For those unfamiliar with the intricacies of paintbrushes, there does not seem any sense in choosing between a bright vs flat brush. The reason is that these two brushes look almost identical.
However, seasoned artists beg to differ. They know that these brushes have different uses. This article will teach you about the intricate differences between these two types of brushes and where you can use them.
Bright Vs. Flat Brush: A Comparison
Before we discuss the specific differences between a bright vs flat brush, you need to learn to identify which brush is which. Here are the definitions of each brush and their pros and cons:
What is a Flat Brush?
As the name suggests, a flat brush is one with bristles arranged in such a manner that the brush head is wide but not thick. The bristles of flat brushes can vary in length. Some of them have quite long bristles, making them excellent for creating long and uniform brush strokes.
When you are out shopping for a flat brush, look for the one with springy bristles; otherwise, they would snap back when you bend them. You will be using this brush this way quite a lot, so get something that is flexible.
On the other hand, if your style of painting involves leaving visible brushstrokes on the canvas, opt for one with stiff bristles. The nice thing about flat brushes is that they do not just create broad brushstrokes.
If you turn them to their sides, they can make thin lines, too. If you want to make a long, uniform line, you would need a brush with long bristles as such can hold a larger amount of paint.
Speaking of paint capacity, as you can probably tell, the longer the bristles are on a brush, the more paint it can hold. Aside from the bristle length, the material used for making them will also matter.
A brush composed of natural or mixed hair bristles can hold more paint compared to another that has all-synthetic bristles. The main reason is that natural hair bristles have more surface area
What is a Bright Brush?
A bright brush is essentially a type of flat brush. The biggest difference between the flat and bright brushes is the length of their bristles. Bright brushes have bristles that are almost the same length as the width of the brush.
This gives the bright brush a more square-like shape compared to the rectangular shapes of flat brushes.
Also, because bright brushes have shorter bristles, they tend to be stiffer than regular flat brushes. This makes them rather unsuitable for oil painting because instead of laying paint on top of another layer of paint, the stiff bristles push it across the canvas.
Bright Brush and Flat Brush Comparison
Now, that you’ve gotten a brief introduction to bright and flat brushes, we will start comparing the two. You will be learning about what these brushes can and cannot do. You will be able to figure out what brush you should get first.
Flat brushes feature longer bristles compared to bright brushes. Sometimes, it is even twice as long as the bright brush. The fact that the flat brush has longer bristles makes it capable of holding more paint.
This is great for when you don’t want to charge your brush with paint often. This is also ideal for making long, flowing brush strokes.
Meanwhile, bright brushes can hold, at most, half the paint that flat brushes can. However, bright brushes are more suitable for short strokes, so paint capacity does not matter too much.
Because the flat brush holds more paint, it can create a longer stroke. This is great in case you are planning to create long and flowing lines. There are artists who like using these brushes to create stunning landscapes. The flat brush promotes ease in creating mountain slopes, rolling hills, and others.
On the other hand, bright brushes are perfect when creating short and precise strokes. This is one of the best brushes to use if you are planning to concentrate on still life paintings, flowers, and any other types of paintings that require short strokes for small details.
Compared to a flat brush, the bright brush can provide better control. It is the perfect choice if you like precise control over every stroke you make. This is great when planning to create small details and recreate textures, like closely cropped grass, stone textures, and similar stuff.
On the other hand, if you like to get loose while you are painting, such as letting the brush flow where it may, the long flat brushes may be more to your liking. It is good for you anytime you want to make seemingly random lines, like ripples on water, or trees from a distance.
Ease of Use
In terms of ease of use, the bright brush seems to be the better choice compared to the flat brush. The reason is that bright brushes give more control than flat brushes. With that, it is definitely the ideal choice for beginners. Flat brushes tend to stray when doing longer strokes, especially if you do not hold your hand steady enough.
If you are a beginner, you should not worry about creating long brushstrokes for now. You should stick with the bright brush until you gain more confidence with your skills and you can confidently make longer brush strokes.
As far as flexibility is concerned, the flat brush seems to earn more plus points. It is more flexible compared to the bright brush because its shape makes it possible for you to put on a lot of pressure anytime your goal is to push paint into the canvas.
Meanwhile, the bright brush seems to be better when used as a scumbling or scrubbing brush. The reason is that it has a short filament, which retains the stiffness of the brush, giving you the chance to be as rough as possible when painting.
Which One Should You Choose?
If you are a beginner, I would say that the bright brush is the better choice. The short bristles offer more control and are a bit more versatile than flat brushes. For small art projects, a bright brush would suffice.
However, once you have gotten enough practice, and you are more confident to take on bigger projects, you will need a flat brush. This will allow you to paint over large areas faster. Moreover, you can make longer brushstrokes with it.
What Kind of Brush Should I Use with Acrylic Paints?
You can use both the flat and bright brush for acrylic paints and any kind of paint for that matter. However, it is not about the brush shape, but the materials used for making the brush, therein lies the problem.
Acrylic paints can be quite harsh and will destroy natural-bristled brushes easily, even if you were to clean them immediately after use. If you will be working primarily with acrylic paints, use brushes with synthetic nylon bristles.
Although flat brushes and bright brushes look almost identical, they are different types of brushes. Their differences will be more evident when you start using them. Now, regarding which is better between the bright vs flat brush, I would say that the bright brush would be the winner.
However, the margin would not be that huge. Bright brushes offer more control, and at the hands of a skilled artist, can do many of the things that flat brushes can do. If you are a complete newbie at painting, I suggest investing in a good bright brush first.