Round, Flat, Fan: How to Use These 3 Classic Brushes

Paintbrushes come in many shapes and sizes and the variety of tools can be downright dizzying. Let us introduce you to 3 major types of classic paintbrushes and how to use them through a series of exercises.
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Round, Flat, Fan: How to Use These 3 Classic Brushes

Each brush type is a tool that can be mastered to better express yourself artistically. Practicing strokes before starting a painting is an excellent way to gain greater control and achieve better results. Practice exercises like these can really make a difference and add interest to your paintings. Increasing your dexterity with the tools of the trade is an important step in learning to paint.


  • Round paintbrush
  • Flat paintbrush
  • Fan paintbrush
  • Canvas paper pad
  • Palette
  • Acrylic paint


Here are 3 of the most common paintbrushes shapes and some of their possible uses. As always, there are no rules for artistic expression. The best way to really see what shape is best for you and your needs is to try it and see for yourself.

1- Round paintbrush: 

Used with oil, acrylic or watercolour paints, round brushes are ideal for details, touch-ups, painting lines, sketching and outlining. They are best used for applications of thinner paint and allow you to create a variety of lines from thin to thick.


  • Hold the paintbrush as if you were holding a pencil and experiment with pressing down on the paintbrush.
  • Spread out the bristles to make it wider as you paint and gradually lift the brush until it returns to its original shape.

2- Flat paintbrush: 

While flat and bright might look pretty much the same at first glance, a bright paintbrush will have shorter bristles and appear square, while a flat brush will have much longer bristles and appear rectangular. Bright paintbrushes are better for controlled strokes and applications of thick heavy paint. Flat paintbrushes are great for filling areas and making lines.


  • Drag the side of the brush against the palette as you fill it will paint to ensure that it’s bristles lay together to form a nice edge before you begin.
  • Holding the paintbrush like a pencil, paint a wide flat line, changing the angle of the brush as you pull it and twist it onto its side to taper the stroke to a point.

3- Fan paintbrush:

A fan brush is a great tool to add to your collection. The flat sturdy bristles are ideal for blending colours, smoothing paint and creating texture. This particular shape of paintbrush is often a favourite for painting leaves and clouds with oil or acrylic paints.


  • Dip the very tip of your paintbrush in paint and delicately dab it on your canvas paper.
  • Keeping it vertical, gently rock the brush back and forth to create textured evergreen branches.



To keep your favourite brushes in good condition for years to come, never forget to clean them. Get some tips here!