Paintbrushes are one of my most used and favorite tools. It is also essential for hobbyists who paint miniatures or handpainted gunpla. I wouldn’t be able to do most of what I do without them!
Let’s take a look at the anatomy of a paintbrush
Bristles hold the paint, inks, and other mediums. The belly of the bristle carries the most paint.
The Ferrule is one of the most important parts of the paintbrush. It holds the bristles of the paintbrush and keeps them together. It helps to keep the bristles connected to the handle. The size varies with the size of the brush
The crimp connects the ferrule to the handle.
The handle is what we handle! Some handles can be metal, plastic, wood, and so on. The length plays a role in how the brush is used.
Wooden handles can often swell or crack if left in contact with liquids for an extended period of time.
There is a variety of brush types out on the market. Each serves a different purpose depending on its use.
The most common paintbrush type on my workbench is the round paintbrush. Round brushes allow the painter to paint delicate details.
Flat Pant Brush
The flat brush is a square brush. The bristles are widely arranged but not thick. A flat brush with short bristles will hold less paint than a flat brush with long bristles (which will hold more).
Liner Paint Brush
This has long and thin bristles, sharp and pointed. Best brush for producing fine lines.
Sword paint brush
Much like the liner brush, it can create thin fine details. It just has an angled and pointed tip.
This brush is used for copious amounts of paints, but not much use for miniatures. Mop brushes have a large number of bristles and take quite a bit to clean.
As the name suggests, this brush is in the shape of a fan. There is a thin layer of bristles spread out. The main purpose is to blend colors.
Synthetic vs Natural bristles
Synthetic brushes are popular and cheaper. Natural bristles tend to be made from Kolinsky Sable from Siberian weasels. The fibers from these brushes are regarded for their high quality.
Kolinsky brushes are made from the tails of male Siberian weasels. They are not bred in captivity but are wild-caught. The fur from their tail is used for the brushes. They are often considered a pest in the areas where they are caught, so this is often considered a “by-product”. The method of harvesting the fur is often brutal. It has been a hot topic in the art community. There had been a ban on these brushes but there have been workarounds.
I do not use natural fiber brushes very often, due to the prices. They are often expensive, especially from brands like Winsor and Newton Series 7, Richeson Siberian Kolinsky, and so on.
There have been strides in synthetic brush brands. Many mini painters are on the hunt for more ethically sourced, vegan-based brands.
Brush size systems are standardized. Different companies run smaller than others. Small brush sizes increase by increments of one and then by two for larger brushes after they hit 10 (12, 14, 18, and so on).
From smallest to largest:
20/0 > 12/0 > 10/0 > 7/0 > 6/0 > 5/0 > 4/0 (or 0000)> 000> 00> 0> 1> 2> 3> 4> 5> 6> 7> 8> 9> 10> 11> 12> 13> 14> 16> 18> 20> 22> 24> 26> 28> 30.
Some can be as small as 30/0 but size 0000 and below are not as common as other sizes.
Companies like Citadel label their brushes a little differently. They use general sizes and types, such as Medium dry brush, Medium Shade, Small layer, and so on.
Good brush care is crucial to ensure that your brush stays in the best state it can. So, some tips should be followed to avoid splitting bristles
The first is never to let the paint dry in your brush. Dried paint can be removed but it will leave your brush bristles damaged and split, not something one needs when painting minute details. Also, avoid getting paint in the ferrule of the brush in order to not ruin the glue of the brush.
Use scrap brushes to mix paints.
Secondly, routinely clean your brushes. You can do this by first washing the paint out of the brush. Then you can use a specific brush soap (people can use dawn if that is more financially available to you). There are several brands of brush cleaners on the market that do the job wonderfully such as Jentastic Drunken Brush Goop Conditioner, Winsor & Newton Brush cleaner, and The Masters Brush cleaner.
I recommend using these cleaners at the end of the paint sessions. It cleans the bristles and conditions them (similar to how we condition our hair).
DO NOT LEAVE YOUR BRUSHES IN THE WATER.
It will ruin the bristles and handles.
When done painting and cleaning I leave mine on a towel to help absorb any moisture left on the brushes. Then I store them with the bristles facing up in the air.
Granted, if a brush does get messed up it does not mean it is useless. If I have a stray bristle oftentimes, I will trim it off. This is something I picked up from my grandfather, who was an artist in the Airforce. He spent years creating art for Ramstein Airbase. He would routinely trim down brushes to save on the cost. He passed the technique on to me.
I trim drown what I can, or I turn it into a junk brush that I use on my funkier of builds and dry brushing brushes.
You can clean these brushed with vinegar since they’re junked anyway.
Another note on brush care would be changing brush water. It gets murky and stinky after a while. Routinely changing the water out for clean fresh water, especially for metallic paints. I have a solo cup that I dump every couple of days.
As for storage, honestly, I just toss them into a coffee mug. It is cheap and gets the job done.
What do you think? Drop a comment below and let me know, I’d love to hear it.
Have a monday everyone!