How to Choose the Right Brush for Your Masterpiece

By Courtnie Packer
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When you paint a masterpiece, the brush you choose can make all the difference. Whether you are using a physical paintbrush or digital painting software, not all paintbrushes are alike. It is important to select the right brush to help you create the look and feel that you desire.

An artist's paintbrush is comprised of four parts: bristles, ferrule, crimp and handle. The bristles are the hair on the brush, the ferrule is the area on the paintbrush between the bristles and handle, the crimp holds the bristles in place, and the handle is the area of the paintbrush the artist holds. The size and shape of the bristles are what really make a difference in what each type of paintbrush does. A wide, flat brush is designed for painting large areas, while a small, tapered brush is able to get tight spaces, such as corners.

Below is a look at the most widely used types of paintbrushes and a description of how to best use each particular brush type.

Flat

The bristles on this type of paintbrush are square and flat. This brush is used for painting over large areas. You will often see this brush with bristles that are long or medium-length. Many artists will also use a flat brush to help blend colors on a painting or to create very bold strokes.

Bright

A bright paintbrush is very similar to a flat paintbrush. The difference is that its edges curve inward and the width of the brush shape is equal to its length. This type of brush is also excellent for covering wide areas and blending colors. Many artists find that a bright brush is easier to use than a typical flat brush.

Filbert

A filbert brush is the opposite of a bright brush. This type of paintbrush is part of the flat brush family, but its tip curves outward and then forms a small point at the end of the brush. This brush has many different uses and is ideal for painting large areas or creating lines and detail. The versatility of a filbert brush depends largely upon how the artist holds the paintbrush and uses it.

Angular Flat

An angular flat brush is just as the name suggests – the bristles are flat and angled because they taper from longer to shorter from one side to the other. The flat shape of the brush, once again, allows you to paint large areas, while the angled tip allows you to paint small corners and details. This brush is also ideal if you are making many circular shapes in your painting.

Fan

A brush that has a thin, spread-out layer of bristles is known as a fan brush. This type of brush is used to create specific details in a painting, such as shading and feathering colors. It is also an excellent tool for blending colors together on a painting. Fan brushes are frequently used to paint trees, clouds and grass.

Mop

A mop brush is used for all different painting media, including watercolors, oils and acrylics. This brush is thick and large, and it allows you to place a large amount of paint on your canvas. It is also an ideal brush for blending oil paints together.

Round

A round paintbrush has a round and pointed tip. Many artists choose this brush if they are creating thick or thin lines. This brush is primarily used for small and tight spaces and to add detail to paintings. It is also used to fill in areas of a painting that are small and need to be precisely detailed.

Pointed Round

A pointed round brush is very similar to a round paintbrush. The only physical difference between the two is that a pointed round paintbrush has a much more sharp and narrow tip. This brush is used for filling in fine details, lines and retouching areas of the painting. A pointed round brush is a widely used brush for watercolors.

Detail Round

A detail round brush has some of the shortest bristles of the round brush family. Its smaller tip provides much control and usability for artists. It is the ideal brush for writing text, such as a signature on the painting, or filling in small and thin lines.

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