Most brushes I have are the portable collapsible travel brushes. When I saw the Da Vinci 5240 watercolour brush set, I thought the brush selection included is quite good in the sense that it has two different type of wash brushes for big areas, size 8 and 12 general brushes and the small size 2 for details. So I bought it to compliment the collapsible brushes that can only go up to a certain size.
The box set comes with these five brushes:
- Series 5530 Cosmotop Mix B Watercolor Round Paintbrush, Size 18
- Series 991 Size 18 Flat Russian Blue Squirrel Mix Watercolor Brush
- Kolinsky Watercolor Series 36 Red Sable Paint Brush, Round, Size 12
- Series 5550 Cosmotop Mix F Brush Size 8
- Kolinsky Watercolor Series 36 Red Sable Paint Brush, Round, Size 2
It's a mix of sable and Cosmotop brushes. Cosmotop is the Da Vinci's brand for mixed hair brushes.
If you add up the brush prices as if you were to buy them individually, the total price is quite similar to the box set, but with the set you get some extra goodies and of course the beautiful wooden box. The extra goodies are the brush soap, painting cloth and a piece of red plastic block for two brushes to rest on.
The wooden box is nicely polished with a low gloss on top and matte on the sides. It's kept shut with two side metal latches. There are six holes on the box for ventilation. However, I would still dry my brushes outside of the box because the big brushes will need more time to dry. The box measures 36 by 9 by 3.5cm.
When I bring my brushes out, I put them in the Tran Brush Canvas Roll Up. The box is good for storage at home as it's heavier compared to brush wraps.
Inside the box, brushes are laid on foam cushion. With the box closed, the four big brushes are held in place by the cushion.
As there are three big brushes, this set is more suited for use on bigger pieces of paper, I say at least 12 by 9 inches and above. Anything smaller, you're going to feel constrained by the paper size and the brush. These brushes need the space to work with.
Let's talk about the individual brushes now.
Series 5530 Cosmotop Mix B Watercolor Round Paintbrush, Size 18
The Cosmotop Mix B is a round wash brush. The hair is a mix of Kolinsky Red Sable, Russian Blue Squirrel, and Russian Fitch (Black Sable), along with small amounts of synthetic hair.
The different hair lends their attribute to this brush. Sable provides the sharp point, the squirrel hair improves the water-holding capacity, and the Fitch gives the brush the firm stiffness and durability.
This brush is capable of holding a good amount of water, and it releases water well enough to create nice even wash. The sharp point will give you access to areas that are not easy to do so with a flat wash brush.
Series 991 Size 18 Flat Russian Blue Squirrel Mix Watercolor Brush
I love the design of this brush with its triangular grooves around the gripping area.
The blue squirrel mixed hair can holds lots of water and create flat washes effortlessly without consistently needing to reload. It's great for covering large areas with colour.
Kolinsky Watercolor Series 36 Red Sable Paint Brush, Round, Size 12
This is the prized brush among the five brushes. It's the most expensive as the hair is from Harbin Kolinsky Red Sable winter tail hair. This round brush is the workhorse for watercolour painting. It holds its point well, is springy, will return and hold its shape well. Sable is known for their water carrying capacity also.
The black lacquered handles are classy.
Series 5550 Cosmotop Sable Mix F Brush Size 8
The Cosmotop is the economical alternative to sable brushes. The hair for this brush is a mix of Kolinsky Red Sable, Ox Hair (sometimes called Sabeline), Russian Fitch (Black Sable) and some synthetic hair.
It has a nice sharp point and holds water well. It's not quite as springy and does not return to shape as easily as the Series 36 pure sable brush above.
Kolinsky Watercolor Series 36 Red Sable Paint Brush, Round, Size 2
This small size 2 brush is for adding details, filling small spaces with colours where the bigger brushes are incapable of doing. This brush completes the set, so you have the big brushes to cover large areas and washes, the medium size 8 and 12 brushes for general work, and this brush for covering the details.
The plastic block, brush soap and painting cloth (mostly use for cleaning, or soaking up water).
The hair tend to fray outwards when dry.
This is how they look when they are wet.
The big brushes definitely work better with big palettes, tubes and full pans than with those half pan watercolour boxes.
The size 12 sable brush is good for general work and larger areas.
The size 8 brush is good for smaller areas.
Here, I used the size 2 brush to colour the small area, to keep the paint within the lines.
This is the size 18 round wash brush at work. It's just wonderful to see the way it releases water and pigment.
These two watercolour sketches above are painted with the brushes. They are just A5 in size and I did not really unleash the full potential of the big brushes.
Overall quality of the brushes is satisfactory. I'm less impressed by the Series 5550 Cosmotop because the hair doesn't get back to shape easily and when putting down a wash, the hair does not feel as firm, flexible or springy as the sable.
This isn't really a set I would recommend to sketchers on the go because of the size of the brushes, which implies that you need to work larger than 12 by 9 inches (just my personal gauge).
Overall, it's a watercolour brush set that's good value for money. It's for painters who like to paint big. I really like the wooden box which I feel makes a wonderful gift to artists.
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