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Choosing the Right Artist Brush
A variety of animal hairs are used today to make the perfect brush. Below we have created a brush matrix that can be used as a reference guide in selecting the right brush for your needs.
|Brush Type||Description||Suggested Media Use|
|Kolinsky Red Sable||
The ultimate soft brush is made from the hairs on the tail of a sable marten; these taper naturally, so when they're put into a brush they form a point. Sable brushes are expensive, but are renowned for their softness, flexibility, and fine point. Kolinsky sable from Siberia has traditionally been considered the best hair for watercolor brushes.
|Oil and Watercolor|
Cheaper than sable, squirrel is a soft hair with little spring. Larger squirrel brushes work better than smaller ones because the mass of hairs together gives them support.
The ultimate hard brush is made from the hairs on the back of a pig (hog), which are strong yet springy. The bristles have natural split-ends, which increases the amount of paint they hold.
|Oils and acrylics|
|Camel||Brushes labeled "camel" hair are really made from other types of soft hair such as squirrel, goat, ox, pony or a blend of several hairs.||Watercolor|
|Ox Hair||Long, strong and springy hair.||Watercolor|
|Pony Hair||Coarse hair that does not form a good point. Often used in cheaper brushes.||
|Synthetic||Performance characteristics and durability can vary. Synthetic hairs are man-made to create the characteristics of natural hairs. Synthetic hairs are typically made out of nylon or polyester. Generally, synthetic hairs are less expensive, easier to clean, and more resilient than natural hairs but are less absorbent.||All Media|
Artist Brushstrokes - Artist Brush Type Guide
Matching Your Brush with Your Paint Medium
Knowing your brush style and paint medium are the two key factors in determining the best artist brush for your next project. Use the chart on this page as your brush style reference guide.