Brushes

The paintbrush is the most important tool for the avid miniature painter. Without at least descent quality brushes, a painter can get frustrated very fast and a new painter may lose interest or fault himself (or herself). I would never suggest that a new painter or even an experienced one should run out and spend a paycheck to get great brushes, but proper care and quality will help immensely.

The brush consists of three main parts; the hair (where the paint goes), the handle (where you hold) and the ferrule (the usually metal part that holds the hair and the handle together). The handle, usually made of wood, should be comfortable. Some are thicker or thinner and may just feel different. If you use thick guitar picks and someone hands you a paper thin one, it just doesn't feel right. The same can go for paint brushes. The ferrule is the metal "tube" which holds the brush together. Special care should be taken when cleaning and using your brush to avoid building up paint where the hair enters the ferrule. this will cause your hairs to fan out and it won't matter how small your brush is after that! The hair itself is also important. A generally higher quality, though more expensive brush is the Kolinsky sable hair. They generally maintain their form well and can hold color well. Nylon brushes are cheaper (which is good if you are on a tight budget) but can't hold the color as well as real hair. They will maintain a good point if cared for.

The main types of brushes used in mini painting are the spotter, the rigger and the pointed tip. The spotter has very short hairs, can't hold much paint but is good for tiny details like eyes and strange symbols. The pointed tip holds more paint and is longer than the spotter. The rigger has much longer hair and is very thin; good for doing long, thin lining.

Drybrushing. This is a great technique for applying highlights to rough areas such as hair, fur or rocks. Unfortunately, it will wreak incredible carnage on a newer brush. The hairs will eventually all fan apart and make the brush almost useless for anything else. This is okay though as you can keep a few of these just for drybrushing.

Cleaning your brush is very important. Many times too often, I see people leave their brushes in their cup of water (or other cleaning medium). This will cause the hairs to fan out as the brush is obviously resting on the hairs. Never do this! When you are cleaning your brush or just wetting it between layers, dip it in the water and slowly and carefully push the hairs up the side of your cup. A small amount of twist is okay as well. This keeps the paint from hardening inthe ferrule and gets all of the hairs. After this, carefully do the same, without the twisting, on your towel or napkin. The hairs can then be "squeezed" lightly and twisted out of your napkin. This gets the brush fairly dry and helps keep the point in shape.

Always store your brushes either flat or point up to avoid resting them on the hair.

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