How to Choose the Correct Painting Brush

When it comes to choosing the correct brush for painting, there are a few things you need to consider. You need to consider, the hair type, the shape and size of the head, and what type of painting you are going to do, whether it be the medium or style. 

There are four main hair types for brushes. 

1. Natural Hair

Natural hair brushes tend to be softer and more flexible than hog hair brushes, which makes them ideal for working with both watercolour and gouache. Sable and squirrel brushes are the most common natural hair brushes, however, goat brushes and camel are also used.

Sable brushes are ideal for detailed and precision marks, as they maintain a perfect point which allows you to keep control whilst painting. These brushes high quality brushes are also absorbent, so they hold a lot of colour, allowing you to create a unique flow. 

– Loxley Regal Sable Brush Round

– Loxley Sable Brush Set

Squirrel Brushes do not have the point like the sable brushes, making them ideal wash brushes. They can hold a lot of water, as well as colour, so they are great for doing large background painting. 

– Loxley Squirrel Hair Round Brushes

2. Synthetic hair

Synthetic hair brushes, are ideal if you have a tight budget or if you just want an alternative to natural hair brushes. These brushes can be either soft or stiff, the soft brushes are ideal for watercolours and the stiff brushes are ideal for oils. 

Our Loxley SNOWCAP synthetic brushes are made from high quality white nylon which has been developed for acrylic and watercolour.

– SNOWCAP White Nylon Flat

– SNOWCAP White Nylon Round

– Loxley Golden Nylon Long Handle Flat Brushes

3. Hog hair

Hog hair brushes are an ideal choice if you are using oil or acrylic paints. You can tell if your brush is good quality as it will have the stiffest hair and will allow the brush to carry more colour. Whereas, a poor quality hog brush is soft and tends to splay, therefore making it more difficult to control. 

– Loxley ‘Uni’ Hog Fan Brush

– Short Handle Hog Brushes

– Loxley Short Handle Round & Flat Hog Brushes

– Loxley Short Handled Hog Round Brushes

4. Blends (synthetic and natural)

These brushes performed similarly to the sable brushes. 

Brush Shapes

Brushes come in a number of different shapes, so it is important to know which shape will fit your needs best. 


These brushes are ideal for sketching, outlining, detailed work, and creating thick to thin lines. 


Ideal for painting backgrounds and spreading paint evenly and quickly. If you use a long haired flat brush it is ideal for varnishing. 


Ideal for smoothing, blending and feathering, if you are using natural hair brushes. For synthetic hair brushes they are ideal for creating textural effects. 


These are ideal for doing short, controlled strokes. They are better to use for close up work. 


These are ideal for blending, and creating soft, rounded edges. The brushes also allow both good coverage and the ability to perform detailed work. 


There are four main parts to a paintbrush. 
  1. Bristles (hairs). These can be either natural, synthetic or a combination of both. 
  2. Ferrule. This is the section that connects the bristles to the handle. 
  3. Crimp. This is the part of the ferrule that holds it onto the handle. 
  4. Handle. This is either made from wood or acrylic.