No matter your skill level when it comes to painting, taking the time to nurture your creative side is hugely rewarding. If you're looking to take your art to the next level, or perhaps your old set of paintbrushes are beginning to look past their best, it might be time to invest in a new brush set.
Whether you're a professional, hobbyist, beginner or student, in this article, we share our tips on finding the best brush sets for artists. From watercolours to oils, the cheap to the expensive, we've ranked the top 10 natural and synthetic paintbrush selections in the UK on Amazon and John Lewis to help you add to the canvas in a way that will complete your artistic vision!
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To stop the need for constant washing up and replacing of brushes, find a set that comes with a large selection. This means you'll have more clean options ready to go and is especially good if multiple people are using the set. Sets with 10 or more brushes are a great place to start, although you can find some as large as 60 pieces or more.
As the saying goes, you can't paint everything with the same brush. To stay in control while painting, you want to be able to reach for a paintbrush that is precisely the right size and shape for what you need. For example, a small, pointed head is great for adding details, whereas a large rounded or rectangular head will allow for more canvas coverage to fill large gaps.
Check that a set has the brushes you think you'll need the most. Not every brush in every set will be different, and some will have multiple brushes with heads of the same shape. Be aware that some less complicated sets, such as those designed for children, will generally have less choice.
Tend to work in a sketchbook before hitting the canvas? Take a look at our list of the best ones to buy in the UK!
Wood is by far the most commonly used material for paintbrush handles. It not only looks lovely but feels good to hold. However, these will degrade quicker, and you may find that the paint or varnish begins to chip away over time.
Some paintbrush handles are made from plastic, especially those created for children. Plastic is a lighter material than wood, making them easy to hold. But, unfortunately, a plastic handle often signifies a lower quality brush.
Traditionally, paintbrushes were always made using natural hair from animals like hogs, horses and badgers. These days, it's far more common to see bristles made from synthetic materials like nylon or polyester, but natural brushes haven't disappeared completely.
Natural bristles work well with oil-based alkyd paints as they are stiffer. On the other hand, soft synthetic bristles are better for water-based latex paint, including acrylics, watercolours and gouache. This being said, there is a lot of crossover, and plenty of synthetic brushes are just as suitable for use with oil paints. So if you want to avoid animal products, you can!
Need a new set of watercolour paints?
Set will often come with a case to make it easier to store your brushes and keep track of them all. These cases provide slots for each brush, keeping them separate and meaning you'll be ready to go the next time you feel compelled to the canvas.
Look to see whether the case has a roll or zip-up design. Rolls lay out flat, clearly displaying all of the brushes, and can be tied together into a log shape for easy storage and transportation. Zip cases fold open like a book and are made using a harder outer material to keep your brushes better protected against knocks.
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Paint Brushes Art Set
The Complete Set of 36 Brushes With an Ergonomic Design That Every Artist Should Own
Art Supply Central
14 Piece Artist Brush Set
14 Beautiful Hand-Crafted Brushes in a Lovely Case From a UK-Based Company
Paint Brush Set
A Stylish Set of Hard-Wearing, Waterproof Brushes With Tight Metal Ferrules
Art Paint Brushes Set
A Set of Artists Brushes Complete With a Sponge, Palette Knife and a Tidy Case
Premium Brush Wallet Set
A Huge Selection of Brushes Available With Both Natural or Synthetic Heads
Gold Taklon Brush Zip Case
10 Brushes in a Range of Shapes and Sizes Complete With a Zip-up Case
Detail Paint Brush Set
A Basic Set of Brushes With Ultra-Fine Tips for Achieving a Precise Level of Detail
Children's Artist Paint Brushes Set
Artists Brushes Specifically Designed for Kids With Light but Hard-Wearing Plastic Handles
Winsor & Newton
A Great Set of 5 Affordable Brushes for Creating a Watercolour Masterpiece
Watercolour Brushes Set
Flat Brushes With High-Quality Bristles for Creating Masterpieces With Watercolour Paints
Whether you're applying minor details or large strokes, with this set of 36 brushes, you'll be able to find exactly what you're looking for. The natural-haired brushes are extremely elastic and resistant to fraying, preventing them from flaring and falling out.
The ergonomic wrap-around design means that all the brushes disappear into one easy-to-carry case. This makes it an ideal buy for students and artists who like to travel from place to place with their art supplies. We adore this brush selection, and we're sure you will too!
Forget about the canvas, these brushes are works of art all by themselves! The UK-based company behind this set know what goes into creating quality art supplies, and it shows. All 14 are beautifully hand-crafted, helping you become the next Picasso or Van Gough in no time.
This set includes all the brush heads you'd expect and, thanks to the choice of natural and synthetic brushes, they work with most types of paint. To top it all off, the wallet for storing them is easy to use and looks great.
Every style of brush you could want is contained within this set. The tight metal ferrules ensure that no bristles will fall out, so you can guarantee that these brushes will last! In addition to this, they are highly waterproof, only improving their longevity and durability.
Being short-handled makes them easier to use, which will appeal to painting newbies. And, once you're done painting and have washed up all your brushes, you can use the clever case as a drying stand.
This neat case isn't just filled with brushes to help you improve your art. The set includes a sponge that you can use for a range of techniques and a palette knife to get your paint ready.
Everyone from beginners to professional artists can enjoy this comprehensive kit. You can even use the case as a stand, so you can rest your brushes at an angle and have them ready for you when you need them.
This set has a huge selection when it comes to the size and style of brush head. You also get the choice of using natural or synthetic fibres, so you can pick according to the paint you're using.
These brushes specify they can be used with tempera paint, a paint that's similar to acrylic but with better opacity. There are fewer small brushes, but this set will still work for more detail-oriented artists.
Considering this set only includes ten brushes, it manages to cover a wide range of shapes and sizes. The largest is just what you need for washes and backgrounds, whereas the smallest is precise enough to add the most minute of details.
The brushes come with a good, sturdy case that securely zips up to keep everything protected until you're next ready to use it. The only thing that pushes this set further down the list is that there aren't as many brushes as in other sets.
For some works of art, you need to be incredibly precise. Even with the thinnest standard brushes, it can be challenging to achieve this level of detail. This set of brushes has ultra-fine tips, giving you the precise point you want.
We love the fancy look of these paintbrushes, although it should be said that this set is not the most versatile. While great for adding exquisite detail, you won't be able to apply broader strokes.
These brushes are designed specifically for kids, introducing them to the fun of paints. Even though the range is not hugely extensive, there is a decent selection of brushes, including a sponge-tipped brush for some creative experimentation.
The brush handles are made from plastic to ensure they are light to hold and hard-wearing enough for kids. This isn't the set for an artist wanting to create masterpieces, and it probably won't last forever, but it's a great place to start for young painters.
If watercolours are your paints of choice, this set is a must-have! It's an excellent purchase for students as they are affordable, whilst still giving you some different shapes to choose from.
Although you get five brushes in the set, these may not be quite enough. It's also likely that you'll need additional brushes if you're an experienced artist or wish to work with other mediums aside from watercolours.
This beautiful set of 6 professional brushes is made with high-quality animal hair and what looks like wooden handles (however, we can't be sure!). If your preferred medium is watercolours, this could be the set for you.
The fibres are of high quality, and with the heads all being round, you can achieve as much control as your talent allows! Unfortunately, you only get 6 brushes in the set, which is quite expensive compared to some of the other options on our list.
Written and researched by Emma Cramp
No. 1：Artify｜Paint Brushes Art Set
No. 2：Art Supply Central｜14 Piece Artist Brush Set
No. 3：Rock Ninja｜Paint Brush Set
No. 4：Snow Cooler｜Art Paint Brushes Set
No. 5：Mont Marte｜Premium Brush Wallet Set
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