A guide to the different brush shapes

There are many different shapes of paint brushes, and each is useful for different things. Here are a few of the most common shapes:

Flat Brush

This brush has a straight edge, like a rectangle. It's good for painting large areas and for making straight lines.

  • Can produce thin and broad brushstrokes
  • Great for wide strokes and high coverage
  • Large flat brush is ideal for washes
  • Excellent for long, smooth strokes

Round Brush

This brush has a pointed tip, like a cone. It's good for making thin lines and for painting details.
  • The most traditional brush shape
  • Available in both sharp and blunt points
  • Pointed tips are useful for detail and varied line weights

Filbert Brush

This brush has a flat, oval-shaped tip. It's good for painting curved lines and for blending colors together.

  • Midpoint of a flat and a round brush
  • Long bristles, flat tip, and rounded edges
  • Popular among figurative painters
  • Minimal but expressive brush marks

Bright Brush

Otherwise known as a ‘short flat’. With shorter bristles, bright brushes provide more resistance against the surface, making them perfect for applying bold, short strokes of color.

  • A flat brush with short bristles
  • Higher surface resistance
  • Ideal for short, strong strokes of colour
  • Great for hard-edged textures

Fan Brush

This brush has bristles that are spread out like a fan. It's good for creating texture and for blending colors together.

  • Originally created as an oil painters brush
  • Useful for blending & softening hard edges
  • Great to create a series of marks in one (such as grass blades or foliage)

Angled Brush

This brush has a slanted edge, like a triangle. It's good for painting corners and for making diagonal lines.

  • One of the more versatile brush shapes
  • Allows for quick transition of line weight
  • Great for landscape and organic painting
  • Allows for great control

Dagger Brush

A dagger paint brush is characterized by its long, tapered bristles that come to a sharp point, allowing for precise details and expressive lines in painting.

  • Filbert shape, with half angled bristles
  • Useful for teardrop, natural, expressive or botanical shapes
  • Great for capturing a sense of motion

Mop Brush

This brush has a big, round tip. It's good for painting large areas and for making soft, blended edges.

  • Soft-bristled with a rounded head
  • Most common in watercolour painting
  • Great for washes and glazing


Liner Brush

A liner paint brush features long, thin bristles that come to a fine point, perfect for creating delicate lines and intricate details in artwork.

  • Resemble a fine, long round brush
  • Longer hair allows for flowing strokes
  • Great for adding detail and dynamics
  • Commonly used in lettering

Mottler Brush

A large, wide brush with soft, flat bristles, ideal for creating broad strokes and smooth blends in painting.

  • Large, wide flat brush
  • Resembles a typical decorators brush
  • Useful for surface preparation, laydown of colour, priming, and varnishing


So when you're painting, you can choose a brush shape based on what you want to paint. If you're painting a large area, a flat brush might be best. But if you're painting details, a round brush might be better. And if you want to create texture or blend colours, a fan brush or filbert brush might be just what you need!


Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published