Rosemary Brushes: Red Dot Collection - first impression

January 25, 2021 | 12 Comments


A few weeks ago I got a surprise parcel from Rosemary Brushes which included a few brushes from their new Red Dot Collection. Wow! Thanks Symi!

To quote from the Rosemary website:

“We did it! Finally, a synthetic fibre like no other.A synthetic fibre to replicate Sable like never before. With all the qualities of natural hair but 100% synthetic. This range is so exciting for Rosemary & Co!

Works beautifully in watercolour, oil & acrylic and in fact all mediums. Ideal for artists, model painters and just about anyone looking for a sable substitute. Vegan friendly and economically priced.”

I’ve tried a number of synthetic brushes over the years and overall I’ve not been happy with the results. I’m super sensitive to a brush’s ability to create a good ‘pigment party’ and vibrant washes – by this I mean that the pigments separate and create beautiful watercolour textures.

Please note these are my own personal preferences and sensitivities and I’m not at all criticizing synthetic brushes!

Generally 100% sable brushes produce the best pigment parties and the most vibrant washes while generally synthetic brushes hold less water, produce little pigment party and can result in somewhat flat washes.  Note: Of course paper plays a big role in the results as well! Because synthetic brushes hold less water than natural hair brushes, I’m always very conscious of how different they feel to use.

However the first time I used the Red Dot version of my beloved Series 772 Sable blend 1/2 inch dagger brush I hardly noticed a difference. That in itself was impressive!

I then followed up with some tests and I’m pretty happy with the results.

It is really hard to accurately do these types of watercolour tests as even though I mix a big puddle in my palette and try to have a similar wetness in my brush and pick up the paint in the same way, every stroke is slightly different. But overall there does not seem to be a huge difference in the results even though the Red Dot seemed to hold a little less water.

I then tested this theory using the paper-towel trick (as explained in my Free Lesson on brushes as part of my SketchingNow Watercolour course) and this proved to be the case.

Finally, I decided to do a similar test with the blue and yellow mix (DS Hansa Yellow Med and SCH French Ultramarine) using a few other brushes. I ‘ve found on previous occasions that the Da Vinci Casaneo and Cosmotop produce washes which are a bit flat but I was quite surprised by the Escoda – particularly the Verastil and that was the smallest brush as well! Once again it’s important to stress that the results from these single swatches need to be tested further as it’s impossible to load the brushes exactly the same way each time.

And I still need to use my 1/2 inch Red Dot dagger more before I make a definitive statement – but so far so good!

BTW if you want to know why I love the dagger brush so much check out this article from a number of years ago.
[Disclaimer: Although these brushes were a gift from Rosemary & Co Brushes, this article contains my personal opinion and this is not a sponsored post.]

If you currently use 100% synthetic brushes, I would love to know which brand, type and size!

Has anyone else tried the Red Dot brushes yet?

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  • Maria says:

    I love escoda versatil, but i have heard they are not imported into Australia anymore.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks for sharing Maria – I had not heard that about Escoda – that would be a really pity if no longer available in australia!

  • Yvonne Carpenter says:

    Great preliminary review Liz! I got the Red Dot 3/8 in the mail a week ago (along with other goodies that shall not be named,lol! I definitely have too many brushes!). I just played with it a little on a scrap paper. First thing I noticed was the volume of the bristles on the same size 772 series is bigger overall. The 3/8 Red Dot did carry less water on my test as well, but that is not necessarily bad in my opinion, as most sketchbooks are not 100% cotton, so in my opinion, carrying less water helps me not flood the page. I am still going to use it on a sketch to see if it works for me. My #1 go to brush is currently the R13, which is the 772 “cousin” (same hair, just round). I like the R13 so much I got in the same mail package a non-travel version of the R13 to save the R13 for on location painting only 🙂

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Yvonne – I love the R13 too – that is the brush they made for me after I visited their studio in 2016.

  • Martine Brink says:

    I was just considering buying rosemary brushes, but unfortunately they suspended delivery to the EU as a result of Brexit:-(

  • Alejandro Morales says:

    I was recently turned on to the Escoda Perla (or the rebranded version made for Jackson’s) and honestly I was floored. They hold a lot of paint and release it rather nicely. The bristles are white and stain, but honestly they are great great great.

    I also really love my one Versatil. It’s a travel brush in an 8 and it never leaves my sketch kit as it’s a wonderful brush. I’ also have one DaVinci Casaneo (a Size 0 quill) and it’s incredible. I really want to go up to the size 4. They’re supposed to imitate squirrel but mine feels like a nice sable brush.

  • Claire says:

    I just purchased three red dot brushes. Two long point rounds and a mop. I have 100% sable brushes that I am generally fond of, but I wanted to find a less expensive replacement for them when the time comes. Sooner is better than later. The red dots are inexpensive enough to give a go.I can’t wait to receive them. I recently purchased a synthetic squirrel wash brush that I quite enjoy so hoping these are as they claim to be. Good enough as replacements. Even if they are not I will have some good quality brushes for sketching on the go. I don’t tend to use granulating pigments so I’m not real fussed about any particle, movement in my washes.

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