Confident Watercolors: Brushes | Amarilys Henderson | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Brushes Intro


    • 2.

      Brush Basics


    • 3.

      Round Brushes


    • 4.

      Variety of Brushes


    • 5.



  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

As the first part of the Confident Watercolors Series, Amarilys opens the conversation about brushes. These simple, mystical tools don't need to seem so mysterious. From wide to long, sharp to floppy, cheap to exhorbatant, brushes abound in variety. And yet they all hold several linking characteristics. Know the basics about your brushes and you'll feel more confident approaching your paintings. 

The goal of this class is to empower students with knowledge and a visual rolodex to paint bolder watercolors!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Amarilys Henderson

Watercolor Illustrator, Design Thinker

Top Teacher

Hello! I'm Amarilys. I process on paper and I problem-solve with keystrokes.

As a commercial illustrator, I've had the pleasure of bringing the dynamic vibrance of colorful watercolor strokes to everyday products. My work is licensed for greeting and Christmas cards, art prints, drawing books, and home decor items. My design background influences much of my recent work, revolving around typography and florals.

While my professional work in illustration is driven by trend, my personal work springs from my faith. Follow along on Instagram


Learn a variety of fun and on-trend techniques to improve your work!

See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Brushes Intro: I get asked what kind of brushes I use all the time lately, especially since the watercolor fluorides class. I want to show you different kinds of brushes and the different brush strokes that they create and how you can incorporate them all into your piece. They each have different strengths, and different things that they bring to the table, and that's what I want to showcase in this quick class. Come to the table with your ideas, and be able to reach for your tools and know what we'll work for what you have in mind in your next step. 2. Brush Basics: Before we get started, we'll talk about some very basic things. This is the anatomy of a brush and this is the same for any brush. It's the same for a flat brush or a round brush. The top is the tip, the belly is that fullness of the brush hairs. The ferrule is where there's a metal handle that holds the hairs to the wooden handle at the bottom and the crimp keeps it together. It's broken down in two parts, the head of the brush and the handle of the brush. These are some of the brushes that I'll be going over in my demos. I won't cover all of them, but this gives you an idea of the marks that each one makes. When you're shopping for a brush, there is a lot of variety as far as shapes and sizes, types, brands, prices. A good rule of thumb as to which one to buy is whatever you can afford. Try to get the best that you can afford and you probably won't go wrong. Look for some tell tale signs of how soft they are, how frayed they may look, how full those hairs are and how sturdy that handles feels. 3. Round Brushes: So let's take out our brushes. I'm going to start with my biggest, the 24 round. If you took my florals class, that I really enjoy this brush. That I enjoy large round brushes. So I'm going to cover a few round brushes, so that you see the different widths between each one and the different marks that they can make. Since I'm familiar doing florals, I wanted to show just how I typically use the brush. This is just a little scrap page that I'm keeping for myself of showing the thin lines and the thick lines and what I can expect from this particular brush. You can see the tip I can use it for dots. There's always going to be that edge to it, that rounded tip at the end in my brushstrokes. So these large round brushes are good for thick to thin lines. It's all about how much pressure you apply to the paintbrush. Since the body of this brush is so large, it can hold a lot of water, so it's really good for wet on wet techniques. Smaller brushes, not so much. So you'll be frustrated trying to do wet on wet techniques with those brushes. These are great for doing washes and obviously they're good for doing larger paintings. They just force you to work larger when you're using a larger brush. You'll feel that you'll not want to be constrained to a small sheet of paper. Actually, this is a really difficult exercise for me to do with large of a brush. The next brush is going to be similar, but I cut it down to about half the size as 16 round. As I get smaller with my brushes, they're getting more versatile. It's a little easier to write with it. But that'll obviously hit another wall once I get to the very small brushes. I wanted to do more marks with this one, so I can really enjoy the tip of that brush. I'm doing these scrolls too so that you see that there is so much variety between the thick and thin lines that you can create with this one single brush. Now, when you're looking to buy a large round brush like the first one I just did and this one, you want to look for a pointed tip, frayed tips or round tips that are pointy enough, just completely defeat the purpose of what's great about this brush. You want the hairs to be gathered, like I said, not frayed. If you're able to feel it. It should feel soft and full. In other words, when you press it up against something, maybe the palm of your hand, it won't just completely frey and turn into nothing. You want a lot of hairs in there. Now we're going to another favorite of mine, the eight round. I think this size is good if you tend to work on a sheet of paper that say, nine by 12 and smaller, or maybe 11 by 14. It's great for illustration and smaller jobs because it's versatile. I can make that tiny tip of a line if I use enough control and yet I can make wider lines and dashes and shadows with these. I could even do washes, but it's not ideal. So doodling is great with these brushes, with this size and you get a nice variety. For those of you who are completely new to watercolor, I would recommend this size. You're probably going to work on a sheet of paper that's five by seven to 8.5 by 11, so this would be a good versatile brush for you to buy. I keep getting smaller with my brushes here. Now I'm going to give the 3-round a try. I really liked to actually have hand letter with this brush a lot. So writing was a breeze, as you could tell. Something to notice with this brush is since it's getting smaller, it's not holding as much water as those larger brushes. So the bottom half of that sheet is becoming more of a dry brush technique. So that's something to keep in mind. I love to do motifs and little details and just fun little stuff with this 3-round. So this size is great if you're doing patterns, details, doing a portrait, and you are putting on freckles, doing triangles and things like that. Now the detailer, it's true to its name it's tiny, it's for details. This one is also a three, just like the one that I just used. But as you can tell, there are fewer hairs. It's a lot narrower and it just behaves differently even though it's the same size. So I'm going to show you just some of the motifs that I can do with this brush. Obviously, I can make much thinner lines again, even though it's the same size as the round brush because this is what it's for. Honestly, it was hard to fill up my little page with marks from this brush because it's just so small and I'm needing to go back and get paint and water so often because it's just not holding that much. You wouldn't want it to. If you're doing eyelashes or whatever the worst is when they start bleeding with everything else. So that's what it's for. That's exactly what it's for. When you do dots, they're nice and round. 4. Variety of Brushes: It talks about the brushes that are typically used in watercolor at least the most, and of course, there's so many other kinds, and I actually use a lot of different kinds on a regular basis. It's not like I only use round brushes, and I'm sure you have questions, when you look at those variety packs, what all those brushes are for. This is the fan brush. It's the most fan. It only creates that very mark that it makes, but you can have a lot of fun with it because it is so unique. Now, my flat brush, I admit I don't use it very often, so, I was actually looking forward to this exercise obviously after right with a different brush, but it obviously leaves this hard edge of a line at the top, and I think I just tend to paint things that are much more organic, that I don't use it very often. So I had these share a sheet since they don't offer a whole lot of variety within each brush use. Obviously a fan brush is great for textures, for hair, for pets, for adding interests, for hay, and landscapes, things like that. The flat brush I've used for landscapes as well, but more like city landscapes, things that require hard edges, and it can hold quite a bit of water if you want to do a wash with it. This is one of my favorite brush shapes, the filbert. I'm not sure where the name comes from. It sounds pretty fun, but it creates this rounded edge at the top. Obviously, it's great for petals, and flowers, and organic shapes, things like that. Now I'm using a smaller filbert. Something worth noting is that even though these two brushes are the same shape, it's not their size difference that I'm seeing a big difference in their mark making, it's actually the height of the hairs of the brush. When they're laying down here, you'll see that the larger one has much longer hairs, and so it is much better for washes, and there's a lot more flexibility. The shorter one, the one with the shorter hairs, the eight is a lot more rigid in the marks, and the brushstrokes that I'm able to create with it. The number 4 liner has become my jam lately. I used to not like it, because the hairs are so long that it's almost unpredictable sometimes if you really press on it in and extend it along ways where that line is going to land, but I love that it'll hold a lot of water and paint, so, I've used it a lot for hand lettering, and I actually love that unpredictability. This detailer brush, I don't use very often, but it's pretty cool. It's angled like this so that you can actually get into tight spots. I don't usually get myself into tight spots, but I thought it'd be fun to show you what it can do. It took me a little while to write with it, because it is angled, but you can see the lines that it creates, and how it creates details, and that's what it's for. It is a size zero, so, it creates very small details, even smaller than what you see here, but I didn't want to get too small so that the camera would be able to pick up everything that I painted. I hope you're picking up on some of the distinctive of these brushes. If you look even at the top of each brush mark, you see a difference between the liner brush that has a rectangular top, and the detailer one, you can see the point. There's nothing like getting a fill for yourself, but here are some examples of my use of some of these brushes. 5. Closing: I'm going to turn it back to you. I'd love to hear what brush you love, which one you tend to keep going back to. If you're not sure, I'm also challenging you guys to do the same thing that I do in this class and just play around with lots of your brushes, marking down which ones you're using so that you can come back and have a dictionary of those brushes that you have and know exactly what shapes and what width, and what line quality they bring to the table. You want to come to your work desk with your tools that you trust and let all the other variables that watercolor painting brings fall and it'll be okay.