To paint Ophelia, Millais would have used a small transportable three-legged easel on which to rest his painting. He would have sat on a stool and probably attached his umbrella into his shirt to protect him from the varied British weather. Because his work was so detailed he would have used some very small and fine brushes. He would have painted on to a canvas with oil paints and used a porcelain palette to mix his paint.

Millais used two types of easels. The smaller portable one, that he used outside, looks like a tripod when erect. Millais used a larger easel to work on in his studio. It was designed for large paintings and is used today in the Tate Painting Conservation Studios (see below).

John Everett Millais's easel

John Everett Millais’s easel

© Tate, London 2003

Millais's inscription on his easel

Millais’s inscription on his easel

© Tate, London 2003

Artists’ brushes can be made from a variety of animals’ hair. Hard brushes were usually made from pigs’ hair and soft brushes from squirrels’ tails.