Simple Guidance For You On Oil Painting Brushes.

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As an artist, it is quite common to invest in brushes every now and then. Some may do a good job for your painting or some may not. It’s all an experience- a journey every artist goes through. But to make that journey less confusing and smooth, it’s crucial to know few basics. This will not only help you in making a decision while buying the paintbrush but also gives you the freedom and flexibility to experiment with various paintbrushes ranging from student grade to professional paintbrushes.

Brushes come in a variety of shapes and sizes under different brands. So it could get a bit overwhelming and confusing when you are a beginner. Sometimes even the experienced artist face decision fatigue in an art shop. So, it’s quite normal to build up a collection of brushes trying to figure out which works best for you.

Before we move on, let me explain the different parts of a paint brush.

Different parts of a Paint Brush

Starting with the basics, there are four main parts of a paintbrush: bristles, ferrule, crimp, and handle.


These are the “hairs” that carry the paint. Bristles can be synthetic or natural. Natural bristles are made from animal hair, such as hog or badger. Synthetic brushes are often made from nylon or polyester filaments. Bristles come in different shapes which determine the type of brush it is.


The ferrule is the metal band that secures the bristles and connects them to the handle and keeps them in shape.


Crimp is a part of ferrule where the bristles are secured to the handle. The quality of the brushes determines the quality of the ferrule.


Handles are long or short, wood or plastic. Long-handled brushes are mostly used for paintings done on an easel like the traditional acrylic and oil painting to keep your composition in perspective.

Types of Bristles for oil painting

The two distinctly different types of brushes used for oil painting are Natural hair and Synthetic hair.

Natural Brushes

Bristle and sable are the two main types of hair used in natural brushes.

Bristle brushes

Bristle brushes have thicker, stronger, and are able to hold a lot of paint. They are made of hog’s hair brushes that are referred to as bristle brushes. Bristle brushes are great to begin a painting or for working with large paintings and they have a long handle and corrosion-resistant ferrules.

Sable brushes

Sable brushes are soft and can be made from actual weasel hair, squirrel, rabbit, or synthetic fibers. These soft brushes are perfect for finer details and smoother blending.

Synthetic Brush

Synthetic brushes are those where the bristles are made from nylon or polyester filaments. The common name for this filament is “taklon.” Nowadays there are some great high-quality synthetic brushes that mimic natural brushes and are cost-effective. Synthetic brushes are more durable, easier to clean, and are able to withstand harsh chemicals and solvents.

Different types of brushes

In this section, I will be discussing the different types of brushes briefly and I have also included few links to synthetic hog bristle brushes. They are highly cost-effective if you want to check them out.

Bright Brush

Bright brushes are great for controlled strokes with thick, heavy colors. They have short bristles and the bristles curve inside slightly. The ferrule of these brushes is flat and it has a long handle.

Bright Brush

Flat Brush

Flat brushes are very much similar to bright brushes with a flat ferrule, except that the bristles are medium to long hair. The strands are arranged in a rectangular shape that is longer than the width. It has got a large color-carrying capacity and they are useful for bold, sweeping strokes, or on edge for fine lines.

Flat Brush

Filbert Brush

Filbert brushes are flat oval-shaped brushes with medium to long chiseled rounded edge hairs with a flat ferrule. With its soft rounded edges, the filbert is suitable for blending and figurative work.

Filbert Brush

Round Brush

The Round brush is a traditional brush shape with a round or pointed tip in a round ferrule. They can hold a lot of paint for thick, large, bold strokes. Round brushes are most often used for small details and line work.

Round Brush

Fan Brush

The fan brush is a flat brush that is spread like a fan with a flat ferrule. These types of brushes are useful for smoothing and blending, special effects, and textures.

Alternatively, you could also buy a small set of brushes from Winsor and Newton that are available in a pack. Just as you would buy a starter kit for oil paints, this can be a good buy if you don't want the hassle of selecting the different types of brushes or deciding on a shape.

Sable Brushes

Bright sable brush
Flat Sable brush
Round sable brush

Pack of Sable brush sets

Additional Reading:

All You Need To Know About Oil Painting Supplies as a Beginner.

Beginners guide: 8 types of brushes used in acrylic painting

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