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The best 6 brushes to use when painting realistic animal fur

variouse paint brush sizes and colours on a painted surface

 

Painting animal fur is one of the most rewarding painting skills, but it can also be one of the most challenging. If you are an artist that regularly paints fur as part of your artworks, you will know this challenge first hand. If you are a beginner looking to start painting fur in oil paints, acrylic paints or watercolour paints, you want to start out with the best technique possible.

Capturing the full range of textures and colours requires the right tools. Selecting the right paint brushes is the key to creating lifelike fur textures that will bring your painting to life.

 

Most people don’t know that animal fur has more than one layer to it. A common mistake artists make is to only depict the top layer of fur, leaving their painting looking two-dimensional and flat. Most animal fur consists of a soft, downy undercoat and a coarse, hairy topcoat called the guard hair. Painting both of these layers of fur and layering your paint on is the best way to add depth and realism to your fur. This technique requires a number of different brushes to capture the different textures.

1. Fan paintbrushes

A good fan brush is a staple paintbrush for any artist, particularly for artists looking to paint fur. Use the fan brush to build up delicate layers of fine topcoat hairs.

Brand: Winsor & Newton

Features: Semi Circular Fan Brush, Made in England, Quality polyester filament, Suitable for acrylic and oil paint.

Size: 2.34 x 0.35 x 12.19 inches

Amazon Reviews: 4.4 out of 5

Pros:

  • Firm bristles that hold the paint well
  • Excellent Quality
  • Well balanced

Cons:

  • Long handle divides opinion among artists.

 

2. Flat paintbrushes

The flat brush is used to block in shapes and define the areas of light and dark. Flat brushes come in a range of sizes, so look out for differences between brands.

Brand: Winsor and Newton

Features: Mix of sable and synthetic bristles, Suitable for oils and acrylics and watercolors.

Size: 0.47 x 0.47 x 11.81 inches

Amazon Reviews: 4.6 out of 5 stars

Pros:

  • Cost effective and long lasting
  • Precise tip with quality bristles
  • Holds a good amount of paint

Cons

Some artists found the combination of synthetic and natural bristles difficult to work with.

 

3. Round paintbrushes

Round brushes have densely arranged bristles that meet at a precise tip. Use your round brush to define the top coat of fur and to create precise highlights and light reflections.

Brand: PRINCETON ARTIST BRUSH CO

Features: Quality synthetic round brush for watercolor painting.

Size: 0.28 x 0.28 x 7.72 inches

Amazon Reviews: 4.7 out of 5 stars

Pros:

  • Affordable, good quality round brush
  • Hold a point well
  • Easy to clean

Cons:

Hobbyist quality, opt for natural hair if your budget allows

 

4. Filbert paintbrushes

A filbert brush is similar to a flat brush but the tip is oval shaped rather than squared off. Oval brushes used to start adding directional soft marks to the mid layers of fur. Use the brush on its side for long sweeping hair such as a horses mane.

Brand: da Vinci

Features: Handmade in Germany, Size 20, Short handled, Strong copper ferrule

Size: 10.83 x 0.79 x 10.83 inches

Amazon Reviews: 4.7 out of 5 stars

Pros:

  • Excellent quality brush
  • Stiff bristles move paint effectively
  • Good general purpose brush

Cons

Quite a small brush, if you like a long handle look at other options.

 

5. Chisel paintbrushes

A chisel brush is similar to a flat brush but the bristles are cut at a 45 degree angle, rather than flat tipped. Use chisel brushes for sharp, define mark making, ideal for short haired animals and those with spikier coats. Chisel (sometimes known as angle brushes) offer a high level of control, particularly if you’re trying to create curved, precise lines and shapes.

Brand: Princeton Artist Brush Co.

Features: Polytip synthetic bristles, Stiff yet responsive, Suitable for acrylic and oil paints

Size: 0.35 x 0.47 x 12.6 inches

Amazon Reviews: 4.6 out of 5 stars

Pros:

  • Hold a lot of pigment for a chisel brush
  • Good level of control
  • Sharp edge

Cons:

Budget paint brush, great to get you started but professional artists might need more.

6. Detail paintbrushes

A detail brush is a tiny size 1 or 0 brush used for the finest hairs and details of the top most coat. Keep in good condition or it becomes soft and blunted, but when used correctly they allow for minute precision and a high level of control. Every artist should have a quality detail brush in their collection. Using a detail brush as the final touch will allow you to add real depth and detail to your fur because you can paint in the finest hairs over the top of other more densely packed fur.

Brand: Winsor and Newton

Features: Round bellied, pointed brush for fine details. Blended synthetic fibres.

Size: 0.2 x 0.2 x 7.09 inches

Amazon Reviews: 4.6 out of 5 stars

Pros:

  • Quality micro detail brush
  • Fine, synthetic bristles
  • Firm bristles allow for excellent detail

Cons:

  • Difficult to maintain the tip after many uses

Multiple paint brush set for painting fur

If you are just getting started painting fur you might consider buying a set of brushes that contains one of each type. Sometimes this is more affordable too, and it allows you to get started and try a new brand before buying more of the individual brushes you like. The downside of buying a set is that you have less control over which brushes you get, but nevertheless it’s a great place to start.

Brand: Princeton Artist Brush Co.

Features: Full range of brush types, quality synthetic bristles,

Amazon Reviews: 4.8 stars out of 5

Pros:

  • Quality synthetic hair brushes
  • Full range of brush types, great for painting fur
  • Suitable for hobbyist and professional artists

Cons

  • Standard length brushes, some artists prefer a long handle.

 

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