Portrait Painting for Dummies

The Tools of your Trade: Hogs Hair Brushes

When using oil and acrylic then hog hair brushes are a good choice. They are naturally stiff and each bristle is split into two or three at the tip and these are called flags allowing the brush to hold on to more paint and apply it evenly. These brushes are the workhorse of the oil painter. The ultimate hard brush is made from the hairs on the back of a pig (hog), which are strong yet springy. The bristles have natural split-ends (flags), which increases the amount of paint they hold. They are good for loading with a lot of paint and painting impasto style. They age well, becoming softer and more responsive with use.

  • Best Hog has the stiffest hair, plenty of flags allowing it to carry more colour, and extremely resilient so that the brush keeps its working edge and shape for longer. Winsor & Newton Artists’ Oil Brush is the highest quality hog brush.
  • Better Hog has hair that is a little softer than best hog and will not wear quite as well.
  • Good Hog is even softer. This type of brush will not maintain its shape well.
  • Poor Quality Hog is soft, weak and tends to splay which makes controlling the colour difficult.