Are you a novice when it comes to acrylic painting? Then you might be wondering what the best acrylic paint brushes are, and what acrylic paint brush sets you should be looking at? Well, if you are going to do something, and you want to do it well, you should get yourself good quality acrylic painting tools and that includes brushes. You will need to understand that the various types of paintbrushes provide a variety of effects. So, when you are learning different painting techniques with these brushes, you will be able to create unique art pieces and imagine even more than you thought possible.
Types of Paint Brushes for Acrylic Paint
Besides the size and shape of a brush, which we will be going into detail about later, paintbrushes are made of different materials. The two main groups a brush can fall into are the natural bristles and the synthetic bristles.
Natural or Synthetic?
Natural bristles can be made from hogs’ hair or sable, where the hogs’ hair is usually stiff, and the sable is soft. You can also get camel hair brushes, which are generally not made from actual camel hair. These are mostly obtained from goats, ponies, ox, badgers, amongst others. These brushes are best used for painting with oils. This is because they can handle the heavy load of oil paints, and they also retain their shape and can be used multiple times.
However, when used with acrylic paints, the bristles can be damaged, and if the brushes remain in water too long, this can also negatively affect the natural bristles as they soak up the water. You can use natural brushes with acrylic paint; however, you must clean them thoroughly after you have used them. Also, if you have used the brushes with oil paint, the oil paint will need to be properly removed with turpentine before using it again with acrylics, as the oils will naturally repel the acrylic paint.
The best choice for acrylic paints would be a synthetic nylon brush. However, you also get polyester brushes and a combination of both materials. You can get a wide range of different synthetic brushes, from your stiff variety to the softer bristles. These brushes work well with acrylic paints and can easily be cleaned without harming the bristles. Synthetic brushes are, therefore, more durable and are much cheaper than your natural variety. One disadvantage is that the synthetic bristles can never be as soft as natural brushes and do not hold as much pigment as natural brushes can.
When you are looking at soft and stiff brushes, each one can provide different effects. Softer brushes provide a smoother application and can blend nicely. Stiff brushes provide more texture, as they will leave marks as you paint. As mentioned, oil paints are heavier and require thicker brushes, while watercolors need soft brushes.
Acrylic paints fall somewhere in the middle of these two options, but it depends on the techniques used and the effects you want to achieve. Also, you do not want to use your expensive natural sable brush with acrylic paints. When using acrylics, brushes need to be in water a lot of the time, which will ruin the natural fibers quite quickly.
You should easily be able to find brushes for acrylic paint that have been specifically made for acrylics. You will find that these brushes are more durable and will keep their shape over time.
So, these are an excellent choice for those who are just starting to paint with acrylics. Below is a table that provides some of the different properties of each type of paintbrush.
Natural Paintbrush Synthetic Paintbrush Expensive ✔ ✘ More Affordable ✘ ✔ Oil-based Paints ✔ ✔ Acrylic Paints ✘ ✔ Bristle Loss ✔ ✘ Cleans Easily ✘ ✔ Durability ✘
(needs more care) ✔ Smoother Strokes ✘ ✔ Retains Stiffness With Acrylics ✘
(loses stiffness over time) ✔
A Closer Look at Paintbrushes
Since we are discussing paintbrushes, let us take a look at the actual design of a paintbrush. When looking at a brush, you have what is known as the toe end, which is where the bristles come into contact with the canvas. You get the entire head of the bristles, while the belly consists of the widest section of the bristle hairs.
You then get the ferrule, which is generally made out of metal, and this connects the bristles to the handle of the paintbrush. The crimp fastens the ferrule to the handle section. You also have the heel section of the ferrule, which is what squeezes the bristles and keeps them in place. Also, on the handle itself, you should be able to see the size of the brush and sometimes the style is also included.
What to Consider When Purchasing Acrylic Paint Brush Sets
As a beginner working with acrylics, you do not require too many brushes. Rather, think about getting a few different sizes so that you can experiment and find what works best for you. Purchasing paintbrushes is also a personal thing, you might be quite happy working with cheaper varieties, while others prefer to purchase a collection of quality products.
So, we have already looked at synthetic versus natural brushes and found that the best and most affordable option would be a synthetic brush. However, there are other factors to take into consideration as well and these include the following.
The Paintbrush Size
Paintbrushes come in an assortment of sizes, from larger to smaller. The size brush you choose will be subject to what you are painting. Finer details need a small brush and if you want to cover larger areas, your brush will need to be bigger. Brush sizes come in a selection from 0000 up to twenty-four. Beginners can choose three sizes, one small, one mid-size, and another large-size brush. The various manufacturers of paintbrushes create different sizes for similar numbers. So, when purchasing online, make sure you check the measurements and not just the size of a brush.
The Paintbrush Shape
Different brush shapes can provide varying effects and stroke patterns. You will need to experiment with the various shapes to discover the effect you want. The basic paintbrush shapes include round, flat, bright, fan, filbert, angle, mop, and rigger. See further below for more information and products on the types and shapes of paintbrushes.
Soft or Stiff Brushes?
Softer and stiffer bristles can offer different effects, softer brushes can successfully be used for blending. When attempting more abstract art, or painting pieces that require more texture, using stiff brushes might be what you are looking for.
Cost of Paintbrushes
Today, there are many brands available for you to choose from and your choice will, due to a large extent, be dependent on the price. If the cost does not matter, then you can choose the more upmarket varieties. However, there are more affordable options that offer similar results.
You might want to think about visiting an art store, where you can feel the different types of brushes for yourself. Once you discover what you want and need, you can then consider purchasing online in the future. When physically purchasing paintbrushes at the store, you can easily do a quality check before paying. When underpainting or applying large areas of paint, you can save money by purchasing a cheaper variety of brushes.
Best Acrylic Paint Brush Set
Not only are there many types of paintbrushes, but there are also different manufacturers and they, in turn, offer different prices and ranges of products. Choosing a quality brush set should include brushes that can hold paint well, and provides clean, smooth lines on application. Purchasing an acrylic paint brush set might be a good choice if you are not sure where to start. Here is our recommended and most popular set.
Best Beginner Acrylic Paintbrush Set: SOUCOLOR
The Soucolor Paintbrush Set has all the brushes you might need and comes in a variety of sizes and shapes. The brush set is affordable yet provides good quality. These brushes are very versatile and can be used with acrylic paints as well as oil and watercolor paints and are perfect for any arts and crafts project. The brushes are strong yet soft and clean easily. The ferrule is made out of nickel and is double-crimped so that it lasts longer and will not rust. You will not find any annoying loose hairs while painting with these brushes. These are wonderful gift ideas for those who enjoy painting and art.
SOUCOLOR Acrylic Paint Brushes Set Soucolor 2-pack 20pcs 10 different sizes of professional paintbrushes set
The bristles are soft and strong, with nickel metal ferrules and blue wooden handles
After cleaning, the bristles will become soft and fluffy again and will not fall off View on Amazon
Cleans easily CONS There are more premium professional paint brushes available
Acrylic Brushes and Their Different Shapes
Choosing the different types of paint brushes for acrylic painting may seem challenging, considering all that we have discussed so far. It may be hard to find the correct size, shape, and brand that is best for you. To help you understand the types of paint brushes for acrylic, here are their various common shapes and product recommendations for each.
The Type of Handle
When considering the shape of your acrylic brushes, you also need to consider the length of the brush handle. Do you want the handle longer or do you prefer it shorter? Longer handles are great for applying paint when your canvas is on an easel and the length makes it easier to work with, providing more control. Shorter handles are best used on flat surfaces when the canvas is on a table.
Round Brushes for Acrylic Paint
The round bristle brushes taper off and form a point and are great to use for more detailed work. You can also use them to fill in smaller areas on your canvas and offer more control when painting finer details. The sizes of round brushes tend to be smaller when compared to the angle and flat brushes. You should experiment with these brushes for both dry and wet effects. You can also adjust the pressure when painting to produce thinner and thicker lines.
Best Round Acrylic Brushes: AMAGIC
The Amagic round paintbrushes come in a set of nine brushes of varying sizes. The brushes are versatile and can be used with acrylic paints, oil paints, watercolors, inks as well as for other craft painting. The handles are made from solid wood and designed for comfort. The bristles are synthetic nylon and are secured with an aluminum ferrule that makes the brushes quite durable. Synthetic hairs are easy to care for and reshape. The brushes hold paint well and provide a consistent flow to the canvas.
AMAGIC 9 Pcs Pointed-Round Art Paintbrushes Set of 9 brushes in various sizes, including size 0#,2#,4#,6#,8#,10#,12#,14#，16#
Ergonomic handles with long solid wooden handle in special painting color
Anti-shedding synthetic hair with aluminium crimped ferrules View on Amazon
PROS Anti-shedding bristles
Easy to control
Good value for money
Versatile CONS Handles might be too long for some
Fan Acrylic Brushes
Fan acrylic brushes are perfect for adding special effects as well as different textures. You can also use the brushes for blending, the hairs will fuse when you apply a little more pressure when painting. These brushes will work great for painting things like trees, grass, or other shrubs. You can imagine the shape by its name, providing a fan-shaped brush tip. The brush is also great for blending backgrounds. Different effects can be created by applying adjusted pressure, for example, tapping the brush or creating long strokes. The brushes can also be used for creating effects in your mixed-media art, adding texture and various designs.
Best Fan Acrylic Brushes: AMAGIC
The Amagic fan brushes come with six fan brushes, each a different size. The brushes can be used for various techniques and are great for painting leaves, grasslands, and can be used for other craft projects like face painting and nail art. The brushes can be used with acrylic paints as well as other mediums like watercolors and oil painting. The handles offer comfort and excellent control when working with them. These are anti-shedding brushes that have a durable brass ferrule. The good-quality nylon brushes are attached with an aluminum ferrule, offering you many years of use if cared for properly.
AMAGIC Fan Brush Set Set of 6 brushes in various sizes, including size 2#,4#,6#,8#,10#,12#.
Hog Bristle brushes are secured with high-quality aluminum crimped ferrules
Long solid wooden handle in special painting color, straight and persistent foaming View on Amazon
PROS Anti-shed nylon bristles
Hold paint well
Durable and retain their shape
Good value for money CONS Only comes in the six fan-type brushes
Bristles may not be as soft as desired
Flat Acrylic Brushes
Flat brushes are perfect for spreading paint and will give you a wide wash and great coverage. You can also rotate the brush about ninety degrees for thinner lines. The tips of the brush are square-shaped; however, the volume is thin. Block in colors and create glazes with this brush. The flat brush is similar to a wash brush, but it is not as thick or rounded at the edges. The long bristles can be used for techniques such as impasto, and for creating bolder strokes. However, you can also use the edge to create finer lines if you wish. You also get the angle flat brushes, which you can read about further down.
Best Affordable Flat acrylic Brush: TRANSON
The Transon flat brush set is appropriate for various painting mediums like acrylic as well as watercolor and gouache. The nylon fibers do not shed and are flexible when in use. The handle is comfortable to use and is made from solid wood and helps with maintaining good control when painting. The aluminum ferrule is of good quality and creates a more durable brush for longer-lasting use.
TRANSON Flat Paint Brush Set Popular 7 sizes: 1,2,4,6,8,10,12.
Synthetic bristle paint brushes – made from nylon filaments
Comfortable handle – Solid birch wood, smooth painted, ergonomic designed View on Amazon
Aluminum ferrule for good durability
Excellent-grade nylon bristles CONS Seems to have problems with the bristles separating after a few uses
Angle Acrylic Brushes
The angled brush will help you to feel more comfortable if you are working on an easel, it will give you more control over your movements. This paintbrush is a flat brush that is designed at an angle and may also be referred to as a chisel or slanted brush. The angle of the brush makes it easier to apply curves and can create clean lines and other shapes of varying thickness. You can paint some unusual textures, and the brush makes it easy to paint things like waves.
Best Angle Acrylic Brush: AMAGIC
The Amagic Angle Flat Tip Brush is versatile and can be used not only for acrylic painting but also for watercolors and oil painting. You can even use them for face, body, and nail painting. The nylon hairs are easy to care for and can be reshaped after cleaning. The bristles are kept secure by an aluminum ferrule, which will help to prevent the brush from falling apart, so you can work with it for longer. The long wooden handles are designed for comfort and should help deliver even strokes every time. This set comes with nine brushes of varying sizes.
AMAGIC Angled Flat Tipped Brushes Set of 9 brushes in various sizes, including size 0#,2#,4#,6#,8#,10#,12#,14#,16#.
Long solid wooden handle in special painting color, straight and persistent foaming
Anti-shedding synthetic nylon for easy care View on Amazon
PROS Quality brushes at an affordable price
Versatile: works with acrylic paints as well as oil paints and watercolors
Easy to keep clean
Assortment of sizes CONS For some, the handle might be overly long
Liner or Rigger Acrylic Brushes
These brushes are long and form a fine point, providing smooth and precise lines. The brushes are perfect for finer details and very thin lines and can be used effectively with acrylic paint, or you can even use it with ink. The brush can also be used for creating letters and words on your page or canvas. Great for adding your signature to your artwork. The brushes can be worked when dry but produce better results when wet, as this helps with the flow of paint. These brushes are also commonly used for model or miniature painting.
Best Liner Acrylic Brush: ARTBRUSH TOWER
The Artbrush Tower Brush Set is a set of excellent quality fine detail brushes. The set comes with several brushes, each a different size. When used, the bristles stay together and keep their shape at all times. Keeping the brush together is a brass ferrule that is chrome plated. The brush handle is short and is comfortable to work with and the brush can handle acrylic, oil as well as watercolor paints. Not only can you use the brushes on canvas, but also works great on paint by numbers, models, or ornaments.
FINE DETAIL Paint Brush Set Finest quality soft synthetic bristles, Includes 7 assorted detail brushes in size 000, 00, 0, 1, 2,3,4
Short wood handle, very durable
Secure chrome-plated brass ferrules for maximum stability View on Amazon
PROS Variety of sizes
Versatile and can be used for various applications from canvas to models
Sturdy double-crimped ferrules
Good price CONS Not professional paint brushes
Filberts Acrylic Brushes
This is a wide and round type of paintbrush, where the bristles are broader closer to the ferrule and forms a softer round top. These brushes are great for blending as well as for creating glazes. The brush is best used with a more low viscosity paint; however, you can get filbert brushes with stiff bristles. These are good to use for forming scumbles. The paintbrush usually has a thick ferrule, and the hairs are from medium to long and form a rounded, oval type shape. The filbert can be seen as in between a flat brush and a round brush.
Best Filbert Acrylic Brush: CREATIVE COLORS
The Creative Colors Filbert Brushes can be considered professional paint brushes and can easily be used for oil painting, acrylic painting, and watercolors. You will have no problem with stray hairs while painting, as the chrome-plated ferrule holds everything firmly in place. The set includes the most popular sizes, and the brushes are handmade for the best quality. Comfortable and easy to use, making sure every stroke is smooth and lightweight.
RED SABLE Filbert Paint Brushes High-quality superior brushes comprised with a mixture of natural kolinsky sable hair that extends excellent liquid capacity
Delivering great strokes while painting your masterpiece, without stray hairs.
6 sizes of brushes to choose from including the most common ranges – #2 #4 #6 #8 #10 and large #12 View on Amazon
PROS Durable and quality brushes
Contains popular sizes
Can be used with acrylic paints, watercolors, and oil paints CONS Some complaints about loose ferrules and initial shedding
Bright Acrylic Brushes
These brushes are good for painting things like flowers or landscapes and when pressed on the side, they can make bolder and broader strokes. You can also hold the brush more lightly, to create thinner lines. Dragging the brush across the canvas will help to create a sweeping effect and layer. A bright brush is almost like a flat brush; however, it has shorter bristles. You have more control over your painting; however, the brush will not hold as much paint and give shorter strokes.
Best Bright Acrylic Brushes: PRINCETON
The Princeton Paint Brush is perfect for your mixed-media art and can be used with acrylic, oil, and watercolor paints. The bristles are a blend of synthetic filaments, which helps the brush hold color well. The brush is designed for comfort and provides excellent control. These are durable, yet affordable luxury brushes that come in a range of shapes including bright, round, fan, liner amongst others.
PRINCETON Velvetouch Series 3950 Paint Brushes High-quality synthetic hair for enhanced color-holding capacity, precise placement of color, precision tapering and resilient spring.
Smooth, signature Velvetouch handle, made with FSC wood
Long-lasting and more affordable than traditional luxury brushes View on Amazon
Comfortable to paint with
Value for money
Excellent quality synthetic blend CONS Do not come in sets
Cleaning and Caring for Your Acrylic Brushes
Looking after paintbrushes is extremely important if you want them to last and do their job properly. This involves proper cleaning and storage of your paintbrushes. Any problems like bent bristles or dried paint can be avoided if you take the correct steps. Some professional paint brushes can cost a small fortune, so you want to make sure you do the right things to keep them in top shape.
Cleaning Acrylic Brushes
Never allow the paint to dry on your brushes. Once you have finished painting, try to remove any leftover paint from the brush. You can do this by rinsing the brush or wiping the brush with a cloth. When rinsing the brush, use some warm water in a bucket and rub the paint off the brush. If the paint has begun to dry, try using a stiff brush to loosen it. Wash again with some warm soap and water and rub the brush to remove the paint. You can use some artist soap when cleaning, which is both kind to the brushes and your hands. The soap is also good at helping to remove dried paint. We have a separate article about how to clean acrylic paint brushes.
Rinse the brush off in a clean bucket of water and shake off most of the water and leave to dry lying flat. When leaving a wet brush to dry standing up, the water could run down inside the ferrule, and this can loosen the glue, or it may even grow mold.
Storing Your Brushes
Once the brush has dried, you can store it laying it flat so that the bristles do not bend. Store in a dry and cool space, and not close to any heat sources. Consider storing the brushes inside a paintbrush roll, which can be made out of cotton. You also get wooden containers and canvas zipper bags for paintbrushes.
As mentioned, when working with acrylic paints, synthetic brushes are the best choice. Synthetic brushes are cheaper, and they are more durable. The natural fiber brushes are a bit more sensitive and require excellent care. Even if you are gentle with washing and store correctly, natural brushes can still easily become damaged. Before storing, reshape the brush hairs gently and when storing, make sure each brush has enough space. You do not want anything pressing down onto the brushes, causing damage.
Tips When Using Brushes for Acrylic Paint
There seems to be a lot to take in when considering the types of paint brushes for acrylic art. You have to understand the different brush sizes, types, and shapes, it can get a little complicated. Not only that, but once you have the paintbrushes, how do you take care of them? Here are some tips about the best acrylic paint brushes and what to look out for.
Never let the paint dry on your acrylic brushes, it will ruin them
Tyr using an artist soap for better results
Always place the brushes flat on a surface when drying
When you are busy painting, never leave a brush in water for long periods
Once clean and dry, you can store your brushes lying flat or upright. Never place the brush with the bristles facing down. This will damage and bend the bristles
Preferably, use synthetic brushes for acrylic painting
Avoid buying the cheapest brushes you can find as these tend to shed hair and the bristles eventually separate when you are painting
You only need a few brushes to start with, you do not have to go for a full set. Try getting a flat and oval top filbert brush that comes in a few different sizes, to begin with
It is also good to have a finer brush as well as a large flat brush in your collection
Once you have experimented and get a feel for the types of paint brushes for acrylic, you can increase your collection if you wish
When painting, make sure to keep the brush moist at all times
You can also use different size palette knives to mix and paint with. They are generally inexpensive, and you can create more textures and effects
In place of the palette knife, a plastic knife can also work. You can also consider using an old credit card
When painting, it is always a good idea to go for better quality brushes that can last longer. Also, you should purchase good quality acrylic paint so you can produce your best work
Brushes with metal ferrules like nickel or aluminum, can offer better protection and make the brush more durable. These help to prevent the bristles from coming loose and shedding onto your artwork
Frequently Asked Questions
What Type of Brush Is Best For Acrylics?
The best brushes are synthetic bristle brushes as these are more durable and, in some cases, are designed specifically for acrylic paints. Many of the synthetic brushes today, can be used for acrylic paints, oil paints, and watercolors. You can use natural hair brushes; however, you will have to make sure you take extra good care of them when using, cleaning, and storing. Natural brushes are also a lot more expensive than synthetic paintbrushes.
What Are Synthetic Brushes Made From?
Synthetic paintbrushes are made from either nylon or polyester, and can also consist of a combination of these two materials.
How Can You Keep Your Acrylic Paintbrush Soft?
The trick is to keep the bristles moist while you are busy painting. Try to place the brushes lying horizontal to prevent any water from dripping down onto the ferrule and handle. Keeping them moist helps to prevent any paint from drying, especially if you cannot see any of the paint residues.
Is It Possible to Use Acrylic Brushes For Oil Painting?
In general, acrylic brushes can be used with oil paints and watercolors. However, brushes specifically designed for oil painting or watercolors, should not be used with acrylic paints.