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5 Types of Erasers Every Artist Should Know About

When it comes to art, not all erasers are created equal. You may see on your supply list something called a “Pink Pearl” or a “kneaded eraser”. These (as well as other types of erasers) are made of different material and have unique purposes. Take a look at the 5 types of erasers listed below to see how they differ.

  1. Rubber Erasers

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You are most likely familiar with rubber erasers. These are the pink erasers found on the end of every #2 pencil. In the art world, you may recognize the name “Pink Pearl” which is a pink rubber eraser in a wedge shape. This eraser removes graphite pencil on paper by shedding itself as it lifts the pencil marks. If using over-aggressively, these could tear your paper but with normal use, this does not happen.

  1. Gum Eraser

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Gum erasers (also called art gum erasers) have a completely different feel than that of a Pink Pearl. While these are also made out of rubber, they are much softer than what we consider typical rubber erasers. When used, gum erasers tend to crumble but don’t worry, this it supposed to happen! The crumbs actually help absorb the graphite. The nice thing about gum erasers is that since they crumble when erasing, they do not tear up your paper. However, they also tend to not last as long as other erasers. Like the Pink pearl, art gum erasers are ideal for erasing graphite on paper. You’ll recognize these as being brown in color, sometimes semi-transparent.

  1. Kneaded Eraser

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You may find yourself playing with this one more than actually using it to erase. That’s because it’s soft, flexible, and can be easily formed and sculpted into various shapes. Kneaded erasers work by lifting pigment (graphite and charcoal) off the surface. Because of this, paper is left undamaged with no smears. The flexibility of this eraser is popular among artists because it can be formed to a point for detailed areas – or whatever other shape is needed. To clean, simply stretch the eraser and fold over on itself (also known as kneading). If you’re working with charcoal, a kneaded eraser is a must!

  1. Vinyl Erasers

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Vinyl erasers, also called plastic erasers, are the toughest erasers on this list. If not used carefully, they can easily tear through paper. These erasers are definitely handy as they can erase almost anything, even ink! Vinyl erasers are preferred by draftsmen because of their clean and complete erasing. They often come in white and can be found in a variety of shapes.

  1. Pencil Erasers

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Pencil erasers, or erasils, are made out of vinyl (as mentioned above) and come in pencil form. They can be sharpened to a point with a regular pencil sharpener the same as you would an ordinary pencil, making them ideal for small details, such as highlights in hair. It’s always a good idea to wipe the tip of the eraser while working so you don’t smear graphite back on your work. Don’t forget that since these are made of vinyl they are very tough and can damage your paper if not used carefully!

Where would we be without erasers? Even without an official eraser, there’s always an alternative. Believe it or not, crust-less bread was used in Japan during the years of 1868 and 1912! As you can see, there have been many different kinds of erasers since then (rubber, vinyl, kneaded, etc.) each with unique qualities. Most of the time kneaded erasers are recommended for artists but you may prefer one of the other options available. We suggest trying a few out and finding what works best for you! And if you end up using bread as an eraser, let us know how well it works!

 

By - Nicole Tinkham

Graphite Grading Scales Explained

lead_grade_swatches-1

There are two graphite grading scales used to measure the hardness of a pencil’s graphite core.

NUMERICAL GRAPHITE SCALE

The first graphite grading scale is a numeric scale. Using this scale, the hardness of the core is often marked on the pencil — look for a number (such as “2″ “2-1/2″ or “3″). The higher the number the harder the writing core and the lighter the mark left on the paper. As the pencil core becomes softer (through the use of lower proportions of clay) it leaves a darker mark as it deposits more graphite material on the paper. Softer pencils will dull faster than harder leads and require more frequent sharpening.

HB GRAPHITE SCALE

The second graphite grading scale is known as the HB scale. Most pencil manufacturers outside of the U.S. use this scale, using the letter “H” to indicate a hard pencil. Likewise, a pencil maker might use the letter “B” to designate the blackness of the pencil’s mark, indicating a softer lead. The letter “F” is also used to indicate that the pencil sharpens to a fine point.

Historically, pencil makers also use combinations of letters — a pencil marked “HB” is hard and black; a pencil marked “HH” is very hard, and a pencil marked “HHBBB” is very hard and really, really black! Although today most pencils using the HB system are designated by a number such as 2B, 4B or 2H to indicate the degree of hardness. For example, a 4B would be softer than a 2B and a 3H harder than an H.

GRAPHITE SCALE COMPARISONS

Generally, an HB grade about the middle of the scale is considered to be equivalent to a #2 pencil using the U.S. numbering system.

In reality however, there is no specific industry standard for the darkness of the mark to be left within the HB or any other hardness grade scale. Thus, a #2 or HB pencil from one brand will not necessarily leave the same mark as a #2 or HB pencil from another brand. Most pencil manufacturers set their own internal standards for graphite hardness grades and overall quality of the core, some differences are regional. In Japan, consumers tend to prefer softer darker leads; so an HB lead produced in Japan is generally softer and darker than an HB from European producers.

Finding what works best for your own artistic and writing needs is generally a matter of personal preference and experimentation with different brands of pencils.

How to clean paintbrushes

cleaning and storage

Clean your paintbrush thoroughly after each use

When it comes to painting with acrylics, you don't want to slack with cleaning your paintbrushes. For to do so will result in a frayed and/or crusty brush that is no longer usable for traditional art-making purposes (as you will know after reading all about proper paintbrush care!). Therefore, once you are done painting, it is in your best interest to pamper your brush with a full beauty spa treatment to get it clean, refreshed, and ready for the next painting session!

How to clean paintbrushes

When you are done painting with a particular brush, you must clean it right away to avoid paint drying on the bristles. Follow this simple procedure for how to clean paintbrushes and you'll have sparkling fresh paintbrushes for the next time you want to paint!

1. At your work place, before you go to the sink, place the bristles in between a paper towel or rag and squeeze out the excess paint.

2. Swish the brush around in your cup of water to release any leftover paint.

3. Gently shake off the excess water.

4. Repeat Step 1.

5. Go to the sink, and rinse your brush under running lukewarm water. Using your fingers, gently and quickly squeeze the bristles to further dislodge any leftover paint.

6. Using special artist soap or regular hand-washing soap, put some soap on your brush and gently wash the bristles with your fingers by working the soap through the bristles.

7. Rinse off the soap.

8. Check to see if there is any paint left, and if there is, repeat Steps 5 and 6.

9. Once you are certain all the paint has been removed, shake the brush to remove the excess water.

10. Place the bristles in between a paper towel or rag, and squeeze out the excess water.

11. Let your paintbrush dry in a safe place, preferably lying horizontally.

*Take note that at some point or other, the hairs of your paintbrush will become tinted with some of the colors that you've been using. This is normal, and does not effect the performance of the brush. As long as the water runs clear as you're rinsing your brush, it should be clean, even if the bristles are tinted with color.

Do I need special soap to clean the paint brush?

There are special soaps that are meant for cleaning artist paint brushes. These soaps are gentle and milder on the hairs of the brush than regular hand soap, because they are specially formulated to clean and condition brushes. Usually one dish or bar of paintbrush soap will last you a very long time.

If you don't have any paintbrush soap, it's okay to use regular handsoap. Just don't use dishwashing liquid, which normally has chemicals that are too strong for the delicate hairs of an artist paint brush.

Here are some brush soaps specifically made for artist paint brushes:

Da Vinci Brush Soap with Conditioner
Pink Soap Artist Brush Cleaner

 

artists mini survival kit

The Artist's Mini Survival Kit is a handy little kit that contains everything an artist will need for clean-up and accidents, all in a cute little take-along bag. It comes with a jar of Brush Cleaner and Preserver, which can clean off oil and watercolor in addition to acrylic. Also included are a tube of Kiss-Off Stain Remover, for those oops moments when you get paint on your good clothes, and some Artist's Hand Soap, along with an informative pamphlet about paintbrush care.

How should I store and/or transport my paint brushes?

If you have a permanent workspace, you can simply leave your cleaned brushes lying horizontally on your tabletop or shelf until its next use. The important thing is that you don't want the bristles to get bent or damaged in any way.

 

Loew Cornell Bin Holder

I keep a lot of my brushes in a Loew Cornell Multi Bin Holder (shown left) with 50 holes for holding paintbrushes, pens, pencils, etc. I have a lot of paintbrushes (72 at last count) so sometimes I double up and put 2 or 3 of the smaller ones together in one slot. The system mainly works for me as storage and organization. Because I keep so many brushes crammed into this holder, it takes a few extra seconds to look through and find the ones I need. Therefore, before I start painting I'll select the brushes I think I'll be using for that painting session and set them aside.

Paintbrush storage and transport ideas

If you have limited space and need to tuck your paintbrushes away somewhere, you can put them inside a long rectangular box, such as a shoebox or a plastic food storage container. There are also quite a few storage solutions available from the art supply stores, such as these:

Holbein Asjustable Brush Holder

This Holbein Adjustable Brush Holder is the most compact of the storage ideas, making it a good option for transport. It consists of a translucent plastic tube that can hold brushes up to 13" (22cm) long. While it is handy and compact, it doesn't have a way to prevent the brushes from banging up against the end of the tube. Therefore if you use one of these, but sure not to carry it upside-down!

Bamboo Brush Roll Up

An alternative to the plastic tube brush holder is this neat Bamboo Brush Roll-up that can safely store and protect up to 12 paintbrushes. You can put both wet or dry paintbrushes in this bamboo cloth holder, because it is quite airy and dries easily. To transport, simply roll it up and tie it shut.

 

Artbin Essentials Brush Box

If you need to store or transport more than a dozen paint brushes, the ArtBin Essentials Brush Box is a good choice because it keeps the paintbrushes in place so that they won't bump against the end of the box and get damaged. It can hold 20 brushes, fastened in place with foam inserts. This box features vented sides, to allow the brushes to dry.



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How to clean a paintbrush

all about paintbrush care

Learn how to clean a paintbrush properly, to ensure that your paintbrush has a long lifespan!

The sign of a happy paintbrush is one that is gooped in paint, dripping with color, and skipping freely across a canvas - gleefully leaving behind a trail of peppy pigment. A happy paintbrush is a faithful sidekick and as such, deserves to be well-treated. It's important to take good care of your paintbrushes, so that you can enjoy one another's company for a long time to come!

So to keep your paintbrushes happy, remember these few points:

 

1. Never let acrylic paint dry on a paintbrush

The most important thing to remember in terms of brush care when working with acrylics is that acrylic paint dries very quickly. Always keep your brush wet or moist. Whatever you do - don't let the paint dry on the brush! The longer it is allowed to dry on the brush, the harder the paint will become, which makes it more difficult (if not downright impossible) to remove. Dried acrylic paint on a brush basically ruins the brush, effectively turning it into a crusty stump. Even if you know how to clean a paintbrush, there's really no way to de-crustify a crusty stump of a paintbrush.

What happens if you do happen to let acrylic dry on your paintbrush? Is all hope for the brush lost? Not so, read here to find out what you can do with crusty brushes!

Because acrylics dry so quickly and I want to avoid letting the paint dry on the brush, I typically work by using one brush at a time. On those rare moments when I do use more than one, I keep a close eye on the ones that are not in use, occasionally dipping them in water and shaking off the excess, just to keep them moist. When I'm not using them, I rest them across the rim of my cup of water. As soon as I think I'm done using one of the brushes, I'll thoroughly clean it before continuing with the painting.

2. Don't get paint on the ferrule

Let's refresh our knowledge of the basic parts of a paintbrush:

Parts of a Paintbrush

You see that silvery bit that connects the hairs of the brush with the handle? That part of the brush is called the ferrule. In general, try not to get paint on the ferrule. When paint gets on the ferrule, it's usually connected in a large blob between the ferrule and the hairs, and the result (even after you wash it) is that the hairs will spread apart and wind up frayed. So try your best not to get paint on this part of the brush!

3. Don't rest your paintbrush with bristles down in a cup of water

Paintbrush holder

This is another important point - never leave your brush with the hairs down in a cup of water - not even for a few minutes. This will cause the hairs to bend and/or fray and go all wonky, and the effect is irreversible. If your brushes are precious to you, then this is a definite no-no. Even if the hairs don't bend, for example if it's a rather stiff brush, the hairs will still spread in the water and become frayed and puffed when dry. It will basically never be the same paintbrush ever again!

When actively using more than one paintbrush at a time, it is best to place the brushes that are on "stand-by" in such a way that the bristles are not touching your palette or tabletop, especially if there is paint on the brush. One easy solution is to lay them horizontally with the bristles hanging over the edge of your work table. This is what I do when I'm working in a place where the floor is either protected or allowed to get paint stains. A more posh solution is this Porcelain Brush Holder. You can rest the paintbrushes in the grooves, keeping the bristles raised. The brush holder is heavy enough that it won't slide around or easily fall over.

 

Alvin Prestige Paintbrush Holder

Here's another solution for keeping your paintbrushes upright and easily accessible whilst painting. It also serves as a safe solution for transporting your beloved paintbrushes! The Alvin Prestige Paintbrush Holder is made from sturdy black nylon with a handy velcro enclosure. This brush holder folds up to protect your brushes during transport, and when you're ready to paint, simply pull the drawstring elastic to prop the holder upright, making your paintbrushes easy to reach. The Alvin Prestige Paintbrush Holder is available in two sizes.

4. What to do in an emergency?

Sometimes the unexpected happens. If there's a sudden emergency or interruption (the phone ringing, for example) and you need to dash off in a rush, try to take the extra 10 seconds to do this:

Quickly swish your paintbrush in water, then squeeze out the excess paint and water in a paper towel or rag. Then quickly swish it again in the water and leave it gently resting across the rim of your water cup.

This simple procedure can be done in under 10 seconds. This way, if you're gone for awhile, the brush will stand a better chance of being saved. Leaving it hairs-down in a container of water will surely ruin it, so why take the chance?

Of course, use common sense though. For example, if your studio is on fire, save yourself. You can always buy new brushes! That's an extreme example, but you know what I mean.

5. What if I do ruin my brush?

So what happens if you do wind up with a crusty stump instead of a paintbrush? To look at the positive side, you don't necessarily have to throw it away. Perhaps out of a deep sense of loyalty, I always have difficulty throwing brushes away after they've become crusty or frayed. So I keep them, and use them as "alternative" art-making tools. Even if the bristles of the brush become hard and brittle, they can still be used to apply paint onto a canvas, albeit in a more rough, expressionistic way. This makes them great for painting abstract art or other styles of artwork that don't require intricate precision or gentle brushstrokes. You can also use the handle of the brush to scrape designs into a thick layer of paint on the canvas.

Be aware that the hairs of your brush may (and will, eventually) get tinted to whatever color you've been using. This is normal and nothing to worry about. The stained color is locked into the bristles, so the color won't stain or intermix with your paint the next time you use it. Don't worry, if your brush gets tinted with color, it's not ruined!

Caring for your paintbrush is mainly a matter of common sense. If you treasure your tools, you'll intuitively know how to treat them. Just follow these guidelines and you will have a set of happy paintbrushes on your hands!



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Paint Brushes for Acrylics

Which paintbrushes do I need to start painting with acrylics?

 

The kind of paintbrush that you use can make all the difference in how well your painting turns out. Some brushes are more suited to particular techniques than others. So, how do you know which paintbrushes to choose?

First, familiarize yourself with the 8 different kinds of paintbrushes recommended for use with acrylics. This Acrylic Paint Brush Guide will explain what each type of brush is used for. Narrow down which paintbrushes you will need based on the size and style of painting you would like to do.

In general, if you're just starting out with acrylics and you're on a tight budget, I'd recommend getting one round and one flat brush. That's enough to accomplish most of what you need with acrylics. Two brushes is really all you need to get started with acrylics. Then if you decide you like it, you can go out and buy more artist paint brushes!

If you're buying paintbrushes for the first time, I suggest going to your local art supply store and seeing them in person first. This will allow you the opportunity to see the wide variety for yourself. Then, once you've fallen in love with certain artist paint brushes, you'll know exactly what to get if you want to buy them online.

At the store, you can pick up the artist paint brushes and run your fingers along the bristles, getting a feel for the different types of hairs. Some bristles stay firmly in place, while others are floppy. Some are soft to the touch, while others are stiff and coarse. For acrylics, you'll usually want something that is between the softness of a watercolor brush and the coarseness of an oil painting brush.

To select a paintbrush, hold it in your hand and see how it feels. Check the bristles as described above. When you settle on a brush that "feels right" to you, check to make sure that it doesn't have any stray or frayed hairs. If it does, put it back and get another one.

Should I get a paintbrush with natural hairs or synthetic hairs?

For acrylics, it's better to get artist paint brushes with synthetic hairs. These hairs are made from a polyester called Taklon. They will stay stiffer than natural hairs when they are wet. In addition, the chemicals in acrylic paint can have an adverse affect on artist paint brushes with natural hairs, and in some cases, they can become ruined. If that's not enough to convince you, just ask yourself: would you really want to paint with a brush whose hairs were plucked from the back end of a pig? (That's what hog bristles are!)

Do I need a brush with a long handle or a short handle?

The handles of acrylic paintbrushes can be long or short. The short ones are about the length of a pencil, so they feel quite natural in one's hand. The long ones can be as long as a 12-inch ruler, making it a bit awkward for those who aren't used to it.

The main difference between the two is that long-handled brushes are intended for easel work, when you want to stand away from the painting, rather than close-up. The length of the handle allows you more distance from the painting surface. In contrast, short handles allow for easier close-up work. I usually prefer short handles, because I prefer to work up close. Choose your own brushes based on your own work preference!

What size paint brush should I get?

Now what about sizes? Brushes come in an assortment of sizes, from teeny tiny to super large. For total beginners, I suggest getting a medium or average size brush - somewhere in the middle. Don't overwhelm yourself with a huge monster of a paintbrush, and don't strain yourself with a microscopic paintbrush!

Settling on the right one will depend on your personal artistic needs. Just use common sense when buying your brushes, and you'll be fine.

Paint brush sizes vary from brand to brand, meaning that a size 0 round in one brand may differ from a size 0 round in another brand. Because there is no industry standard regulating the brush sizes, if you decide to switch brands and you want the same size as your previous brush, it's best to handle brushes in person so you'll know exactly what you're getting.

What brands of paintbrushes do you recommend for beginners?

I'll tell you a little secret: I don't buy expensive brushes. All my artwork is created with brushes that cost less than $5. Some of them, less than $2. With proper care, they can last several months. When one gets frayed, I simply set it aside to use on abstract artwork. I almost never throw away paintbrushes! They will always find some use, somewhere, somehow.

Princeton Select Brushes
Loew Cornell Paintbrushes

Princeton and Loew Cornell are two of my favorite paintbrush brands. They are inexpensive yet good quality.

Da Vinci brushes are more expensive, but worth the cost. These paintbrushes have bristles that are extra stiff and rugged, allowing them to hold and absorb more paint. This makes them an excellent choce for thick, impasto-style painting.

Da Vinci Top Acryl Brushes

Da Vinci Synthetic Brushes

 

 



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Artist paint brushes

The paintbrush will be your magic wand for weaving colors across the canvas. Artist paint brushes become beloved tools the more you use them! As you paint, you will become increasingly familiar with the way the brushes handle the paint and what they can accomplish for you. Pretty soon the paintbrush will become a part of you that you intuitively know how to maneuver.

If you're just starting out in acrylics, it can be a bit overwhelming standing in the paintbrush aisle at the art store, with a vast sea of artist paint brushes spread out before you. The wide selection even makes me dizzy sometimes!

No fear - the Art is Fun Paintbrush Guide is here! This page will tell you everything you need to know in order to select the right paintbrushes to suit your needs.

Paintbrushes for acrylics come in many different shapes and sizes. The shapes and sizes of the brushes you choose to work with will depend mainly on how large you want to work, and how detailed you want to get. Take a look:

Different Kinds of Acrylic Paint Brushes

Different Kinds of Acrylic Paint Brushes

There are 8 main types of artist paint brushes that are used with acrylics, shown above. Each one is specially intended for different uses. Before we get into the particular uses of each paintbrush, let's get a quick low-down of the different parts of the brush:

Get to know your paintbrush

A paintbrush is made of 4 main parts:

Part of a Paint Brush

  • bristles - also known as hairs. can be natural, synthetic, or combination of both
  • ferrule - the silvery bit that connects the bristles with the handle
  • crimp - the part of the ferrule that secures it to the handle
  • handle - usually made of wood or acrylic

Easy enough! So now that you know the lingo, let's find out what each brush is meant for!

Acrylic Paint Brushes

Round Paint Brush

round or pointed tip.

good for: sketching, outlining, detailed work, controlled washes, filling in small areas. creates thin to thick lines - thin at the tip, becoming wider the more its pressed down.. use with thinned paint rather than thick paint.

Pointed Round Paint Brush

narrower than the round paintbrush. has sharply pointed tip.

good for: fine details and lines, delicate areas, spotting and retouching.

Flat Paint Brush

square end, with medium to long hairs.

good for: bold strokes, washes, filling wide spaces, impasto. can use edge for fine lines, straight edges and stripes. long haired flat brushes are ideal for varnishing.

Bright Paint Brush

flat with edges curved inward at tip, with shortish hairs.

good for: short controlled strokes. thick, heavy color. better for working up close rather than holding the brush at a distance from the canvas.

Filbert Paint Brush

flat and oval-shaped end with medium to long hairs.

good for: blending, soft rounded edges like flower petals. this brush is sort of a combination of the rounds (because they can be used for detail) and flat (becuase they can cover more space than round).

Angular Flat (Shader) Paint Brush

flat with angled hairs at end.

good for: curved strokes and filling corners. can reach small areas with tip. also can be used to cover lots of space, similar to flat brushes.

Fan Paint Brush

flat, spread hairs.

good for: natural hairs are good for smoothing, blending, and feathering. synthetic hairs are better for textural effects, clouds, and leaves on trees. for acrylics, use strong and sturdy one, otherwise the hairs will clump when paint is added.

Detail Round Paint Brush

round, hairs shorter in length. shorter handle.

good for: details and short strokes. holds more color than you might think!



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