Thursday, April 5, 2012

Pentel Aquash Waterbrush

A waterbrush is a paintbrush with a plastic handle that can be filled with water.  Instead of constantly dipping the brush in water, all you need to do is lightly squeeze the handle to wet the brush.  They are available in a number of different brands and sizes, but the waterbrush I am reviewing here is the Pentel Aquash Waterbrush in medium with a compact body (the regular bodies of the medium were sold out when I placed my order, so I settled for the compact instead).

Pentel Aquash Waterbrush.
Now, if you are primarily going to be working at your desk indoors, then you may have no need for a waterbrush.  But if you like to work on your couch or if you like to take your sketchbook with you outdoors into your backyard or on hikes, then a waterbrush will likely be a very convenient addition to your portable journal kit.  I use watercolour pencils and I used to add the colour to my sketches in the field, but then wait until I got back home to bring out a brush and water and blend the colours together.  But now it is simple to bring my waterbrush along in my pencil case and finish the sketches in the field.

The parts of the Aquash: cap, brush segment, and handle.
The compact bodied Aquash is approximately 12.5cm long when capped, and slightly over 14cm long when the cap is posted.  It is comfortable to hold and feels like a pen in the hand.  The handle unscrews from the brush and can be filled with water to the fill line.  It does not look like it holds very much water, but it actually lasts longer than you would think.  And if you were worried about running out of water, you could always bring along a water bottle (something you'd probably have with you already if you were out on a hike) to top it up.  The cap snaps securely on to the brush, but if you're posting it on the end you'll want to make sure that it's pushed on as far as it can go because otherwise it might be loose and fall off.

Pentel Aquash, capped.
The brush is round, with white synthetic bristles, and it holds its shape very well.  As I mentioned earlier, I picked up the medium Aquash, but small and large round brushes are also available.  I like the medium, but I think the small would be better for the fine detail of my mandalas, so I'll probably be picking that one up at a later date.

To use the waterbrush, you gently squeeze the handle.  I was surprised at how little pressure is needed for this - squeeze too hard and you'll get a big drop of water on the end of the brush.  All you need is a very light touch to wet the bristles.  I was also surprised that I didn't need to squeeze the handle very often - the brush itself holds a lot of water.

I tried the Pentel Aquash waterbrush out with my watercolour pencils on this test page:


As I mentioned on the test page, using the waterbrush was more convenient, simpler, and also quicker than using a real brush and continually dipping it in water.  Using the waterbrush is a continuous process on the page, and almost feels more like using a pen or a marker than using a paintbrush.  I was probably using more water than I needed to on this page, as I am still experimenting with how much and how often I need to squeeze the handle.  Still, the water level was only down about 5mm from the fill line.

One small issue with the waterbrush is that, because you're not dipping the brush in water, all of the colours are going to stay on the brush.  This actually did not lead to as much mixing of the colours as I thought it would, but if you want to clean the brush off, squeezing out some extra water and either brushing over a spare blank sheet of paper or wiping off the brush with a cloth will be effective.

Overall, I am satisfied with my purchase of the Pentel Aquash waterbrush.  It is fun and easy to use, and it provides a convenient and portable solution to the problem of using watercolours in inconvenient places, such as out in the field.  I recommend it, although please keep in mind that I am still very much a beginner when it comes to watercolours so don't take my review as the final word!

Related reviews: My French Easel, Parka Blogs.

3 comments:

  1. Love pens! Thanks for the review!

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  2. what a nice review of yours to get people start trying this tool!

    I love love love my waterbrush and do most of my botanical studies and even "serious" botanical paintings in watercolour with it. at a certain point last year I got so used to it that I did not reach for my normal (fine and expensive) brushes anymore because the waterbrush did the job.

    also working in the field (the botanical garden in Berlin in my case ;-), the museum or the library, places, where normal use of watercolour or a water reservoir otherwise would be impossible now can be done unsuspiciously with those magical little things.

    (I have to learn and read and write a lot in the library for my university degree at the moment and for a little learning pause I love to sketch or paint -- all I need is a little paintbox like the Winsor & Newton bijou box and a waterbrush. I never had any troubles using it because with the little water it contains painting is not more "dangerous" than writing with a pen.)

    some people even fill the waterbrush with dyed inks or liquid watercolours or the refill ink for copic markers (the last I would not recommend as mine clogged badly), so this is an extremely useful tool for anyone who wants to do watercolours or wet watercolour pencils etc. whereever he wants.

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  3. The waterbrush is also good for people who want to do watercolors at the same desk their cat likes to jump on :)

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