Fan-shaped brushes have their bristles spread out at the tip. Fan-shaped
brushes are relatively new and work well with washes and large areas of
pigment. Fan-shaped brushes also work well as blenders. Their bristles are
often made from synthetic materials and are very durable. You can use fan-
shaped brushes with any pigment.
Round-shaped brushes are normally made with sable or synthetic material.
The round shape of the bristles hold more pigment than flatter brushes. The
size of brushes varies; but, even the larger brushes are responsive to an
Flat-shaped brushes are called flats. Flats have long bristles with a square-
cut tip. It is difficult to apply paint with flat bristles because of the elasticity
of the bristle. Flats are better suited for fluid strokes and blending. Flats
will work well with any pigment.
Brushes called brights also have a square-cut tip, but a shorter bristle length
than a flat. The relatively short bristle of brights allows the painter to readily
apply and maneuver pigment over a surface. Brights work well with any
The size of a brush is written on the ferrule or handle of the brush. The
bristle capacity of the ferrule determines brush size. Manufacturers use
different size indicators, but they are generally numeric beginning with No.
00000 as the smallest.
The ferrule is the sleeve that binds the bristle to a brush handle. The sleeve
may be made from metal, plastics, or natural quill. Some oriental brushes
use copper wire. The ferrule is the most vulnerable point of the brush.
Residual pigments and solvents tend to collect at the ferrule and accelerate
deterioration. Bristles become brittle and break at the ferrule.
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