Thursday, February 13, 2014

Which Brush should you use?

Brushes brushes... they seem to be so simple yet they are sooooo not. The brand, the size, the shape and the type of bristles/hair. There are a ton of brands out there and that is one of the things I plan to go over. Size is purely preference as to what you are painting and how you paint. I mainly use the 2/0 (though brand can also affect this as well). As to the shape we will mainly use the "round" brush. The biggest difference to the brush will preform is the brush bristle/hair type. There are also a lot of different types of hair but the main difference is natural and synthetic. Lets break it all down a bit..

Natural Hair -
This can also be a lot of different types as there are a ton of different types of natural hair. Most people probably don't even think about it but these are actual hairs from some animal haha. If you have been looking for brushes you probably know the main name that is thrown around is "Kolinsky". Kolinsky sable is from an arctic weasel/squirrel that comes from an area in Russia. It is considered to be the best natural hair for water colors of most types by many. It holds a good amount of paint and will keep it's shape well, giving it a longer life span. This is also nice because these brushes are typically more expensive then a Synth brush. The tip of the brush seems to snap back if the brush is maintained and that is one thing you will have to do with this brush. Use a brush cleaner ( I recommend "The Masters" Brush Cleaner, it's a pretty cheap brush soap) to keep the brush clean and the shape good. A nice little hint, if you use a natural brush every now and then apply some Vaseline/petroleum jelly to the tip, the natural hair has natural oils and over time they will be removed. The petroleum will add some of that lost oil back and I've had very good luck with it, really seems to extend the brushes life.

I mainly use Kolinsky Sable brushes.
** One note, I've heard lately there has been issues importing this hair/brush into the US so they might be harder to find at the moment. Which seems true as I was just going to local stores with no luck, with that in mind I just went online and ordered 2x 2/0 Raphael brushes) **

Synthetic Hair -
The main type would be nylon (typically Taklon) comes in two types of it's own. White and Golden are the two you'll see the most and typically are pretty much the same from my experience. Certain brands do better with one or the other but they can be decent. I have some Loew-Cornell that are nice but they don't last as long and the tip of the brush seems to misshape very quickly. The bristles will curve and you will have to flip the brush over and then over and then over to keep it straight. This can be quite annoying, to me at least.

Shape -
Round is the main type you are going to use. Flat can be used for dry-brushing but you don't need a nice brush for that.

Size -
I mainly use the 2/0, for me it's the right size for the way I paint. I currently have 6/0, 3/0, 2/0, 0, and a 1 in my my arsenal (pew pew). Sizes will also differ from brand to brand so really look at it.

Brand -
This is the big difference to me, I've used many different brands but the three that I see the most are:

Raphael -
This is my preferred brand, the brush tip size seems to be a little larger then a lot of other brands so you have to really check the size you use if you switch to them. The hair is top quality and the tip keeps it's shape even after it's fried. The brush will usually last over a year as long as you maintain it. It holds the right amount of paint for me and the shape and length of the handle is also my preferred. The handle is the thinnest and shortest which I like, I don't like the brush to have a big honk'n handle. The tip has a good strength, it will keep it's point even when applying the paint. The bristles do not fray much, if you keep the brush in shape it will hold it's shape.

Da Vinci -
The Maestro is a nice brush and keeps it's shape well, also has a good life span. I don't think it has quite as long a span as the Raphael but still decent. The brush has a thicker handle, if you think the Raphael is too thin you might want to go this route. It's a good brush. Like the Raphael the bristles do not fray much, if you keep the brush in shape it will hold it's shape.

Windsor Newton -
A lot of people recommend this brush but I've never had much luck with it. I do use their oil brushes and like them so I know they do have nice brushes. But I find their brushes to be very thin (tip), the tip is not as strong because of it and I think the point suffers. It may just be how I paint and use the brush so I'm sure someone else may have a completely different outlook on the brush. I also don't like the Ergo Handle, it's long and has a lumpy shape which I don't feel is required. Again, just not my preference. The hair is good quality but from being thinner misshapes quickly and can fray on me. It does seem to hold a good amount of paint though for it's tip size. Overall this is my least favorite brush.

I hope this breakdown gives some good information on the different types of brushes out there for hobby painting. I didn't want to go super duper in depth but if someone is looking to upgrade their brush this might be helpful.

FYI - Read with a clean mind or this can start to sound dirty quick hahah..