In this article we’ll go over 5 of my favorite Fan Brushes for acrylic painting. I personally have three of these sets, and I’m here to share my knowledge to help you chose which fan brush to go for. You can also check out my article that goes over the Best Basic Brushes for all your acrylic painting needs.
The paintbrush will be your magic wand for weaving colors across the canvas. Artist paint brushes become special tools the more you use them. As you paint, you will become increasingly familiar with the way the brushes handle the paint and what they can accomplish for you. Pretty soon the paintbrush will become a part of you that you intuitively know how to maneuver.
If you’re just starting out in acrylics, it can be a bit overwhelming standing in the paintbrush aisle at the art store, with a vast sea of artist paint brushes spread out before you. The wide selection even makes me dizzy sometimes!
No fear – the Acrylic Art World guide is here! This article will tell you everything you need to know in order to select the right fan paintbrush you’re looking for.
DUGATO Artist Fan Nylon Paint Brush Set
This is one of the sets I have, and I love it because it can be used with Acrylic, Oil, Watercolor, and even Gouache! It’s super versatile and definitely worth every penny. You can check out the price and availability here.
These brushes have awesome precision points, as well as excellent liquid holding capacity that results in an easy, consistent smooth flow of paint. They’re anti-shedding brushes with high quality aluminum crimped ferrules for frustration free painting. It’s Nylon Hair – springy, good color retention and easier to clean. These brushes are handmade, have a long wooden handle which give it that premium quality of a brush.
This set of 9 brushes in various sizes, including size #0, 2#, 4#, 6#, 8#, 10#, 12#, #14, #16. Our fan brushes are suitable for painting leaves, grassland with watercolor tubes, perfect for nail art or face painting with acrylic paints, and they are suitable for drafting, crushing or drawing straight line in big oil painting project.
Each carefully designed, with long solid wooden handle in special painting color, straight and persistent foaming, providing the perfect combination between balance and comfort, to deliver consistent paint strokes that every artist desires.
ANTI-SHEDDING SYNTHETIC NYLON, EASY CARE & RESHAPE: Nylon hair brushes are secured with high quality aluminum crimped ferrules. Durable brushes won’t loosen or fall apart – built to last. Simply clean brushes with warm water immediately after use.
SUPER VERSATILITY, USE THEM WITH ALMOST ANY KIND OF PAINT: Ideal for watercolor oil, acrylic painting / body, nail, face painting. Great Gift for your kids, friends, beginners, artists or anyone who have fun in painting. Unleash their creativity with our high-quality fan brushes!
Most buyers state these brushes are well made and very durable. One specific user claimed the king handles were super convenient for reaching in her ceramic mugs. This set got really good reviews due to its durability, reliability and overall performance. I would highly recommend.
Amagic Artist Hog Bristle Paint Brush Set
This fan paint brush set is neat because it’s designed to meet the requirements of both amateur and professional artists and their luxurious feel, resilience and softness make them the perfect tool for Watercolor and Acrylic Painting projects and equally can be useful for Oil, Nail Art, Body or Face Painting. You can find the price and availability here. They are great quality, with stiff natural hog bristles. Made with nickel ferrules. They include:
- Traditional natural hair, pure hog bristle, but can also be used with oil paints.
- size #4,#8,#12. Three different brush size expand the creative versatility of these brushes.
- Solid wood handle, solid wood birch handle are multi-coated with lacquer,durable and long lasting.
- Extra-secure triple crumpling, chrome-plated brass seamless ferrule.
- Traditional handcraft, hand-shaped by skilled brush makers.
This Brush made from unbleached premium quality bristle by traditional boiled process, that keeps the original bristle properties. It’s not as soft as sable, but still has firm response, and it’s good for the application of thick layers, heavy color and heavy-handed person.
Many users claim this set was perfect for them due to the sturdiness of the bristles. One buyer stated she;s had them for over a year with no damage to the brushes whatsoever. They are very easy to clean and to maintain.
Princeton Catalyst Polytip Short Handle Brush
This short handled Catalyst Polytip Bristle brush by Princeton features a size 1 fan head. Catalyst brushes are designed with a stiff yet still extremely responsive synthetic hair that has real integrity in water. Click here to view pricing and availability.
Each individual hair has been split to replicate the natural flags on the finest natural bristle. Designed for use with medium to heavy-bodied acrylics and oil paints, catalyst is able to hold a higher volume of paint while providing a smoother application.
Catalyst Polytip Bristle brushes are another Princeton breakthrough that advances the science of synthetic hair. This new series is super stiff yet still extremely responsive. Unlike natural hog bristle, Catalyst has real integrity in water. Natural bristle can be rendered useless when it is water-soaked.
The true advance in Catalyst is the Polytip feature. For the first time, the tip of each individual hair has been split to replicate the natural flags on the finest natural bristle. By giving each individual hair 2 to 3 distinct tips, Catalyst is able to hold a higher volume of paint while providing a smoother application.
Designed for use with medium to heavy-bodied acrylics and oil paints, Catalyst pushes even heavy gel media with assurance. Catalyst Polytip Bristle brushes truly are tools that move paint.
- Polytip Bristle brushes are another Princeton breakthrough that advances the science of synthetic hair
- Tip of each individual hair has been split to replicate the natural flags on the finest natural bristle
- Holds a higher volume of paint while providing a smoother application
- Designed for use with medium to heavy-bodied acrylics and oil paints
- A fan brush creates a thick and thin lined appearance in a single stroke, which looks beautiful on mixed media backgrounds. The fan is a staple for landscapes and foliage due to the shape of the brush, which spreads, or fans, out, allowing paint to be applied in multiple directions in a single stroke.
MEEDEN Hog Boar Fan Brush
This set is pretty cool because it’s boar bristle hair, and it holds a pretty high degree of stiffness. To see the pricing on Amazon for this set click here. These handmade brushes are precision accurate, and durable which are designed to withstand the weight and wear of oil and acrylic paints.
It’s been reported that they also move heavy oils and acrylics about the canvas with ease. They come in a variety of sizes, with the width from 20mm to 40mm (#2, #4, #6, #8, #10, #12), allowing for exceptional control. They’re great for creating soft textures for hair and backgrounds in portraits, trees, grasses, bushes, clouds, and highlights in landscapes
These brushes are long handle, in comparison to the prouct below, which is a short handle brush. Some people prefer a shorter handle to get a better grip on the brush.
The length of these brushes are approximately 300mm. They are solid and beautiful, and offer plenty of control in oil and acrylic painting.
ANTI-SHEDDING Bristles-The polished durable handle is attached to the double crimped nickel ferrule, the handmade construction of this set preserves the natural curve of the bristle. To clean, simply rinse the brushes with warm water immediately after use or follow paint manufacturer’s instructions to reshape brush tip.
ZEM Short Handle Fan Brush
This set is different because i’ts short handle. Some people prefer the short handle compared to the generic long handle. This set is available on Amazon and can be viewed here.
I personally have both the long handle and short handle fan brush, and I must say it depends on the project I’m doing or the easel I’m using. Sometimes I prefer the short handle just to get a better grip on my paintbrush.
The brush head is actually made of white bristle, stiff hair made from hog-boar. It’s very high quality and has lasted me over 1 year so far.
The short handle is about 140mm or 5-6 inches approximately. Perfect for painting designs like waterfalls, feather and grass.
I highly recommend this set if you prefer a shorter handle as opposed to the generic long handle fan brush. Definitely worth it!
Can You Use Makeup Brushes for Acrylic Painting?
You technically can, but I wouldn’t just because acrylics are made from plastic, and they dry very quickly and hard. Will it work well? Probably not compared to a brush made for painting. Artistically, you should try whatever you like and just see what happens. Explore and experiment! Acrylic paints require a more sturdier bristle, however, you might want to try it with watercolors or if you want to create a different type of masterpiece
My guess, however, is that a makeup brush will probably not perform well for most paints, the bristles are too soft and would be difficult to control.
What’s more, the brush is probably not constructed for the kind of tension paint dragging across a canvas (or other surface) will create, and I would expect it to shed bristles into the paint at a very high rate.
This would be more of a problem with thicker paint, like acrylic or oils, but less of a problem for watercolors.
While you can technically use anything to paint, the makeup brush will be softer and possibly not hold the paint properly. Most makeup brushes are going to be too soft to work well with acrylics, as the paints are going to be too stiff unless highly diluted. Diluting acrylics that much makes them peel and flake.
Many makeup brushes would be acceptable for use with watercolors if you aren’t into fine detail, as long as they are made with natural hair. Synthetic makeup brushes just don’t hold enough color to be worth bothering with.
What Are Some Common Brushes for Acrylic Painting?
There are so many different types of paint brushes out there, so I’ve compiled a few of the most common that students and artists use. Here we go:
- The Flat Brush- A flat brush is, as the name would suggest, one where the bristles are arranged so that the brush is quite wide but not very thick. The length of the bristles can vary, with some flat brushes having long and some very short bristles. (The latter is also called a square brush.) When buying a flat brush, look for one where the bristles have a spring to them, or snap back when you bend them gently.
Not only will a flat brush create a broad brushstroke, but if you turn it so that you’re leading with the narrow edge, it’ll produce thin brushstrokes. A short flat brush is ideal for small, precise brush marks.
A flat brush’s paint carrying capacity is determined by the bristles it has and by their length. A short-haired, synthetic-bristle flat brush will hold less paint than a long-haired, mixed or natural-hair brush. The flat brush in the photo has hog hair, which holds paint well and, being stiff, is ideal for leaving brush marks in paint should you wish to do so.
- The Round Brush- A round paintbrush is the most traditional brush shape, and what most people imagine when they think “art paintbrush.” A decent round brush will come to a lovely sharp point, enabling you to paint fine lines and detail with it, especially if it’s a brush made with top-quality Kolinsky sable hair. Look for one that’s got a good spring in the bristles, where they snap straight when you take the pressure off the brush.
The round brush in the photo has synthetic hair in it, and didn’t have a very fine point even when it was brand-new. But such a brush is useful for creating broad brushstrokes as it’s very soft and holds a good quantity of fluid paint. Always consider what you intend to do with the brush; don’t have unrealistic expectations of it or you’ll just frustrate yourself—and blame your tools for poor painting.
- The Filbert Brush- A filbert is a narrow, flat brush with hairs that come to a rounded point. Used on its side, a filbert gives a thin line; used flat it produces a broad brushstroke; and by varying the pressure as you apply the brush to canvas, or flicking it across, you can get a tapering mark.
- The Liner Brush- A rigger or liner brush is a thin brush with extremely long bristles. These may come to a sharp point but can have a flat or square tip. (If angled, it is often called a sword brush.) Rigger brushes are great for producing fine lines with a consistent width, making them ideal for painting thin branches on trees, boat masts, or cat’s whiskers. They’re also good for signing your name on a painting.
- The Fan Brush- As seen above, a fan brush is a brush with a thin layer of bristles spread out by the ferrule. A fan brush is commonly used to blend colors but is also perfect for painting hair, grasses, or thin branches, although you need to be careful not to make identical or repetitive marks that look unnatural. Possible uses for a fan brush include:
- Stippling (spreading out small dots or short dashes)
- Highlights in hair, as it helps produce the illusion of individual hairs
- Smoothing and blending out brushstrokes
- Painting a tree or grass
6. The Angled Brush- This type of painting brush has an angled or slanted tip, which is why they are sometimes also known as slanted brushes. A slanted tip for the bristles is especially useful for curves and being able to create lines and shapes that vary in thickness and coverage. If you like the flexibility of being able to go from thin to thick with just one brush, this is the brush for you. Angled paint brushes can also be more comfortable for many artists who are painting on a canvas upright on an easel, as there is sometimes a learning curve there since most of us learn to draw and paint while sitting down at a table at first!
7. The Palette Knife- And lastly, although it’s not a brush but used by most artists, Palette knives are technically not actually brushes at all, but they are a very common and popular way to apply paint to canvas. Many artists use palette knives in a variety of different ways to create different textures and effects in their artwork.
The palette knife shown here and in the video at the end of this article are made from plastic. Plastic knives will work well for beginners and for your first experiences in exploring acrylic paints, but if you really love using them, it would be wise to invest in a metal palette knife.
The advantage to a metal palette knife is they are generally much easier to clean. Metal palette knives are also much less likely to snap and break if too much force is accidentally applied to them.
You can use palette knives to create different textures, spread paint, and build up various layers. Palette knives are most popular to use on canvas, because the paint tends to be applied very thickly.
You can certainly use a palette knife in your art journals – just be sure that you allow for ample drying time to ensure pages do not stick together! You may also wish to use a lesser amount of paint so that the drying time is not as long.
I would say that if you’re looking for a good, reliable Fan Brush, the set in this article by DUGATO, would be my go to. I own this set and it’s one of the best nylon brushes I’ve worked with. I hope you enjoyed this article, and don’t forget to check out all my recommended products page with all my favorite Acrylic painting tools.