“The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.” - Confusious
Lots of time observing, thinking, and painting makes a great painter, but starting with the right tools for the job is also necessary to produce quality work. Let's face it - applying color to a miniature isn't easy. It takes patience, concentration, a good hand, the right mix of paint, and on and on and on. Anything that gives you an edge is worth having and the right type of brush will help.
Many mini painters will ask, "Why have all my brushes started to curl and fall apart, and what can I do to fix them, and why don't they hold paint well, and why do I hate my dad and that girl I like won't talk to me?" Here's an answer to the parts related to brushes: You're likely using a brush made with nylon or some other less-than-desirable material. The hairs that make the brush are also probably squished and poorly glued into the ferrule.
A good brush for miniatures will be made of Kolinsky sable. I have found a few companies that I like better than others, but wholeheartedly recommend any of the following: Da Vinci Maestro, Winsor & Newton Series 7, and Escoda. With proper care, these brushes will last for years.
"But Midloo, those are expensive and I still hate my dad." To address the former part of the comment: It's true - a quality brush will cost you more than the junk GW or your local dive sells, but the price is more than worth it. Let's do some quick math: A nylon brush will set you back between 50 cents and 5 dollars. With luck, it will retain it's shape and last you slightly more than a handful of painting sessions. If purchasing online, one of the recommended Kolinsky brushes will cost between $10 and $25 dollars and will last hundreds of painting sessions. It will remain springy and in perfect shape time and again. It will hold a more appropriate amount of paint and allow you to more easily achieve the effects you're after. It will even get that girl to talk to you.... well, a painter should be a dreamer. It's tough to overcome that initial cost, but believe me - you'll be much happier every time you paint.
A good brush will remove one of the obstacles to finishing great miniatures. Do yourself a favor if you haven't already and take the plunge. If you're upset with the purchase, feel free to blame your dad.
Questions? Comments? Brush horror stories? Let us know!