Jun 27

The Different Kinds and Types of Paintbrushes and How They Are Used

The paintbrush is one of the artist’s most important tools in getting paint from the palette to the canvas. However, while they might look the same at first glance, there are many different types designed for different applications. Knowing the right kind of paintbrush to use for your project will allow you to apply the paint much more quickly and smoothly.

Flagged and Sized Brushes
Paint brushes come in different shapes and sizes, and can be clumped together as well as spread out. These types of brushes that have their bristles spread out are called “flagged” brushes, which used mostly for latex work, and rarely for anything else.

Types of Paintbrushes
Paintbrush bristles come in different shapes to achieve different purposes in spreading paint, whether it’s sketching, adding fine details, broad strokes, or even texturing:
• Round brush – Used primarily for sketching, outlining, and detailing. Best used with thinned or reduced paint.

• Pointed round – Slightly narrower than the round brush, but with a sharply pointed tip. Primarily used in adding finer details, lines, and other delicate areas as well as retouching.

• Detail round – Round, hairs shorter in length than other round brushes. While best used for details and short strokes, the bristles can hold a good amount of color for their length.

• Flat – Square end, with medium to long hairs. Good for bold strokes and wide spaces, but can also be used for straight edges, stripes, and fine straight lines.

• Angular flat – Also called a shader brush, this flat brush has hairs angled at one end to allow for curved strokes, painting corners, and covering a lot of space.

• Bright – Short, flat hairs with edges curved inward at the tip. This brush is ideal for quick strokes that are short and controlled and working up close rather than at a distance from the canvas.

• Filbert – Flat, oval-shaped with bristle length ranging from medium to long. Best for blending and creating soft, round edges.

• Fan – Brush with flat, spread out hairs good for smoothing, combining paint on the canvas, and texturing, but can easily clump if the bristles aren’t strong enough.

Natural vs Synthetic
Aside from having different shapes and bristle sizes, these brushes can also either be made of natural hair or synthetic.

Natural brushes have bristles cut from Chinese hogs or badgers, as well as sable or camel hair. These make them more expensive, and they are mostly used in fine arts projects or in highly specialized jobs. In paintings, they are usually reserved for oils.

Meanwhile, synthetic brushes are usually made from polyester or nylon, which are much rougher than natural hair brushes, and are often used best with water-based emulsion paints, such as acrylic and watercolor.

(Disclaimer: This list is compiled in no particular order.)

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