The Ultimate Arsenal Of Acrylic Paint Brushes For Beginners

Some of the links in this article are affiliate links which means that if you choose to click on them and make a purchase, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Also, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases.
For more details, please read the full disclosure here.
Thanks so much for your support!

Hey there, painting pals! Let’s talk about something so important: acrylic paint brushes for beginners. They’re like the backstage crew of your artistic show, quietly setting the stage for your creative magic. But here’s the thing: as a beginner dipping your toes into the colorful world of acrylics, choosing the right brushes is a big step. These little guys hold the keys to unlocking all sorts of painting techniques and styles, so picking the perfect ones is kind of a big deal.

Imagine, you stroll down the paintbrush aisle of your local art store, and suddenly you’re faced with a dazzling array of options. It’s like being a kid in a candy store, only instead of sweets, it’s brushes galore. But hold on just a second! Not all brushes are created equal, and what works for watercolors might not cut it for acrylics. So, before you dive headfirst into that sea of bristles, it pays to know a thing or two about what you’re looking for. Luckily, I’m here to be your trusted guide from the get-go, helping you navigate the overwhelming array of choices even before you step foot in the paintbrush aisle.


  • Discover the best paint brushes specifically designed for beginners in acrylic painting.
  • Understand the different brush bristle types to choose the right one for your needs.
  • Learn how paint brush handle length can impact your painting experience.
  • Explore the various brush shapes and their applications in acrylic painting.
  • Get valuable tips and techniques to maximize your painting potential with these paint brushes.
A white round palette with different shades of pink acrylic paint and a round paint brush. Text reads: The Best Acrylic Paint Brushes: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners

Understanding Bristle Types For Acrylic Painting

When it comes to acrylic paint brushes, the type of bristle you choose can greatly impact your painting experience. There are two main types of bristles to consider: natural bristle and synthetic bristle.

Natural Bristle Paint Brushes

Natural bristle brushes, including hog hair, offer a rugged and resilient quality that is well-suited for certain acrylic painting techniques. The coarse texture of hog hair bristles allows them to hold a significant amount of paint, making them ideal for covering large areas quickly.

However, one downside of natural bristle brushes is that they tend to hold more water than synthetic brushes. This characteristic can potentially cause drippage while painting, making it harder to control if you aren’t careful. That said, it’s not that big of a deal since you just need to keep a rag or paper towel handy to wipe off some of that extra moisture.

I don’t personally use natural bristle brushes very often but I do like to splay the bristles out and use them for foliage on trees. It’s a great way to quickly and easily paint your trees. All you have to do is tap and turn and you’ve got yourself a fine lookin’ tree!

If you want to see natural bristle paint brushes in action with acrylic paint, you should check out Michelle the Painter on YouTube. Natural bristle is her go-to and she knows how to rock those brushes!

Synthetic Bristle Paint Brushes For Acrylic Painting

Synthetic bristle paint brushes are an excellent choice for acrylic painting, offering durability, versatility, and easy cleanup. While they may not provide the same texture as natural bristle brushes, their affordability, and reliability make them a favorite among artists of all levels.

They can be used with a variety of paint types, including acrylics, and are great for creating precise lines and detailed work. They are also a popular choice for artists with allergies or ethical concerns about using natural animal hair.

Synthetic brushes are my personal favorite because I have an easier time controlling the amount of water on the brush. In addition, all I have to do is to relax the pressure on the brush to remove brush strokes and create more seamless blends.

To see what you can do with synthetic bristle paint brushes, check out The Art Sherpa. She has like a gazillion YouTube videos and a lot of them are done using synthetic brushes.

So, which type of bristle is best for you? Well, it ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences. Natural bristle brushes excel in certain techniques and offer a unique texture, while synthetic bristle brushes provide durability and versatility. Consider personal factors such as budget and ethical concerns when making your decision. And, think about which artists you follow on YouTube. What type of brushes do they generally use?

Magenta and Cobalt Blue acrylic paint marbled on a stiff flat brush.

Decoding Paint Brush Handle Length

Acrylic paint brushes come in various shapes and sizes, but one often overlooked factor that can greatly affect your painting experience is the paintbrush handle length. Whether you prefer a short handle or a long handle brush, understanding the differences and knowing when to use each can make a big impact on your artistic process and ultimately, the final outcome of your artwork.

Short-handle brushes are ideal for close-up work, intricate details, and when you need more control over your brush strokes. The shorter length allows for precise movements and greater dexterity, making them perfect for acrylic painting techniques such as fine lines, stippling, and small-scale projects. Think of them as a pen or pencil, which makes them an easier choice for beginners, since you’ve already got some experience with how to hold the brush.

On the other hand, long-handle brushes offer distinct advantages that make them essential in certain situations. With their extended length, these brushes are designed for artists who work at an easel or prefer to stand while painting. The added reach and balance provided by the longer handle allow for smoother and broader brush strokes, making them ideal for painting large canvases or for artists who prefer to work with their arm extended.

In addition, long-handle brushes are a great way to learn how to paint expressively. If you hold the brush back farther on the handle and stand back so your arm is fully extended, it gives you less control over your brush strokes. So, if you are someone who struggles with perfectionism or overpainting, give this technique a try. You’ll learn how to loosen up and create impressionist paintings in no time!

Green, yellow, and blue paint on a flat acrylic paint brush. The flat brush is one of the best acrylic paint brushes for beginners.

While paint brush handle length is largely a matter of preference, it’s important to consider the scale and nature of your artwork when choosing between short-handle and long-handle brushes. If you primarily work on small-scale projects or require fine details, short handle brushes are likely to be your go-to choice. However, if you prefer standing while creating or want to fine-tune your impressionist skills, long-handle brushes are your best bet.

I personally have both long and short-handled paint brushes and I can’t say that I reach for one length more than the other. The only time I prefer one over the other is when I’m painting on a tabletop instead of an easel. It’s no fun to continuously smack yourself in the face with a brush handle. Ask me how I know *insert eye roll here*.

Short Handle BrushesLong Handle Brushes
Ideal for close-up work and intricate detailsGreat for artists who work at an easel or prefer standing
Offer precision and control over brush strokesProvide extended reach for a more painterly effect
Perfect for fine lines, stippling, and small-scale projectsBest suited for artists who work with their arm extended

Exploring Different Paint Brush Shapes

When it comes to acrylic painting, the right brush shape can make all the difference. Each shape has its own unique characteristics and applications, allowing you to bring your artistic vision to life with precision and style. Let’s delve into the world of different brush shapes and discover which ones are the most useful for acrylic painting.

Assorted acrylic paint brushes with red, yellow, and orange paint on them.

Flat Brushes

Flat brushes are a staple in any artist’s toolkit. With their square-shaped bristles, these brushes are perfect for creating sharp edges, broad strokes, and filling in large areas. They are ideal for laying down a base layer of color, blending, and creating bold, expressive marks. Flat brushes come in varying sizes, allowing you to work on both fine details and expansive surfaces.

Round Brushes

Round brushes are versatile and indispensable when it comes to acrylic painting. Their pointed tips enable you to create precise lines, intricate details, and controlled strokes. Whether you’re outlining shapes, adding fine texture, or working on intricate designs, round brushes offer excellent maneuverability and control. They are available in different sizes, making them suitable for various painting techniques and styles.

Fan Brushes

If you love creating texture and blending effects in your acrylic paintings, then fan brushes are a must-have. These brushes have bristles that are spread out in a fan-like shape, allowing you to produce feather-like strokes, soft blending, and unique textural effects. Fan brushes are particularly useful for creating foliage, clouds, hair, and other natural textures or soft transitions.

Angle Brushes

Angular brushes, as the name suggests, have bristles that form a sharp angle. These brushes are incredibly versatile, allowing you to create both sharp edges and broad strokes. They are perfect for painting curves, corners, and straight lines with ease. Angular brushes are widely used for painting architecture, flowers, and other subjects that require precise and defined lines.

Detail Brushes

When it comes to adding intricate details and fine highlights to your acrylic paintings, detail brushes are your go-to tools. These brushes have small, thin bristles that allow for precise control and delicate applications. Perfect for adding intricate details, fine lines, and tiny highlights, detail brushes are essential for artists who want to infuse their artwork with intricate precision and depth.

Brush ShapeCharacteristicsApplications
FlatSquare-shaped bristlesCreating sharp edges, filling in large areas, blending
RoundPointed tipsPrecise lines, intricate details, controlled strokes
FanSpread out bristlesFeather-like strokes, blending, texture creation
AngularSharply angled bristlesCurves, corners, straight lines
DetailSmall, thin bristlesIntricate details, fine lines, highlights
FilbertFlat, oval-shaped bristlesBlending, soft edges, rounded shapes, petal shapes
BrightFlat, squared tipCreating sharp edges, filling in large areas, blending (very similar to a flat brush but with shorter bristles)
RiggerLong, thin bristles, pointed tipFine lines, detail work, calligraphy, intricate details
MopLarge, round tip, soft bristlesSoftening edges, blending large areas, creating smooth transitions
DaggerFlat, sharply angled tipCreating long, flowing strokes, detail work with a chisel edge
ScriptFine, pointed tip, long bristlesFine lines, calligraphy, detail work
Deer Foot StipplerRounded tip, short, dense bristlesStippling, texturing, creating foliage and fur

Experimenting with different brush shapes can open up a world of possibilities in your acrylic painting journey. By understanding their unique characteristics and applications, you can make informed choices that enhance your artistic expression.

The Best Acrylic Paint Brushes for Beginners

As a beginner, it’s essential to start with the right tools, and that includes investing in the right paint brushes. These brushes will help you unleash your creativity and achieve beautiful results on your canvas.

When choosing paintbrushes, several factors come into play. Bristle type, handle length, and brush shapes are all important considerations. So, here are my personal favorite acrylic paint brushes that are perfect for beginners and are the most common brushes used in various YouTube painting tutorials:

  • Flat Brushes:
    • Reasons to Buy: Flat brushes are essential for covering large areas of the canvas quickly and efficiently. They’re perfect for making bold, sweeping strokes and for creating smooth, even layers of paint.
    • Master of: Painting backgrounds, large washes, broad strokes (i.e. fence posts, tabletops, etc.), and filling in large areas of color.
  • Angle Brushes:
    • Reasons to Buy: Angle brushes are incredibly versatile and are perfect for creating sharp lines, angular strokes, and filling in corners and tight spaces. They’re also great for creating texture and adding details to your paintings.
    • Master of: Painting architectural details, foliage and trees, geometric shapes, and textured surfaces.
  • Round Brushes:
    • Reasons to Buy: Round brushes are perfect for creating details, intricate designs, and controlled washes. Their pointed tip allows for precise application of paint, making them ideal for outlining, detailing, and adding texture to your paintings.
    • Master of: flower petal shapes, tree bark, smaller details, and circular elements.
  • Detail Brushes:
    • Reasons to Buy: Detail brushes are essential for adding fine details and intricate designs to your paintings. They have a small, pointed tip that allows for precise application of paint, making them perfect for creating highlights, shadows, and small details.
    • Master of: Painting fine lines, small details, intricate designs, and signing your painting.
  • Filbert Brushes:
    • Reasons to Buy: Filbert brushes have a rounded flat tip that combines the control of a round brush with the coverage of a flat brush.
    • Master of: Painting rounded shapes (like flower petals), blending colors, creating soft edges, adding texture, and creating smooth transitions between colors.

Each of these brush shapes has its own unique characteristics and is best suited for specific elements of a painting. By having a set of each of these brush shapes in your toolkit, you’ll be able to tackle a wide range of painting projects with ease and confidence.

Lime green mica paint on the end of a white bristled acrylic paint brush.

Overall, the best paint brushes for beginners are those that suit your personal preferences and painting style but it’s gonna take a bit of experimenting to figure that out. If someone is using a brush you don’t have (or don’t like), it’s totally okay to use a different brush. Many techniques can be done with multiple brushes. Just make sure to practice on scrap paper before committing it to your canvas.

Tips and Techniques for Getting the Most out of Your Brushes

Brush Stroke Techniques

Mastering brush stroke techniques can greatly enhance your acrylic paintings. Here are a few techniques to experiment with:

  1. Flat Wash:
    1. Load your flat brush with paint.
    2. Start at one edge of your canvas and use broad, even strokes to cover the area with paint.
    3. Work quickly to avoid drying lines.
  2. Gradiated Wash:
    1. Start with a wet surface.
    2. Load your flat brush with paint and start at one edge of your canvas.
    3. Gradually dilute the paint with water as you move across the canvas to create a smooth transition from dark to light or vice versa.
  3. Dry Brush:
    1. Load your brush with a small amount of paint.
    2. Wipe off excess paint on a paper towel until the brush feels almost dry.
    3. Use a light, scrubbing motion to apply the paint, allowing the texture of the canvas to show through.
  4. Wet-on-Wet:
    1. Start with a wet surface.
    2. Load your brush with paint and apply it to the wet surface.
    3. Allow the colors to blend and bleed together naturally.
  5. Wet-on-Dry:
    1. Start with a dry surface.
    2. Load your brush with paint and apply it to the dry surface.
    3. Use short, controlled strokes to create sharp edges and details.
  6. Scumbling:
    1. Load your brush with a small amount of paint.
    2. Use a scrubbing motion to apply the paint in a broken or textured pattern.
    3. Build up layers of scumbling to create depth and texture.
  7. Impasto:
    1. Load your brush with a thick layer of paint.
    2. Apply the paint to the canvas in thick, textured strokes.
    3. Use the edge of the brush to create additional texture and detail.
  8. Sgraffito:
    1. Apply a layer of wet paint to the canvas.
    2. Use a pointed tool, such as the end of a brush or a palette knife, to scratch or scrape into the wet paint, revealing the layers underneath.
  9. Glazing:
    1. Start with a dry surface.
    2. Thin your paint with a glazing medium or water.
    3. Apply the thinned paint in transparent layers over dry layers of paint, allowing the colors underneath to show through.
  10. Blending:
    1. Start with wet paint.
    2. Use a brush, soft cloth, or even your finger to gently blend the colors together, creating smooth transitions between colors.
  11. Double Dipping:
    1. Using a flat/wash/bright brush, scoop one paint color on the far end of the bristles and scoop the other paint color on the other end of the bristles
    2. Brush on the paint using broad strokes and overlapping the colors slightly. Don’t over do it or the two colors will blend into a solid color.
Flat WashA broad, even layer of paint applied with a flat brush, typically used for large areas of color or background washes.
Gradiated WashA wash that transitions from dark to light or vice versa, created by gradually diluting the paint as you apply it with a flat brush.
Dry BrushUsing a brush with very little paint and a dry brush technique to create a textured effect, often used for painting textures like wood grain or fur.
Wet-on-WetApplying wet paint onto a wet surface, allowing the colors to blend and bleed together, creating soft, diffused edges.
Wet-on-DryApplying wet paint onto a dry surface, allowing for sharper edges and more control over the paint application.
ScumblingA dry brush technique where a small amount of paint is applied with a scrubbing motion, creating a broken or textured appearance.
ImpastoApplying thick layers of paint with a palette knife or brush to create a textured, three-dimensional effect.
SgraffitoScratching or scraping into wet paint to reveal the layers underneath, often used for adding fine details or texture.
GlazingApplying thin, transparent layers of paint over dry layers, allowing the colors underneath to show through, creating depth and richness.
BlendingUsing a brush or a soft cloth to blend wet or dry layers of paint together, creating smooth transitions between colors.
Double DippingLoading the brush with two or more colors of paint and blending directly on the canvas. Used to create the look of weathered wood or out-of-focus streaky backgrounds.


What are the best acrylic paint brushes for beginners?

The best acrylic paint brushes for beginners are often those designed specifically for acrylic painting. They should have firm synthetic bristles that are durable and easy to clean. Look for brushes with different shapes, such as flats and rounds, to give you versatility in your painting techniques.

How do I choose the right bristle type for acrylic paint brushes?

When selecting acrylic paint brushes, you have two main options for bristle type: natural bristle or synthetic bristle. Natural bristle brushes, made from animal hair, are quite scratchy feeling and are great for covering large spaces. Synthetic bristle brushes work well with acrylic paint as they are more durable and retain their shape well.

What is the difference between short-handle and long-handle paint brushes?

Short-handle paint brushes are suitable for close-up work and when you want more control over your brushstrokes. Long-handle paint brushes, on the other hand, are better for working at a distance from the canvas and when you need more freedom of movement in your brushwork.

Someone using a round detail paint brush for a handwritten welcome sign.

What are the different brush shapes used for?

Different brush shapes have their own unique purposes. Flat brushes are great for covering large areas with paint, while round brushes are versatile and can be used for detail work as well as broader strokes. Filbert brushes have a rounded edge that allows for smooth blending, and fan brushes are used to create texture and special effects. Just remember, you can use a single brush shape for multiple purposes so, if you’re on a budget, you don’t need to spend a fortune on every single shape. Unless you want to. Then, by all means, buy all the brushes!

How do I take care of my acrylic paint brushes?

Proper brush care is essential to prolonging the life of your brushes. After each painting session, rinse your brushes thoroughly with water or a mild soap solution to remove any remaining paint. Shape the bristles gently and allow them to dry completely before storing them upright or flat. For more details, make sure to check out my article on how to keep those brushes in tip-top shape.

What techniques can I use to improve my painting skills with acrylic paint brushes?

To get the most out of your acrylic paint brushes, experiment with different brush strokes and techniques. Practice creating varying textures, painting thin lines, blending colors, and creating sharp lines. Don’t be afraid to play with various brush sizes and shapes to achieve different effects in your artwork. You may be surprised to find an unexpected ally in a brush you wouldn’t think would work for a certain technique!

Blue, green, and white paint marbled on a paint brush. Having different sizes of the same shape is part of choosing the right acrylic paint brushes for beginners.

Your First Paint Brushes: The Bottom Line

When it comes to acrylic paint brushes for beginners, hopefully, you’re feeling more confident about making the right choice for your artistic journey. Throughout this article, we’ve covered everything you need to know from understanding different brush bristle types to exploring various brush shapes and handle lengths.

But here’s the truth: you can successfully create different techniques using only one brush. So don’t let budget stop you from experimenting! Take the brushes you already have out for a test drive and see what you can create.

With the right brushes in hand and a little practice, the possibilities are endless. Happy painting!

Related Articles:

Share With Your Tribe!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I accept the Privacy Policy

Scroll to Top