Round Brushes

Use on point or apply pressure to make thick-to-thin strokes. Detail work or filling large areas depending upon the size of the brush and pressure applied. Watercolor wash effects.

Round Variations:
Round Stroke –Shaping of the round stroke with the point coming from the center; most hairs makes it ideally suited to decorative stroke work.

“Grande” Round – Large sized rounds for those who work large or prefer a round for washes.

Liner Brushes

Enhance your painting with detail lines, outlining or fancy borders. Liner brushes with their long length hair and fine points are the ideal tool. Paint should be thinned to an inky consistency so that it flows easily from the brush.

Use for continuous curved or straight lines, varying thickness with pressure changes as in: highlighting, monogramming, outlining, stroke work, or texture lines.


Liner Variations:
Mid-length Liner (Jackie’s Liner) – With an even longer length out, the mid-length liner will hold a bit more paint than a traditional liner.

Script Liner (Long Liner) – Length of hair holds more paint than a regular liner, but requires more control. Well suited for long scrolls, straight lines, or stroke work.

Ultra Round – Use as a liner on point in oil or acrylic. The full belly of the brush provides a reservoir for paint, allowing continuous line work without reloading. Slight pressure can be applied to vary line thickness, but too much pressure will cause belly hairs to flare out. Popular watercolor brush, used as a traditional round.

Spotter Brushes

For fine detailing. Examples: tiny stroke work, eyes, eyelashes, miniatures. These brushes are shaped like a round, but have a shorter length hair and are made only in small sizes.


Various Brushes

Shader (Flat) – Use flat or up on the chisel edge. Sharp, square shape creates crisp edges and offers precision control. Blocking in color, shading, blending, highlighting, small washes and stroke work. Can be double-loaded, side-loaded to float or walk color.

Angular Shader (Angle Flat) – Tight shading, curved strokes and stroke work. Like a shader, it can be easily double-loaded and side-loaded. Angled shape is suited to painting or blending in small areas and corners. Popular rose petal brush.

Chisel Blender (Bright) – Short, flat strokes and blending, especially with heavy mediums.

Wash (Wash/Glaze) – Washes, basecoating, applying glazes and finishes. Large broad sweeping strokes.


Filbert (Oval) – Rounded shape creates strokes with soft edges. Many artists prefer the filbert for filling circular areas, floating color and blending. Natural shape for flower petals, leaves, duck and bird feathers.

One Stroke (Stroke) – Long, flat brush traditionally used for lettering and borders. Use on chisel edge to produce fine lines or flat to create long, wide strokes for letter- ing, stripes and plaid.

Deerfoot Stippler – Texturing brush for fur, foliage, soft back- grounds, etc. Use a dry brush, loading just the tips. Pounce on your palette to evenly distribute paint and remove excess before moving to your surface. Dry wipe brush between color changes or dry thoroughly to remove excess moisture. Turn the brush as you work to fit the area and to create a more random pattern.

Stippling – This oval shaped brush creates an open, airy pattern allowing previous colors to show through as you build up layers.

Fan – Use dry or with tips loaded to create texture, smooth other brush strokes, or soften edges. Grasses, water, trees, etc.

Angular Bristle – Create natural textures of wildflowers, foliage, snow, ocean foam, etc. Sturdy bristle can be used dry or filled with water for stippling, dry brushing, and scrubbing techniques.

Dome Round – Soft, rounded brush head for touch blending and gentle dry brushing and scumbling.

Dagger Striper – An adaptation of the sign painter’s pinstriping brush. Pull along the long chisel edge for long, fine lines. Vary pressure for a thick-to- thin ribbon effect. Brush is easily double- loaded. Other uses: Faux finish techniques. Veining when creating faux marble.

Mop – Blending and softening. Some mops are also suitable for washes and varnishing. Traditionally, mops are available with round or flat ferrules.

Stencil – Use a dry brush with very little paint and circular or stippling technique.

FAB (Round) – Flats and tapered rounds. Ideal for painting heavy (sweatshirts) and textured (nubby canvas) fabrics, these brushes are sturdy enough to withstand a scrubbing or stenciling technique on fabric and other surfaces.

Choosing a brush is largely a matter of personal preference, but each type of hair or bristle has its own unique characteristics. Some of the more popular types of hair used in artist brushes include:

Natural Soft Hair

– Kolinsky – Finest red sable. Finely pointed hair with superb spring, strength, and absorbency. Ideal for watercolor.
– Red Sable – Any red hair from the weasel family. Many different grades are available on the market. Ideally they hold a fine point with good spring and absorbency. Well suited to watercolor and blending in oils.
– Ox – Lacks the fine tip of red sable, but is a strong, silken hair often used in moderately-priced brushes.
– Goat – A relatively inexpensive hair. Possesses good absorbency with a soft, wiry feel.
– Camel – An all-encompassing term for brushes made from a variety of hairs, none of which are camel. They may include ox, goat, squirrel, or pony hair.

Natural Bristle

– Coarse, strong hair that ideally has a natural curve and flagged tips. Well suited to work with heavier mediums like oil, acrylics and tempera. White bristle comes in many grades. Black bristle is a stiffer, economically-priced fiber.

Synthetic Hair

– Manufactured polyester filaments of various thicknesses, each tapering to a fine point. They are available white or dyed (Taklon). Although all made of polyester filaments, as with natural hair the performance characteristics of synthetic brushes can vary widely depending upon the processing of the filament, mixtures of filament thicknesses and general shaping of the brush. In general, they are suitable for all media and ideal for acrylics.

Synthetic Bristle

– Stiff, coarse, tapered fibers lacking the flags and curve of natural bristle, but they are durable and suitable for work on rough surfaces. Commonly used for stencil and fabric painting brushes.

Smooth Synthetic Bristle

– A relatively new fiber with a smooth finish, it is designed to be an alternative to natural bristle with superior snap & shape retention & durability in water.

Brush Selection

When selecting the best brush (hair and shapes to be used) for a project, you will want to consider:
– the properties of your paint/media (viscosity, composition)
– the properties of your surface (texture, absorbency, firmness)
– your technique and style and the desired final effect.

Long or Short Handle?

Short handle brushes are the choice for most craft and hobby applications when working at a table or other flat surface. A short handle is also the preferred length for watercolors. Long-handle brushes are designed for easel work so painters can distance themselves from their work. The end of a nicely rounded handle can also be dipped in paint & used to make dots & other decorative marks.

Traditionally, handles are made of varnished or enamel coated wood. Today, acrylic and plastic handles are also available and may be preferred for their weight and durability in water. ‘Comfort’ handles, which generally feature a thicker, contoured grip area, are another recent development.