The Defet Brush Factory was so kind to send me a set of three brushes to try out. They are from their Casaneo watercolour brush range: a flat and squared top one (5898 No. 8) and two different sized ones (5598 No4 & 8). They are obviously synthetic brushes, but the brush hair is constructed to imitate squirrel hair. I never have used real squirrel haired brushes, so I can’t give you a comparison on this point. If you pay attention to the hair texture, you will see that it is slightly wavy.
Having never used real watercolour brushes (they really differ from the normal hobby and crafts one) before, this was my first. The brushes are so soft and have practically no resistance on the paper. They run smoothly over it and hit all the crevices of the structured watercolour paper (Hahnemühle). I tried them at first with gelatos, but that did not work as they are too soft to take colour from the gelato itself. Rubbing the gelato on the paper and trying to load up colour did not work either. Watercolour brushes really need a quantity of water to run so smooth, so I used my old Winsor & Newton watercolour paints and a couple of new ones from Kuretake (Gansai Tambi). With those the brushes’ flow was really lovely. I also tried the brushes with Finetec Pearlcolors. If you want to add some sheen to your watercolour painting, that works, but the colors get eaten rather fast using them with so much water. In the end, I also tried the small brush No. 4 with some drawing and calligraphy ink and small delicate lines were possible. I tried some writing with them and you might be able to use them as calligraphy brushes as well, although Defet also offers a range of calligraphy ones (set Nova). They have a versatile range of vegan friendly brushes.
Here are the da Vinci Casaneo watercolour brushes http://www.davinci-defet.com/englisch/artist-brushes/products/new-products-2013-2016/da-vinci-casaneo-water-colour-brushes.html
And here are some, I just stumbled upon, with unusual shapes: http://www.davinci-defet.com/englisch/artist-brushes/products/special-brushes/brushes-for-pinstriping-squirrel-imitation-synthetic-fibre.html
To the conclusion: I really like them, although I had a not so even start, using the wrong watercolour paint at first and having never used specific watercolour brushes before as well as not being a landscape (loving) painter. With the bigger brush the background is painted in no time. And what I never realized before: they work like blenders. After drying a bit, I noticed some edges, so I went over again with the big brush and they smoothed out completely; they were gone.
I really did want to use vegan supplies for this paintings and this post, but again, I had to use my old Winsor & Newton ones, that I have had since I was about 10 years old. For my first attempt I used mostly the Gansai Tambi ones (pale aqua and cornflower blue). For the second attempt I drew my creature with a mechanical pencil and blue lead (Faber Castell) and then painted over it with the watercolour.