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Luxartis riggers in detail

The rigger has a longer than usual tuft that doesn't belly out in a teardrop shape.

Longer hair increases capacity, so you can paint more before recharging. The narrow form lends itself to maintaining even stroke width.

Put those features together, and you have the ideal tool for painting lines especially tree branches and boat rigging. That is in fact how these brushes got their name – they became popular for painting rigging in the days of sailing ships.

Also known as liner brushes (nothing to do with ocean liners!) their uses are not limited to what is now a niche subject. Lines are everywhere in the natural and man-made worlds.

A good round-pointed brush will paint fine lines, but the width tends to be more sensitive to pressure than a rigger. Smaller rounds also don't carry enough paint for long continuous lines.

To help you decide which Luxartis sizes you need, we present detailed dimensions and stroke samples.

Brush dimensions

These are hand-made products so will vary slightly. All sizes in millimetres and refer to the wet state.

Luxartis rigger heads close-up shot
Left to right: Luxartis riggers #2/0 (00), #1, #3 and #5 against 10mm/2mm squared background
Size Tuft length Width Overall length
#2/0 15 1 175
#118 1.5 185
#322 2.5 195
#526 3.5 200

Stroke widths

Although a rigger doesn't have a fat belly, it does have a distinct point. Light pressure uses the point alone to make fine lines. Increasing pressure uses more of the tuft to broaden the stroke. When most of the tuft is in contact with the paper, a little more pressure makes it spread slightly.

In this way, you can generate a variety of line widths with each size.

Note that pressing a brush hard enough to force the hairs to splay sharply from the ferrule could damage it.

Pushing a brush towards its width limit has drawbacks. Firstly, it will run out of paint quicker. Secondly, at the start and end of the stroke, you can't avoid a taper. Wide stokes always have this, but it's more pronounced when, for a given line width, a smaller brush is working harder than a large one. And lastly, there is more chance of a puddle of wash to deal with inside the end of the stroke where you lift the brush off.

Some of these difficulties can be avoided or remedied with practice or masking fluid.

The image below strokes from Luxartis riggers using dilute watercolour on smooth dry paper. Painting on very damp paper will spread the lines. The large squares are 1cm and the small ones are 2mm.

Luxartis rigger stroke samples
Luxartis rigger stroke sample on dry 10mm/2mm
squared paper

At their thinnest, the small brushes go down to about 0.25mm – 0.3mm line width, with the larger ones only a little wider at 0.4 – 0.6mm.

The thickest stroke is approximately 8mm for the #5, 6mm for the #3, 4mm for the #1 and 3mm for the #2/0 (00).

Bigger brushes are clearly more versatile. The smaller ones give an extra degree of delicacy and don't drink up a lot of paint like the larger ones.

Other uses and alternatives

Medium-size riggers are often recommended for detailed figurative shapes built from lines, such as calligraphy and, for example, small human figures in a scene. Tight curves are tricky, though.

If you want short, straight lines such as architectural details, the rigger is usable but a flat brush is also effective because a single dab produces the line.

Choosing rigger sizes

If you don't want all four sizes, which should you go for? This is a general guide based on the Luxartis riggers. The scale and style of your work may suggest changes.

One rigger only

Mainly thick lines#5
General-purpose, biased towards
finer lines/smaller work
Only fine lines / smaller work#00 or #1

Two riggers

Small-scale work#3 and 2/0
Medium to larger scale#5 and #1

Owning just two adjacent sizes is not a good choice unless you want to concentrate on a limited range of line widths. For general use, it is best to skip a size between the two.

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