If you're just starting out with paint by numbers, it can be a bit overwhelming standing in the paintbrush aisle at the art store, with a vast sea of artist paint brushes spread out before you. The wide selection even makes me dizzy sometimes!
No fear - our Paintbrush Guide is here! This page will tell you everything you need to know in order to select the right paintbrushes to suit your needs.
Paintbrushes for acrylics come in many different shapes and sizes. The shapes and sizes of the brushes you choose to work with will depend mainly on how large you want to work, and how detailed you want to get. Take a look:
There are 8 main types of artist paint brushes that are used with acrylics, shown above. Each one is specially intended for different uses. Before we get into the particular uses of each paintbrush, let's get a quick low-down of the different parts of the brush:
A paintbrush is made of 4 main parts:
Easy enough! So now that you know the lingo, let's find out what each brush is meant for!
Round or pointed tip.
Good for: sketching, outlining, detailed work, controlled washes, filling in small areas. creates thin to thick lines - thin at the tip, becoming wider the more its pressed down.. use with thinned paint rather than thick paint.
Narrower than the round paintbrush. has sharply pointed tip.
Good for: fine details and lines, delicate areas, spotting and retouching.
Square end, with medium to long hairs.
Good for: bold strokes, washes, filling wide spaces, impasto. can use edge for fine lines, straight edges and stripes. Long haired flat brushes are ideal for varnishing.
Flat with edges curved inward at tip, with shortish hairs.
Good for: short controlled strokes. thick, heavy color. better for working up close rather than holding the brush at a distance from the canvas.
Flat and oval-shaped end with medium to long hairs.
Good for: blending, soft rounded edges like flower petals. this brush is sort of a combination of the rounds (because they can be used for detail) and flat (because they can cover more space than round).
Flat, spread hairs.
good for: natural hairs are good for smoothing, blending, and feathering. synthetic hairs are better for textural effects, clouds, and leaves on trees. for acrylics, use strong and sturdy one, otherwise the hairs will clump when paint is added.
Flat with angled hairs at end.
Good for: curved strokes and filling corners. can reach small areas with tip. also can be used to cover lots of space, similar to flat brushes.
Round, hairs shorter in length. shorter handle.
Good for: details and short strokes. holds more color than you might think!
If you're a beginner it can be helpful to get all your brushes at once in a set. We recommend these two sets below:
The Maestro Series XV and the Minute Series XII. The Maestro Series XV Brushes are a great all-around set because they include a variety of brush shapes and sizes (flat, round, filbert, etc). The Minute Series XII Brushes are ideal for painting small details. If you're just starting out I'd suggest getting the Maestro Series XV first, and then if you find that you want to paint more details, the Minute Series XII brushes would make a great addition to your collection of brushes. I've used both sets with acrylics, watercolors and gouache and am very happy with their performance.