Different Types of Paint Brushes and Their Uses

Have you ever wanted to try your hand at painting but did not know where to get started? Does the seemingly infinite amount of different brushes in the market terrify you?

Well, you can put your mind at ease because in this article we are going to give you a rundown of paintbrushes and their uses.

The paintbrush is like an extension of the painters’ imagination, creating beautiful colors and giving it life. As an artist, the more you use them, the more you fall in love with them. Soon you will understand how to handle them even more effectively. Before you know it, maneuvering a paintbrush would become an instinctive process.

But let us not get ahead of ourselves. After reading this article, you should have a good understanding of the different types of painting brushes and their uses.

Anatomy of a Painting Brush

Before getting into all the variations in a painting brush, we will take a look at the anatomical structure of the tool. A painter brush can be split up into several smaller components, each adding a little more to its quality.


The head of the painter’s brush with the hairs or filaments is known as bristles. They can be made from animal wool or synthetic fibers. Sometimes they come in a combination of both materials.

The tip of the hair is called toe, the middle part is known as the belly, and the bottom part connecting it to the rest of the brush is known as heel.


This part is the metal band connecting the bristle to the handle securely. Ferrules are made from tin, brass, aluminum or copper alloys with a nickel or chrome plating. The part of the bushing clamping the handle is called the crimp.

The ferrule is an integral part of the brush as if it does not fit properly; you will face stability issues.


Lastly, we have the handle of the brush. Materials like wood or bone are widespread in its constructions. The size of the stem varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and is indicated by a number on the handle.

Different Types of Painting Brush and Their Uses

Different Types of Painting Brush and Their Uses

There are many different types of paintbrushes for different styles of painting. Each of them has a specific use and task.

If you are a beginner, it would be helpful to understand how they work and when you should use them. We will discuss the eight main types of paintbrushes that are commonly used to give you an overview of their intents and purposes.

Filbert Brush

A filbert brush has a lot of usage for any painting. It is a flat brush with a rounded chiseled edge. The trimmed corners of the brush give it a crescent shape at the head. It comes in a variety of sizes, so you do not have to worry about the size.

Because of its lovely stroke work, the usability of this type is immense. Moreover, the shape of the brush makes a floating color over round shapes effortless.

The oval shape of the filbert brush makes it a versatile tool. They can hold a lot of water which makes them useful for washes. Additionally, their bristles stay together well, even after being wet.

So, you can use them for smooth blending and stroking. This type of brush is perfect for painting leaves, flowers, figures, etc.

Dressing the filbert brush is easy. Firstly, wet the brush and remove the excess water by blotching on a paper towel. Then, soak it on the paint on one side and blend on the wax to ensure the paint gradually fades before reaching the other side.

Flat Brush

Appropriately named for its wide-set and flat arrangement of bristles, flat brushes come in a variety of sizes. It produces a range of strokes from thin lines to bold ones. They are also used for painting large areas and for blending. Flat brush techniques are useful for creating beautiful mountains or landscapes.

The flat brush can often be confused with a wash brush. But they are not as thick, and the bristles are quite sharp when compared to a wash brush.

Flat brushes give you a lot of coverage, so they are fantastic for broad strokes. The amount of area it covers without taking away much from control is what makes this type of brush so popular.

This type of brush is versatile. The long bristles can lay down color patches smoothly and can make long bold strokes without much trouble. Their edge provides you with the ability to make thin crisp lines. Flat brushes leave a distinctive square edge while using.

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Round Brush

Next up we have the round brushes. They are excellent for a bunch of techniques including thick to thin lines, washes, and fills. With a round brush, it is effortless to get variations in line width. Apart from the standard round brush, you can also find pointed-round and detail-round to reach a wider variety of effects.

This type of brush is usually smaller than flat or angled brushes and come with a soft edge rounded at the corners. They are designed to give you maximum control so that you can focus on different details in your painting. The narrow handle design gives you a familiar feeling of using a pen.

When you are adding details and need more control, you can whip out one of these brushes. You get full control of the flow and the size of your paint. Try experimenting with both wet and dry round brushes to find unique effects when painting.

Rigger Brush

The rigger brush is also sometimes referred to as a liner brush. It is used for intricate outlining and detailing. Due to the fine tip, this is an excellent brush for lettering too. They can hold a good amount of paint despite being so little. You can create both smooth, continuous strokes and many short, fine detailed strokes.

Rigger brushes come with long sharp bristles. The detail is the main focus of this type of brush. A large paint holding capacity allows you to make smooth and continuous strokes without reinserting paint every few seconds. They are fantastic for creating fine lines.

The use of this type of brush is also widespread in calligraphy. Because of the small tip, you can use it to write letters or numbers. Many artists use this type of brush when putting in their signature. Dipping the tip of this brush into water before applying the paint can make the flow smoother.

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Angled brush

The angled brush or sometimes called sword brush is a variation of the flat brush. It got its name because of the angled bristles. The clean-cut edges in this type of brush make precise stroke and coloring in tight spots easy. They also work well for curves.

This type of brush is quite similar to the rigger or liner brush. What sets the two apart is the steeply angled tip of the angled brush compared to the pointed tip of the liner. It is also known as a striper brush.

The lines you draw with this brush can be extremely thin when you use the tip. You can also hold the brush at an angle to draw a fuller line by touching more of its hair on the surface.

As you might have guessed, this type of brush works great in calligraphy also. There are several techniques to using this brush-like, rotating it while you move your hand or lowering or raising it. Other than that, you can use this for drawing intricate details like tree branches.

Bright Brush

This type of brushes is quite similar in style to flat brushes, but their bristles are shorter. It allows them to be more controllable and is suitable for smaller and precise strokes.

They are commonly used for blending on a smaller scale, laying on the paint nice and thick. You can subtly switch back and forth from thin to thick strokes because of its high control.

Similar to the flat brush, the bright brush also makes square edge marks on the paper. It can be used with heavy paint since it can hold a good amount. They are not suited for layering wet-in-wet.

Because of the short and stiff bristles, bright brush removes the underlayer rather than adding to the paint.

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Fan Brush

As you may have guessed from the name, fan brushes come with a fan-shaped tip. The fanned-out bristles of the fan brush are perfect for soft blending and smoothing without harsh lines.

They are capable of creating beautiful textures that make them an ideal choice for creating realistic grass and trees. That is why; this brush is mostly associated with creating natural landscape elements.

You can experiment with this brush in many ways. Tapping the brush on the surface gives you a different texture compared to when you make brush strokes. Switching up your style to get different effects has always been a part of a painting. These brushes are versatile when it comes to creating these abstract and unique effects.

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Mop Brush

This type of brush is used mostly for adding colors over large areas and for softening harsh edges as well. You can also use it to remove excess water from your project. A fun way of using it is by dabbing a mop brush in some paint and twirling it to create perfect circles.

Mop brushes are thick with round brushes that can either be pointed or oval in shape. They can create large organic figures adding a different dimension to your painting. You can use them from different angles and varying levels of pressure to create a wash of color that delicately shifts from being broad to a finer form.

Other Brushes Worth Noting

The brushes mentioned above are the ones that are most commonly used by the artists. However, some brushes still deserve mention in our list though they are not very common.


This type of brush is quite similar to some watercolor brushes. They come with a thick wooden or metal handle. The thick, soft hair of the brush transforms into a fine tip when wet. This type of brush is used in Asian ink wash painting.


Another Asian style brush, the Hake brush comes with a large wooden handle. The handle is quite broad in this type of brushes. It comes with an extremely fine and soft hair tip that can cover a large surface. The bristles are commonly made from goat hair.


They are the same as round brushes but come with just a few short bristles. They are commonly used to retouch old photographs or any great detail yet delicate work.

Water Brush

This brush is a blend of a brush and a fountain pen. With a brush head on top and a handle that works as a reservoir for water, this is a pretty useful tool for artists. The two parts can be removed easily. While you use the brush, a constant trickle of water keeps the bristle wet.


This brush comes with short, tightly packed bristles. Available in various sizes, these types of brushes are specially designed for stenciling. The flat hair-wrapped top of the brush allows you to dab and swirl the paint over the stencil without worrying about the paint seeping underneath.

Final Thoughts

Finding the perfect paintbrush for your next art project takes time and research. It can be challenging to know which brush will give you the correct effect that you want. This idea comes with time as you gain more experience and gradually tap into your inner creative genius.

This article should serve as a useful guide if you do not know where to get started with choosing the correct brush. Needless to say, you will not get it right the first few times. This whole process is filled with trials and errors. So, take things slow, do not give up, and most importantly, keep on painting.


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