How to Hold a Tracing Brush

Video demonstration

At best we’re used to hard-nosed pens and pencils. At worst we always use a keyboard or a touch-screen on our smart-phone. That’s why I owe you this reminder about how to hold your tracing brush. You’ll also find a very helpful video, so you see exactly what I mean.

Loading vs. tracing

First up, how you hold it depends on what you want to do with it.

Today let’s focus on how to hold it when you load and shape it, and how to hold it when you paint with it.


When you load it, you hold it quite high up its shaft:

When you load your tracing brush, you hold it near its end

When you load your tracing brush, you hold it near its end

The reason is, high up it’s easier to swirl and twirl it in large circles whose diameter stretches across the width of your palette.

And these large circles are exactly what you need to keep your all paint well mixed.

Because it’s only when your paint’s well mixed that you have the control you need to make whatever kind of tracing lines are called for.

But, once your brush is loaded, it’s very different when you trace with it.


Now of course you hold it much closer to the brush’s tip:

When you paint with it, you hold it near its tip

When you paint with it, you hold it near its tip

The reason is, this gives you the close-up control you need over where the tip goes.

You’re partly limited by the height of your bridge. This means it will be different for you from what it is for me.

All the same, you’ll see how being closer to the brush’s tip will narrow down the area where the brush can go, and this is very useful.

Now I know most people would probably trace with their grip as close to the hairs and ferrule as their bridge allows.

The reason is, that’s how we hold a pen or pencil. It’s second nature.

So that’s all fine.

The problem here is that most people forget to change their position when they come to load their brush and mix their paint.

And the costs can be severe.

Because it means it’s far more difficult to mix their reservoir of paint.

Which is why I mention this point again and again.

Because if you don’t have a good, large well-mixed reservoir of paint on your palette, you’ll soon run into trouble.

So next time you trace just do make sure you’re aware of changing the position of your grip when you load and mix (on the one hand) and trace (on the other).

Here, have a look at this.

First you see me mixing glass paint and loading up my brush – check out where I’m holding it. Not near the tip, that’s for sure.

Then I change position and test and start to trace.

Turn on your volume and hit the Play button.

Watch now

It helps to watch. Find our documentaries right here.

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