Fine Art Brush Tips: Paint Brush Size

Sizes are labeled on the handle, along with line and company
Understanding brush sizing is difficult because the sizing is different for each country depending on the materials available, the standards of those regions and sometimes the individual company creating the brush.  Not to mention, sizes change according to brush types, hairs and mediums.

However, the basic thing to keep in mind is understanding how sizes are created.  Brush families are built in sizes, based on the medium usually, ranging from zero sizes up to the mid-20s or 30s.  So, the length of the tuft, size of the ferrule increase with each step up in number. 
Mongolian Sable Round family in 3 sizes
In the U.S., the standards for oil painting brushes are based on two sizing types, either "Bristle sizing" or "Sable sizing".  Bristle sizes are larger than sable.  For example, the Black Gold 1526 B/F is Bristle size and a size 6 is approximately 1/2" wide.  Interboro, for example ranges from size 0 to size 24, the latter being 2" wide.  Whereas a Black Gold 2206 is Sable size, and a size 6 is 1/4" wide.  The sable sizes go from 0 to 20, which is 7/8" wide. 

Watercolor brushes with Dynasty go from 20/0 to 36!  A nice fat jumbo round as in the Black Gold 206 round series.   Dynasty has been using this sizing system for 83 years.

In Europe, the brush companies use a different standard,  where a size #24 is close to the U.S. size 12.  Asia has other standards and sizing altogether.  

According to our Vice President, Jeff Mink, "It's important to consider the actual size of the brush, not just the size imprinted on the handle."  If you're shopping for brush sizes recommended by another artist, especially if you're unable to see the brushes in person, ask for the diameters or widths of the ferrule so you can find a similar size.

Keep Painting,

For more brush information, check out the Dynasty Brush website.