What are the Best Brushes to Use for Acrylic Painting? There are many factors that make a brush good for acrylic painting use. With everything from the type of bristles to shape, from the style of painting and much more to be considered.
This is why it can be a difficult question to answer as there are so many variables to think about. And it will change from artist to artist and style to style. It is also a very personal thing. Yet there are some standard requirements that are common to everyone.
Anyone who knows me, knows I am a bit of a brush fan. So have all kinds of brushes, yet you do not need too many to start with.
Beginners Brush Needs
If you are just starting out your needs may be different to someone who has been painting a while. You may not know if learning acrylic painting is for you, and not want to be buying expensive brushes, or on a budget for example. Yet you need a half decent brush or you are scuppered before you start.
As a beginner, you will probably be taking some kind of lessons either on or offline or have a book or DVD to follow. This is a great place to start as they will have an equipment supply list. This will include the brushes they use for those lessons.
Tip: Try gting the sizes and shapes they recommend. However, note that every artist has their own preferences so if you don’t have quite the right brush do not despair, just pick the nearest one you have. Also, many will use a more expensive range or have their own range of brushes or have created a specialist brush. You do not need all of these all of the time.
Artists Style & Preference
Often you will find that although a brush while meant for certain things will be chosen for different uses by different artists. For example, one artist may prefer to paint up to the edges with a flat while others may prefer a flat angular brush.
Brush Handle length
You can get long or shorter handled brushes. The longer handled ones cost more to buy. Some people love the longer handles. I admit I got some and find them a pain as I keep catching them against me when I paint.
When using acrylic paints they are so versatile that you can use them like watercolours or like oils. What brush you choose to use may change depending on your method of painting. For instance, if you prefer to paint in super thick paint you will need a brush that is firmer and bends less.
Main Types of Artist Paint Brushes
The rigger brush is a long thin brush used for painting very thin lines.
When using this brush unless you have a really steady hand it is often a good idea to use a guide or rest your finger as a guide to keep your line as even as possible. It is also often a good idea to thin the paint slightly for a more fluid line that does not break.
The Round Brush
Round brushes are great for a range of things such lines and detailed work because they are good for both fine detail and thicker line work. They are used for anything from a controlled wash to smaller areas of detail. This is because of the brush shape which is thick and then tapers down to a fine point.
These brushes come in a range of sizes from really fine to quite thick.
Flat Acrylic Brushes
Flat brushes are flat with a square shaped end. They are great for creating smooth straight edges creating washes, filling larger areas, strong bold strokes and also impasto painting which required very thick paint.
Like the flat brush, the filbert is flat however unlike the flat brush the filbert brush has slightly rounded edges. These are lovely for creating a softer rounded edge. Like the round brush, they are great for detail and like the flat, they cover more area when painting. I confess this is mu favourite brush for acrylic painting probably due to these reasons.
There are other brush types that we will discuss in another post. However, these are the main ones to get you started.
I have included a video below that I discovered on YouTube for those of you like me who like to see things more visually rather than just written.
Quality and Bristle type
Quality brushes behave differently than the cheaper ones. Below explains what to look for in a quality brush.
If you have ever tried painting house walls you will have probably come across some bristle shedding. It is a pain in the backside, especially when using acrylics that will be drying fairly quickly. It is best to avoid brushes that shed too much if possible. If not you can remove the bristles from your work as you go.
Good Bristle Spring
A quality brush for acrylics will have good spring. Spring is when you bend the bristles how well the bounce back into shape. To test simply bend the bristles gently and see if they snap back.
The stiffer the bristles the more of the stroke show.
Many artists use synthetic brushes these days and they are great for acrylic painting. Don’t overlook these in your search there are some good quality ones out there.
Bristles Splaying Out
Your brush should not splay or spread out. This is when the bristles do not sit neatly but spread outwards. A brush that splays is difficult to control and create good lines. Don’t get rid of it because there are some areas that they can be used.
What Price Should You Pay for a Brush?
As a general guide, it is best to go for the best quality brushes you can. Synthetic brushes tend to be cheaper and can also be great quality.
The woman in the video recommends that you don’t buy sets. While I understand and agree with her reasoning, I also feel that when you are setting up it is a cheaper way to buy your brushes and you can get some great beginners brushes that way. You just have to be careful which sets that you decide to buy.
System 3 is made by Daler Rowney who are a good company. They design the paint and brushes, especially for beginners. Their yellow brush range is a very good synthetic brush range. Bought individually you pay about £5 for a single brush while you can get the set of 10 brushes for around £23 to £30 including a case. In my view, this is very good value for money.
I bought one of these brushes due to a tight budget and was so impressed the set went on my Christmas list. The set is amazing.
They hold the paint well. The bristles spring back. They are not too expensive and they feel good when you are using them, the paint doesn’t drag. There is a range of the main sizes used which should be enough for some time.
If you want to you can also get them as individual brushes rather than a set.