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How to Choose a Paintbrush

Yes, you could just use your fingers, but selecting the best brushes for your painting might achieve a slightly more grown-up result.


  • Step 1: Decide on synthetic or natural Decide if you want a synthetic or natural-fiber brush.
  • TIP: 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.
  • TIP: 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.
  • TIP: 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.
  • TIP: 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.
  • TIP: 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!
  • FACT: Some of the best brushes use the hair of animals, the best being sable brushes from the tail of a sable marten.

You Will Need

  • An art supply store

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