Choosing Paintbrushes (with Video)


Step 1

Decide on synthetic or natural

Decide if you want a synthetic or natural-fiber brush.

When starting out, go with the less-expensive synthetic. Save natural-fiber for when you’re more experienced.

Step 2

Choose medium

Decide what medium you’ll be working in.

If you’re painting in acrylics or oils, start with synthetic brushes because these paints are harder to clean out of the brush.

Step 3

Familiarize yourself w/ 8 types

Familiarize yourself with the 8 main types of brushes: round, flat, bright, filbert, fan, angle, mop and rigger.

round brush (closely arranged bristles for detail); flat blush (flat end for quickly moving paint around); bright brush (flat but with shorter, stiffer bristles); filbert brush (domed ends); fan brush (for blending paints); angled brush (general detail brush); mop brush (broad soft paint application); rigger (round brush with long hairs)

Step 4

Hold brush

Pick a brush and hold it in your fist, bristles up.

After rubbing, the whole brush should take its original shape, and no bristles should fall out.

Step 5

Choose flat & filbert

Choose two workhorse brushes—a flat and a filbert—as your main brushes.

Choose the brush size depending on the size of your work. A size 6 is good middle ground to start.

Step 6

Select smaller & larger sizes

Choose two more flats and two more filberts, one of each a size smaller and larger than the size you already have.

Step 7

Choose special brushes

Select any other special brushes you think you’ll need based on your project. This should be all you need to begin, so grab a canvas and start experimenting!

Some of the best brushes use the hair of animals, the best being sable brushes from the tail of a sable marten.