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SparrowMarie

Brush Questions

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After a hiatus I am writing a blog post to help my sanity! This next post is all about brushes and brush care. 

 

So my question to you fellow painters is: If/when you are/were new to painting what would you like to know or would like to have known about brushes?

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For years I painted with brushes form Revell and Citadel.

If I had know then that it DOES make a difference if you use good brushes like Raphael, W&N and such I would have bought them sooner.

 

Also tips like using an old brush for drybrushing.

A dedicated large brush for terrain etc.

 

Brush care, how to store them keep the ferrule clean, use brush soap etc.

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Good tools are important, brushes are the tools of our hobby. Don’t waste your time on cheap brushes, although cheap brushes do have their uses. Invest in a 0 and a #1 kolinsky sable brush for your detail work and save a lot of frustration.

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Hm ... Let me think ...

 

My question would be:

 

What kind of brushes are there? Where are the differences (for example between natural and synthetic brushes?) Which branches or companies are there that produce brushes? Why do have some brushes different shapes than others? What kind of brush do you need for what? How many brushes do you need for a well-assorted painting table? How much does it cost? How often do I need to clean my brushes? How do I keep the tips pointy (or in shape)? When should I buy a new brush? And last but not least - How do I use my brush correctly?

Edited by SisterMaryNapalm
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I agree with @Heisler and @Glitterwolf about not wasting time with bad brushes (Wappel's "magic brushes" notwithstanding. And I think @SisterMaryNapalm's questions are excellent.

 

I would add: bigger brushes are often better! Once I learned that the point on my #1 was as pointy as that of my #000, but the brush held more paint, I leveled up my eye-painting game almost overnight. I now use a #1 for almost everything, with a #0 for some things and a #2 for big washes and basecoats.

... And some large filberts and flats for really big things.

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32 minutes ago, Sanael said:

I agree with @Heisler and @Glitterwolf about not wasting time with bad brushes (Wappel's "magic brushes" notwithstanding. And I think @SisterMaryNapalm's questions are excellent.

 

I would add: bigger brushes are often better! Once I learned that the point on my #1 was as pointy as that of my #000, but the brush held more paint, I leveled up my eye-painting game almost overnight. I now use a #1 for almost everything, with a #0 for some things and a #2 for big washes and basecoats.

... And some large filberts and flats for really big things.

 

^^ this, and what the others have said. I recently went so far as to get a size 5 sable brush for base coating lots of stuff, and blending larger areas. It isn't kolinsky, but the natural sable is still darn good. I can't use it for eyes or fiddly-bits... but that's about it. For an off-brand non-kolinsky? Ooooh it is sweet. It makes me want a super fat kolinsky soon! Downside is that I absolutely SOAK my paper towels for dabbing after a rinse. 

 

As a counterpoint to "get good brushes" - know when bad brushes, or synthetics, are useful. You don't want to wreck your nice brush slathering on primer or drybrushing. Perhaps drybrushing is better with a dedicated brush for the job, but never use a high end pointy tip brush for that! Not every task requires, or even should use, a good brush. Good brushes are for when you need a smooth blend, or when you need a precise point or line. 

 

With good brushes, avoid letting paint more than 1/2 way up the bristles (another reason to get a bigger brush - half way up is more space for paint than small!). 

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1 hour ago, Cyradis said:

With good brushes, avoid letting paint more than 1/2 way up the bristles (another reason to get a bigger brush - half way up is more space for paint than small!).

Wish I'd known that starting out; I've had a great many brushes splay and fray due to paint in the ferrule before I learned better. The importance and usefulness of a lining brush is another thing I wish I'd learned earlier. 

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I wish I'd known that not everyone fits with the same brush. Big thick brushes are good for some people, but the size and absorbency of your brush need to be taken into account when thinning paints. I, for one, don't have the patience to fully dry my brush between the rinse cup and the color.

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2 hours ago, Paradoxical Mouse said:

I wish I'd known that not everyone fits with the same brush. Big thick brushes are good for some people, but the size and absorbency of your brush need to be taken into account when thinning paints. I, for one, don't have the patience to fully dry my brush between the rinse cup and the color.

 

It's dry here and I would never have considered even trying that. On the other hand I'm constantly moistening my brush then touching it to a paper towel to wick of the excess before dipping it in the paint. If I don't do that regularly I get a dried crust of paint on the brush before I'm done spreading it on the model. I also tend to load the brush fairly heavily with paint. Doing tiny details like eyes is tough because when using my teensy brushes the paint can dry before I accomplish anything. That might be part of why I don't thin my paints as much as some people. I'm already dealing with more water on the brush.

Edited by Zink
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While I've read umpteen blogs and posts about brushes, I rarely see the next steps -- holding the brush, holding the grip, anchoring wrists to the desk (including sitting posture), placement of palette (wet palette, dry palette, bottle cap, paint directly from the GW pot), use of the paper towel, which I also think are important for brush control as well as loading the brush and thinning paints. I anchor my wrists on the edge of the desk, which means that there's no need to really load my brush, since the miniature is only a few inches from the paint.

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I know a lot of people promote using as big of a brush as you're comfortable with, but generally that statement is solely in promotion of using bigger brushes; if the largest brush you're comfortable with just so happens to be a small brush, that's ok too. The key is to try different things to learn what works best for you, rather than just switching to something that works for other people because they say it's better. There is no one size fits all brush and just like you use a different brush for a different technique like drybrushing, there's nothing wrong with using a smaller or larger brush for other techniques or areas on a figure. After being told for a long time that I needed to paint with larger brushes, which I found clunky and messy, I finally stopped listening and now I use a Ro&Co 3/0 for nearly everything, including the 1/12 scale bust I recently painted. It's what I'm comfortable with and it's what works for me. I think there's a tendency in the hobby community to diagnose non-existent problems and treat them with other people's personal preferences. If you're having trouble with paint drying on your brush, then you may need a larger brush. You also may need a different paint or to thin your paints differently or a different additive or a different palette or a different method. As a rule, these things should be suggestions, not answers.

 

I also think it's important to note that skill is in the hand and mind, not in the brush. Good and appropriate tools will help you to develop skill more easily, and certainly bad tools can be a hindrance, but good tools do not contain any magic that will replace building skill. 

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I for one am a fan of having first timers actually use a mid range synthetic bristle over the high end natural hairs, at least for their first couple of brushes.  While they may not last as long or hold as good of a point or as much moisture, it helps to know how to take care of a brush (synthetics can be a little more forgiving there)  and it also helps to know what it feels like so when you start using the sable brushes you can appreciate what a good one is and what a not so good one is.

Experiment and try.  

 

 

On 4/22/2019 at 3:52 PM, Guindyloo said:

Good and appropriate tools will help you to develop skill more easily, and certainly bad tools can be a hindrance, but good tools do not contain any magic that will replace building skill. 

Excelent advice.

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I agree Cygnwulf. First timers get my synthetics. Not awful synthetics, but they aren't going near my good brushes until they demonstrate that they won't mess up the good ones! 

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I won't let a newb use my good brushes, but I always recommend that they get their own. The difference in price between a good synthetic and the best brushes on the market is not enough to worry about. Even with bad treatment, a good Kolinsky will last for much longer than an equivalent number (by value - usually 3 +/- 1 brushes) of good synthetics.

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