A true master can only be as good as the tools he is working with.
The same hold for acrylic paint brushes.
Brushes come in many different sizes and shapes and it’s important to know what each is used for. Some kinds of brushes are better for some kind of strokes or techniques.
Not sure which brush to get? Looks take a quick look at the brushes out there.
Paint Brush Basics
Every brush is made up out of 4 sections. On one side of the brush, we have the bristle, also known as the hairs. It can be made out of many different natural sources or even synthetic. On the other side is the handle, normally made out of wood. In the middle, there is a metallic part that connects the hairs with the handle. The part where the hair reaches the metal is called the ferrule. The part that connects the handle with the metal is called the crimp.
You probably know that the bristle is the most important part. As mentioned the hairs of the bristle can come from many different sources. The best paint brushes for acrylic painting are normally made out of synthetic hairs made out of Taklon. They remain relatively stiff even when wetted and don’t react with the chemicals in the acrylic paint.
Additionally, brushes come in a variety of different sizes, from brushes with just a few hairs at the end, to brushes with a luscious amount of hair. Obviously the smaller the brush the easier it is to fill in details, while bigger brushes are better for applying paint evenly on big surfaces. It can be useful to have a small, medium and large brush available but you definitely don’t need every single size that is for sale. Also be careful that different acrylic paint brush brands label their sizes differently. A size 1 at one of the best acrylic paint brushes brand might be size 2 or 3 in another brand’s selection.
Brushes also come in many different shapes. There is no such thing as a single best paint brush for acrylic painting. Rather a combination of different brushes will give the best results. The three main brushes are a round brush, flat brush and a fan brush.
The round brush is the most versatile and probably the go-to brush for most artist. Since they are thin at the tip and wider at the base, it is also called a pointed brush. They are used for sketching, small washes and applying lines of different thickness. A pointed round and a detailed round are similar but have a harper tip and are smaller in size, making them excellent for detailed work.
A flat brush has a square end with medium length hairs. They are good for straight lines and edges, filling wide spaces or bold strokes. The tip of a flat brush can also be slightly rounded or curved inwards such as with a bright, filbert or angular flat brush. Although all three serve a specific function, they are not strictly necessary.
Finally, a fan brushes are best for blending or smoothing different colors on the canvas and textural effects, such as clouds and trees.
Also read our Ultimate Guide to Acrylic Painting!
Best Acrylic Paint Brushes For Beginners
As long as you have some good acrylic paints, a single round and flat brush can be enough to get an absolute beginner started. However, a wider range of different shapes and sizes will allow much better control of the acrylic paint on your canvas and lead to better results.
Finally, you should take the length of the handle into account as well. Brushes with long handles are made for working from a distance. If you are planning to use an easel and paint while standing, a long handle will be best. If you are more used to working up close while sitting down, you might prefer a shorter handle.
For absolute beginners at acrylic painting, a relatively cheap set of brushes such as the Mont Marte 15 piece art paint brush set. The set contains 15 different brushes of a variety of different shapes and sizes, which means they will probably be all you need. They have a long handle and the hair of the brushes is smooth and thick. And best of all, the hairs are well embedded in a way that prevents them from coming out.
If you are serious about acrylics and want to dive right into it with some professional quality acrylic brushes, then we recommend the 14 piece brush set by zenART Supplies. These brushes have long handles made out of birchwood which makes it easy to use them in combination with an easel. The brushes either have semi-stiff badger + 30% synthetic hair of are made completely out of stiff chungking hog bristle, ideal for working with heavy bodied acrylics.The natural hairs can carry a lot of paint and hold their shape while doing so. Although shedding is a common problem with natural hair, this is prevented by adding fine synthetic hair and by the nickel-plated ferrule. Since they come with a 1 year 100% money back guarantee, these brushes are a safe bet.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the best acrylic paint for beginners?
- Which canvas should I use for acrylic painting?
- Which type of easel should I use?