A Painter’s Guide To Brush Shapes

Painting can be extremely therapeutic for many people, and it’s no wonder why so many people are enjoying the process of applying coats of paint to canvas, paper, and wood to gradually create complex layers, textures, and scenes. 

If you are new to painting, or if you have more experience and want to know more about the different types of brushes to purchase or how you can use them, this is a guide to the most popular brush shapes and their intended use. 

Fine Tip

Firstly, one of the best ways to create complex designs and intricate patterns is with a small detail paint brush. These are much thinner than other brushes, which allows you to create very fine lines when you are painting. 

Fine tipped brushes are ideal for use with acrylic and watercolor paints because they easily glide along a clean surface or existing layers of paints. Of course, these are less useful for covering large areas, so it is recommended that you have a selection of brush sizes and types when you are working on a painting. 

Round Brush

These are some of the most popular brushes chosen for filling, drawing thin lines, adding different textures, and carrying water when needed on a page or canvas. Round brushes are characterized by their round head that tapers to a fine point. 

They were first seen in the seventeenth century and continue to be the brush of choice for many art projects and paintings. The shape itself is simplistic yet effective, and is based on the design of historic quills. 

Flat Brush

Hair or synthetic fibers are trimmed into a rectangular shape at the end of a flat brush. This allows bold, thick lines to be achieved effortlessly. Flat brushes are available in all types of sizes, and it is worth looking at the length of the bristles to see if a particular brush would suit your style of painting. You can use a flat brush to fill large areas and blending. 

Filbert Brush

Similar to the flat brush at a glance, the filbert brush has more of an oval shape created by rounding the corners. These are ideal for oil and acrylic painting, although this is one of the most versatile brushes out there. 

A filbert brush is ideal for painting figures and blending. It can be used to create different effects depending on the pressure that is applied and the paint-to-water ratio. 

Fan Brush

Another interesting brush characterized by its fan shape is the fan brush, which is perfect for creating all kinds of natural textures. Fir, waves, foliage, and clouds can all be painted using a fan brush, and it is perfect for adding a finishing touch to any landscape. 

While it was originally used for oil paint, fan brushes are great for all kinds of paints. They can be used to blend colors and shades, soften hard edges, and mark making. 

Comb Brush

Known for the different lengths of bristles that create the appearance of a comb, these are great for creating unique textures that have the appearance of fir. They are unique in their ability to add layers that have the appearance of tufts, and can produce many small marks with one stroke. 

Angled Flat Brush

Because the bristles of these brushes have been trimmed in a diagonal line, angled flat brushes are ideal for creating calligraphy-like shapes. This is achieved by changing the amount of pressure applied and the way that you are holding the brush. 

It is easy to produce thick and thin marks by doing this. Vertical lines, borders, and patterns are made significantly easier and have more of a professional look using an angled flat brush. These can be used for ink, watercolor and other thin paints. 

Rigger Brush

This is a similar brush to the fine tip, although the longer bristles are great for someone who doesn’t have a steady hand. It is easier to hold the brush comfortably for maximum control and absorb any shaking from your hands. 

Thanks to the long hair on this brush, it is easy to use a rigger brush to create very fine lines in a range of paintings. 


There are many brushes worth introducing into your painting and experimenting with by creating different textures, lines, and finishes. You may be surprised by how effortless certain brush shapes make particular processes. 

Whatever you choose to paint, and the type of paint you like, it is worth purchasing some high quality brushes in a range of shapes to achieve the best possible result.