Water Brush Comparison!

Hi friends! I have been asked by a few viewers if I would compare all off of the different water brushes on the market and while I don’t have them all I do have quite a few and today I will share the benefits and failings of each. I also welcome you to share your favorite water brushes in the comments section below.


A waterbrush is a brush with a hollow handle that you can fill with water (or ink, paint etc) so you do not need to bring a separate jar of water with you when travel painting or if you don’t want to deal with a spillable cup of water at home. These can also be handy for stampers or scrapbookers that want to add some mixed media to their art but don’t want a pot of water on their table that might spill on their project. Whatever the reason fo you wanting to use a waterbrush I will show you the features of some of the most popular ones out there.


I compared 8 different brands of waterbrushes. Personally I like waterbrushes for travel sketching. I think you can get better brushes for your money for in studio work that are not waterbrushes but for times when it is inconvenient to have a bucket of rinse water nearby they are a great option!

Here are the brands I demoed:

Caran D’ache $8-$10 each or 3/$24 small, medium, large point rounds

Koi $7.50 each or it comes in the Koi watercolor pocket box that I use en plein air painting:  This brand offers the most compact brushes, including really short mini brushes. Don’t throw away the black stopper that comes with these because you can use it to plug the water in the handle if you want to take apart the brush for compact travel storage. These brushes are very easy to squeeze to release more water.

Niji $10  or  These were the first water brushes I owned and they are going strong after 15 years of frequent use. I think they were the first to make a waterbrush and probably have improved in technology over the years. A tried and true brand.

Prima Round (2/$8) and Flat (3/$10) HS or SSS  I really like the rounds, I have been using them for over a year and really like them, they are a bargain too. Soft bristles come to a nice sharp point.

Aqua Stroke (4/$12- 3 rounds 1 flat)  I have used these for years too, they are fine but the barrels are harder to squeeze and would be hard for people with arthritis or other strength issues.

Mudder (6/$12 3 flats, 3 rounds) These are a decent bargain and I have painted with them a few times since I filmed this comparison and I like them. Beware when replace caps on the flats that you don’t squash the bristles

Royal (3/$5 rounds)*I do not recommend these brushes as water brushes, they do not have a regulator inside so it is hard to control the water coming out and it tends to suck paint back into the barrel making the paint water dirty. I use these to make DIY glitter pens.

Generic (Came in Jerry Q art kit)

These are some brands YouTube viewers have listed as their favorites:
Tim Holtz/ Ranger has a round detailer $10 and flat $12
Derwent Waterbrush had mixed reviews from YouTube fans which leads me to believe that there might have been a bad batch made at some point. I recommend contacting Derwent if you get a bad brush. Many viewers listed this brush as their favorite.
Pentel Aqwash  These got great reviews from YouTube viewers and they are quite affordable. Also I think the larger bulbous barrel might be easier to squeeze.
If you have a recommendation let me know in the comments!

Bottom line, other than the Royal water brushes (which I do not recommend) I found that most of them preformed about the same with no big advantages over the rest other than price so see what you can find in your price range and have fun!

*Note: Affiliate link to Hallmark Scrapbook and Simon Says Stamp used. I find Simon Says Stamp has the BEST selection BUT Hallmark Scrapbook has better prices but they sell out fast! They are both wonderful & amazing companies though:)

I hope you found this useful, Happy Crafting!



9 Responses

  1. Hi Lindsay.
    Thanks for the reviews. My favorite water brush brand is still the Koi as they are easy to regulate and have outlasted my others. I threw away my Pentel Aquash water brushes – they constantly leak and the bristles just don’t last – I have read many complaints similar to mine. Like you feel about the Royal, I feel about the Pentel. I do have the Pentel Pocket ink brush though with the black waterproof ink (comes with replaceable cartridges similar to a fountain pen), and love it. The Derwent has just recently been redesigned so very much improved.
    Thanks for all you do!!💕


  2. Hi Lindsay , thank you for the review. I have a pentel brush that I like really well and a small tip Koi brand. I also bought a set of prima the beginning of the year. the brushes are nice but I still cannot get them open to fill with water. Is there a secret? I emailed the company right after I got them but never heard back. It probably wouldn’t be worth the cost to return them but if you have any ideas how to get them open I would appreciate your help. Thanks for another helpful video. Betty


  3. This was a cool idea! Very useful for everyone too! Great post!
    Crafty Divaz Aus


  4. Wow, I had no idea there were so many different brands of water brushes. I have both Tim Holtz brushes but I have not used them a whole lot. They worked great when I did use them.


  5. Of all the water brushes I’ve tried the Pentel Aquawash is by far my favorite – that and the Koi.


  6. Oh – I also forgot to say – another really fun thing to do is to put actual tube watercolor paint into the brush with the water and paint like that. Really easy.


  7. The only brand I have used is the Aquastroke and I love them. I was going to argue that they are not difficult to squeeze but then I realized they are when you need big drops. I find that they drop so much water that I often have to dab them on a paper towel before picking up the paint. It’s not a problem for me nor something I would ding them on. They get me painting a whole lot more than if I had to use regular brushes and a cup of water. I wish I had a little more control with them but, again, it gets me painting. I’m thinking I might pick up a set of the Mudder because they are so small. That’s the only thing about the Aquastroke – they seem to be huge bristles.


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