MAU Art & Design Glossary

Line-drawing Brush



The line-drawing brush (senbyō fude) does precisely what its name suggests: it draws thin lines. Artists can select brushes made from the furs of different animal species or fashioned with different tip shapes depending on the type of lines they want to draw. This array of brush types provides artists with many line expression styles.

Line-drawing brushes are divided into three main types: the sokumyō fude, the sakuyō fude, and the mensō fude. The sokumyō fude, made from high-quality wool and cat fur that allows for rich overtones (fukumi) and paint texture (ori), is good for drawing lines marked by elegance and suppleness. This brush is also effective for applying colors. The sakuyō fude is made from high-quality wool and weasel fur and has a pointed tip, making it a stable and effective brush for drawing both hard lines and soft lines freely. This brush is also effective for applying colors. The mensō fude has an extremely fine tip, making it a good brush for drawing delicate lines and for the occasional application of detailed coloring. This brush comes in many kinds, including the short-tipped rōri mensō, the long-tipped hakuri mensō, the yūmō mensō, and the shiratama mensō. The term mensō (“physiognomy”) relates to the idea that these brush types are designed for drawing the facial expressions of human subjects. When selecting a thin-line-drawing brush, make sure that its tips do not split when you draw circles in a vertical, upright position. For drawing facsimiles or delicate lines, the sakuyō fude and the kai fude are most appropriate.

After you have finished using the brush, thoroughly wash it in cool or lukewarm water and then remove the excess moisture. Next, lay the brush on a dry towel in a well-ventilated place that is not exposed to direct sunlight. When drying, you should not put the brush into a brush stand, nor set the tip upward in a standing position. The moisture may accumulate at the base and cause damage to the brush.
Line-drawing brushes are available for purchase at art supply stores that carry Japanese painting materials and at most general art stores.


  • Line-drawing brushes
  • Making strokes with a line-drawing brushMaking lines with a sokumyō fudeMaking lines with a sokumyō fude
  • Making lines with a mensō fudeMaking lines with a mensō fude
  • Making lines with a sakuyō fudeMaking lines with a sakuyō fude
  • Coloring with a sokumyō fudeColoring with a sokumyō fude
  • The structure of a sakuyō fude