Hog Bristle

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Interlocked Chungking hog Bristle Brush

Frequently Asked Questions...

Difference between paint brushes?

Hi there!
I'm a high school student, and i have been doing art for years and years now. I love to paint and i have been oil painting for the last two years. However, although i know which brushes works well for me (through testing and experimenting) i'm not exactly sure of the difference between talkon, sable and bright hog bristle?

Can someone please tell me the difference and purpose of each?

And what brushes should be use for different pain mediums?


Best Answer...


Generally speaking as there are people using different types of brushes based purely on personal preference:

Natural bristle like hog is for oil paints. They are strong and can move the viscous paint on the surface.

Sable and Mongoose is for more delicate passages in oil paint. However this is not addressing the image painted but the handling of the paint itself. People do push paint around with these as well yet there is a difference and it is in the control and handling of the paint. These are also used ideally with watercolor and gouache.

Synthetics are designed to mimic the natural bristles and hairs so you will find those that are purportedly suited for both applications described above. Synthetics are also good for painting with acrylic.

Flats, Filberts, Rounds, Egberts, Brights, Fans, etc. each have applications suited to the brushstroke. Due to their shapes the stroke leaves varying shapes of paint on the surface from a chiseled edge to a soft wisp. Also fine lines to wide sweeping strokes or subtle blends are achieved easier with the proper choice of brush.

Here is a detailed Brush Glossary by Windsor & Newton:


An excerpt from a book on materials:


The large number of artists’ brushes available reflects two issues

1. Historically, many different brushes have been required to perform many different jobs and

2. Variations of the same shape of brush have existed to address different price points.

The result is a complicated array of products which many artists do not understand in full. Following is a glossary of brush terms for reference.


Acrylic brush - synthetic brushes, the mix of hair is specially made for use with acrylic colour.
Balance - the correct weight and shape of a handle in relationship to the weight of the brush head.
Belly - the mid-section and thickest part of the brush head, or the individual hair filament itself. Sable filaments have excellent bellies, which result in well shaped round brushes.
Blunt - a hair which is missing its natural tip. Finest quality brushes, do not contain blunts or trimmed hairs.
Bright - often Short flat, a chisel ended, square headed bristle brush. Bright was a painter.
Bristle - hog hair. Coarse, strong hair, suited to thick brushwork in oil, alkyd and acrylic painting. Different qualities of hog brushes are available, the most expensive ones carry the most colour and retain their shape best when wet.
Camel - is a pseudonym for a mixture of miscellaneous hairs of low quality.
Crimp - the compressed section of the ferrule which holds the handle to the brush head.
Designers’ - an elongated round sable, most common for illustration work.
Egbert - an extra long filbert.
Fan - a flat fan, used for blending, available in both bristle and soft hair.
Ferrule - the metal tube which supports the hair and joins it to the handle.
Filbert - flat brushes with oval shaped heads, available in both bristle and soft hair.
Flag - the natural, split tip of each bristle. Flags carry more colour and are evident on the highest quality hog brushes.
Flat - usually Long flat; flat hog brushes with a chisel end.
Goat - makes good mop wash brushes.
Gummed - newly made brushes are pointed with gum in order to protect them in transit.
Interlocked - bristle brushes whose hairs curve inward towards the centre of the brush.
Kolinsky - the highest quality sable hair.
Length out - the length of hair, exposed from the ferrule to the tip.
Lettering - very thin, long, chisel ending sables, traditionally used for lines and letters in signwriting.
Liners - see Lettering.
Long flat - see Flat.
Mop - large, round, domed brushes, often goat or squirrel, used primarily to cover whole areas in water colour.
One Stroke - a flat soft hair brush which allows an area to be covered in one stroke, traditionally used in signwriting for block letters.
Ox - ear hair is used for flat wash brushes.
Pencil - see Spotter.
Polyester - Synthetic hair is made of polyester; different diameter filaments, varying tapers, different colours and different coatings result in as many possible variations in synthetic brushes as in those made from natural hair.
Pony - is a low cost cylindrical hair, ie. lacking a point, often used for childrens’ brushes.
Quill - bird quills were originally used for ferrules prior to the development of seamless metal ferrules. Still used in some squirrel brushes.
Rigger - very thin, long round sable, traditionally used for painting rigging in marine pictures.
Round - available in both bristle and soft hair, the latter having different types of rounds.
Sable - produces the best soft hair brushes, particularly for water colour. The conical shape and scaled surface of each hair provide a brush with an unrivalled point, responsiveness and colour carrying capacity. There are different qualities, the finest being taper-dressed Kolinsky [Winsor & Newton Series 7].
Short flat - see Bright.
Snap - see Spring.
Solid-dressed - sable which is sorted in bundles of equal length prior to brushmaking. Resultant brushes are not as responsive as taper-dressed sables.
Spotter - extra short and small sable rounds, used for retouching photographs and other high detail work.
Spring - the degree of resilience of the hair and its ability to return to a point. Sable displays excellent spring.
Squirrel - hair makes good mop brushes but does not hold its belly or point well.
Stripers - see Lettering.
Taper-dressed - Kolinsky sable which is sorted into different lengths prior to brushmaking. Resultant brushes have wider bellies and finer points.
Wash - large flat soft hair brushes, used primarily for flat washes in water colour.


Artists’ brushes can generally be categorized into two types, according to the type of hair used, [i] bristle and [ii] soft. Each type can then be further categorized by the shapes available in each hair type.

1. Bristle - The bristle category includes the original hog but also the synthetic stiff brushes like ‘Artisan’ for water mixable oils.

Shapes available: Round, Short Flat/Bright, Long Flat, Filbert (short and long) and Fan.

2. Soft - sable, ox, goat, sqirrel, synthetic, pony, camel. Sable produces the best soft hair brushes, particularly for water colour. It’s conical shape and scaled surface provide unrivalled points, responsiveness and colour carrying capacity. Largely as a result of the cost of sable, other hairs are used for soft brushes, either on their own, or mixed.

Shapes available: Rounds; Spotters/Pencils, Designers, Riggers, Lettering/ Stripers/Liners, One Stroke, Mops, Wash, Filberts and Fans.

Two Additional Points To Note On Brushes

1.The sizing of brushes is most commonly done by a number system. Each number does not necessarily correlate to the same size brush in different ranges and this is particularly noticeable between English, French and Japanese sizes. It is important therefore that actual brushes are compared rather than relying on the sizes of the brushes you currently own.

2. Long handled brushes are available for oil, alkyd and acrylic painters who are more likely to be at a distance from their work than water colourists, whose brush handles are shorter.