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"Brushes" Topic

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808 hits since 7 Jan 2019
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hmer2007 Jan 2019 4:34 p.m. PST

About six months ago I decided to paint my miniatures. So, I bought some Army Painter brushes,acrylic paints, and a how to paint book.
My problem is that even though I have not painted a lot of miniatures my brushes look like a kindergartner was using them in class. I don't believe that I was pressing down hard and I clean them while painting. What am I missing or doing wrong?

surdu200507 Jan 2019 4:41 p.m. PST

I have has the same problem the last couple of years. I don't get more than a couple of painting sessions out of my brushes any more, and I know I am not abusing them. They just won't hold a point. I am wondering if that is endemic to using acrylics.

John Armatys07 Jan 2019 5:20 p.m. PST

The key things are decent brushes (I use Windsor & Newton series 7 Kolinsky sable) and cleaning them thoroughly after use. Try not to get paint on the ferrule (almost impossible). I've found that a final clean using Master's brush soap (apparently readily available in the US, but you can get it on eBay in the UK) after use has significantly extended the life of my brushes.

Aethelflaeda was framed07 Jan 2019 5:31 p.m. PST

Keep the weak brushes for dry brushing.

hmer2007 Jan 2019 5:34 p.m. PST

I was waiting to buy good brushes when I got decent at painting. I'll look into the brush soap, never heard of it before.
Surdu2005, glad I'm not alone.:)

John Armatys07 Jan 2019 6:02 p.m. PST

I use old brushes for rough work and glue. For dry brushing I strongly recommend a goat mop (mine were made by Humbrol).

I found out about Master's brush soap on TMP some years ago.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP07 Jan 2019 6:09 p.m. PST

Acrylics do seem to be harder on brushes than oils or enamels, That said
--Natural furs are less prone to "hooking" than artificial fibers.
--John's right about keeping paint of the ferrule if you can, and about a final clean up with brush soap at the end of each session. I will sometimes stop and clean in the middle of a session. The fast drying time which is the primary advantage of acrylics is not an unmixed blessing.
--ONCE YOU HAVE CLEANED THE BRUSH bring it back to a point with lips and tongue. This buys you a little more time.
--Some people swear by sugar water to help them keep shape, but I don't do it myself.

Major General Stanley07 Jan 2019 6:28 p.m. PST

Also avoid using the bristles to mix or stir paint. Use the end of the handle or a toothpick.

hmer2007 Jan 2019 6:33 p.m. PST

Ok, it appears I need to stop buying cheap ass brushes and clean them better.
Major, I use Vallejo paints, so I just shake the hell out of it before using and put some in a plastic paint tray. Also I don't mix colors yet.

Personal logo jhancock Supporting Member of TMP07 Jan 2019 7:13 p.m. PST

Shaking can induce bubbles. Sr. Vallejo recommends turning the dropper bottle upside down (with the top ON of course) and rolling it between your hands to re-suspend pigment in the resin and mix it when it has separated. I add large glass beads to help with mixing. Avoid small beads, as they can clog the dropper!

von Schwartz07 Jan 2019 7:14 p.m. PST

#1 Hate to disagree with my ole buddy robert p but since I have transitioned almost entirely to water based acrylics my brushes seem to be lasting longer. He is dead-on about the rest though.
Also, if you take really good care of your brushes even "cheap ass brushes" will last. I used to spend $5 USD to $8 USD per brush back in the 90s. Now I bought a set of about 8 "cheap ass brushes" from the local Wally World for less than 3 bucks!!! YEEES, aisle 7 Blue Light Special!!! They have been giving yeomans service for about 2 years.

hmer2007 Jan 2019 8:19 p.m. PST

Yeah, I have gotten bubbles. I'll have to try the rolling with the paint.

wrgmr107 Jan 2019 9:15 p.m. PST

Second Windsor and Newton Series 7 brushes and Masters Brush soap.
I also clean the brush frequently to avoid paint from drying in the bristles and as stated above the ferrule. I will even use soap after 10 to 15 mins of painting.
I have one W&N S7 brush that has painted over 1200 Calpe Prussians, it's still good.

Walking Sailor07 Jan 2019 9:56 p.m. PST

Before you start to paint (acrylics) dip the brush in water, hold the brush bristles up to let the water run to the ferrule, and then sling most of the water out of the brush (not indoors). This keeps water/solvent above the paint and keeps the paint from drying on the brush.

If you see a line of dry paint forming on the bristles above the wet paint it's time to clean the brush. As wrgmw1 says mid way through your painting session.

Take a piece of insulated wire, wind a spiral around the brush handle (three times around on one half the length of the handle). Then bend a hook in the wire. When you shove the handle into the spiral the brush should hang tip down to dry.

D A THB07 Jan 2019 11:26 p.m. PST

A couple of tips I picked up recently is roll your brush on the pallet when wet with paint to return it to a point. I also found that a brush I had thought was beyond use, so I used it to apply decals soaking in hot water. After use I found that the tip had straightened out and is now back in use as a fine brush.

hmer2008 Jan 2019 3:45 a.m. PST

It looks like I should have asked this question about brushes before starting. Thank you everyone that's answered so far.

ZULUPAUL Supporting Member of TMP08 Jan 2019 4:17 a.m. PST

I use cheap brushes all the time. Now I'm not a great painter so it works for me. Just clean them & re-point them works for me. If not, I'm not out that much cash anyway.

mindenbrush08 Jan 2019 8:06 a.m. PST

I use Rosemary Brushes which are 99% as good W&N Series 7 brushes.
Try to make sure that you don't load the brush up to the ferrule with paint as when the paint dries in the ferrule it causes the bristles to seperate.
I use 2 jars of water, one with a couple of squirts of dish soap, the other just clean water to wash out the brush when I change colours.
After a long painting session I clean the brushes with Tamiya X20A thinners or Masters brush soap to remove any build up of paint in the ferrule, wash out in clean water and then use a hair conditioner making sure that the bristles are brought back to a point. Just washer the conditioner out prior to use.

Oppiedog08 Jan 2019 9:28 a.m. PST

Painting nearly everyday, my Windsor & Newton's last for more than a year each – which is good because their series 7 brushes for miniatures are a pain to find/not in stock most of the time.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP08 Jan 2019 9:48 a.m. PST

I will defer to Herr von Schwartz about the effect of acrylic paints on brushes. It was a comment I remember at the time, but Imrie-Rieslie paints and I parted company a long time ago, and while I knew wargamers who painted in oils, I never was one.

hmer2008 Jan 2019 9:51 a.m. PST

Ordered the brush soap today. I'm going to wait for that and try some of the ideas posted so far and see if it works for me.

T Corret Supporting Member of TMP08 Jan 2019 10:25 a.m. PST

One thing to try is using the Masters soap before the first use of new brushes. I also use the soap to shape the brush, never used water-based paint, so I can't answer about possible bubbles. 😊

Personal logo PrivateSnafu Supporting Member of TMP08 Jan 2019 4:03 p.m. PST

I prefer Studio Soap. Made from linseed oil. Easier than the Masters in my opinion. Dip it in the jar, gently work soap into the bristles and rinse. Repeat as needed. Leave some in the bristles to help point up an old brush. Rinse out when ready to use again. Go with a nice sable brush, you won't regret the expense and your results will improve.

Oberlindes Sol LIC08 Jan 2019 6:28 p.m. PST

I was waiting to buy good brushes when I got decent at painting.

My art teachers and many friends who were painters gave the opposite advice: start with the best brushes that you can afford. Then you won't be fighting the equipment as you're learning the skills.

Come to think of it, that's advice that I got from experienced skiers when I was coming up in that sport.

Anyway, I found both the painters and skiers to be correct.

hmer2009 Jan 2019 7:07 a.m. PST

I tried skiing once, I fell so hard I stunned myself and broke the one ski down the length of it. Fortunately I had rented them from the ski slope.

von Schwartz09 Jan 2019 7:14 p.m. PST

Try using old eye-liner brushes for detail work. Ask your spousal unit, girlfriend, sister, mother, or a friend who used to be into the Goth scene, or check your old junk drawer, I won't judge. They work well, hold a tip well, and if you find some unused ones from female relatives or friends, or whatever, they're Free!

Baranovich11 Jan 2019 8:41 a.m. PST

Cheap brushes will work every bit as well as expensive ones. They just may not last as long.

I disagree with some of the intense maintenance and handling advice being give here. Not that the advice is incorrect at all. It's quite correct. I just disagree with the level to which you need to practically resort to it.

I buy brushes from every level of cost: From those Walmart sets to individual cheap brushes from Michaels Crafts on up to some of the more expensive sable ones.

I seriously do not find any significant difference in how they perform. If they have a good point, they will lay down paint in the areas you want it.

What I tend to do, no matter what level of quality the brush is, I will always give it one extra rinse at the end of a painting session and I do use brush soap to point them before putting them away. But I have found that even using stuff to point them, the bristles will eventually splay before too long.

I do have a bad habit of using brushes to mix and stir, and I also have a bad habit of allowing paint to go too far down and get inside the ferrule. But this is just the way I paint. I can't focus on being careful to treat the brush 100% with loving care and also focus on what I'm painting. Hence why cheap brushes are so good for even advanced miniature painting.

When a cheaper brush starts to splay, just re-categorize it into the drybrushing bin. That way you always have a new supply of brushes you can do drybrushing with and beat the hell out of once they are past their usefulness in finer detail painting.

"How long a brush lasts" has so many variations in use and quality that it's impossible to say if someone is doing something right or wrong with them. Yes, making sure they they are pointed when you put them away is important, yes brush soap will keep the brushes pointed. But every brush is going to splay.

I had cheap Walmart brushes that held their point better and longer than Army Painter brushes, one of which splayed like within a week of first using it. One thing you may notice with cheaper brushes like Walmart is that they do tend to develop that "tip curl" from pushing them against a model surface. But they're still usable with the curl for general application of paint, just not for the finest details like very small gems, eyes, emblems, buttons, etc.

But do you need to be buying Windsor & Newton Sable? Well…yes and no. I would buy maybe ONE or TWO of those expensive ones and reserve them for specific, careful detailing. But don't use expensive brushes to lay down base colors. Getting a larger, cheaper brush for base colors is way better. My advice is just get an array of cheap and medium-cheap brushes so that you have all the sizes covered and then just use them. If some splay fast on you, just get another one. If money is tight, just get those $5.00 USD sets Walmart has. You can apply fine detail and layering with those as well as any expensive brush.

Then of course you'd never want to take your Windsor & Newton Series 7 and use it to drybrush chainmail! That kind of stuff should always be with a used, cheap brush.

Just to prove the point of what I'm saying, there's a fellow on Youtube named Sam Lenz. He's got his own painting service and often teams up with Atom from Tabletop Minions on Youtube to do tutorial videos.

This guy is a master painter and has won numerous awards at wargaming conventions. His stuff is simply amazing!

And the guy nearly always uses the cheapest brushes possible: As in like sets of 10 brushes for $15 USD off Amazon.

Here's a link to his Facebook page where you can see his work. This is all cheap brush work for the most part!


von Schwartz11 Jan 2019 5:08 p.m. PST

Also, keeping them in a drawer with everything else kinda beats up brushes. Go out and buy yourself a block of Styrofoam and glue it to the wall. When your done painting and cleaning your brush, stick it brush end out into the Styrofoam and you won't be mashing your nice new brushes.

hmer2012 Jan 2019 7:25 a.m. PST

Got the brush soap, cleaned and pointed all the brushes I used. I'm going to pick up a better brush and see how that works. Due to work haven't had the chance to use the brushes I cleaned. Thanks again for all the suggestions.

Oberlindes Sol LIC14 Jan 2019 5:00 p.m. PST

@hmer20: Sorry to hear about your skiing experience! That was quite an impressive fall!

Henry Martini14 Jan 2019 5:56 p.m. PST

My armies are a bit larger and I use Hail Caesar. Conquistadors and Tlaxcaltecs vs Aztecs, and Conquistadors vs Inca. The Maya are still coming together.

I have Saga faction sheets for some of these armies but they are for Saga 1. I don't play the second version.

Henry Martini14 Jan 2019 6:17 p.m. PST

Mmmm… that's not my post. Frustratingly, my actual post seems to have disappeared.

ced110621 Jan 2019 9:32 p.m. PST

These very inexpensive synthetics have been working well, so far. I originally bought them for metallics, but now use them regularly. I only use the W&N and Raphael's when these brushes don't work for me. Also, for cleaning, I use Pink Soap. Too lazy for the Master's Soap. :/

50 Pcs Pack of Synthetic Sable Fine Detail Paint Brushes Set for Miniature, Scale Model, Art Painting in Acrylic, Oil, Watercolor – Pointed Round (Size #00 (Small))


hmer2022 Jan 2019 5:18 a.m. PST

Thanks for the link ced1106.

bobm195922 Jan 2019 8:25 a.m. PST


Ken Bromley's have an extra 10% discount on Series 7's for the next few days. Their service is excellent….and the brushes come in full length protective tubes.

Bowman22 Jan 2019 6:49 p.m. PST

Mmmm… that's not my post

That is my post Henry. The BUG must have swapped our names and put your post into a black hole. I didn't post that in this board either.

hmer2023 Jan 2019 8:33 p.m. PST

Finally got to paint over the last day of so. Cleaning the brushes better with the soap has really helped. The brushes are keeping their points better now. Have to hold off on the Series 7 brushes for now, my wife bought me some brushes. So I have a number of cheap to middle range brushes now. Once again thank you for all the answers.

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