Finding the Right Artist’s Paint Brush for You


The artist paint brush you need will depend on the paint you will use and the details of your subject. Acrylic and oils need brushes that can hold a lot of paint. For watercolor, brushes don’t need to hold a lot of paint because the subject has to be painted lightly.

Brushes can be classified in three ways; materials, sizes and shapes.



There are two types of materials from which the brush is made of, natural and synthetic. Natural paint brushes are made from one of the following materials: sable, hog, camel, squirrel ox, goat or pony hair. Synthetic brushes are made of nylon or polyester. Some brushes have both natural and synthetic bristles or hair.



Paint brushes have numbers indicating the size. There is no universal standard for such numbers however, and the sizes may vary among different brands.



The shape of the brushes make it easier to paint details of your subject. Some brushes were made to hold more paint while others are for placing precise details that can’t be achieved by other brushes. There are a lot of lists of paint brushes but they can be classified into seven categories. The following is the list of the seven most common shapes.


  • Round may have a pointed or round tip ideal for painting details and lines. The rounded tip is for thick strokes while the pointed tip is used for delicate strokes. Liner is a type of round, narrow brush which has longer hairs to carry more paint.


  • Flat can hold a lot of paint and is used for bold and fine lines. It has a square end. One type, wash, is used for painting in large areas. It can absorb a lot paint.


  • Fan is a flat brush that is used for effects like washes, feathering and blending.


  • Filbert is a flat brush that has a rounded edge ideal for painting leaves and soft edges. The dagger brush for example tapers to one side.

  • Bright is a flat brush with shorter hairs ideal for strokes that need a lot of color.


  • Slanted is a brush with hairs that are angled. It makes for great control when painting thin lines. One type is the angled brush which can hold less paint and is perfect for shading.


  • Mop is a type of round brush that has a thin tip used for painting in large areas. Example is the hake used for painting on large surfaces.


  • Others like the bamboo brush is used mostly for watercolors and calligraphy. Stippler may be flat or round and is used dry for stippling (painting dots). Stencil brush is used for dry stencils. The palette knife is used for scraping and applying paint like brushes. Toothbrushes are also used for effects. House painting brushes are used to apply paint quickly on a large surface.

Knowing which brush to use will make your work easier, but achieving a satisfying painting ultimately comes down to the execution of the work.

Leave a Reply