While purists might opt for natural-fiber brushes, more and more professionals and amateurs working in oil paints are beginning to make the switch to synthetic brushes as synthetic materials continue to improve in quality. No longer do the fibers feel like plastic. Now, the best of the best mimic the weight and feel of animal hair while maintaining their integrity for a much longer time than their predecessors. To find the top synthetic brushes for oil paints, peruse our recommendations for brush sets below.
1. Princeton Velvetouch 3950 Series
These brushes feature synthetic fibers specifically designed to mimic the qualities of natural sable, occupying the middle ground between soft and stiff. This set comes with five brushes: two rounds, a filbert, a spotter, and a shader, arming you with the fundamentals for softening, blending, detail work and sweeping gestures. The contoured handles are comfortable to hold for extended periods; the bristles are consistent and not prone to shedding. Although somewhat pricey, this set is a worthwhile investment for serious artists.
2. Da Vinci Nova Series Synthetics
Artists who prefer bristles with less stiffness should consider the Nova series of brushes, which sweep across surfaces to create smooth, clean, and even lines. They are satisfyingly springy, allowing both subtle blending and controlled spreading. Each brush features a rust-resistant brass ferrule firmly anchored in a wooden handles. The bristles hold oil paint very well and resist fraying or splitting. As a bonus, these brushes wash off very easily and retain their shape after clean-up. This sampler set offers a useful assortment of sizes and shapes.
3. Princeton Aspen Brushes
For a brush on the firmer side, look no further than Princeton’s Aspen line. Featuring long bristles that resemble hog hair, they hold oils beautifully, keep their shape, and show a good amount of flexibility. Durable and well balanced, they also clean up nicely. We’re fans of the matte black ferrule, too, which gives these brushes a cool modern look. The five-brush set provides you with a round, a bright brush, a flat brush, a short filbert, and a liner.
4. Royal and Langnickel Majestic Short Handle Brushes
While a popular pick for acrylics, these brushes are also an excellent choice for newcomers to oil paint who aren’t ready to invest in a pricier set. Each is made with high-quality, multi-diameter taklon fibers, which are processed to enhance their absorbency and softness. The bristles have a pleasing snap and are able to stand up to hours of use. The hardwood handle is extremely comfortable to hold, too. This set comes with two rounds, a wash, an angular brush, and one script liner.
5. MyArtscape Pocket Paint Brush Set
These brushes, sold in a set of seven, are soft yet strong and deliver an even release of color with every stroke. But what makes them stand out from the competition are their handles, which are ultra-short. This design not only gives you more control over your implements but makes the set ideal for travel. The brushes are also quite affordable—so you can leave your pricier brushes at home and worry less about damage or loss during transit. Keep them organized and protected in the included carry case.