have been altered with a medium like linseed oil.
Escoda Reserva Kolinsky-Tajmyr Sable Brushes
Attributes: genuine kolinsky sable, springy and absorbent, high quality, starts at $16.36
The Escoda Reserva Kolinsky-Tajmyr Sable Brushes are crafted using only the tail hairs from the male Kolinsky found in Siberia. These brushes are renowned for their springiness and ability to hold a large amount of colour, making them perfect for gouache and watercolour painting. The brush fibres are carefully selected to ensure they have the highest quality, and each brush is handcrafted with a unique “curing” process that makes them even more resilient.
When it comes to handling properties, these brushes offer excellent control and responsiveness. They also come in a variety of sizes and shapes, so you can find the perfect brush for your needs.
The pointed round brushes are great for details, whilst the filbert brushes are excellent for creating soft edges, for example painting the edges of a cloud in a landscape painting. Sizes range from an extra small 5/0 (0.4mm), to a large 20 (21mm).
If you are looking for a truly luxurious option and don’t mind spending a bit extra, the Escoda Reserva Kolinsky-Tajmyr Sable Brushes could be exactly what you need. Prices start from $16.36 and go up to over $1000 for the largest sizes. Bear in mind that natural hair brushes can hold more than double the amount of water and pigment compared to synthetic brushes, so it’s definitely worth investing in a good quality kolinsky brush when painting with gouache.
Da Vinci Maestro Kolinsky Brushes
Attributes: red kolinsky sable, excellent springiness and water holding capacity, start at $10.84
Crafted from male winter Siberian Kolinsky red sable fur, Da Vinci Maestro Kolinsky brushes offer several different types of round brushes that all have their unique functions.
The full belly round brushes taper to a perfect point and have full belly that can hold more water. These round brushes are especially sharp, making them ideal for creating thin lines and intricate details. However, they hold more water and pigment than regular rounds, meaning you can create unbroken marks on the paper.
The long tapered rounds excel at creating long straight lines, but can also be used for expressive mark making. Then, the liner brushes are also highly sought after due to their ability to create long lines with ease. If you need to outline a subject for an illustration, draw tree branches or add intricate details to long grasses, the liner brush is the perfect shape for executing details.
How to choose the best gouache brushes
When it comes to choosing the right gouache brush, there are a few key factors to consider. The most important is the type of bristles used. Soft yet springy natural kolinsky hair brushes are ideal for gouache painting as they have a springiness that allows them to move paint straight from the tube and also hold more water than synthetic brushes. They also have excellent absorbency, allowing them to pick up and release colour easily. However, there are many synthetic brushes that perform excellently with gouache, like Escoda Prado Tame.
In terms of shape, round brushes are great for detail work while flat brushes are better for larger areas or washes. A rigger brush is useful for creating thin lines and an angle brush can be used for creating sharp edges and corners.
It’s also important to look at the size of the brush head. Smaller sizes are good for detailed work while larger sizes can cover more area quickly. Ultimately, it’s best to experiment with different types of brushes until you find one that works best for your style of painting. Consider adding a few different shapes and sizes of brushes to your gouache painting supplies kit. That way, you can use a variety of techniques.