For her vibrant illustrations, Anna Violet uses a combination of hand-painted and digital techniques. Here she introduces her watercolour brushes, and reveals how they are used to create different textures in the final artwork.

Can you guess which brushes I’ve used on this collaged image? (Answers at the end of article.)

My paintbrush bag

My paintbrush bag has more than 25 different-sized watercolour brushes, which all give different marks and hold different amounts of water. Some brushes are sable, some are goat and a few are synthetic. There’s also an old toothbrush (great for spatter), a straw (for blobs and blowing), a bristle house-paint brush (for dry streaky texture), some knotted string (for random marks) and a spray diffuser (for fine spray).

Toothbrush spatter
Spray diffuser

Two brushes I would be lost without: my sable round brush (which has given me 3 decades of use so far!) and my sable liner brush. They both hold water well, are easy to control, give interesting print-marks and will do a variety of basic marks.

Sable round brush - print marks

Sable liner brush - print marks

Another favourite is my wide hake wash brush (goat-hair), which paints delightfully loose washes. It takes up a lot of liquid though, and I need to ensure I have enough watercolour ready-mixed. There’s also my small flat brush which gets into corners and enables me to ‘rub out’ areas of paint.

Some favourite brushes, with watercolour box and jam-jar lids

Brushes used on my illustration:-

  • Background wash with hake brush.
  • Spatter with toothbrush.
  • Fox and Crow with round sable brush plus sable liner brush (thin black lines - pen) 
  • Leaves painted with very watery round sable brush (which dried overnight) and over- painted with ultra-thin liner brush.
  • (Background trees with round sable brush, then digitally altered)


Anna Violet is a freelance author-illustrator based in Manchester.  
Check her portfolio website here,
She's on Twitter @annadviolet
and Instagram @violet2519
Her work is also on the AOI website

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