Paint Brush Care
When it comes to painting miniatures, here is what you should know…. Brush care! If you have mountains of cash and use a new brush every time you sit down to paint then skip this article. Good for you, go and buy a warlord titan… Otherwise take note of some of these points as you may find yourself making some common mistakes. Mistakes that I have seen novices and pros make alike. These tips will not only improve your brush strokes but will save you resources when it comes to buying brushes.
First we will start of with the anatomy of a paint brush:
Most handles are made from plastic, wood or bone and this really isn’t a concern to us but more of a feel for what you like. We then move down the handle to the ferrule. The ferrule is held to the handle by the crimp. A long ferrule is great and provides a strong attachment to both bristles and the handle but has its downside when it comes to brush control. A good ferrule is generally made from brass or copper but most are made from alloys. Next up we have the heel, this is an important part of the brush as this is where the bristles are connected to the brush. The bristles are glued into place but can also be crimped like the ferrule is to the handle. We then have the belly of the brush, this is where your paint load will sit when painting. and finally the toe. This is what will see most of the painting action.
Before you start your painting sesh wash your brush – this not only removes any dust particles which you definitely don’t want on your miniature but can remove any dry paint that may have collected in the belly of the bristles. Use cold water, using hot or warm water may dislodge paint easier but warms up the glue in the heel and can cause your bristles to fall out.
Now its time to slap on some paint (not literally). When it comes to mixing your paint or thinning your paints use an old clean brush for this. This stops your primary paintbrush from collecting unwanted paint in the heel (you dont want paint in the heel – naughty). If paint finds its way into the heel of the brush it will stay there ‘forever’ and continuously make your bristles splay out like a dandelion. Load your bristles with paint up to the belly, about half way up the brush. This ensures paint does not get into the heel. It also stops you from using the same load of paint for extended amounts of time, reducing the chance of paint becoming drier in the brush and ‘less thin’ (this will improve your painting and reduce the chance of visible brush strokes in your miniatures paint job).
Clean of your brush often, I tend to clean my brush after a few strokes and go in for some new paint. Even if the brush still has paint in it (as mentioned before the paint dries in the bristles while you paint). I go for a quick rinse of water and avoid hitting the bristles on the bottom of my water pot. I then dry the brush on a piece of kitchen roll by dragging the brush towards me and slowly twisting the brush at the same time. This keeps the shape of the bristles and stops them from doing the ‘dandelion’. Then I go in for the second load of paint and continue this until my ‘hobbying’ has reached satisfactory levels.
Once you are finished painting clean your brush thoroughly. Check the ferrule for any paint, especially in the heel. You want to work this off with your nail. Don’t be afraid to gently open the bristles with your fingers and give them a twirl in some cold water. The bristles will easily go back into place with some encouragement. Once clean you want to let the brush dry in a horizontal or vertical position (BRISTLES DOWN). We are all guilty of this and I do it when I am in a hurry. When you let the brush dry vertically with the bristles up then any paint in the brush that was missed (we are talking dust and pigment here) will find its way into the heel and again we go back to the dandelion phenomena. Avoid this, this is the biggest mistake people make.
I use brush soap on my brushes. This isn’t an activity I undertake every time I paint but something I undertake on a weekly. I give all my brushes the same care even if they were not used. I use a product called ‘The Masters Brush Cleaner & Preserver’. Its a great product and ensures your brushes maintain shape. It also works out those pesky paint particles and reduces the ‘dandelion effect’. I rinse the brush in cold water and give it a swirl. Then I use my finger and work in a tiny amount of soap. I run the brush through my fingers in their natural direction. Don’t push it up into the heel… bad! I will then shape the Brush into it’s normal shape and let it sit over night in the BRISTLES DOWN position. The next day give it a rinse and reshape the bristles. Dry it of with paper towel and let it dry BRISTLES DOWN!
I hope this article was helpful to you. Go forth and eliminate those dandelions!