Guide to Choosing the Right Oil Paint Brushes
All You Need to Know About Oil Paint Brushes
For the painters or artists among you, paintbrushes play a very important role in expressing your art. Most seasoned painters collect a variety of brushes over time. Yet, very few of them are actually put to use. On the other hand, for a budding artist, buying the very first set of paintbrushes is not easy since there are a number of choices available in the market. It is always better to start with just a few brushes and master painting with those before you move on to the other types. This will help you get more confident about your skills and also prevent unnecessary expenses. For this reason, the artists among you must understand the various types of brushes available and then decide which one to begin your painting journey with.
Before moving any further, here are a few terms related to the function and performance of a paint brush that you must get acquainted with:
- Balance: The feel of the brush in your hand.
- Flow: The flow of the paint from the paint brush.
- Snap: The snapping back of the brush to it’s original shape.
Parts of an Oil Paint Brush
- Bristles: Bristles are the hair on the paint brush that are used to paint. They can be either hard or soft depending upon the material used. Hog’s hair bristles are stiffer while softer bristles are made from sable (weasel) hair or synthetic fibres. A good quality paint brush usually has bristles that are tapered for better control.
- Ferrule: Ferrule is the metal strap or band that keeps the bristles together and connects them to the handle.
- Handle: Handles can be either long or short. They are usually made of plastic or wood. The size of the handle depends upon the artist’s preference and perspective.
Oil Paint Brushes Shapes
Yet another important feature of the paint brush is the shape of the bristles. Let’s see how the different shapes affect the way they are used to paint:
- Fan: As the name suggests, this bristles looks like a small fan usually used to blend or to put in some texture in the painting. They are good when painting trees, grass, hair, etc.
- Round: For oil painting, a large round bristle works well. Smaller and softer ones are better for water colour paintings. These brushes are good for painting details.
- Filberts: These are flat brushes with rounded edges and look like they have an oval shape. Filberts are a combination of flat and round brushes. They are extremely useful in blending.
- Flats: Flat brushes are long, rectangular and flat that can colour a larger area. Also, when held sideways, thin lines can be produced.
- Brights: Quite similar to flats, but with much shorter hair, these allow more control to you than the longer flats. These can be quite good in creating textures or filling up larger areas quickly.
- Palette Knife: This is a tool used for mixing oil paints together on a palette and is also sometimes used for painting. While paints can be mixed using a paint brush too, cleaning a palette knife after mixing is much easier and quicker than a paint brush.
Types of Oil Paint Brushes
Now that you are familiar about paint brush shapes and parts, you must understand the types of oil paint brushes as well.
The bristles of natural brushes are made from pig’s (hog) hair. Some of the common types of natural brushes include flat, round, filbert, bright and fan, that we talked about before. Natural bristles are better for oil paints. However, precision painting can be a challenge with natural bristles. Another con is that natural bristles shed hair, however a quality brush will not shed hair after the first or second use.
Synthetic brushes are available in all brush shapes. These are made of synthetic materials such as nylon or polyester or a mix of both. Synthetic bristles work best with water based latex paints. These brushes are cheaper, more durable and retain their shape for longer which makes them a popular choice. However, nylon brushes tend to turn softer in hot weather or after prolonged use, which makes it difficult to paint details. Also, polyester brushes need to be loaded with paint more often as they don’t pick as much paint as natural brushes.
Oil Paint Brush Sizes and Brush Handles
Oil paint brushes come in different sizes ranging from very fine to an inch or even more. Usually brushes are numbered from 0 to 24 and 0000 which is lesser than 0. These sizes might slightly vary with different brands. When painting with oil paints, large bristles are recommended for covering larger areas of the background. A medium size brush and one which has sharper edges works well for painting details. For finer details, it is best to use a small round brush.
When it comes to brush handles, longer handles work best for oil paintings whereas shorter handles go better with watercolour paintings. This is because when using a larger handle, you get a better view of the painting since there would be a distance between you and the painting. However, sometimes it is imperative to stand closer to the canvas for better control and for painting more realistic style of art which is when a short handle brushes is more suitable.
Must Read If You Are New to Oil Painting
If you are new to the world of oil painting, it must seem very confusing. From which paint brushes to choose and how to start painting to how to clean and store the paint brushes in the right way. So, here are a few tips that can be very helpful:
- Don't Discard Old Paint Brushes: Instead of throwing away old paint brushes, check if you can use them for painting textures. Many a times, you may feel like a paint brush is of no more use to you, however, a little effort put into cleaning it can really surprise you. More on how to clean paint brushes below.
- Use Gloves: Start with using latex gloves to keep your hands clean. However, some gloves are lightly powdered to avoid sweat, in which case it is best to not touch the canvas while the gloves are on.
- Reuse Leftover Oil Paint: Rather than throwing away or discarding any oil paint left in your palette after you finish painting, consider freezing it to avoid it from getting hardened. This way you can reuse the oil paint even after several days or weeks. Remember to keep the paint sealed in an airtight container.
- Clean the Paint Brushes After Every Use: Paint brushes must be washed several times until the paint stops coming out of the bristles. Those of you who prefer not to use thinners, can use normal dishwashing liquid too. While painting, you can use paper towels or pieces of cloth to clean your paint brushes.
- Choose the Right Canvas: Cotton (linen) canvas are the best, however, they can be heavy on the pocket. It is also recommended to paint the sides of a canvas if you want to hang your canvas without a frame.
- Store Them the Right Way: Make sure to dry the brushes well and when storing the bristles should face up so that the shape can be maintained.
Top 5 Oil Paint Brushes for Beginners
We realize that there are way too many choices when it comes to oil paint brushes and for those of you who are new to oil painting it can be difficult to select the right one. This is why we have shortlisted the top 5 oil paint brushes for beginners. Now you can simply choose which one of these five suits you and your budget best and shop accordingly.
Rianz Painting Brushes Set of 12
This is a set of 12 pointed tip nylon paint brushes with wooden handles, soft hair and rust-free aluminium ferrules to hold them steady. The brushes provide a good grip while painting. This amazing set includes round, flat, filbert and angular shapes and small, medium and large thickness. The tip is sharp. These brushes are quite versatile and can be used by beginners as well as seasoned artists. Apart from oil painting, these can be used for acrylic painting, watercolour painting, face or body painting, etc. You can purchase this made in India product for ₹ 348.00 from Amazon.
Brustro Artists Gold Taklon Set of 10 Brushes
This is a set of 10 synthetic paint brushes that is ideal for oil, watercolour and acrylic painting. The brushes have long handles and the bristles are made of synthetic golden taklon and the brushes included are of various sizes and types such as flat (number 2 and 8), round (number 1, 3 and 5), bright (number 2, 6 and 10) and filbert (number 2 and 6). These brushes are suitable for students and beginners and can be purchased for ₹ 639.00 from Amazon.
Faber-Castell Paint Brush Set - Flat, Pack of 7
This set of seven flat brushes can be used for tempera, watercolour, acrylic painting, etc. The material used is synthetic and pony hair and the ferrules are good quality anti-rust with long durable handles in navy blue colour. The sizes included are 1, 2, 4, 6, 8,10 and12. The set is ideal for beginners and is available for ₹ 340.00 on Amazon.
Kabeer Art 15 Pcs Paint Brush Set
This set of 15 paint brushes that comes in a pop-up carrying case also includes a sponge and a palette knife. It can be used for acrylic, oil, watercolour and gouache painting. The material used for hair is nylon and the handles are made of wood. The ferrules are attached well and keep the brush sturdy and there is no shedding of hair as the nylon used if of good quality. The manufacturer also claims that the brushes are heavily coated to make them waterproof. The brushes include liner (number 1 and 2), fan (number 3), round (number 4, 5 and 6), glaze (number 7), angle (number 8 and 9), flat (number 10, 11, 12, and 13) and filbert (number 14 and 15). The paint brush set is a good buy for ₹ 949.00 and is available on Amazon.
Kurtzy Artist Paint Brush Set
This Kurtzy paint brush set has nylon bristles and wooden handles. The good quality materials ensure that the bristles don’t shed and damage any artwork. The set includes a palette knife that is made of rust-free stainless steel and black wooden handle and a sponge and comes in zipper case. The brushes work well with acrylic, watercolour, gouache and oil painting. They are suitable for both professionals as well as beginners including children. They can be cleaned with water, dried and stored in the case. The brushes include angle (number 2, 5, 10 and 12), round (number 2/0, 1, 3 and 7), filbert (number 4 and 9), oval wash (number 8), script liner (number 3/0) and fan brush (number 0). You can buy it for ₹ 1,199.00 on Amazon.
Tips to Choose the Right Oil Paint Brushes for You
Are you still confused about which brushes to purchase. We get you. You are just getting started with oil painting and you want to make the right choice with the paint brushes. Here are a few additional tips to make it even easier for you to buy the right paint brushes to get started. Make sure you have the following kinds of paint brushes in your kit:
- DIY brush around 1.5 inch size. This is the paint brush that is used to paint furniture. A DIY brush of a good quality will last longer and shed fewer hairs than a cheaper one.
- A flat brush of 1 inch or ½ inch size.
- Filbert brushes of sizes ¼ inch (number 4) and ½ inch (number 8).
- A round brush around 3/16 inch size (number 8).
- Rigger brush that has 1 inch long bristles and is about 1/16 inch in width (number 1).
- A selection of palette knives and even cheaper plastic ones will do in the beginning.
If you are unable to get exact sizes, then even approximately similar sizes will do. Do not fret about natural and synthetic hair too much as it will be good to have a mix of both to understand the difference between the two types.
Your Tools are Critical for Delivering an Extremely Satisfying Painting Experience
Regardless of whether you are planning to take up oil painting as a hobby or a profession your tools like your paint brushes, are extremely important in achieving a satisfying outcome. We hope this BP Guide would have helped you understand all the concepts you need to know before selecting that perfect set of oil paint brushes for yourself. Share your experiences with us and stay connected for more engaging content.