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The right brush for the right job. What types are there?

How to choose a tool that will make your work easier and not spoil the effect? Check it out!

Dania Sutton
Pędzle na płótnie

(fot. Buse Doga Ay, źródło:

Choosing the right brush is only a seemingly easy task. What should I consider when buying and why are there so many types of paintbrushes?

How to choose a brush? A condensed guide

If you’ve ever used a paintbrush in your life, whether for walls, make-up, spreading egg yolk on a cake, or painting, you’ll know that no two brushes are the same. Some brushes are too dense, others are split in all directions. Some fit perfectly in your hand, while others leave splinters in your fingers. Some lose bristles as you work, leave streaks, or absorb large amounts of product. Is it even possible to buy the perfect brush?

As simple as building a brush

A brush is no complicated construction: a handle, a cap, and bristles. That’s it, and that’s it. So how is it possible that even such a simple construction can be broken? Well, you can break any of these three elements. So, one by one:

  1. Handle

The most common brush handles are made of wood or plastic. The best and preferred by professionals are handles made of high quality wood. The wood should be painted or varnished. This will protect the handle from water and make it easy to clean. A cheaper alternative is plastic handles – easy to maintain and slightly lighter. Regardless of the material of the brush handle, balance is very important. Many hours of work with a paintbrush can be uncomfortable if not properly balanced. This aspect is especially important with large brushes.

  1. The cap

This word, taken from school dictation, describes the connection between the bristle and the brush handle. The best caps are made of nickel-plated brass or gold. Ordinary sheet metal will rust after coming in contact with water. The ferrule should hold firmly to the handle on one side and securely grip the brush bristles in one clump on the other. When buying, you should pay attention to whether the cap is overbent, cracked, or too loose.

Pędzle ze złotymi skuwkami
(Photo: Anna Daudelin, source:
  1. Bristles

The most important parameter of a brush. It is a very broad topic. However, without well-chosen bristle in a brush you can’t move. The main types of bristles are:

  • Kolinsky – the best possible, expensive and intended for professional use. This is natural bristle. It works well in all painting techniques, but due to its smoothness and flexibility, it is best for watercolors.
  • Red S able – a very good bristle with similar characteristics as its predecessor. Natural bristles in red color. A cheaper alternative to Kolinsky brushes.
  • Squirrel hair – natural, flexible and resilient. Another high-end product. Will work great with acrylic and oil paints.
  • Synthetic fibers – for animal lovers and people who don’t want to spend a lot of time taking care of their brushes. Brushes made of polyester fibers are not as demanding in care as natural ones. Their hygroscopicity makes them perfect for painting with oil paints.
  • Natural bristle – ideal for medium-density paints and solvent-based products. Durable material, very evenly spreading paint. A very good, inexpensive brush alternative for oil painting.
Pędzle i farby w kolorach tęczy
(Photo: Vijay Kumar Gaba, source:

Brush shapes

Another river topic. Choosing a brush shape depends on what you want to paint and in what size. The basic options are

  • Round – available in many volumes and lengths. Ideal for detail painting, filling and finishing a painting. Suitable for all types of paint.
  • Flat – suitable for all types of paint. Characterized by a flat cap and square tip. Good for drawing straight lines and retouching. Well absorbs paint, and thus the color.
  • Bright – with this brush great details and thick lines come out. It will work well in combination with acrylic and oil paints.
  • Cat’s Tongue – flat cap and short bristles and pointed tip. Brush for short strokes and details. Good for almost all types of paint.
  • Slanted – bristles held in a flat cap and beveled. By combining this brush with oil and acrylic paints, you can paint a background and retouch a painting.

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