If you're just starting out, it can be challenging picking out paintbrushes, if not outright overwhelming! But fear not! Once you’ve started to paint regularly, you will begin to gain a familiarity with the types of brushes that work best for the type of mood or effect you are trying to create. You will see that some brushes work better for detail work, while others work better for applying paint to a much larger area of the canvas.
Just remember - each brush gives you a slightly different way to add color, lines and texture. You can paint the same artwork with two different types of brushes and get two paintings that achieve completely different effects!
With that in mind, here are the 8 main types of brushes artists use with acrylic paint:
BRUSH #1: Round or Pointed Tip
Brushes with round or pointed tips are used in a wide range of different ways – everything from sketching and outlining to detailed painting and filling in small areas. They can also be used to create thin or thick lines, depending on the effect you are trying to achieve.
BRUSH #2: Pointed Round
This type of brush is narrower than the round brush, with a sharp tip. Since the physical brush area is smaller, it’s easier to use for fine details, narrow lines and real delicate areas. At the end of the painting process, it can also be used for spotting and touching up.
BRUSH #3: Flat
These flat brushes have a square-shaped end with medium to long hair. The square end makes this brush perfect for applying bold strokes and filling wide spaces. With a single stroke, you can fill in a large area of the canvas.
BRUSH #4: Bright
These brushes are flat with edges curved inward at the tip, so they are perfect for using in short, controlled strokes. And, they are also useful for applying thick, heavy color.
BRUSH #5: Filbert
These brushes, which have a flat and oval-shaped end with medium to long hair, are used for blending colors together and creating soft rounded edges. They can also be used for details.
BRUSH #6: Fan
The fan brush is flat with spread hairs. Given its flat surface area, it’s useful for smoothing, blending and feathering. Think of it literally as a “fan” that you are moving across the surface of the canvas.
BRUSH #7: Angular Flat
These flat brushes with angled hair at the end are used for curved strokes and filling corners.
BRUSH #8: Detailed Round
These brushes are round, with hairs that are shorter in length. The shorter hair length makes it easier to use for details and short strokes because you can control much better the way the paint is applied to the canvas.
With just these basic guidelines, you’ll be able to pick out the best type of brush for your new artwork. And, if the process of picking out a paintbrush still seems confusing, your local art store will usually be able to provide a pamphlet with a description of each brush’s function, together with a photo. Sometimes these pamphlets are hanging directly in the paintbrush aisle, making it much easier to compare visually the type of brush that you need.
Just experiment and the more you use your brushes, the more familiar they will become. And, just because a brush is typically used in a certain way, it doesn’t mean you have to use it in that way. Some rules are made to be broken, just ask any of the great artists! The bottom line is… HAVE FUN!!!