Though the two practices may seem completely disparate, the process of food styling is actually a lot like painting. Both involve excruciating attention to detail and countless hours of trial and error. In order to perfect their pieces, skilled artists in both fields will layer on color and texture. When considering these facts, it makes perfect sense that stylists and painters alike rely on brushes to accomplish their goals.
In both contexts, each individual brush offers something different. A “rigger” with long, thin bristles is going to do a much better job at producing fine lines than the thick, mop-like brushes designed for covering large areas. So long as you have different options to choose from, food styling brushes can accomplish a surprising amount.
Most people realize from personal experience just how difficult it can be to control the flow of syrups, dressings, and other semi-liquid condiments. However, they’re necessities in certain situations – what’s a stack of flapjacks without streams of maple rolling down the edges? Brushing these elements on is a much easier solution than trying to perfectly squeeze them into place. But food styling brushes aren’t exclusively used to apply garnishes and side sauces. In fact, they radically alter the aesthetics of a scene with just a few strokes.
As one might expect, food styling brushes can alter the color of the food in focus. Able to apply a controlled touch of food dye or Kitchen Bouquet, they also provide a degree of separation to prevent hands from getting dirty. If you don’t want to leave those grill marks up to chance, a set of brushes can provide precise results. Color isn’t the only element that a brush can add in. They’re ability to apply texture is also an incredibly valuable asset. For instance, brushing on a little bit of vegetable oil can instantly provide some sheen and up the contrast by grabbing onto nearby highlights.
Last but not least, brushes are perfect for touching up and tying everything in a scene together. A clean brush can sweep away dust, hair, powder, crumbs, or anything else that might be a distraction. What’s more, they can spread out ingredients and fix any physical flaws present on the surface of the food itself.
For such a simple tool, a brush or two can make a huge difference. Especially when used in conjunction with other food styling essentials, it’s one of the single most helpful items an artist can have on hand. The next time you stop at a local craft or beauty supply store, pick up a pack. If you’re skilled enough, it’ll save you hours in post production!