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When asked about the brushes that I use for gouache, I usually hesitate and avoid recommending particular brushes. My preferences change over time; I often try (and fall in love with) new brushes. So my Top 5 today are not exactly the same as several years ago. Yet, my students ask me for very concrete recommendations: brands, sizes, and links to the exact products that I use. They want a list of brushes to buy without doing more research.

There are five brushes that form the core of my gouache kit. Of course, I have many more brushes, and I use them as well. You may have seen other brushes in my gouache classes on Skillshare and my photos on Instagram, but if I had to choose just five brushes to bring on a deserted island, I would choose these five.

I will take you through these brushes one by one, starting with the largest brush. You'll notice that there are three different brands, but there is something they all have in common:

All of these brushes are synthetic.

  • Synthetic brushes are a more sustainable, cruelty-free option. I stopped buying natural brushes a few years ago (but I use the ones I got before). Synthetic brushes also last longer.

  • Synthetic bristles are not as soft and flexible as natural ones, giving you more control. You know what to expect from them, which is very good for beginners. With natural brushes, it is more difficult to control the amounts of water and paint on your brush.

If you google brushes, you will surely come across recommendations to use soft natural brushes rather than synthetic ones. I can't agree with that! Unless you are an experienced artist, synthetic brushes are your best choice.


Winsor & Newton Artists' Acrylic Brush, 3/4-Inch, One Stroke

It is perfect for wetting the paper and for painting on large formats, A3 and A4 primarily, but I also use it in some of my A5 sketches when I need large strokes. Why is a flat brush better than a round one? When you need to paint a large surface, it gives you a much smoother color. With a round brush, the color looks uneven.

Buy on Amazon


Winsor & Newton Artists' Acrylic Brush, Size 10, Bright

This brush is also flat, for the same reason. The paint spreads more evenly on the paper.

I use these two brushes for applying both thick and thin layers. You can see that in most of my gouache sketches thin layers of gouache actually look like watercolors.

Join my Skillshare classes to learn the basics of my gouache technique!

Both Brush 1 and Brush 2 are acrylic brushes but they are very good for gouache.

Buy on Amazon


Escoda Perla, size 8

This is a travel brush but there is also a regular version of this brush. If you like sketching on location, then use the travel version. If you only sketch inside, then do not worry about it. This is the brush that is always part of my Urban Sketching Kit.

This is a round brush, which is good for details. It is pretty stiff, so it gives you a lot of precision.

Buy the travel brush on Amazon | Buy the regular brush on Jackson's Art


Da Vinci Synthetics, series 334, size 6

This brush is tricky. I haven't been able to find it online. It seems like they have stopped producing it. As a replacement, you can use this Winsor & Newton brush (Amazon). You'll notice this brush is thinner than the one that I have, but I believe it does an equally good job!


Da Vinci Cosmotop-spin, size 2

Brush 5 is great for tiny details: grass, separate leaves and flowers, stones on the ground, and extra texture of the walls and pavements. I love adding details to my sketching, but I have found it difficult to find a good thin brush. I am very happy with this one, though.

Speaking of small details, have you tried my gouache+colored pencils technique? I add details first with gouache and then with colored pencils on top of the dry gouache sketch. These details give playfulness and vibrancy to my sketches.

To learn this technique, do my step-by-step tutorial (FREE PDF when you subscribe to my newsletter)

If you are not on Skillshare yet, use my referral link to get your first month free.

Disclaimer: some links in this post are affiliate links, which means I get a small commission when you buy something (at no additional cost to you). I appreciate every sale because this is a way for me to continue creating free content for you!


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Hello, I'm Julia Henze.



Art is my passion. Urban Sketching is my love.

My work (and this site) is devoted to sharing ideas, tools, and resources that will help you to find your way in the world of art.

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