Basic Guide to Oil Painting Brushes

Updated: Apr 7



Similar to other painting mediums, oil painting brushes come in a wide range of shapes, types, and sizes. Thanks to the numerous manufacturers, picking a certain type of brush has been made even more challenging.


One of the most common struggles of beginner and professional painters is that they can easily buy an entire collection of brushes that rarely make it out of their cases. This can be very frustrating for various reasons.


However, if you know the basic types, you can easily figure out what brushes you will need to get started.


This article will go through a few brushes that you can use to perfect your painting styles and techniques to make you proficient in oil painting.


So, without further ado, let’s get started!


Types of Brushes?


If you are a beginner, it is recommended to get started with four basic brush types::

  • Round

  • Flat

  • DIY

  • Filbert

  • Rigger

You should also add painting knives as t important tools in your painting armory.


Round Brushes


As the name suggests, a round brush is round in shape. The tip of the brush allows you to create well-detailed shapes across the canvas, whereas the belly allows you to cover the larger areas of the canvas.


Most round brushes have the sizes printed as numbers on the body. However, these sizes vary widely based on the manufacturer’s intent.


Flat Brushes


The flat brush is also quite self-explanatory. These brushes are usually measured for size using the metal ferrule’s (the area where the bristles and the handle are connected) flattened area.


These brushes usually come in sizes of 1/2", 3/4", and so on. They are also available in smaller sizes if needed.


Similar to the previous model, the flat brush also works well for spreading paint across the canvas. However, these strokes are more linear than the round brush. Therefore, you can use flat brushes to create strong, straight lines for a door or window.


DIY Brushes


Technically, a DIY brush is also similar to a flat brush. However, DIY brushes are chunkier, making them perfect to quickly paint over large areas.


The handles of these brushes are quite strong, but the nylon bristles require frequent washing after every use.


Filbert Brushes


If you want a brush that has both the properties of a flat and a round brush, the Filbert brush is the one for you. It has a flat belly but has a more rounded tip towards the end.


These brushes are extremely useful if you want to draw unique effects like skin textures and so on. In addition to this, they are also great for blending purposes.


Rigger Brushes


The brushes with the thin, slim bristles are termed “Rigger brushes.” These are great for making tiny details in a portrait.


Painting Palette Knives


Using brushes for mixing colors in a palette can be extremely messy. That is why you need to use a palette knife.


This knife comprises a long flat blade that can help you blend two or more colors instantly. This tool makes painting a really enjoyable activity. Moreover, these are great if you want to mix thick paints.

Recommended Starter Oil Brush Kit for Beginners


If you are not sure about the tools you need to get started with, don’t worry! Here is a list of all the basic brushes I would recommend just for you!

  • DIY brush: 35-40mm (1.5") opt to purchase a moderately priced brush as the cheaper ones might shed bristle hairs

  • Flat brush: 25mm (1") and 12mm (1/2")

  • Filbert brush: 6mm (1/4”) and 12mm (1/2”), respectively

  • Round brush: 5mm (3/16”)

  • Rigger brush: 1.5mm (1/16") wide

  • An assorted set of palette knives

Do not worry about getting the perfect sizes, as they tend to vary from brand to brand. Just make sure to get the best quality brushes that fit well within your budget.


Final Thoughts


And there you have it! That’s all you need to know about the basics of brushes to get started!


The good news is all these brushes are readily available at any art store near you. So what are you waiting for? Walk into your nearest art store to support the budding inner artist within you!

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