I've featured and reviewed many Escoda watercolour brushes so far and here's one more, the Escoda Optimo sable watercolour brush.
The Escoda Optimo watercolour brush sits somewhere below the Reserva line of brushes, which is their best quality watercolour brushes.
Optimo is slightly cheaper than the Reserva because of the mix of hair. The Reserva series use the Kolinsky-Tajmyr hair, 100% pure kolinskey male hair. The Optimo series uses a mix of 50% male and female hair.
In terms of performance, these sable brushes both have a nice snap, but the Optimo is slightly softer than the Reserva. You really need to compare side by side to be able to feel the difference.
The Escoda Optimo brushes are available with brush tips such as the round, liner, filbert, flat. The wooden brushes come with blue handles. The travel brushes, which I have, comes in the silver-coloured collapsible metal bodies.
They taper to a nice point after each stroke. However, I do have one brush which I think may be faulty, or not performing up to standards. More on that below.
Here's a comparison of the Optimo, Reserva and Da Vinci Maestro travel brushes. In terms of performance and quality, the Reserva and Da Vinci Maestro are very similar.
As usual with the collapsible brushes, there's a small ventilation hole behind each brush.
Here's the comparison between the different sizes. As a sable brush, it's able to hold lots of water and is great for large area washes, especially the larger brushes.
For some reason, the size 6 brush I had doesn't seem to be able to taper back to a sharp point. I'm not sure if it has been worn out but that should not be the case because this brush is relatively new. I don't have such problems with the size 6 Reserva or Maestro brushes. The problem I have with the size 6 could be isolated.
Here are some watercolour sketches drawn with the brush.
For all these, I use the size 6.
For watercolour brushes, personally I prefer the 100% male kolinsky hair which are firmer. I find them easier to control. Because of that, I prefer to use these brushes for more detail work.
Optimo brushes I feel are better at washes, but the Reserva and Maestro can also do that.
Overall, the Optimo are good brushes and worth the price. But I would recommend just spending a bit more to get the Reserva if you can afford it.
Find more reviews at Dick Blick Art Materials (US) | Jackson's Art Supplies (UK)
Hi Teoh, I'm just starting
Submitted by Leia Tan on
Hi Teoh, I'm just starting out on watercolor painting and planning to get my first sable brushes for mainly simple urban sketching and floral painting in A4/A5. I'm looking for round sable brushes with good snap, stiff enough to hold sharp point but not too limp when wet). Below are the brushes I have in mind:
-Escoda Optimo R2
-Escoda Reserva R4
-Escoda Reserva R6 / Silver Kolinsky Round Sable Brush #6
-Escoda Optimo R8 / Silver Kolinsky Round Sable Brush #8
I read from your Escoda review that the #8 Optimo seems to be able to hold its point better than Reserva? I'm not sure if Optimo would be a better option for #2 and #8. Are there other sable brushes you'd recomend for sizes #2, 4, 6, 8? How are the Princeton Kolinsky Sable brushes compared to Escoda? Would really appreciate your advice. Thank you so much!
Submitted by Teoh Yi Chie on
As long as the hair is Kolinsky sable, the performance is going to be pretty similar regardless of brand.
Both Reserva and Optimo can taper to sharp point. Reserva hair is firmer, will go back to its point slightly easier, and is better for painting details. Difference between Reserva and Optimo is subtle.
Do consider Da Vinci and Rosemary as well if the pricing is competitive.
See the brush prices on Jackson's Art too because they have free international shipping for brush purchases above £20.
Size 6 is good for print small areas, for A4 and A5 sizes. Size 2 is good for details. For larger brushes, those are mostly for covering large areas so you don't really have to get expensive Kolinksy sable for them. Consider a squirrel brush or a Da Vinci Casaneo synthetic brush.
I usually will skip brush sizes. E.g. Get 2, 6 and 10. Or Get 4, 8 and 12.
Silver Black Velvet is a good brand too.
Thank you so much, Teoh!!!
Submitted by Leia Tan on
Thank you so much, Teoh!!! Appreciate it! :)
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