Review: Da Vinci Casaneo Watercolour Brush

Da Vinci's Casaneo series of watercolour brushes are synthetic brushes with sharp tips, good springiness and large water holding capacity. If that sounds like characteristics of a good Kolinsky sable brush, well, they are.

This is the brush that I bought recently from Straits Art, a local art store in Singapore. Mine's the size 2 wash brush.

There are different series for the Casaneo brushes, namely:

  • Series 498: Wash brushes
  • Series 5098: Mottler
  • Series 5086: Set of brushes
  • Series 5586: Round
  • Series 5898: Flat
  • Series 898: Oval, pointed (Cat's tongue)

The brushes above are available in different sizes.

These are the different sizes for the pocket brushes. Measurements are in mm.

This is a Da Vinci Casaneo pocket brush. The hair is sharp when wet but not when dry.

This Casaneo series 498 wash brush I have looks very similar to a typical squirrel brush. The hair is bound and tied with metal wires to the wooden brush handle.

Wash brushes use different size numbering system compared to other types of brushes, and different companies also use different size numbering systems too. This size 2 wash brush that I have is quite similar in size to a size 8 to 10 from an Escoda. In other words, there's a lot of hair. This brush is good for painting A5, A4 up to 9 by 12 inches of watercolour paper. Actually A5 is kinda small for this brush but because of the sharp tip, you can still use it on such small paper.

Shown above are the Casaneo wash brush, ColorPro squirrel brush and the Escoda Ultimo synthetic squirrel.

Shown above are the Casaneo, Rosemary sable pocket brush, and Da Vinci Maestro pocket brush

The Casaneo wash brush has fantastic water holding capacity. In terms of water capacity, it does not seem to be different compared to real squirrel brushes. The water also releases easily and consistently. Painting large even washes is easy with the Casaneo.

The hair from real squirrel brushes are usually soft. When loaded with water, sometimes they just flop around, much like a mop (maybe that's why they are also called mop brushes). Real squirrel brush hair cannot go back to their original shape after each stroke because the hair is too soft.

This is where the Casaneo synthetic squirrel hair differs from real squirrel hair. Casaneo hair has terrific springiness. When I run the brush tip against my cup to remove excess water, I was surprised that the Casaneo snapped back to a point, a tapered point might I add.

On the left are strokes painted with the Casaneo. The right is with a sable brush. You could paint these strokes with a real squirrel brush, but you would have to adjust the brush after each stroke because the hair does not go back to its original shape. With the Casaneo, you can paint as if you're using a sable brush.

I've seen and used synthetic brushes that claim to perform like sable brushes but I've never been impressed. There are usually limitations. Synthetic brushes just do not have the same snap back compared to a real sable brush. And synthetic brush points are usually not as sharp or tapered compared to sable brushes. So when I saw that the Casaneo was able to snap back to its original shape, and remembered that it's a synthetic brush, I was pleasantly shocked.


If you have been looking for a sable brush alternative, look no more, get the Da Vinci Casaneo. It is really that good. It has none of the compromises or limitations of synthetic brushes.

This is a great brush for people who are against animal cruelty, or those who follow a vegan lifestyle.

The pricing is also very competitive. Since the hair is synthetic, it's cheaper than sable brushes.

5 out of 5 stars. Highly recommended.


Find more reviews for Da Vinci Casaneo at
Dick Blick Art Materials (US) | Jackson's Art (UK)

Jackson's Art has free global shipping for £20 worth of brush purchases.



I have many da Vinci brushes

I have many da Vinci brushes and was pleased when I heard about the series 498 synthetics. I got the No. 4. To my surprise, no matter how hard I try it cannot form a sharp point. The brush with either less water or a lot of water, only forms a four way split. Could something be wrong with this particular brush. I have hundreds of brushes and am used to all kinds, but this one just stumps me.

Hi Teoh, in your review of

Hi Teoh, in your review of the da Vinci series 1573 Cosmotop Spin travel brush, you mentioned that while it holds a lot of water, it doesn’t release the water easily so it’s more difficult to transfer water to the mixing wells. Does this Casaneo brush have the same problem?

I love these brushes too. As

I love these brushes too. As a vegan artist, I do find it strange when people present synthetic brushes as an option for those "who are against animal cruelty" - shouldn't everyone be against animal cruelty? I'd always thought that those who use animal hair brushes were simply ignorant to the cruelty involved in their production, but seeing it set out as a choice: "do you want the animal cruelty brush or the synthetic one?" really makes me wonder at the lack of compassion in the world. I'm glad that there are so many excellent synthetic options now - hopefully we'll see more and more people choosing those instead.

I don't know why they don't

I don't know why they don't just stop using real fur when the synthetic ones are so good. The footage in those fur farms or being trapped is just horrific, we should be using humane ways and non animal tested paint by now after we know so much about risks and animal sentinence. Waste of animals otherwise

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