Tip of the Week: Buy the Best Brushes

“The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.” - Confusious

Primed White modelLots 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!


Chicago Terrain Factory said...

I own 2 WN series 7 brushes and both fish tail - making them difficult to use. Given my own experience, I will never spend top dollar on brushes again. My preferred brush is GW's small dry brush - maintains a sharp point with a large/thick brush head to keep the paint moist. At $5 each, I can afford to replace the brush every two years.

Ever Brett said...

I have been using some Princeton Art and Brush company brushes for years now, they are finally starting to fan, after numerous years. The brushes cost me I think 10 dollars a piece, and I am looking for new brushes now. I will give some of these a try. Any good suggestions on sizes, for 20mm mini painting, since I have mostly done larger stuff in the past.


Midloo said...

Hey Chicago - thanks for the comment!

I was surprised to read you had trouble with the Winsor & Newton. That stinks! I guess I've probably used my W&N brushes less than others after discovering Da Vinci (my favorite) about 3 years ago. Maybe I should take them off the list :) I've been painting seriously for about 15 years now and my Isaby and Escoda brushes that were purchased back in high school are still like new. How do you care for your brushes? I'd like to share my method in a future post.

EverBrett - good to see you! Come back to Misty sometime (and I promise we'll get you in a game unlike last time :) Let me know what you land with for brushes and how you like them.

Chicago Terrain Factory said...

I should take better care of my brushes - most times I just wash with water and blot. The WN seemed to split immediately - it was not a function of taking care of the brush.

I'm not too far from Dick Blick (linked in your post), maybe I'll check out Da Vinci if I need a better set of brushes.

Midloo said...

You're a lucky dog living close to a Blicks. I'm jealous!

Well if you try something different, let me know how it's working out for you :)

Mr B said...

I am a huge fan of the Loew-Cornell Golden Taklon brushes. I know they are nylon but they work much better than the gw brushes I was using, and I still make brush strokes that would probably damage a sable brush much quicker. I have been using the LC golden taklon's for probably 8 months now and they still keep their tip as the day bought them. I ate through a W&N series 7 in about a month. I think my brush strokes fit a more resilient nylon brush more.

Mr B said...

Just to clarify:

I'm sure sable brushes are the best in trained hands, I just question their durability with 'pokers' like myself.

Midloo said...

Hey, despite my belief that Kolinsky can't be beat, you always have to go with what you are comfortable using... you definitely have the right idea there.

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