Best Acrylic Paint Brushes for Artists in 2021

This is the third article in my series on painting with acrylics. The first focuses on the best acrylic paints available, and the second on the best paper and canvas to use with acrylics. And now we will be considering the very best acrylic paint brushes on the market today.

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Table of Contents

In a way, this might feel like the most important of the three articles. I mean, it is important to have the best paint you can afford, and great material to lay the paint down on, but the brush is different, in that a painter develops a kind of intimate and direct relationship with the paintbrush. And so having a poor quality brush, that frustrates or interrupts creativity in any way, can be especially disturbing while finding just the right brush can be immeasurably gratifying.

As such, I’m really happy to lend my own personal experience in order to help you find the best acrylic brushes, and think (and hope) it can make a really big difference. We’ll try to answer these specific questions and more:

  • What are the best brushes for acrylic paints?
  • Who makes the best acrylic paint brushes?
  • What are the best acrylic paint brush sets?
  • What are the best value acrylic brushes?

So let’s get into it, and please also check out the two other articles in this series:

What to Look For in Acrylic Paint Brushes

Where often we have to get into long, complex discussions about all of the features, factors and qualities that are best to have for a specific type of art tool, in this case it is really simple. More than anything else, you want a brush that feels good in the hand and lays paint down with flow, precision and consistency.

If there’s a tiny hitch here, it is that I can’t necessarily tell you exactly what makes one brush better in these all-important areas of usability and feel. But I can, and will, tell you the brushes I love using. For example, many will say that synthetic is the way to go, and most of my own recommendations are for synthetic bristles, but in fact the best brushes I’ve ever used for acrylic painting are good old hog bristle.

I can say that you want a brush that will retain its shape, will not fall apart, break, rust or corrode – there’s little worse than really falling in love with a brush only to find, sooner or later, that the bristles have turned into a frizzy mess, the ferrule (the metal band) is loose or corroded, or the handle – perhaps, admittedly, due to over-rambunctious stroke-work – is split or broken.

You also want to get a few basic shapes of bristle tips, for different types of work. You can simply get a good brush set, which will have all or most of them, but make sure you end up with:

  • Round Brushes – the most versatile overall
  • Flat Brushes – good for large areas, sharp lines and solid colors
  • Filbert Brushes – a flat/round hybrid, also versatile and especially good for blending
  • Fine Tip or Rigging Brushes – for fine detail, thin lines and texture work
  • Fan Brush – also great for blending, and can be used for fine lines and textures as well as dry brush work

I would also get a brush set of basic large synthetic brushes, of the “paint the house” variety, for laying down larger areas of color.

How Can You Find the Best Brushes for Acrylic Painting?

So basically I’ve told you that the best acrylic paint brushes available today are the ones that are made well and that paint well. I think it is safe to say that you might have been able to figure out that much by yourself. And I’ve also said that I can’t really tell you what makes one brush great and another brush not so great. I’m really a veritable gold mine of helpful information, aren’t I?

But wait! Before you switch over to YouTube to watch sheep shearing videos or something, I can at least list out the very best acrylic brushes I’ve ever used. For usability, flow, precision and control, for durability, for overall experience, these are the best I know, and I am sure you would be happy with any of them. After all, if I had to choose between you coming away from this with a bunch of useful facts, or with a bunch of wonderful acrylic paint brushes, well…

I will list my choices below from most to least expensive, but please keep in mind that I heartily recommend all of these brushes and brush sets. If you are on a budget, you will be perfectly happy and well served by even the least expensive options here. The higher priced brushes, though – at least among my recommendations – will last longer and will especially maintain their shape better, and so if you can afford a little more they are certainly worth it.

At the end of the article, in my Final Thoughts section, I will talk a little about airbrushes, and give a couple of personal recommendations there as well.

Overview: Best Acrylic Paint Brushes in 2021

  1. Escoda Clasico Series Chungking Hog Bristle 6 Brush Set Flats & Rounds
  2. Escoda Clasico Series Chungking Hog Bristle 6 Brush Set Flats & Rounds

    Chungking Hog Bristle Flats & Rounds, Size (Flat) 2, 8, 14 (Round) 2, 6, 12


    Buy Now on Amazon
  3. Creative Mark Synthetic Hog Bristle Paint Brush Set 20 PC
  4. Creative Mark Synthetic Hog Bristle Paint Brush Set 20 PC

    Paint Brush Set Mimik Hog Professional Synthetic Hog Bristle Brushes for Acrylics, Inks, Dyes, Gouaches, Watercolors, Easein & Egg Tempera - [Deluxe 20 Piece Set w/Leather Case]


    Buy Now on Amazon
  5. Winsor & Newton Acrylic Paint Brush Sets
  6. Winsor & Newton Acrylic Paint Brush Sets

    Winton Long Handle Brush (5 Pack) (Round 6, Filbert 6, Flat 6, Bright 8, Fan 3)


    Buy Now on Amazon
  7. Mont Marte Premium Paint Brush Set 15 Piece
  8. Mont Marte Premium Paint Brush Set 15 Piece

    Includes 15 Different Brushes in a Roll Case with Magnetic Closure, Suitable for Watercolour, Acrylic and Oil Painting


    Buy Now on Amazon
  9. US Art Supply Large Flat Synthetic Brush Variety Pack
  10. US Art Supply Large Flat Synthetic Brush Variety Pack

    3 Pack of Variety Size Synthetic Bristle Paint, Chip and Utility Paint Brushes for Paint, Stains, Varnishes, Glues, and Gesso


    Buy Now on Amazon

Best Acrylic Paint Brushes

Escoda Clasico Series Chungking Hog Bristle 6 Brush Set Flats & Rounds

Chungking Hog Bristle Flats & Rounds, Size (Flat) 2, 8, 14 (Round) 2, 6, 12


Yeah, this is it. The Escoda Clasico are the best brushes I’ve ever used for acrylic paint, and quite possibly my favorite overall.

If I really try to explain just how wonderful these natural hair brushes are to use, I’m afraid I’ll get all embarrassingly poetic, even a little gushy. So let me say instead that when you are using the best, the most controllable, consistent and durable brushes, which offer the best flow, the highest level of precision and the strongest confidence, you can drop into the creative space much more deeply and undistractedly. That’s where the real magic happens, and that’s exactly where Escoda Clasico brushes take you. 

Chinese hogs, fine Spanish craftsmanship – what more could you possibly want? Seriously, if you do want the best of the best, and don’t mind spending a bit more for the highest levels of quality, feeling and usability, and for a brush that may well last a lifetime, the Escoda Clasico series Chungking Hog Bristle brushes are it, and the best acrylics brushes on the market today.

Best Synthetic Acrylic Paintbrushes

But let’s say you are vegan, or opposed to using animal products for whatever reason, or suspect that in a previous life you were a hog from Chungking, and yet you still want that ultimate Escoda quality and feel. The synthetic squirrel travel brush set has you covered.

Don’t get put off by the fact that these are called a watercolor brush set, because in fact Escoda specifies them as designed for both watercolor and acrylic paint, and I’m here to tell you that they are absolutely superb for painting with acrylics. And also don’t worry too much about the “travel brush” bit – yes, they are a permanent part of my outdoor and travel art kit, but I use them just as much in the studio, and lots of artists actually greatly prefer using shorter handles like these.

Whatever they’re called, the Escoda Ultimo series have an incredible feeling, an unsurpassed flow of paint from the bristles, truly first-rate handmade quality and consistency, even over years and years, that will make them among your most loved and trusted art tools. They are just that for me, and my clear choice for the best synthetic acrylic brushes.

Best Value Premium Brushes for Acrylics

Creative Mark Synthetic Hog Bristle Paint Brush Set 20 PC

Paint Brush Set Mimik Hog Professional Synthetic Hog Bristle Brushes for Acrylics, Inks, Dyes, Gouaches, Watercolors, Easein & Egg Tempera - [Deluxe 20 Piece Set w/Leather Case]


A really durable and consistent paintbrush, the Creative Mark synthetic hog bristle maintains its shape over the long haul, offering not just great value but a more consistent process and reliable result from session to session, even from year to year.

But, more importantly, these brushes just feel great. Wonderful presence and balance in the hand, smooth, precise and predictable flow with both thick and thin paint (not to mention different kinds of paint) and an overall premium fit and finish, all make these Creative Mark brushes a joy to use.

The 20 piece brush set comes with all the basic shapes and sizes you will need – not just for starting out, but even for the long term – and they come in a really nice carrying case. Not the cheapest, but still a great value considering their quality and performance, and definitely one of the best paint brush sets for acrylic paints on the market today.

Best Affordable Acrylic Paint Brushes

Winsor & Newton Acrylic Paint Brush Sets

Winton Long Handle Brush (5 Pack) (Round 6, Filbert 6, Flat 6, Bright 8, Fan 3)


Another one of my favorite brush makers is Winsor and Newton, and here I am going to recommend and briefly describe three of their best small starter sets.

The Winton set has fine natural hair brushes with hog bristles, and absolutely splendid flow, control and long term retention of shape. They are beautifully made long handle natural hair brushes which will fully satisfy any artist on any level, and among the most beloved and highly recommended brushes in the art world. They come in a set of five, with a nice selection of flat, round and filbert tips.

The Galeria set offers five round and flat brushes with short handles, the mixed natural hair brushes fibers of which transfer paint to paper with wonderful flow and predictability. They are not at the level of the Winton, but are in my book the best brushes for acrylics at their price level.

The Foundation set is surely the best value around, and the best starter set of synthetic bristle acrylic brushes for somebody on a budget. With six perfect shapes – 2x round brush, 2x flat brush and 2x filbert brush – the Winsor and Newton Foundation set has the basics for learning acrylics or even for advanced work, and are almost absurdly cheap. I’ll include links below for both long handle and short handle sets.

Three great basic sets of acrylic paint brushes, at three different price levels, all of these sets are of substantial quality and will last and perform for many years. They will for sure offer three different levels of performance, control, precision and flow, but each is the best in all of these regards for their prospective price point, and all are my choice as the best value paint brushes for acrylics in 2021. 

Best Super-Budget Paint Brushes for Acrylics

Mont Marte Premium Paint Brush Set 15 Piece

Includes 15 Different Brushes in a Roll Case with Magnetic Closure, Suitable for Watercolour, Acrylic and Oil Painting


And for the super-budget entry in our buyer’s guide to the best acrylic paint brushes, I proudly present the Mont Marte 15 piece set.

There are lots and lots of cheap, cheaper and cheapest paint brush sets out there, and honestly most of them feel and work as cheap as they cost, which can cost you plenty in the long run. The Mont Marte are different, though.

While I would never claim they are as good as hand made premium fine art brushes, they are in fact astonishingly good for their low, low price, and will never hold you back – whether you’re learning, just trying out acrylics or already experienced and working at a higher level. In fact, given their excellent and consistent bristles and shapes, their feel in the hand, the flow and control they offer, these are not just great brushes for a beginner or a student, but a good general wide-range set for any artist, at any level, to have on hand.

An easy choice then for the best super-budget paint brushes for painting with acrylics, and a surprisingly high quality big set – versatile, reliable, long lasting and really nice to use.

Best Large Brushes for Acrylics

US Art Supply Large Flat Synthetic Brush Variety Pack

3 Pack of Variety Size Synthetic Bristle Paint, Chip and Utility Paint Brushes for Paint, Stains, Varnishes, Glues, and Gesso


Regardless of what brand, size or brush types you use for acrylic paints, you are going to want a set of big, cheap flat brushes for covering canvases, laying down large areas of paint, texturing, dry brush work and lots of other uses. And you can paint the house with them. It would take a long time, but you could.

And the best basic set, with smooth flow, good shape retention and low shedding, nice handles and quality build, are the US Art Supply synthetic bristle flat brushes. The variety pack gives you exactly what you will need – a 1 inch, a 2 inch and a 3 inch – and is a great deal.

But, if you want the next level, and don’t mind spending more, a premium large flat brush like the Escoda will give better results in every way – more even colors and consistent finish on large areas, better effect with dry brush and texturing, better flow and feeling overall. A superior brush, for sure, and the best choice for the discerning commercial or fine artist or crafter.

Bonus: What about Airbrushes?

We may not think of including airbrushes in a buyer’s guide for the best brushes for acrylics painting, but they are brushes too – I mean, it’s right there in the name.

Besides, one of the most powerful, effective and outright fun ways to use acrylic paints is with an airbrush. Even higher level fine and commercial artists use an airbrush regularly and for all kinds of jobs, and crafters are well aware of how great it is to have a good quality airbrush on hand.

This is not a detailed buyer’s guide on the best airbrushes available today, but nonetheless I would like to recommend three wonderful airbrushes at three different price levels. 

I would also like to recommend that if you haven’t used an airbrush before, or haven’t even considered getting one as a part of your artistic tool box , get spraying – a whole world will open up before you, and you will (literally) have a blast!

  1. Master Airbrush Cool Runner II Complete Professional Kit
  2. Master Airbrush Cool Runner II Complete Professional Kit

    Dual Fan Air Compressor Professional Airbrushing System Kit with 3 Airbrushes, Gravity and Siphon Feed - 6 Primary Opaque Colors Acrylic Paint Artist Set - How to Guide


    Buy Now on Amazon
  3. Badger Patriot 105 Fine Gravity Stainless Steel Airbrush
  4. Badger Patriot 105 Fine Gravity Stainless Steel Airbrush

    Next level in precision, control and even, predictable flow, and one of the most highly regarded and popular airbrushes on the market today.

    Requires a compressor, like the highly regarded Master Airbrush TC-40T

    

    Buy Now on Amazon
  5. Paasche TS-300R Double Action Siphon Feed Airbrush Complete Kit
  6. Paasche TS-300R Double Action Siphon Feed Airbrush Complete Kit

    A superior airbrush package with everything you need (including compressor), offering superb control and consistency and exceptional build quality and long term reliability.

    

    Buy Now on Amazon

Thanks so much for reading this latest article – The Best Paint Brushes for Acrylic Paint: An In-Depth 2021 Buyer’s Guide. Check out the other two articles in this series: The Best Acrylic Paint for Artists: An In-Depth 2021 Buyer’s Guide and The Best Art Paper for Acrylic Paint: An In-Depth 2021 Buyer’s Guide, and please make sure to visit my blog – Art Side of Life – for tons of other inspiring ideas, resources, articles, buyer’s guides and a lot more!

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