What Paint Brushes Should a Beginner Buy: A Guide to Essential Brushes

If you’re a beginner in the art world, then there’s no doubt that choosing the right paint brushes can be overwhelming. With various brands, sizes, and shapes to choose from, it’s easy to get confused and end up with the wrong brushes. However, this shouldn’t discourage you from pursuing your passion for painting. In this article, we’ll guide you through the essential paint brushes you should consider buying to get your art career started.

Firstly, it’s important to understand that your choice of brushes will depend on the medium you’ll be painting with. For instance, oil paints require different brushes from those used for acrylic or watercolor paintings. However, you can’t go wrong with getting a pack of synthetic or natural hair brushes in assorted sizes. These types of brushes are versatile and can be used with different media, and they come in different shapes and sizes, making it easier for you to experiment with textures and techniques.

The second brush you should consider purchasing is a flat brush or a wash brush. This type of brush is ideal for covering large areas or mixing washes with watercolor paints. A flat brush has a straight edge, making it easy to cover large surfaces with even strokes. On the other hand, a wash brush is wider and has a soft, rounded edge which makes it easier to create blended washes. So, whether you’re painting a landscape or experimenting with washes, a flat or wash brush should be on your shopping list.

Types of Paint Brushes for Beginners

Choosing the right paint brush can make or break your painting experience, especially for beginners. Here are the most basic and essential types of paint brushes every beginner should have in their arsenal:

  • Flat Brushes – These are versatile paint brushes that can be used for both sharp edges and broad strokes. They come in various sizes, and are suitable for different painting techniques, such as washes, glazing, and filling in large areas.
  • Round Brushes – These paint brushes feature a pointed tip that makes them perfect for intricate details, fine lines, and controlled strokes. They are available in different sizes and are great for painting small objects, facial features, and textures.
  • Fan Brushes – These brushes are shaped like a fan and have soft, spread-out bristles that can create unique effects such as feathering, stippling, and blending. They’re ideal for painting skies, clouds, hair, and foliage.

Additionally, there are specialty brushes such as:

  • Angled Brushes – These brushes have an angled tip and are ideal for painting corners, edges, and lines with consistent width. They allow for precision and control, and are commonly used for painting trim, furniture, and architectural details.
  • Mop Brushes – These brushes have a thick head that can hold a lot of paint. They’re perfect for creating soft, flowing effects such as backgrounds, skies, and water. They can also be used for varnishing or applying a glaze.
  • Filbert Brushes – These brushes have a rounded tip with medium to long bristles that make them excellent for blending and softening edges. They’re great for painting organic shapes like petals, leaves, and clouds, or creating soft shadows.

Synthetic vs. Natural Hair Paint Brushes

As a beginner, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is selecting the right type of paint brush. Synthetic hair brushes are made from nylon or polyester filaments, while natural hair brushes are made from animal hair such as sable, squirrel, or hog. Both types of brushes have their pros and cons, and it ultimately comes down to personal preference and the specific task at hand.

  • Synthetic Hair
  • Synthetic hair brushes are affordable, durable, and easy to find in most art supply stores. They are ideal for beginners as they are easier to control and maintain than their natural hair counterparts. Synthetic brushes can be used with different types of media, including watercolor, acrylic, and oil paint. They are also great for creating smooth and crisp lines, making them ideal for detailed work.

  • Natural Hair
  • Natural hair brushes are prized for their ability to hold and distribute color evenly, making them a popular choice for watercolors and inking. They are softer than synthetic brushes, which allows for more flexibility and can produce a more dynamic stroke. Natural hair brushes are also more delicate than synthetic brushes and require more care and maintenance.

When it comes to choosing between synthetic and natural hair brushes, it’s important to consider the type of paint and the desired effect. Synthetic brushes are great all-around brushes, but when it comes to certain techniques or media, such as watercolor, natural hair brushes may be the better choice. Ultimately, experimenting with different brushes and finding what works best for you is key to developing your own unique painting style.


There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing between synthetic and natural hair paint brushes. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and the specific project at hand. As a beginner, it may be beneficial to start with a set of quality synthetic brushes and experiment from there. With practice and experimentation, you’ll be able to determine which type of brush is best for each project and develop your own unique painting style.

Brush shapes and sizes for different painting techniques

Choosing the right paint brush might seem like a trivial matter, but it can make a significant difference in your artwork. Different brush shapes and sizes are designed to achieve specific effects and techniques. Here, we’ll guide you through the brush shapes and sizes you’ll need to tackle various painting techniques.

  • Round Brushes: These brushes are the most versatile and commonly used brushes for different painting techniques. They are circular and come in a range of sizes from 000 to 20, with 20 being the biggest. Round brushes are ideal for fine details, outlining, and washes. The smaller sizes are perfect for intricate details, while the larger ones are useful for filling in large areas.
  • Flat Brushes: Flat brushes have a square shape and straight bristles, making them ideal for creating sharp edges, blocks of color, and washes. They come in a range of sizes from 1/8 inch to 2 inches, with 1/8 inch being the smallest. The smaller sizes can be used for creating fine lines, while the larger ones are perfect for larger areas or for applying varnish or gesso.
  • Fan Brushes: These brushes have flat, fan-shaped bristles that allow you to create a range of textures, including the impression of trees, clouds, and rocks. They come in a range of sizes, and the larger ones are used for making broad strokes, while the smaller ones are ideal for creating fine details and texture in a small area.

It’s important to note that the right brush shape and size would depend on what you are painting. Here’s a table that shows the brushes and their recommended usage:

Brush ShapeSizeRecommended Usage
Round Brush000 – 20Fine details, outlines, washes, fill in large areas
Flat Brush1/8 inch – 2 inchesSharp edges, blocks of color, washes, apply varnish/gesso
Fan BrushVariesTextures, creating impressions of trees, clouds, rocks etc.

Exploring different brush shapes and sizes can help you find which brushes work best for you. With this guide, you’re now ready to start experimenting and creating beautiful masterpieces with confidence.

Best Brands of Paint Brushes for Beginners

If you’re new to painting, choosing the right paint brush can feel overwhelming. There are so many options, with different materials, sizes, and shapes. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of the best brands of paint brushes for beginners.

  • Winsor & Newton: Winsor & Newton is known for producing high-quality art supplies, including paint brushes. Their Cotman line offers affordable synthetic brushes that are perfect for beginners.
  • Da Vinci: Da Vinci brushes are another great option for beginners. Their Maestro line offers natural hair brushes that are soft and springy, making them ideal for watercolor painting.
  • Princeton: Princeton brushes are popular among artists of all levels. Their Catalyst line offers synthetic brushes that are versatile and durable, making them a great choice for beginners.

When shopping for paint brushes, keep in mind that you don’t need to buy the most expensive brushes to get good results. In fact, starting with affordable brushes can be a great way to experiment and figure out what you like.

Aside from the brand, you’ll also want to consider the material and shape of the brush. Synthetic brushes are a good choice for beginners, as they’re often more affordable and easier to clean than natural hair brushes. As for shape, a round brush is a versatile option that can be used for a variety of techniques, while a flat brush is ideal for covering large areas.


With so many options out there, choosing the right paint brushes can feel overwhelming. However, by sticking with reputable brands like Winsor & Newton, Da Vinci, and Princeton, you can trust that you’re getting a high-quality product. And remember, it’s okay to start with affordable brushes and work your way up as you improve your skills and figure out what works best for you.

Happy painting!

Winsor & NewtonSyntheticRound, Flat
Da VinciNatural HairRound
PrincetonSyntheticRound, Flat


Caring for and Cleaning Paint Brushes

Paint brushes are essential tools when it comes to expressing yourself in paintings, or just adding a touch of color to your walls, canvases, or any other surface. However, simply owning a set of brushes isn’t enough; you need to know how to take care of them and keep them in good condition for long-term use. In this article, we will discuss some of the essential tips for caring for and cleaning paint brushes.

  • Never Let the Paint Dry on the Brushes: Leaving paint to dry on your brushes will permanently damage their bristles. Therefore, the most important rule for caring for paint brushes is to clean them immediately after use.
  • Use the Right Cleaner: The type of paint you use will determine the solvent or cleaner that you need to use to clean your paint brushes. For example, oil-based paints require mineral spirits or turpentine, while water-based paints can be cleaned with water and soap.
  • Store Your Brushes Properly: After cleaning the brushes, reshape their bristles with your fingers, dry them with a cloth, then store them in a designated container, preferably slanted, with the bristles pointing up.

Aside from the tips we’ve listed above, it’s worth noting that there are also a few myths about caring for and cleaning paint brushes. For example, some people believe that wrapping your brushes in plastic preserves their shape, but this only makes them moldy. Furthermore, storing your paint brushes bristles down can seriously damage them.

When it comes to cleaning your paint brushes, it’s important to have the right tools to do it right. The following table provides a few tools that you need for cleaning paint brushes in regards to the type of paint.

Type of PaintTools Required
Water-based paintWater and soap (or baby shampoo)
Oil-based paintMineral spirits or turpentine
Acrylic paintWater and soap (or baby shampoo)
Latex paintWater and soap (or baby shampoo)

Remember, proper care for your paint brushes goes a long way in preserving their quality and prolonging their life span, so make sure to apply these tips in caring for and cleaning your paint brushes.

Choosing the Right Paint Brush for Your Project

Painting is an art form that can be both therapeutic and satisfying. It’s important to have the right tools in order to achieve the desired effect and finish. As a beginner, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the range of paint brushes available in the market. Here are some tips to help you choose the right paint brush for your project:

  • Consider the type of paint you’re using – Different types of paint require different brushes. Acrylics and watercolors work well with synthetic brushes while oil paints require natural hair brushes.
  • Choose the right shape – Brushes come in different shapes such as round, flat, filbert, and angled. Each shape is designed for different types of strokes and effects.
  • Decide on the size – The size of the brush largely depends on the size of the canvas or surface you’re working on. For small areas, choose a small brush and for larger areas, a larger brush will do the job better.

Types of Paint Brushes

  • Synthetic Brushes – Made from nylon or polyester, these brushes are ideal for use with acrylics and watercolors. They’re great for creating sharp lines and precise strokes and are easy to clean.
  • Natural Hair Brushes – Made from animal hair, these brushes work best with oil paints. They’re incredibly soft and flexible, making them ideal for blending and creating smooth strokes.
  • Bristle Brushes – These brushes are made from hog hair and are great for creating texture and rough strokes. They’re ideal for use with heavy-bodied paints such as oil and acrylics.

Brush Care

Proper care of your paint brushes will extend their lifespan and help maintain their quality. Here are some tips:

  • Never allow paint to dry on the brush. Clean your brushes after each use.
  • Use mild soap and lukewarm water to clean the brushes. Avoid using hot water as it can damage the bristles.
  • Reshape the brush while it’s wet and let it dry completely before storing it away.

Brush Hair Comparison Table

Brush TypeProsCons
Synthetic BrushesEasy to clean, less expensiveSometimes less flexible than natural hair brushes
Natural Hair BrushesFlexible, great for blendingMore expensive, less durable than synthetic brushes
Bristle BrushesCreate texture, ideal for heavy-bodied paintsCan be rough on surfaces, may shed bristles

Choosing the right paint brush is crucial to achieving the desired effect in your painting. Consider the type of paint, shape, and size of the brush before you buy. Proper care of your brushes will ensure they last longer and maintain their quality. With this information, you’re ready to begin your next painting project!

How to properly hold and use a paint brush

Painting can be a relaxing and enjoyable hobby, and the proper technique can make all the difference in the final result. One of the most important aspects of painting is the proper handling and use of a paint brush. Here are some tips to help beginners learn how to properly hold and use a paint brush:

  • Hold the brush near the middle of the handle for better control.
  • Do not grip the brush too tightly, as this can cause cramping in the hand and wrist.
  • Use short, smooth strokes to apply paint, and avoid applying too much pressure on the brush.

In addition to proper handling and use, it is important to choose the right type of brush for the job. The following table outlines the different types of brushes and their recommended uses:

Type of BrushRecommended Use
Round BrushDetail work and outlining
Flat BrushFilling in large areas and creating straight edges
Fan BrushBlending and softening colors
Angled BrushCorners, edges, and details

By learning how to properly handle and use a paint brush, as well as choosing the right type of brush for the job, beginners can achieve more satisfactory results and ultimately improve their painting skills. Happy painting!

FAQs: What Paint Brushes Should a Beginner Buy?

1. What are the best paint brush types for a beginner?

For beginners, it’s usually best to start with round brushes because they’re versatile and can be used for many different painting techniques. Flat brushes are also great because they create clean, straight lines and are good for filling in large areas.

2. What sizes of paint brushes should a beginner buy?

It’s recommended to start with a few different sizes, such as a small, medium and large brush. This will allow you to experiment and find out which sizes work best for the type of painting you’re doing.

3. Should a beginner buy natural or synthetic brushes?

Synthetic brushes are generally less expensive and easier to find than natural brushes. They’re also more durable and don’t shed as much. However, some artists prefer the feel of natural brushes. It’s really a matter of personal preference.

4. Can a beginner use cheap paint brushes?

While it’s possible to use cheap paint brushes for basic painting techniques, they may not produce the best results. Investing in quality brushes can make a big difference in the outcome of your paintings.

5. How should a beginner care for their paint brushes?

To keep your brushes in good condition, rinse them thoroughly after each use and gently reshape the bristles with your fingers. Avoid using harsh cleaners or leaving them submerged in water for long periods of time.

6. What brands of paint brushes are recommended for beginners?

Brands like Princeton, Winsor & Newton, and Royal & Langnickel are all good options for beginners. These brands offer a range of paint brushes at different price points.

7. How much should a beginner expect to spend on paint brushes?

The cost of paint brushes can vary greatly depending on the brand and quality. As a beginner, you can expect to spend anywhere from $10 to $50 on a set of paint brushes.

Closing Thoughts

Thanks for taking the time to read this article on what paint brushes a beginner should buy. Remember to start with a few basic brushes in different sizes, experiment with different types of brushes, and take good care of your brushes to ensure they last a long time. Happy painting and come back soon for more tips and advice!