For a quality artist brush, proper bristles must be available. Common bristle materials include camel hair, red sable hair, china bristle, nylon, polyester, goat hair, hog hair, black sable ox hair, Taklon, squirrel hair and gold nylon. Hair bristles offer high elasticity and ensure that the brush will return to its original shape after each stroke.
Typical applications of artist paint brushes include painting, lettering, photo retouching, lacquering, graphic arts, fine scroll work, line detail and marking. Not only for art and industrial applications, additional industries that benefit from artistic brushes include electronics, ceramics, education, dental and cosmetics.
In electronics fabrication and repair, artist brushes can be excellent cleaning tools because of the precision and gentleness with which they can remove dirt from sensitive electronics. Art paint brushes work particularly well with paints such as acrylic paint, oil paint and water colors. However, different bristle materials work best with different media.
There are five main types of artist brushes: flat brushes, bright brushes, round brushes, Filbert brushes and sable brushes. In flat brushes the shape of the brush is relatively wide but not very thick. In addition, flat brushes can have either long or short bristles.
A flat brush can produce both broad brushstrokes and thin brushstrokes. Also, flat brushes work best with oil, acrylics and alkyd media. Bright brushes have the same brush shape as a flat brush but typically have shorter bristles. Bright brushes create short, controlled brush stroke and work best with heavy paints such as oils.
Round brushes can be either fat or fine brushes. Fat round brushes produce thick brush strokes, while fine round brushes work well for outlining and detail painting. Round brushes are greatly affected by hand pressure and provide excellent control of oil and other heavy paints.
Filbert brushes are highly versatile thick brushes with an oval-shaped top edge and flat ferrule, which is the metal band that holds the bristles to the handle. With bristle lengths ranging from medium to long, Filbert brushes work best with watercolors and washes.
Sable brushes are made from sable hairs and come in all brush shapes. Sable brushes are much softer and leave a smoother brush stroke than bristle brushes, but they wear out more quickly and are much more expensive.