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Choosing the Right Paint Brush

Just like any craft, painting often requires specific tools, and knowing which tool to use for what purpose is a fast path to creating the results you are envisioning in your head. Let's look at paint brushes. Learning a few simple premises will help you make the brush decisions you need for every step in your creative process.

Flat Brushes
Flat brushes are squared off at the tip and the bristles are straight from the crimp of the brush (where the metal holds the bristles) to the tip of the bristles. The bristles can be longer than the width of the brush tip. These brushes are good for covering larger areas, blending, and creating strait edges.

Angular Flat Brushes
Angular flat brushes are flat brushes that are sharply angled across the brush tip. These brushes are good for smooth, curved strokes and filling in corners. The angled tip can reach into small places, and like flat brushes, they can fill a lot of space.

Bright Brushes
Bright brushes are also squared off across the top of the bristles, but the bristles curve inward from the crimp to the brush tip. Bright brushes are excellent for control and precision, coverage, and blending. It's best to work closer to the canvas when using bright brushes, rather than standing further away.

Filbert Brushes
Filberts are curved across the tip of the brush, and the bristles are straight from the crimp to the brush tip. The peak of the curve often comes to a small point for better control. Filbert brushes are good for creating soft, round edges, and can be a nice balance between achieving detail and giving coverage, since they cover more space than a round brush. You can also use filbert brushes for blending.

Round Brushes
Round brushes are typically long a narrow with a round or pointed tip, and the bristles are straight from the crimp to the brush tip. Round brushes are great for sketching and outlining, filling in small spaces, and detail work. You can vary the thickness of the line you create with these brushes by the amount of pressure you put on the brush: less pressure creates a thinner line, and more pressure creates a thicker line.

Pointed Round Brushes
Pointed rounds are narrower than round brushes, and are much more sharply pointed. These brushes are for detail and finishing work, spot work and retouching. These brushes can hold more paint than you would think because they usually have a long reserve (longer bristles mean more paint can be held in the brush, thus more reserve).

Detail Round Brushes
Detail rounds have a small tip that is narrow and pointed. They are for very fine work, small spaces, and line work. They will often have a shorter handle for better control and precision, and make the artist work much closer to the canvas.

Fan Brushes
Fan brushes are very flat with a spread of bristles in the shape of a fan. Fan brushes are primarily used for shading, blending, blurring, and glazing. If you are using a fan brush with acrylics, use a very good quality, strong brush; acrylics can often make fan brush bristles clump together.