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Review: Escoda Optimo Watercolour Brushes

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)