Types of Artist Brushes for Oil Painting

Artist brushes for oil painting come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Each type of brush is for a specific purpose. Here are some of the more common types: bright, fan, filbert, flat, and round.

Bright

bright artists brushes
Bright Art Brush

A Bright is a brush with a flat ferrule with short-length hairs set in a long handle. The hairs curve inward at the tip and measure almost the same for the width and length of the brush head. This brush works well for applying heavy color in short controlled strokes; however, a Bright will remove as much paint as they apply when worked too hard. Use this brush when you want the brush strokes to show. These brush types are better for working up close rather than holding the brush at a distance from the canvas.

Fan

fan artist brushes
Fan Art Brush

A Fan is a flat brush with a thin layer of hairs spread out in the shape of a fan. It also features a flat ferrule. This brush is excellent for smoothing, blending, and feathering. The synthetic hairs are perfect for painting highlights and flowing strands of hair, grasses, leaves, and thin branches on trees, creating textural effects and blending the soft edges of clouds. A word of caution though, be careful not to make identical or repetitive marks that look unnatural.

Filbert

filbert oil painting brushes
Filbert Art Brush

A Filbert is a flat oval-shaped brush with medium to long chiseled rounded edge hairs. It has a thick flat ferrule with a long handle. This brush is ideal for blending soft rounded edges like flower petals. Filbert brushes look like a blend of Rounds and Flats. The curved tip makes it easier to control blending and softening edges. When used on its side, a filbert gives a thin line; when used flat, it produces a broad brushstroke, and by varying the pressure as you apply the brush to canvas or flicking it across, you can get a tapering mark.

Flat

flat oil painting artist brushes
Flat Art Brush

The Flat brush has medium to long square-ended hairs within a flat ferrule. The strands are arranged in a rectangular shape that are longer than wide. Looking at it from the side, it is narrow. This brush is ideal for bold, sweeping strokes, washes, filling wide spaces, impasto. It can also be used for fine lines, straight edges, and stripes. Used flat produces broad brushstrokes, turned on the narrow edge produces thin strokes. Flat brushes are primarily used for covering large areas, flat strokes as well as blending.

Round

round oil painting artist brushes
Round Art Brush

The Round brush is a traditional brush shape with a round or pointed tip in a round ferrule. It is what most individuals picture when they think of an art brush. They make excellent brushes for sketching, outlining, detailed work, controlled washes, and filling in small areas. Use them to create thin to thick lines – thin at the tip, becoming wider the more it’s pressed down. The round brush is versatile in many ways. They have large bellies with long hairs that taper at the ends. They can hold a lot of paint for thick, large, bold strokes. Thin, delicate marks are also possible with this brush if the pant loaded to the belly is thin. Rounds are most often used for small details and line work.

Additional Reading

Anatomy of the Artist Paint Brush

All You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Artist Brushes and Then Some — Part 1

All You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Artist Brushes and Then Some — Part 2

All You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Artist Brushes and Then Some — Part 3

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