The best brushes for painting in 2021
Wouldn't it be great if you could define every detail of your brush art with precise lines and different styles? If you have the best brushes, this will not be a problem. But how should you choose the perfect tool to tamp down your work?
The art of wrapping renovations is a delightful treat, but having the right brushes will also improve your painting skills. As you explore different brands of nib sizes and types, you'll even learn which nibs match your technique and project.
Finding the ultimate choice may seem a bit challenging, but don't worry! I'll provide you with full support. I'll provide you with comprehensive reviews of top-notch brushes and a buying guide to help you.
The best brush reviews for painting.
1. Kuretake Fountain Pens
For superior brush pen quality and resilience, I favor this Kuretake fountain pen with both hands. In addition to its sophisticated look, it combines versatility and precision in its application.
Thanks to its natural sable nib, I can enjoy creating detailed lines and polished strokes. The nib's fine bristles also provide the flexibility to build multiple line widths, from ultra-fine to wide.
Each of its strokes is soft and supple, providing optimal responsiveness. This characteristic allows you to create delicate marks and subtle lines to express illustrations.
In addition to this, thanks to its highly pigmented inks, it takes the quality of art up several notches. It provides impeccable smoothness whenever you use it in painting, sketching and calligraphy. If you want to enhance details with different line weights and textures, a gentle turn to a different angle will do just that.
Surprisingly, the ink is consistent and doesn't bleed out easily. It's waterproof, so you don't have to worry too much about ink spots and smudges.
In addition, the extra ink cartridge is an absolute treat and makes this pen reliable for long term use. In addition, the refillable ink offers hassle-free replacement and also the tip.
There is a learning curve involved in controlling the pen and getting used to it, but I must say it is one of those pens that artists use that is easy to use. So give it a chance for both novice and experienced artists.
Has a flexible and durable natural sable hair brush head
Capable of producing a variety of widths and textures
Water-resistant pigment ink
Comes with extra ink cartridges
Stylish and elegant appearance
Takes some time to get used to it
Overall, it is a high quality brush tool that deserves a place in your brush arsenal. It prides itself on its flexibility, allowing you to effortlessly alternate between different line widths!
2. Pentel Arts Portable Brushes
It's a bummer when the beautiful and bright tones of your work start to fade in a very short period of time. Perhaps, you need a fade-resistant painting tool, like this Pentel Pocket brush.
It highlights its non-fading ink that will maintain the quality of your painting. The product is also waterproof, thus preventing it from smudging and bleeding on the paper.
As the name suggests, it is very compact so you can carry it around with you and take it out whenever you need it. If you move places a lot and capture scenic spots to draw, you will find this pen quite handy.
In addition to its portable size, this brush has a flexible medium nib that allows you to build strokes of different widths. With the right angle and application, switching between wide and ultra-fine lines is not a problem at all.
Although the nib is flexible, it has enough stiffness that you can easily control it. If you apply heavy pressure, you can get consistent bold lines. With a gentle glide, you can draw fine upstrokes and bold downstrokes.
This is not, however, a Pentel colored brush. The set includes an extra cartridge, but only in black. I suppose the limited ink selection is a slight drawback unless you prefer monochrome drawing. It also sometimes leaks if not stored properly.
Fade and water resistant inks
Very portable and compact
Has a medium nib
The nib is firm and flexible
Presents fine and broad line weight
No smudges or bleed-through
Only has black ink
Despite these issues, I still think this is one of the best portable brushes available in a variety of widths and for precise applications.
3. Sakura Pigma Professional Set
This professional set is made up of three different nibs - fine, medium and coarse. These brush variations make painting easier, as each nib can be used for your basic brush needs.
Because they offer optimal flexibility, you can explore a wider range of line styles and consistencies. Just like when I'm working with tight lines and intricate details, the fine nibs work incredibly well. The same goes for the medium and thick nibs when I want to fill in the gaps with thick and dark tones.
What's even more impressive about these pens is the pigment-based ink. It provides excellent benefits and helps maintain the darker tones and overall quality of your art. It is fade resistant, thus maintaining the ink's longevity and light stability.
It dries very quickly, so I don't have a lot of problems with smearing or ink smearing every time I try some technique. I was also impressed with its water resistance, as I could paint it over watercolor without any trouble.
I must say they are very expressive, rendering noticeable effects on lines or any inking method with every application. But even when I use them for calligraphy, lettering or making notes in cursive, they work very well.
On top of that, the pen has no grittiness, but rather lends a smooth glide through every stroke and transition. There is no need to load the pen, it is ready to use right out of the box.
Although the manufacturer labels them as a professional set, beginners need not shy away from these drawing tools; these brushes are easy to use and reasonably priced.
However, if the ink were refillable, these brushes would be perfect.
Set of 3 brushes with different nib sizes
Can create different line styles and widths
Fade resistant and waterproof ink
Will not smear or bleed
Easy to use
Cannot be refilled with ink
Nonetheless, this brush set is suitable for everyone to try. It allows you to learn the basics and experiment with different line styles and techniques without spending a fortune.
4. Copic Marker Gasenfude Nylon Brush Pen
The Copic Gasenfude Brush Pen may be just a single drawing tool, but it can unravel lines of different sizes.
If you lay it on the paper, you can adjust the pen's position from multiple angles, and strokes of varying thickness will appear. The solid black ink gives off an artistic shading effect that will magnify your work. It can also define contours and add dimension to your ink drawings.
But what I like most is its smudge-proof ink, which prevents unsightly smudges, bleeding and messy ink stains when applied to paper. For neat freaks like me, it's a lifesaver for artwork, especially if you want to hang it up for display.
Since the ink is also waterproof, it becomes workable, thus allowing you to apply watercolor or other types of ink to it without any hassle. I think this is an advantage, especially if you usually work with mixed media.
Another highlight of this brush is the flexible nylon tip. While it's actually slightly stiff, it's still flexible enough to provide a smooth and easy application.
It is very responsive, so you have to keep your hand steady to achieve a wide range of lines. Unfortunately, the ink cannot be refilled.
Waterproof and smudge-proof ink
Adds dimension and different line styles and thicknesses
Will not smudge or bleed
Very flexible nylon brush head
Can be used with other art mediums
Cannot be refilled with ink
Nonetheless, you will find that this waterproof brush pen is very good quality and will not wear out easily over time.
5. Kuretake Zig Cartoonist Brush Pen No.8
Assuming you need to produce the most intricate brush strokes on your artwork, an ultra-fine nib would be perfect for the job. With that in mind, the Kuretake Brush Pen No. 8 has very fine fibers that produce consistent and precise lines, from fine to wide sizes.
The flexibility of the nib provides ample responsiveness to highlight the brush's technique. Whenever I use it for illustration, outlining, sketching, or inking, the brush strokes are spot on.
In addition to its elasticity, it has a durable quality that keeps the brush tip in a uniform shape. This therefore prevents it from snapping or cracking even when subjected to impact from constant use.
As far as the flow of its ink is concerned, it proceeds smoothly, so that the pen remains largely lubricated during continuous use. In addition, the refillable ink is water-based and odorless, which contributes to its ability to resist smudging and bleeding.
It does not leak or bleed through the paper, even when I deliberately rewrite. What amazes me about it is that it delivers rich, solid blacks no matter what consistency and style of ink you use.
Speaking of its appearance, it has a smooth, slim body that feels great in your hand. At first I was skeptical about its long body, but it's actually not bad at all.
I think it's much easier to draw and write with such a design. Even novice artists will find it easy to use and practice with. However, it has a tendency to produce a lot of ink, so you have to be careful when using it.
Ultra-fine and flexible nib
Produces solid and rich black ink
Resists bleeding and smudging
Long, ergonomic body
High ink flow
In short, if you're after intricate lines and intricate details, you can't go wrong with this brush. It has a very fine and flexible nib that can handle the job without a hitch!
6. Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen
If there's another reliable and popular brush brand you shouldn't miss, it's definitely Tombow. these Fudenosuke brushes come from their huge lineup of painting tools, offering both soft and hard nibs.
I like that you can benefit from both types, although the significant difference is the pressure and control applied. Hard nibs offer better control, but with heavier pressure, while soft nibs require something different; they require light pressure and a steady hand.
These flexible nibs have the ability to create a variety of drawing styles and lettering techniques. With just a gentle adjustment of pressure, you can build depth and varying strokes from ultra-fine, to fine, to medium.
It's great to have these consistencies, especially if you are very particular about the kind of line you need. This allows you to explore the brush strokes that best suit your style when drawing with brushes.
While you may have your eye on Tombow's double-ended brushes, the quality of this set is equally desirable. The ink is highly pigmented and water-based.
Not only is it odorless, but it also gives a rich black color that is great for monochrome painting, sketching, detailed applications, or even when you're just doodling.
In addition, the sleek and slim body design makes it more comfortable to hold and use. However, it would be nice if the ink was refillable.
Features both soft and hard nibs
Produces a wide range of line weights and styles
Pigment and water-based inks
Cannot be refilled with ink
Despite this minor issue, these versatile brushes can keep up with your favorite painting style. Whether you are a novice or a professional painter, you can revel in the different brush strokes and textures.
7. ARTEZA Real Brush Brushes
In terms of capturing the amazing effects of watercolor, these Arteza brushes can brighten up your artwork without the typical mess. It presents a beautiful range of brushes that come in a wide variety of colors.
Aside from the vibrant hues, the main ingredient that makes these pens stand out is their non-toxic water-based inks. This type of ink does an excellent job of transforming your paintings with rich colors and different textures.
These brushes feature incredible blendability that produces exquisite layers of color. They can also be dipped in water to refine your painting with watercolor effects such as varnish, washes, subtle lines or graduated tones.
But even without mixing the pens with water, these premium pigment markers provide a delicate touch for dry brush techniques, calligraphy, sketching, making illustrations and more.
I would also like to emphasize the flexibility of its durable nylon nib, which is reliable and can be applied effortlessly. This pointed nib can make a variety of line weights, depending on the pressure of your hand.
You can draw precise and delicate details with lighter pressure, while heavier pressure will produce bold streaks of color and line.
As for its appearance, the pens look sleek and stylish. They also come in compact and portable sizes that are easy to hold and carry.
I really enjoy using these pens, with one caveat: they are prone to leaks and spills if not stored properly. I've unknowingly put one of these pens upside down before and it started leaking.
Has non-toxic, water-based ink that produces artistic watercolor effects
Can produce a variety of widths and brush techniques
Adjustable and vibrant colors
Durable and flexible nylon nib
Sleek and stylish design
No proper storage and easy to leak
Needless to say, these art pens are a less messy way to create watercolor-like features in your paintings. You can revel in the blendable vibrant colors and flexible nibs for superior painting results.
8. Zebraford Brushes
It's nice to have the convenience of getting all nib sizes at once, even more so when each pen performs on point. On that note, these Zebra Fude brushes showcase superb performance, not to mention their very affordable price tag.
This set includes four pens with different nib sizes - fine, medium, extra fine and regular. The smaller nib sizes are ideal for smooth and intricate details, while the medium and regular nibs provide thicker lines and strokes.
For a bunch of disposable pens, I don't expect high quality performance. But the opposite is actually true; it's fascinating to see how each nib renders satisfying lines and smooth strokes that can take your work to the next level.
Whether I'm drawing or lettering, I can be pleased with the variety of lines and effortlessly clipped lines. Whenever I create a thin top stroke and a thick bottom stroke, it glides like a breeze.
But another impressive feature is the quality of the nibs. They are neither too soft nor too hard, which gives each stroke an optimal bounce. Because of this, they are also much easier to control, allowing beginners to practice their technique without any problems.
In addition to this, the flow of the wet ink provides a consistent line without any speckles. Even when I use them on regular computer paper, bleeding and messy smudges are not a problem.
The slight downside to these pens may be the longevity of the ink. I was able to work with it for a few months before it ran out. The appearance is also just average. But I guess that's what you'd expect from a disposable pen.
Offers 4 different types of nibs
Offers smooth strokes and different consistencies
Good ink flow
Has a flexible nib
Easy to use and control
Ink doesn't last long
These brushes may not be the most luxurious, but they still offer promising results. The various nib sizes are versatile performers that can enhance your skills in brush lettering and drawing.
9. Navigator Futayaku Double-sided Brush Pen
When you're torn between fine and medium nibs, you don't have to worry about carrying two pens at a time; with this Pilot double-sided brush pen, you can have both types. It features a fine nib (0.3cm) on one end and a medium nib (0.7cm) on the other.
I like this dual design, with the fine nib for narrow lines and delicate details and the medium nib for thicker widths. The larger nib also works when I need to fill in dark areas or create solid shadows.
In addition to these features, the nibs are made of felt material. While they are not too stiff, they feel much stiffer than nylon and bristle brushes, making them easier to hold and control.
Therefore, if you are new to brush painting or letter drawing, you may find this pen to be quite great, especially if you draw with heavy pressure on a regular basis.
The ink flows smoothly from the nib as well. But even after every time the nib touches the surface, it lends a solid flow without causing any leaks or smudges. It also does not bleed. In addition, the ink is highly waterproof.
I love the effortless drive it emits, producing clean and smooth strokes. That's why I can easily use it when I'm doing traditional illustration work, writing notes, or just doodling. Those artists who like to create comics may also find this to be an amazing brush.
Speaking of its body, its plastic grip provides a sturdy and comfortable feel when held. It also comes with a snap-on cap that holds the nib from drying out.
The only drawback of this brush pen is that it cannot be refilled with ink.
Double-sided brush pen
Has a fine point and a medium point
Easy to grip and control
Capable of creating thick and thin lines
Ideal for amateurs and professional brush artists.
Cannot be refilled with ink
Overall, this versatile and portable brush is the perfect treat for beginners and professional artists alike. With just a quick switch, it can embellish your artwork with a variety of consistencies!
10. Pentel Fude Ultra Fine Brush
This Pentel Fude brush is all about versatility and precision. It highlights an ultra-fine nib that works well to create a wide range of widths. It offers smooth transitions that can amplify your work with intricate details and delicate lines.
On top of that, the nylon bristle nib is very flexible. I was impressed by its ability to render expressive, ultra-thin strokes when I wanted to add a dramatic and artistic effect. Its nib glides seamlessly without leaving any smudges or ink marks.
The standout feature of this pen is its ink cartridge. It holds a fair amount of ink, providing optimal lubrication for continuous application of the nib.
To increase the flow of ink, you can gently squeeze the soft plastic cartridge. This is a design I don't usually see in brushes, but it helps the ink flow. And, in case you run out of ink, you can easily replace the cartridge.
Since the ink is dye-based, it is water-soluble. As a result, I was able to create soft lines and subtle tones that look like a watercolor painting. It is also suitable for ink drawings and monochrome paintings.
Considering its soft and very fine nib, it requires a steady hand for excellent control. It may take some time before you get used to it. That's why it is not suitable for beginners.
Other than that, I think the unique cartridge design is an easy way to keep the ink flowing. However, since it is not a common adjustment on brushes, some users may find it difficult to use.
Has an ultra-fine nylon bristle nib
Flexible and soft nib
Capable of delivering ultra-thin and complex strokes
Allows you to manually optimize ink flow
Dye based ink that provides soft and subtle tones
Uncomfortable cartridge design
Not beginner friendly
This refill may not be everyone's cup of tea. But this brush is still a wonderful drawing tool that experienced artists can enjoy to highlight the details of their artwork.
What to look for when buying a paintbrush.
Types of nibs
When choosing a brush, the type of nib is crucial. Although they look the same, there are three types of nibs: natural hair, felt tips, and synthetic bristles.
Nibs made from natural hair usually come from animal hair. This type tends to be more durable than those brushes with nylon tips. It also gives a similar feel to a real paintbrush, allowing the artist to have better control over the painting.
In general, brushes have the ability to hold liquid longer, especially those made from high quality weasel and sable hair.
They are versatile in producing different widths. In addition, these brushes have a very flexible tip that produces a good bounce every time.
Whenever the artist applies pressure on the brush, this beautifully crafted nib dispenses the liquid smoothly. With this ability, it is considered to be the ideal design when working on different art mediums such as ink and watercolor.
On the other hand, brush nibs, tend to feel stronger than brushes. With this design, this makes them easier to control, especially when producing consistent lines. Beginners can also use this stiffness to create predictable, smooth strokes as well as intricate details.
For soft and flexible performance, synthetic bristle tips are one of the best choices. Be aware, however, that the quality of the brush may vary from brush to brush. Some brushes made with fragile nylon tips tend to warp or wear out over time.
You can look for brush heads that are not loose, but come from high-quality hair fibers. They are exceptionally soft and flexible, making them highly responsive to even the slightest hand movements. This property is reliable for producing very fine and precise lines and details.
However, amateurs may find it a bit difficult to work with soft hairs, as they require exceptional control to achieve the desired consistency and brushwork. However, they do not have to avoid this nib as they can eventually master it with regular practice.
Nib size refers to the thickness or density of the nib, which may vary depending on the type of hair. Some brushes have fine tips, others have medium and wide tips. You may find them all in one set, while some brands may only offer a specific size.
Each size has its own advantages to create a variety of consistency. In this way, you can emphasize certain details in your work and define different brush strokes and textures.
If you want to draw with precise details, you can choose thin nibs. However, they sometimes tend to feel a bit scratchy or rough.
In contrast to thin nibs, those with wide nibs give a smoother feel, allowing you to write and create strokes and lines with a light touch. They are also suitable for bolder and more dramatic strokes, especially if you want to highlight solid colors.
Since your brush does not provide consistent and optimal ink flow, it can be heartbreaking to see ugly streaks and ink splotches on your artwork. However, if you can ensure that your pen produces ink smoothly, you can prevent this mess. However, you may notice differences in ink flow between different brands of brushes.
Some pens offer a wet flow that produces solid, vivid lines the moment the nib touches the surface. But this needs to be used with care to avoid smudging and bleeding, especially if you move your hand slowly. This is why it is recommended for artists who are experienced or skilled in using this ink stream.
Those brushes that have a dry ink flow have an advantage in terms of neat application. Since this flow does not lubricate the nib too quickly, even if you work slowly on the strokes and details, you will not smear or create messy streaks and splotches. There is no need to rush!
The only drawback to dry nibs is the use of ink. Since it may not dispense ink when first used, it requires more ink than usual.
If you regularly use mixed media, such as watercolor and various types of ink, it is important to check that your brush is waterproof, Copic-proof, or water-resistant. This will keep the ink intact and smudge-proof, even when you add layers of watercolor or other inks.
Colors and lines do not dissolve easily, but remain clear, consistent, and long-lasting. An impressive waterproof pen review is Copic Marker Gasenfude Nylon Brush Pen.
Coloring and lightfastness.
Pigmentation is another factor that can make or break your pen. However, it depends a lot on your preferences and needs. Some brushes offer vibrant shades of black, while other designs keep a low profile of gray and lighter shades of black.
The brushes you find on the market are usually black. You can use it for calligraphy, painting, making illustrations, doodling, writing, etc. However, some brands offer brushes for coloring that offer a wide selection of shades to add bright and colorful accents to your art.
If you want to highlight the details of your work with solid and bold shades, you can choose darker shades of black, while gray and lighter shades are perfect for soft and gradient tones.
When you're done picking out your shades, the next thing to do is to check the quality and lightfastness of the colors. Non-fading inks are less likely to wear or fade over time, especially if your artwork is exposed to light on a regular basis.
The elasticity of the nib is another important feature to look for. As the nib returns to its original shape, it demonstrates flexibility, allowing the artist to render seamless transitions and brush strokes.
A flexible nib also brings a softness that is sensitive to hand movements and, therefore, lends itself to creating very fine lines and intricate details.
When your nib is not flexible, it loses its optimal bounce, making your nib more prone to distortion. However, for beginners, the stiffness of the nib may be an advantage as it is easier to grasp and control.
Grip and comfort
While brush pens are generally ergonomically designed, it is still important to determine which design feels good in your hand and best suits your hand movements.
Fortunately, many brands offer designs that are similar to regular fountain pens and their smooth shapes. As a result, they offer a comfortable feel that allows artists to manipulate and use their strokes and techniques without difficulty.
However, some brushes look like markers, while other brands add a rubber grip around the body of the pen to prevent it from slipping off. This design also provides additional comfort for effortless use.
Skills, techniques and personal preferences.
As you jot down these important features and factors, you shouldn't forget to consider your skills, techniques, and what kind of artistic and creative projects you typically work on.
Are you going to use it for calligraphy? Do you regularly engage in painting and producing illustrations? Do you plan to mix it with other types of artistic mediums, such as watercolor?
You may also want to consider the shades and how many brushes you will need. Do you need colored brushes to amplify the color spectrum of your art? Perhaps you want to use black to keep the details monotonous? What kind of consistency and typeface do you want to achieve?
These are some of the questions that can help you determine which type of brush pen you should choose. But you can also think about the design, size, brand and price of the brush.
Beyond that, if you are just starting out in calligraphy or any art form that uses brushes, there are brushes for beginners or student-level sets that you can use to practice.
There are also professional sets for experienced and professional brush artists. An example of this is the Sakura Pigma professional set.
Frequently asked questions
What are the most trusted brands of brushes?
Pilot, Pentel, Kuretake and Arteza are some of the most trusted brands you will find on the market. Their reputation has defined their years of providing high quality art supplies, including the best painting brushes.
They can introduce you to different types and designs of brushes, especially if you are trying them for the first time and are not sure which type to choose.
These trusted and reputable brands also offer a large selection of brushes that can cater to artists of all levels. This is one of the main reasons why many professional and amateur artists choose these brands to enhance the quality of their artwork.
How do you use brushes for painting?
Using a brush for the first time may feel a little intimidating, but it only takes regular practice to understand the basics and learn the proper technique. As you get the hang of it, you will be able to develop and improve your brush skills in no time.
To help you, I will introduce you to some simple but effective ways to show you how to draw with a brush.
- Use your dominant hand to hold the brush.
- If you want to have better control of your brush while creating, I recommend that you hold the brush near or directly above the nib. However, you can still decide which position is most comfortable.
- Try to keep your wrist as still and even as possible. With this position, you allow your arm movement to take over and produce smooth and easy strokes. I usually don't put pressure on my fingers when I write or draw, so I can maintain a steady rhythm and create consistent lines.
- If you are using a brush with a stiff nib, you are in luck and can have better control and precision. Apply plenty of pressure to achieve artistic results. However, pressure may also depend on the flow of ink.
Some pens squirt out a lot with just a light application, while others do not, and therefore they may require more pressure. Regardless of the flow rate, you want to avoid smudges, bleeding and messy ink splotches as much as possible. It may help to try your brush on a piece of scrap paper.
- For soft nibs, keep the pressure light because they are more responsive to even subtle hand movements. You can use it to add intricate lines and details to your art.
- To master basic writing skills and styles, you can start practicing on a single sheet of paper. If you want to practice different fonts, you can use printouts of various font styles and trace the letters. If you want to learn how to draw with a brush, you can do the same. This can help you develop consistent brush strokes and neat lines.
What can you draw with a brush?
You can draw people, portraits, lettering, calligraphy, doodles, illustrations, and pretty much anything under the sun. You can let your creative imagination take over and draw artistic images and picturesque scenes bursting with beautiful color.
If drawing with brushes is a bit difficult at first, you can always start with basic and simple subjects. As mentioned above, you can try tracing some images from prints until you learn to make correct and effortless brush strokes and transitions.
Where to buy?
There are many art supply stores or craft stores that sell a variety of brands and designs of brushes. You can also check your local art stores and popular retail stores such as Walmart, Michaels, Lowes and Home Depot for availability of these items.
Many manufacturers have also set up their official stores online for hassle-free shopping. Apart from this, you can get a huge range of brushes through online platforms such as eBay, Etsy and Amazon.
With just a few clicks, you can find quality brush pens of various brands and designs Since these online stores offer deals and discounts from time to time, you can find quality purchases without going over budget.
How do I care for and clean them?
These brushes do not require a lot of maintenance. While they are easy to take care of, be aware that their ink may still dry out if they are not stored properly. Make sure to put the cap or lid back on after each use. Keep it tight to prevent any messy spills and leaks.
When you are done with your brushes, put them in their case. Keep them in an upright position whenever possible to avoid any problems with ink flow, which can lead to leaks.
To keep the nib in top condition, write or draw with the brush at a right angle; otherwise, it may tend to wear out over time. If your brush is not specifically designed for this purpose, you should also avoid mixing it with other types of art media.
In conclusion, investing in the best brushes for painting is an investment in the extraordinary beauty of your art. Whether you are a calligrapher or an artist who enjoys working on creative projects, there are a plethora of brushes to choose from, and finding the ultimate choice doesn't always have to be a struggle.
Just take a closer look at the important characteristics of a brush, such as the type of nib, flexibility, pigment and light resistance, ink flow and comfortable grip. Aside from narrowing down your choices with these reviews, the perfect choice ultimately depends on your preferences, skills and needs.