A Basic Guide To Paint Brushes

Before we begin painting, we do a mental checklist of essentials: posture, clean water, and the right brush. Which brush is correct? Any brush would do, wouldn't it? While a toothbrush technically would do the job, you wouldn't use one to brush your hair because although it will get the job done, a proper hairbrush is designed to detangle and smooth while a toothbrush is designed to clean, not to mention that toothbrushes are tiny and it would take too long.Each brush type has a different effect, and there are over 24 types in all. The fact that there are also different brush bristle types made for different mediums makes it seem daunting. There are a few brushes that are not essential, so we'll go over themost typical types of brushes.

Filbert brushes got their name from their similarity to filbert tree nuts. They are a combination of a flat and round brush and are mainly used for buffing out soft edges or blending. It is wide towards the ferrule then tapers in slightly to create a soft rounded tip. Due to its shape, this brush is also another versatile staple you should have in your pot.

Bob Ross' favourite brush, the fan brush, was used for creating gorgeous trees and rolling hills. This special brush creates texture and interesting marks. As the name suggests, the brush is a wide fan shape. Usually used by landscape artists for an effective and stylish finish.

Unlike the Filbert, the flat brush is straight and blunt. Due to its large flat end, it can hold paint and cover large areas. It can also be used to make architectural structures because of the broad, sweeping straight lines it makes. This brush is not only suitable for creating texture, it is often used when painting backgrounds and creating colour washes.

These brushes come under the same umbrella as flat bristle brushes, however, they have their own uniqueness. Due to their shorter bristle length, brights generate more resistance to the surface making them ideal for applying short, strong strokes of colour.

Angled flat/ Shader
 Angular flat brushes are aka an Angular shader. It is part of the flat family but with angled bristles at the end. A versatile brush that can be used for sweeping curves, filling corners, precise lines, calligraphic brush strokes and fine tuning precise marks. Best used for tight shading and highlighting.

Round brushes are the bread and butter of the paint world. If you ask anyone, child or adult to draw a paint brush, this would be their go-to. It’s the most common for a reason. This sturdy staple can multitask with the best of them. Round brushes have medium length bristles that taper to a fine point. This gives you the opportunity to fill a page with a wash or finish of the more delicate features for your piece.

Detail paint brush does exactly what it says on the tin. They come in handy when fine lines and tiny brushstrokes.They are favoured by those who paint miniatures, models, figurines, nail art, or any other painting project where precision is key.

Types Of Paintbrush Bristles and Uses

Type of BristleDescriptionCompatible Medium
SyntheticThe common name for this bristle is “Taklon. It is either nylon or polyester bristles. Sometimes they are dyed and baked to make them softer and more absorbent.Most mediums
SquirrelResilient and strong. Stiff curved bristles.Oils and acrylics
HogA very fine, thin hair taken from the squirrel's tail. It is known for being the best bristle for its water-holding capacity of any natural hair brushWatercolours and inks
PonyThe hairs are pliable while still being strong. These brushes are often used in schools or by beginners as they are a resilient and economical option.Watercolour, tempera and inks
OxTaken from the ears of the ox. The hair is strong but has a very lightweight and have a silky texture.Watercolours and tempera
Red SableAlthough quality may vary greatly. It is a good alternative to the more expensive Kolinsky sable brushes because it has similar performance and durability. Springy and soft.Watercolours and oils
CamelThese bristles are not actually made from camel hair, they are a blend of different animal hairs to create a brush that is durable but is also more economical.Watercolours, oils and acrylics

Scrawlr Favourites

Kat loved the water brush that was a part of the #078 Scrawlrbox watercolour set. These brushes are ideally used with dry paint pans. They are perfect for travelling as they hold their own water and can be deconstructed to fit in the paint case!

Chris’s favourite type of brush is the round brush because of the versatility, you can make fat lines or more delicate lines with this brush. We featured a Seawhite round brush in our #070 Scrawlrbox.

Lee enjoyed the custom angled brush that came with the #081 Scrawlrbox because of it’s unique shape of the brush she enjoyed making beautiful shapes with it.

Also, friend of ScrawlrBox Chloe Rose creates her own brushes. Her company Artistic Bear Co has plenty of different types of paintbrushes on offer, at great value. We definitely recommend having a look: Click here!