In this article, I would like to explore what qualities make the best miniature painting brush.
While working on your miniatures, brush is the most crucial tool for the whole process. The selection of a good brush can make a huge difference in the outcome of your painting.
I am not saying a good brush can replace your skills, but it can definitely serve as a crutch when starting out.
I will explain the basic criteria, give some advice on how to care for brushes and at the end, I will list the most common brands.
Best miniature painting brush
The most important criteria for a perfect brush are a sharp tip and the amount of paint the brush can hold in its bristles.
Having a sharp tip will improve your precision. It will make your painting a lot easier.
A big reservoir of paint in the body will increase the time it takes for your paint to dry on your brush and how often you have to go back to your palette.
You have to get these technicalities out of the way early on. It will increase the speed of your feedback loops and remove some of the obstacles in the initial process of learning how to paint.
Synthetic or natural hair?
For miniature painting where you usually go with acrylic colors, the best paintbrush you can get is natural hair. It usually lasts longer, has a better and sharper tip and can hold more paint in its reservoir in the bristles.
The advantage of synthetic brushes is the price. They are a lot cheaper. That way you usually want to have a couple at home and use them for stuff that has a high probability of degrading the condition of the brush. Meaning when you use oil paints, metallic colors or you treat the brush bad in general.
Most used miniature painting brush sizes
There is a scale going from 12 all the way to 0 and after that 00 and 000 with each one being smaller than the previous one. For miniatures, you don’t want to go with anything bigger than 2 (3 in some cases).
Number 2 is the most used size. It is a size that balances out the amount of paint that the brush can hold in its reservoir with the size that can fit into crannies on your smallest figure.
You can go up, to get more paint in your loaded brush but with number 3 you will not be able to fit everywhere. You can also go down. With number one being a bit smaller (less paint, bigger precision) and then there are the 0.
Zero sized brushes usually cannot hold much liquid in its hair meaning the paint dries faster on the brush. You have to rinse and load the brush more often. This breaks your painting flow. The advantage is better precision because the brush is smaller.
This is something you have to to try and figure out what is it, that fits your painting style.
Loads of miniature painters are satisfied with number 2. The reasoning behind that is, it holds more paint and if the brush is good, its tip is sharp almost as on a smaller brush so you don’t need the smaller size. A good rule of thumb is the better the tip (meaning sharper) the bigger the brush it could be.
Brush care & brush cleaners
The basic habit you should learn early on is to clean your brush often. Never leave the paint dry out in the bristles. Going to your water cup, rinsing and wiping on a piece of kitchen towel should be an instant automation you need to develop.
At the same time, you have to make sure you never dip your whole brush into the paint. Always make sure the paint reaches only about 1/3 of the hair (see picture). If you follow these 2 rules your brushes will last you for years.
If you want to go the extra mile, you can buy one of the brush soaps. These are specific products designed to clean paint out of brush bristles and protect them from the harsh chemicals in your paints.
Extra tip: If you keep a little bit of the soap dry out in the bristles. It makes your bristles stiff and the soap preserves the tip better while you’re not using the brush.
I use Raphael brand Soap but I have also seen people recommend Masterson Brush Soap.
Available miniature painting brush brands
If you decide to go with any of those brands you will definitely not make a mistake. As you grow as a painter, you will usually try brushes from different brands and settle on one. Everyone has got its favorite but the differences between the high-end brushes are not that big. I am encouraging you to try them and see yourself. My personal favorite is Raphael Kolinsky Red Sable Size 1 and I paint almost everything with it. But Winsor Newton Series 7 size 2 is the most used.
- Winsor Newton Series 7
- Raphael Kolinsky Red Sable (8404)
- Da Vinci Maestro Series 10
- Artis Opus Series M
Interesting videos about Winsor & Newton brush makers:
How Raphael brush is made?
Vince Venturella’s video on brushes:
What miniature painting brush you consider the best? Let me know in the comments.