The terms “palette knife” and “knife painting ” are often used interchangeably, but they’re quite different. A palette knife is usually straight, has a rounded tip, and is designed for mixing paints on the palette. A painting knife has a pointed tip, is slightly bent like a trowel, and is perfectly suited for painting on canvas. Their shape helps keep your fingers out of the wet paint you’ve just applied.
Painting knives come in a range of sizes and styles and are usually made from metal. The size of the blade directly correlates to the painting effect you can achieve—a short blade produces sharp, angular strokes; a long blade allows you to put down sweeps of color; a rounded blade is ideal for dabbing spots of pigment and building up layers; and a sharply-pointed blade allows you to scratch into the painted surface to create a sgraffito effect.