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Best Paint Brushes for Acrylic Painting

By: DecoArt
March 25, 2021

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Best Paint Brushes for Acrylic Painting
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Best Paint Brushes for Acrylic Painting

Acrylic painting is a great hobby for beginners for many reasons. First of all, painting has a low barrier of entry meaning you can make a wonderful piece even with just a basic set of skills. Painting is also relaxing, fun, and a hobby you can enjoy for many years to come.


One of the most difficult things for beginning painters is simply knowing where to start. With so many different kinds of paints, tools, and materials out there it can be hard to know what you need. Luckily, you don’t need many tools for basic painting. A good set of brushes, some quality paints, and a canvas is all you need to get started. 


Today we’ll be teaching you all about paint brushes for acrylic paint. You’ll learn what brushes you need for acrylic painting and about all the different types of brushes out there. Armed with this knowledge you can go forth and pick up the brushes you need to get started on your very own painting journey!

How Brushes Are CategorizedShape

There are 8 different paint brush shapes and each one can be used for a variety of painting techniques. Blick has a great chart that breaks down each of these shapes and how to use them. https://www.dickblick.com/productinfo/learn/brushes/pdf/brushshapes.pdf?SSAID=317993&sscid=21k5_iqvg4&utm_source=SAS&utm_medium=affiliates&ref=affiliates


  1. Round
  2. Pointed round
  3. Flat
  4. Bright
  5. Filbert
  6. Angular flat
  7. Fan
  8. Round detail

Knowing the different brush shapes and how to use them is key to improving your painting. Having a variety of brushes in different shapes open up different painting techniques and styles for you to try.

Size

Paint brushes in every shape come in a variety of sizes indicated by a number, usually on the handle. The numbers can start from 000 and go all the way up to 20. Be aware that different brands of brushes in the same size can look different. Consider comparing brushes in-person to ensure you’re getting the size you’re looking for.


Each size of brush has its own purpose. Smaller brushes are used for detail work and fine lines, mid-sized brushes are the most versatile, and larger brushes can be used for washes or painting large areas.


For beginners, try starting off with mid-sized brushes (sizes 6 to 8) in different shapes. Once you know more about your painting style you can branch out to smaller or larger brushes depending on your needs.

Bristle Type

In general there are two different categories of bristles, natural and synthetic. Natural bristles will be made of material like hog bristle or soft sable whereas synthetic bristles will be made from materials such as nylon and polyester.


There are pros and cons to each bristle type. Natural bristles can handle heavier paint easier and are better at holding their shape over time. This makes them a favorite for oil paints. However, acrylic paints can damage the natural fibers and these brushes cannot handle sitting in water.


Synthetic bristles on the other hand won’t break down in acrylic paint and don’t mind sitting in water. They don’t hold their shape as well as natural bristles, but can still last a long time if properly cared for. Overall, if you’re using brushes mainly for acrylic painting, synthetic brushes are the way to go.

What Brushes You Need to Get Started

This may seem like a lot of information, but don’t get overwhelmed! Here’s our recommended list of brushes for beginning painters looking to get started.


  1. 2” Flat Brush for large areas or DIY https://shop.decoart.com/americana-decor-brushes
  2. 1 inch and 0.5 inch Flat brush
  3. A couple mid-sized filbert brushes, try starting with number 4 and number 8 https://shop.decoart.com/decoart-traditions-brushes
  4. Number 8 Round brush
  5. Mid-sized pointed round

Optional

  1. An assorted set of painting/palette knives (a really cheap set is fine, to begin with - the plastic varieties cost very little) is also a good investment.
  2. A mid-sized fan brush. Fan brushes can be used for all kinds of special effects 
  3. Pouncers. These sponges are another great tool for special effects. They can also be used in DIY projects to make polka dots or blend.
  4. A paint palette. A paint palette is by no means required, but can make it easier if you plan on mixing paints or want a lot of paint on end. You can use plenty of other things are surrogate palettes if you aren’t ready for the investment such as paper plates or egg cartons.

DecoArt has a variety of brushes, tools, and paint storage options available on our website. https://shop.decoart.com/brushes-tools-storage/


How To Care For Your Brushes

Don’t let paint dry on your bristles as this can ruin them. Some acrylic paints can dry very fast, so it’s important to keep water on hand while you work and to wash paint off after you’re done using a particular brush.


DecoArt’s Art For Everyone Learning Center has lots of free videos that teach you the basics so you can start painting with confidence. Our video on brush care is a great resource for beginning painters looking to take good care of their new brush set.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PiW-4WEWrD8&list=PLW8xbeUPkb9m-HUsHqcVgNu37yEyHZT_5&index=14&t=1s&ab_channel=DecoArtInc.

Next Steps

Now that you know all about paint brushes it’s time to pick one up and start painting! DecoArt has plenty of free tutorials and art lessons perfect for beginners. Check out our Art For Everyone Learning Center for free videos on a variety of techniques and other art basics. Or go to the DecoArt blog for more tutorials like this one. We also have plenty of step-by-step instructions for all kinds of crafting and DIY projects over in the DecoArt Project Gallery.

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