It is very important when learning how to face paint to choose the right face painting brush for the job. There are many kinds of face painting brushes and they are all designed for different tasks or to suit different face painting styles.
Anatomy of a Face Painting Brush | The Basics
All brushes consist of 3 main parts: the handle, the ferrule and the bristles. Lets take a look at each of those components.
Face Painting Brush | The Handles
Handles come in all shapes, colors and sizes. Each painters has their favorite option based on their setup and preference. Plastic (acrylic) handles tend to last longer but are also more expensive. A great line of face painting brushes with acrylic handles is the one Anna and Santi from JestPaint designed for Global.
Wooden handles are cheaper, but if the brush is well taken care of they can lost long as well. The most important thing is not to let the handle be inside the water to prevent the paint on the handle from chipping off. A great line of face painting brushes with wooden handles is the one designed by Anna and Santi from JestPaint for their store, they are called Bolt Brushes.
Some face painters like thicker handles to be able to grab the brush without feeling like their fingers are cramping. Some like a thinner handle. When you are learning how to face paint it is important to choose a face painting brush that works for you and that feels comfortable on your hand.
Face Painting Brush | The Ferrules
The Ferrules can be made of different metals like nickel, chrome, plated zinc, etc. There is no real difference as far as face painting goes, all ferrules do the trick. It is important to keep the are where the handle meets the ferrule off the water so that the glue that holds the handle and the brush doesn’t disintegrate and your brush comes apart.
Face Painting Brush | The Bristles
As you browse through face painting stores to choose the right brush you will find out that all face painting brushes are designed with synthetic bristles. Synthetic bristles are stiffer and they work better with face paints than natural hair brushes which tend to be very soft.
Because of the kind of medium you will be working with, you want a brush that has a good bounce so that it is easy to control when making small details on a 3D canvas like the face. There are different kinds of synthetic bristles and they all have a different bounce to them. When you are learning how to face paint sometimes you have to try on several different kinds of face painting brushes until you find the perfect one for you. But, we recommend for you to start with a brush that is rather on the firmer side since they are easier to control for beginner face painters. The Firm line of Bolt Brushes is ideal for that purpose.
Face Painting Brushes | The Shapes
This is when things get interesting. There are many many different kinds face painting brushes out there and each have a different purpose but there are two kinds that will cover most of your needs, specially when you are starting to learn how to face paint: round brushes and flat brushes.
Face Painting Brush | Round Brush
A round face painting brush will be your go to brush for all of your line work and small details. This is the brush that you will use the most and it is important to choose the right one. Some round brushes have really long bristles and they might be called Liners. Some have shorter bristles and they are called just round, or swirl brushes depending on the brand. The length of the bristles is a a matter of preference. The longer they are the harder to control, but also the more intricate line work you can do with them. We recommend for beginner face painters that are just learning how to face paint to start with a medium length brush like Bolt Brushes Firm Liners or Loew Cornell Round Brushes.
Round brushes come in different sizes, the larger the number the bigger is the circumference of the base of your brush. Although each brand has its own sizes in general a round #3 or #4 is a good starter brush.
You want to make sure your round face painting brush has a nice sharp tip. Round brushes are designed in two different ways. Some have bristles that are equally long all the way through, but the end of each bristle is thinned out with acid so that it produces a sharp tip. Some have bristles that get longer towards the center of the brush to produce that same tip. Loew Cornell brushes are of the first kind and the Liner brushes of the Bolt line are of the second kind.
Round brushes are not only great for line work but also for doing tear drops, which is one of the most popular elements of many face painting designs.
Face Painting Brush | Flat Brush
A Flat face painting brush is specially important when using rainbow cakes or split cakes. These brushes allow you to pick on several face painting colors at the same time and are great for recreating a 1 stroke technique using face paints. They come in different sizes but the most popular ones are 3/4″ and 1″ wide since they fit inside the popular small split cakes and they tend to allow for better brush movement.
Flat brushes also come with different bristle lengths and the shorter the bristles the easier they are to control. You do not want though for the bristles to be too short or you run the risk of the ferrule touching the faces you are painting. Also, if the bristles are too short you might not be able to get a good load of face paint on your brush.
It is important to find a flat face painting brush that has a good bounce, a bristle length that makes it easy to dominate and a bristle material that can absorb a good load of face paint and release the paint when needed. The Stroke brushes by Bolt Brushes were designed with those needs in mind.
Face Painting Brush | Filbert Brush
Filbert face painting brushes are also great for the 1 stroke technique but they are also ideal to use as
fillers around the eye area, or to do nice large tear drops. A nice 1/2″ or 3/4″ filbert brush can be very versatile and come in handy in many occasions. The rounded edge provides smooth blending without leaving hard edges, and is great to be used as a stamp for flower petals, leaves or large teardrops.
Face Painting Brush | Flower or Petal Brush
This kind of face painting brush is relatively new to the face painting world and they have become a staple on every face painter’s kit. As their name indicates these brushes are specially designed to be used as a stamp to re create small flower petals or leaves. They are super easy to use and they allow you to create great designs in just a few steps.
Flower face painting brushes have slight cone shape and they come in different sizes depending on how big you want those petals to be. You can change the size of your petal changing the pressure on your brush. the more pressure you apply against the skin the larger the petals will be.
Face Painting Brush | Angle Brush
Face Painting Angle brushes are similar to flat brushes but they are cut at an angle. These are great for using with rainbow or split cakes and the main difference with flat brushes is that they allow to create sharp strokes. These brushes are specially good when you are face painting roses and leaves using split cakes.
Face Painting Brush | Specialty Brushes
There are dozens of different brush shapes out there to choose from. Some are shaped like a pointy leaf, some look like a double filbert, some have a rake shape, some
are cut like a butterfly wing, etc. Each of them have a different purpose and once you have become a seasoned face painter you might enjoy looking into them for special things. We will write a blog post about them soon and post a link here for those interested in learning about them. You can take a look at some of the