Art Questions, Painting, Reviews and Tests

Anatomy of a paintbrush

As I have almost literally received a ton of paintbrushes to review (I am almost not exaggerating), I thought I would first write a post about the anatomy of a paintbrush. What the different bits are and what they do. That way, when I write about the brushes and their performances, we’ll all be clear about what I am talking about.

Blog brush-anatomy jpeg

Tip: the very end of the bristles, usually tapered and preferably with a good point to reach small corners and paint precise details. Old fluffy brushes with a bad hair day can be useful to add a layer of texture with dry brush techniques.

Belly: that’s still the hair, but lower down. Usually the bristles are at their full width here, because they are pinched together at the ferrule end and tapered at the tip.

Bristles: that’s the hair. It can be natural hair (sable, squirrel, goat, pony, ox, mink, mongoose, badger, hog, weasel, ferret, wolf, pig, dog, camel and so on) or synthetic (nylon, Taklon, polyester). I wrote a post about this here: The best synthetic brushes

Ferrule: the metal “neck” of the brush, between the bristles and the handle. It is usually made of metal but can also be a quill. These used to be made of feathers but they are now usually synthetic quills.

Crimp: the base of the ferrule is crimped to hold the bristles tightly pinched together.

Handle: can be made of wood (natural, stained, varnished or painted), plastic or even metal for retractable travel brushes.

Information on the handle: can be carved or printed. The info on the handle can be slightly different or appearing in a different order depending on the manufacturer but this is usually what you can find, starting at the ferrule end: size (from 20/0 to about 30), brand (such as Pro Arte, da Vinci, Princeton, Jackson’s, Escoda) , series name (such as Prolene +, Nova, Neptune, Raven, Versatil, Cosmotop…) and series number (007, 505 etc).

Now you know a bit more about your brushes. I have a whole series of tests and reviews coming up, so you might soon wish to treat yourself to a few new ones too…

Happy painting!


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