Craft or painting,it can be overwhelming when it comes to selecting the right brush for using with oil and acrylic paint. With a vast array of durable brushes at your disposal for creating colour-rich, toned or transparent effects. It can be easy to be distracted with the many brushes on the market – but which should you choose to work with?If acrylic paint is your preferred medium, it’s essential that you locate the best Acrylic Paint Brushes to work with. Not all brushes are the same, so you have to make sense of which ones will make the impact you’re searching for.
The best brushes are the brushes that work best for you. The artist is the composer and the brush is the instrument.But there is a super wide range of painting brushes available on the market. They differ in types, shapes, sizes, grades, materials, and brands. Easy to get overwhelmed and buy something that doesn’t actually suits your needs.Brushes used for acrylic painting have a long handle.This enables you to paint further away from the canvas. When you hold the brush closer to the end of the handle, you can paint more freely. When you hold the brush closer to the ferrule, it’s easier to paint details.
Acrylic brushes are made with synthetics or bristles.Synthetic brushes are softer than bristle brushes. There’s a careful balance that should be seen in a synthetic brush. If they are too soft the paint won’t brush well onto the canvas. Each artist must find the brushes that work best for him or her. Acrylic brushes can be used for oil painting but oil painting brushes should not be used for painting in acrylic.
You need to know the below to make a conscious choice:
- Anatomy of a brush for a better understanding of your main tool construction
- Painting brush types
- Bristle – natural and synthetic, stiff or soft
- Sizes chart and length of the handle
The shapes of painting brushes you use can make a huge difference in the whole process of the painting, the ease or difficulty in getting a certain effect, and of course in the final result. Each brush is designed and created for the intended purpose, so your choice will depend on what techniques you are working with.
For Acrylic Paint Brushes – Bristles of Brush – Natural or Synthetic?
The material used to form the head of a painting brush that picks up and spreads the paint is the most important part of your brush and determines the performance of it. The bristles or hairs can be natural, synthetic, or a combination of both.
• Natural Brushes are made from animal hair (commonly made from boar’s bristle, squirrel, badger and mink, the best quality soft natural brushes are sable). It is considered that no animals get killed for the purpose of brush making and the animal hair is a by-product of the food and fur industries.
• Synthetic Brushes are man-made with either nylon or polyester filaments. They vary greatly in price and quality but usually are less expensive than natural. They can be tapered, tipped, abraded or etched to increase color carrying ability. Often, synthetic filaments are dyed and baked to make them softer and more absorbent, this type of polyester is called Taklon.
So what is the best for acrylic painting – natural or synthetic?
Generally, you can use both, but synthetic bristle works better for acrylics.
Reasons to use synthetic brushes:
1. The synthetic filament will withstand the caustic nature of acrylic paints with less damage.
2. They are less prone to damage from the chemicals in acrylic paint and will last you longer.
3. They are easier to keep clean than animal hair brushes.
4. They are less prone to breakage and are durable on many different surfaces.
5. They stay stiffer than natural hairs when wet.
6. The last reason is personal, but I still want to mention it.
Stiff or Soft?
What do you need – stiff or soft bristle painting brush? Everything is pretty clear here, the stiffness depends on the body of a paint you work with – stiff brushes for heavy body and soft for the soft body paint.
Each brush type comes in the multiplicity of sizes. Size is an important consideration when shopping for the perfect painting brush. Brushes are classified by their manufacturers using a standard numbering system, you can find size indicated by a number printed on the handle. The smallest brushes start at 0000, then proceed to 1, 2, and on up to 24 or even larger.
Please consider that sizes slightly vary from brand to brand.
• small-size for detail work,
• medium-size brushes for versatility,
• large-size brushes for painting large areas and washes
The choice of the size will depend on your artistic needs and the size of your artwork, which makes sense. If you prefer to work on large size canvas with nice major brushstroke, you will definitely need some largely sized brushes and maybe a couple of mediums for detailed work.
If you are working on regular size surface, or if you are just starting out, you will mostly need 1 large brush for priming and large surface coverage, few medium-size brushes and only one or two small ones for tiny details. Don’t go crazy about getting many small brushes because most likely you won’t need them all unless you want to create super-realistic paintings with multiple small details.
Long or Short Handle?
You’ll notice that some paintbrushes for acrylics have short handles while others have long handles. Brushes with longer handles (up to 12″) are useful for easel work when you want to paint from a distance that allows you to see the whole work at once. The short ones (about 6″) allow for easier close-up work
Long Handled Brushes vs. Short Handled Brushes
Long handled brushes are typically for paintings that are created on an easel. Longer handles allow the artist to hold the brush further down towards the bottom of the handle.
Shorter brushes are most often used on smaller paintings, for detail work, or for paintings that are created on a flat surface. Shorter handles allow the artist to get close to the painting without the handle getting in the way.
Paint Brush Sizes
The rule of thumb about brush size is that big brushes should be used for large areas and loose brushwork, and small brushes should be used for small areas and details.
The size of a brush is indicated by a number on the handle, and it refers to how thick the brush is at the heel, where the ferrule meets the hairs. Sizes vary from 000, 00, 0, 1, 2, etc.
Different manufacturers have different sizes for the same number, so if you buy supplies online, always refer to the measurement of the brush, not just the size number, especially if you are not familiar with the manufacturer.
Measurements of paint brushes
Length: distance from the edge of the ferrule out to the tip of the hair in the brush’s center
Diameter: distance across a round ferrule at the point where the ferrule ends and the hair begins
Width: distance across a flat ferrule at the exact point where the ferrule ends and the hair begins
Different brush sizes for different strokes
A brush’s width is different from the width of the paint stroke that the brush makes. The actual width of the stroke varies according to the amount of pressure used, the angle at which the brush is held, the media used, and the flexibility of the brush hair.
The brush stroke will vary depending on how you hold your brushes too. Holding your brush close to the ferrule gives you most control, great for painting details; holding near the end gives you lose strokes.
When buying brushes for acrylic painting, you can get both the stiff bristle brushes used by oil painters and synthetic brushes made for smooth water color painting. It all depends on the effect you want to obtain with your brushwork.
Stiffer brushes will leave visible marks on the painting, with more textural results. Softer brushes will give you smoother brushstrokes, with more blending.
Nylon brushes are best to lay flat paint areas, while natural bristles give a more uneven texture.
For oils you need thicker bristles to move the dense and heavy paint around. For watercolors you need a softer brush because the medium is very fluid. Acrylic paints are softer than oils but thicker than watercolors, so your brushes can be somewhere in the middle.
Most brush manufacturers produce synthetic brushes made specifically for acrylic painting. These are more resistant and springier than those made for watercolor. They are durable and keep their shape well, and make a great choice for beginners.
The first time you use a brush it has a protective coat that keeps it in shape. With your thumb you can break that stiffness and test the flexibility of the bristles.Moving the hairs with your fingers from side to side will give you an idea of the spring qualities of the bristles and how they’ll handle while you are painting.
What to buy for start? In general, if you’re just starting out with acrylics and you’re on a tight budget, I’d recommend getting 1 round, 2 flat (smaller and bigger size) and 1 filbert. That’s enough to accomplish most of what you need with acrylics for a start. Then you can keep adding more brushes depending on your artistic needs. Experiment with your brushes! Explore all their possibilities!
If you still have any questions about painting brush, have difficulties in choosing right set, or maybe have any comment about this article, please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment below!
the right paint brush is the one that the artist is most comfortable with. Short handled, long handled, filbert or flat – it’s the marks and the end result that really matters. It may take some time and some experimentation to find what’s right for you and your application, but hopefully this little guide will help you make an informed decision.