Brush Shape Differences

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Paintbrushes are available in a wide variety of shapes. Selecting a brush shape that is suitable for your media, style, and scale can help you more easily achieve your artistic goals. Whether you’re adding intricate details and textures or laying in large areas of water or color, our comprehensive guide will help you select the right brush shape for any painting project. To learn more about brushes, visit Brush Fiber Differences and How to Measure a Brush.

  • Angular brush

    ANGULAR

    Media: watercolor, acrylic, decorative

    Fiber/Hair Type: bristle, sable, synthetic

    Description and Usage: Flat ferrule, short length fibers or hairs that are longer at one end. Useful for precise strokes, and for lines and curves, with thick or heavy color.

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  • Bright Brush

    BRIGHT

    Media: oil, acrylic, decorative

    Fiber/Hair Type: bristle, sable, synthetic

    Description and Usage: Flat ferrule, short-length fibers or hairs. Useful for short, controlled strokes, and with thick or heavy color.

  • Dagger/Striper Brush

    DAGGER/STRIPER

    Media: watercolor, acrylic, decorative

    Fiber/Hair Type: squirrel, synthetic

    Description and Usage: Flat ferrule, long angled bristle with a sharp point. Useful for creating long, precise, linear strokes with single or multiple colors.

  • Fan Brush

    FAN

    Media: oil, acrylic, decorative

    Fiber/Hair Type: badger, bristle, sable, synthetic

    Description and Usage: Flat ferrule, spread fibers or hairs. Absorbent natural hairs are more suitable for soft blending because the hairs hold together when wet, and synthetic works well for textural effects. Useful for smoothing and blending, special effects, and textures.

  • Filbert Brush

    FILBERT

    Media: oil, acrylic, decorative

    Fiber/Hair Type: bristle, sable, synthetic

    Description and Usage: Thick, flat ferrule and oval-shaped medium to long fibers or hairs. Natural hair is more suitable for blending because it holds together when wet. With its soft rounded edges, the filbert is suitable for blending and figurative work.

  • Flat Brush

    FLAT

    Media: all

    Fiber/Hair Type: bristle, sable, synthetic

    Description and Usage: Flat ferrule, square-ended, with medium to long fibers or hairs. Large color-carrying capacity and easy maneuverability. Useful for bold, sweeping strokes, or on edge for fine lines. Use heavier filling for heavier paint.

  • Flat Wash Brush

    FLAT/SQUARE WASH

    Media: watercolor

    Fiber/Hair Type: squirrel, sable, synthetic

    Description and Usage: Flat ferrule, square-ended medium to long fibers or hairs. Ideal for laying in large areas of water or color, wetting the surface, and absorbing excess media.

  • Hake Brush

    HAKE

    Media: watercolor, ceramic glazes, varnish

    Fiber/Hair Type: goat, sheep

    Description and Usage: A hake brush is a wash brush on a long flat handle. Useful for laying in large areas of water or color, wetting the surface, and absorbing excess media.

  • Highliner/Outliner Brush

    HIGHLINER/OUTLINER

    Media: ink, sign paint

    Fiber/Hair Type: ox, sable, squirrel, synthetic

    Description and Usage: Round ferrule, square-ended brush, with extra-long fibers or hairs. Large color-carrying capacity. Useful for delicate lettering, outlining, and long continuous strokes.

  • Mop Brush

    MOP

    Media: fluid acrylics, inks, watercolor

    Fiber/Hair Type: goat, squirrel, synthetic

    Description and Usage: A mop is a round, full version of the wash brush, made of soft, absorbent natural hair or synthetic fiber. Useful for laying in large areas of water or color, for wetting the surface, and for absorbing excess media.

  • Mottler/Spalter Brush

    MOTTLER/SPALTER

    Media: watercolor, acrylic, oil, gesso, varnish

    Fiber/Hair Type: bristle, squirrel, pony, badger, synthetic

    Description and Usage: Mottlers and Spalters are large, flat brushes with long or short bristles. Available in both natural hair and synthetic fibers, these brushes are useful for faux finishing techniques, murals, washes, varnishing, and priming. These brushes hold a large amount of paint and cover large surfaces.

  • One Stroke Brush

    ONE STROKE

    Media: oil, ink, decorative, sign paint

    Fiber/Hair Type: sable, squirrel, ox, synthetic

    Description and Usage: Flat ferrule, square-ended medium to long fibers or hairs. Large color-carrying capacity. Useful for painting block letters in a single stroke.

  • Oval Wash/Cat's Tongue Brush

    OVAL WASH/CAT’S TONGUE

    Media: watercolor

    Fiber/Hair Type: squirrel, ox, bristle, synthetic

    Description and Usage: Wash brushes come in a variety of shapes. The oval wash has rounded fibers or hairs, flat ferrules, and produces a soft edge. Useful for laying in large areas of water or color, wetting the surface, and absorbing excess media.

  • Quill Brush

    QUILL

    Media: watercolor, ink, sign paint

    Fiber/Hair Type: sable, squirrel, synthetic

    Description and Usage: Combines the advantages of an elongated point with a large mid-section for extra color capacity, perfect for large watercolor washes. The head and handle are hand-tied with brass wires onto a natural wood handle.

  • Round Brush

    ROUND

    Media: all

    Fiber/Hair Type: all hair, synthetic

    Description and Usage: Round ferrule, round or pointed tip. Useful for details, washes, fills, and thin to thick lines. A pointed round is used for fine detail. A detailer is a pointed round with very short fibers.

  • Script/Liner Brush

    SCRIPT/LINER

    Media: watercolor, decorative, ink, sign paint

    Fiber/Hair Type: sable, ox, synthetic

    Description and Usage: Script brushes are narrow, pointed brushes with very long fibers or hairs while liners are typically shorter and narrower. Both have round ferrules and boast a large color-carrying capacity, useful for delicate lettering, highlighting, outlining, and long, continuous strokes.