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All Ye Artists! Types of Paintbrushes and Their Myriad Uses

Types of Paintbrushes and Their Uses
Planning to take up an art class? You better get acquainted with the types of brushes that are needed to get you started. Take a look at the brushes mentioned in this ArtHearty post, to gain insight on the types and their respective uses.
Cheryl Mascarenhas
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
Oil and water don't mix...
Most brushes can be used with any media, but once a brush has been used for oil painting, and cleaned with solvents that remove oil paints, it can no longer be used with acrylics or watercolors.
Considered to be an artist's weapon, the paintbrush is an essential part of art classes. Let's just call it the artist's pen, for he uses it to convey his innermost feelings. An artist for that matter, needs a variety of brushes to bring his/her canvas to life. And how many brushes can he possibly use? Basically, there are eight main types of brushes that are used widely by artists.

These brushes come in different sizes and yes, of course, in two different bristle types. While the natural bristles brushes are best suited for oil-based colors, synthetic brushes can be used for both the water and oil-based paints. Depending on the shape of the bristles, brushes are used for different purposes. In addition to that, these brushes are available in different sizes ranging from 0 - 10, which gives you a variety of brushes and strokes to experiment with.
Flat Brush
The ferrule or bracelet holding the bristles of this brush is flat, thus making the bristles spread out uniformly in a rectangular shape. The bristles of this brush are flattened and trimmed straight across, giving it an almost flat shape. Longer haired flats hold more paint and are known as 'one stroke' brushes. Flats can be used for practically any medium of painting.

Flats are used for washes, shading, and blending. They are used to lay down wide horizontal strokes, like when painting skies, landscapes etc., and also to create a smooth blend between two or more colors. You can use them while applying a base coat, floating, stroke work, blending, washes, and varnishing.
Bright Brush
The bright brush resembles the flat brush, as both have a flat ferrule. The only differentiating factor is the length of the hair of these brushes; while flats have longer bristles, brights have relatively shorter bristles. They do not hold as much color as the wash brushes. Bright brushes are ideal for oil, acrylic, and decorative mediums.

Brights are specifically used for blending paint, and also to salvage messy pictures. Besides, brights are also used for short, controlled strokes, popularly known as dabbing. The short bristles are also good for dry brushing or creating scratchy strokes.
Filbert Brush
The filbert brush has a thick flat ferrule which contains chiseled round edged bristles. Like the flat, it can hold a fair amount of water, making it a perfect choice for washes. The hair holds together when wet, making it suitable for blending and stroking. Best used for acrylic, oil, and decorative mediums.

Best used to fill rounded areas and create rounded strokes for flowers and leaves. It is also used for blending and figurative work. You can also use it to create shades and highlights.
Angular Brush
Another from the flat family, the angular brush has a flat ferrule containing bristles that are cut at an angle. It is set with short-length hair at one end and longer ones at the other end. Angular brushes are used on a large-scale with watercolors, acrylic, and decorative mediums.

Angular brushes are the perfect pick for precise strokes, lines, and curves. They can be used to float or create ruffled petals and leaves. Best used for some tight shading and highlighting.
Fan Brush
A short flat ferrule fans out the hair of the brush. Used specifically with oil and acrylic paints, the fan brush is excellent for blending and creating textures. Fan brushes can be used both wet and dry to gently blend in colors.

Stiff bristles fan brushes are used to create textured effects, especially for stipple trees and foliage. Useful to lightly drag paint across the painting.
Round Brush
Unlike the previously mentioned brushes, round brushes are characterized by a round ferrule. Hair tips are either rounded or have a pointed tip. They come in variety of sizes and are widely used to master brush control.

Round brushes are perfect for detailing, washes, filling, and creating strokes. You can use them to create broad lines and fill seemingly small areas with ease.
Mop Brush
Another from the round family, the mop brush is made of soft absorbent fiber, making it perfect for laying in large areas of color. Don't confuse yourself with a makeup brush that can look exactly like a mop brush.

The soft bristles are perfect for blurring, softening a hard edge, and blending. It can also be used to absorb extra paint/water from the canvas.
Liner Brush
Call it the high-liner or outliner, the liner brush is used to define features. It has a round ferrule and long or short hair, making it perfect for lettering. Apart from oil, water, and acrylic paints, you can use it with ink to sign off the painting.

The pointed bristles allow thin even strokes, making it perfect for detailing, lettering, and delicate continuous strokes.
1. Filbert | 2. Angular Filbert | 3. Deerfoot Stippler | 4. Wave Brush | 5. Round Liner
6. Dagger Striper | 7. Mop | 8. Angular Flat | 9. Round | 10. Fandango
Deerfoot Stippler
It has a round ferrule and flat, oval-edged bristles. It appears like a deer's foot, hence getting the name. It is best used to create foliage and fur.

Wave Brush
The wave brush is essentially a layered tip brush that comes in different ferrule types. These are good to create strokes in flowers, birds, and foliage.

Dagger Striper
Imagine a filbert with an angular cut, that exactly is a dagger striper. Good to detail petals, stripes on animals, and foliage.

As weird as its name sounds, the fandango is made up of fine hair, very much like the mop brush. The result, you get beautiful stokes made up of fine lines, thus bringing your picture to life.
As a novice, you should keep the basic brushes close at hand. The basic brushes include a few round brushes and flat brushes in different numbers. As you get the hang of painting, you can experiment with the different types of paintbrushes enlisted here. Do remember to invest in good quality brushes to enhance your painting experience.