Brusho Crystal Colours Review by Sandra Strait

BRUSHO Crystal Colours – what the heck are they?

Good question!  Brusho® Crystal Colours are a water-based ink powder. Colourcraft Colours & Adhesives Ltd have been manufacturing them out of Sheffield, England for more than 35 years. Brusho Crystal Colours are non-toxic, transparent and highly staining. Gloves are recommended. Maybe a tarp if you’re a klutz like I am.

Brusho Crystal Colours

Brusho Crystal Colours – Look and Feel

I have the Assorted 12 Pack of Brusho Crystal Colours, so all my paintings are done using these colors – Leaf Green, Emerald Green, Turquoise, Scarlet, Brilliant Red, Purple, Yellow, Lemon, Orange, Ultra Marine, Dark Brown and Black.

This chart was done using the colors in a dilute liquid. I used a ratio of approximately 1/8 tsp. powder to 4 ml. of water. The colors are more brilliant when the powder is shaken onto wet paper – but the dilute liquid gives you more control.

Brusho Crystal Colours swatches 12 color set

Brushos are also available in Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna, Cobalt blue, Crimson, Gamboge, Grey, Light Brown, Lime Green, Moss Green, Olive Green, Ostwald Blue, Ostwald Red, Prussian Blue, Rose Red, Sandstone, Scarlet, Sea Green, Sunburst Lemon, Terracotta, Vermilion, Violet, White, and Yellow Ochre.

The powder comes in 15-gram, 50-gram and 100-gram containers. The sets (of 8, 12, and 24) all come with 15-gram containers.

Brusho Crystal Colours Turquoise

You can put Brusho colours into salt shakers, but there is also a little dimple in the lid that you can pierce for shaking out the powder.

Brusho Crystal Colours

I used push pins with colored tops to plug the hole and help color code the containers.

Brusho Colours Color-Coding Containers

When you sprinkle the powder onto wet paper it immediately dissolves, and color explodes across the page. Sounds a bit hard to control, doesn’t it?  Watercolor at its wildest.

That’s true, and not true. Brusho Crystal Colours are great for a loose style. But control the amount of water to control how wild things get. More absorbent paper also helps with control. But after playing with these for a while, I was happiest with the paintings where I let the Brushos do their thing.

The colors are very staining, so color lifting needs to be done while the ink is wet.

The usual watercolor techniques work well. In some cases, I think they are easier to achieve with Brusho Crystal Colours than with traditional watercolors.

Brusho Crystal Colours example

Dilute brushed – Painted onto dry paper with a waterbrush. Some streaks appeared but faded as the paint dried. The spots were an accident, but more about that later.

Colored pencil – White colored pencil scribbled on the paper and painted over with the dilute mix. The effect is subtle. I think if I used a waxier pencil or crayon it would be stronger.

Salt – The salt sucked up too much of the paint and dulled the color. If you look back at the dilute brush area where I accidentally dropped salt – that’s the effect I was going for. Obviously, you don’t need as much salt to get texture with Brushos.

Dilute Drop 1 – Dilute Brusho squeezed from an eye dropper onto dry paper.

Dilute Drop 2 – Dilute Brusho squeezed from an eye dropper onto wet paper and tilted to let the color run.

Paper Towel – Immediately used to dab and lift color after painting with dilute Brushos.

Sprinkled on Damp – Powder shaken from container onto damp paper. The effects vary immensely according to the amount of water and the absorbency of the paper. Almost dry – you get specks. Moderately wet – the specks keep feathering out for quite some time. You get jet trails and plumes and unusual shapes. Lots of water – you lose most of the effect. The color(s) all run together. You might get a few swirls.

Plastic Wrap – Wadded up Plastic wrap placed on wet dilute Brushos left until the paint dried. As with the salt, I feel it was easier to get significant texture. With regular watercolor the timing is essential. With Brushos, not so much. As long as the paint is wet when you use the wrap, you get texture.

Other techniques not shown – Misting or spraying the dilute liquid. If you are into mixed media, Brushos powder can be used to color acrylic mediums, and gesso. If you mix it with alcohol, you essentially have alcohol inks.

The powder has a scent. It’s a bit floral and might bother those with sensitive noses. I found that I sneeze a lot when sprinkling the powder.

Most water-based inks are not lightfast, and I suspect Brushos are not. I’ve spoken with a couple of people who have used them extensively for some time. They have not had trouble with fading. However, I would still take care to keep your paintings made with Brusho Crystal Colours away from bright light, and not use them for work you intend to sell unless you research the matter first.

Brusho Crystal Colours – Performance

For my painting examples, I stayed with water and watercolor effects. I used waterbrushes throughout for ease of cleaning, and because I’m leery about using my watercolor brushes with inks.

The mix I made up gave me enough dilute liquid to do two 8 x 10 paintings, two partial paintings, the chart,  technique experiments, spill some, and still have half the liquid, afterwards.

This painting was done on cold-pressed watercolor paper.  Patterns and sections were created with masking fluid and masking tape.  Technical pen was used for shadows.   The pen worked well over the Brushos with no skipping, feathering or clogging.

Brusho Crystal Colours - Painting by Sandra Strait

Next, I tested for transparency, painting with the dilute Brushos in a sketchbook. The paper was smooth, hard-surfaced, non-watercolor paper. I glazed up to 10 layers in the darkest areas and there was still transparency.

Brusho Crystal Colours - Painting by Sandra Strait

In a moment of whimsy, I wondered how these paints would do on newspaper. The answer is pretty well. Newspaper is very absorbent so the dilute Brushos had little flow, but remained bright and transparent.  Surprisingly, the newspaper didn’t pill, and only wrinkled a little.

Brusho Crystal Colours - Painting by Sandra Strait

Going back to cold-pressed watercolor paper, the Scorpion fish was drawn with masking fluid, and the technique used was sprinkled powder onto a very wet surface. Once everything dried, I used just a little dilute Brushos to add shadows to the fish.

Brusho Crystal Colours - Painting by Sandra Strait

For my last painting, I had no idea what I was going to paint.

I used a different watercolor paper. It’s cold-pressed but has a softer, more textured surface and no surface sizing, so it’s more absorbent. I painted the background with dilute Brushos, leaving the white of the paper for the lightest area.  Immediately, I put down plastic wrap.

After the paint had dried, I removed the wrap and re-wet some areas, sprinkling darker colors into the wet. I laid the paper flat and let the powder expand.

Brusho Crystal Colours - Painting by Sandra Strait

When the painting was dry again, I studied it. A dark blob in the white area had to be the focus. It didn’t suggest anything, but given the volcanic surroundings I decided to make it a phoenix. I cautiously painted it with dilute Brushos to add detail. The markings in the upper left seemed to need something, so I turned it into a tree and then I quit. Probably a whole 10 minutes of planned detail, and the rest was all up to the Brushos.

These last two paintings, where I added the powder to wet paper, and only used the dilute to create essential detail are my favorites, and I’ll probably use this technique the most.


Brusho Crystal Colours are a water-based ink powder. The color is intense. The powder can be shaken directly from the container onto damp paper, mixed with water and brushed on, sprayed or misted. It can also be used for mixed media.

The usual watercolor techniques work well – adding salt, applying plastic wrap and so forth. The paper used and the amount of water make a difference in how much control you have.

They are messy, transparent, non-toxic and intoxicating in their effects.


My Assorted 12 pack of Brusho Crystal Colours was given to me by a friend. I think they’re cool so I reviewed them. Colourcraft Colours and Adhesives LTD did not ask me to review them, or any other company for that matter, or even knew that I planned to do so. I received no considerations, though post may contain affiliate links which help support Doodlewash. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Recommended7 recommendationsPublished in Art Supply Reviews

27 thoughts on “Brusho Crystal Colours Review by Sandra Strait

  1. What an excellent review! All your samples were fantastic. Now, I really want to get some of these! Thank you so much for your time and efforts put into this review.

  2. Thank you, Sandra, for a detailed report on these unusual paints. They seem to be lots of ingenious fun for the artist who isn’t a control freak. Your art is wonderful and l love your statement that Brusho Crystals are intoxicating. I think, yes, to view and to work with.

  3. I love the things you did with your Brusho’s! I tried tapping a small amount of the powder onto the dried paper and then spray misting and got a fun splatter effect. I love the Lionfish and I love the pinhole idea, perfect!

  4. Thanks for the great review and especially for satisfying my curiosity about “needing” another item to add to all the other things I think I need to own. My cup runneth over with new curiosities I must try/have and now I can live vicariously through your reviews and the satisfaction you have trying them. So many new art supplies/so little time.

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