Do you know the difference between all the different kinds of paint brushes that an artist can use to make a painting? Students ask all the time what sort of brush they should be using, so here’s a simplified breakdown. 

First off, a basic distinguishing characteristic between brushes are handle length. Long handled brushes are those used for oil painting and acrylics, and the short handled brushes are used for water colours. Of course there are exceptions to this rule and some manufacturers make both long and short handled versions of the same brush.

Next off, brushes have a variety of shapes which are classified like this: 

  • Flats: have a straight flat edge.
  • Rounds: these are strangely enough the pointy brushes. They are called “rounds” in reference to the ferrule of the brush. The ferrule is the metal part at the end of the handle that holds the bristles in place. Round brushes have a cylindrical shaped ferrule hence the name.
  • Filberts: these look similar to flat brushes but the ends of the bristles are arranged in a curved fashion.
  • Brights: like flats, but have shorter bristles
  • Egberts: a relatively uncommon brush shape, but it’s similar to a filbert with longer bristles.

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