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3 Must-Know Brush Care Tips for Miniature Painters
G&S Painters GuildG&S Painters Guild

3 Must-Know Brush Care Tips for Miniature Painters

On The Painter’s Guild, host Will Friedle (who is new to the hobby) is joined by veteran hobbyists who show him the ins and outs of painting minis. Join him on his journey this Monday for another episode airing on Alpha where he’ll be joined by an experienced hobbyist with more awesome advice on painting minis.

Paint brushes are a necessity for miniature painting – it’s not like we can simply paint miniatures with our fingers, or even sharpie markers. The results of such endeavours tend to speak for themselves. At the same time, developing good brush care habits will allow you to justify buying higher quality hobby paint brushes (whose fine tips and rich belly can impact the quality of your painting for the better) because they’ll last you a good long time.

1. Take Care of Your Ferrule

There are three parts to a brush you need to know about. The bristles, the handle, and the ferrule  — where the handle and the bristles are joined. Caring for the ferrule (particularly the inside where it houses the bristles) means caring for the longevity of your brush. If the ferrule breaks down, or paint gets locked up in it, it can mean bad things, whether it’s shedding to the point where you no longer have a brush but instead have a stick, or causing the bristles to split and splay out, making it worthless for detail painting with any control.

Brush Care 2

The easiest way to take care of your ferrule is to simply keep paint out of it. Use an old brush (or one not used for detail painting), a palette knife, or a small spatula to pull paint out of paint bottles (if you’re using ones that aren’t dropper style). When loading your brush with paint, keep the paint in the bottom half of the bristles instead of saturating the paint all the way up the entirety of the bristles (and thus wicking up into the ferrule.)

2. Never Let Paint Dry In Your Brush

Even if the paint isn’t up in your ferrule, dried paint will destroy your bristles. It stiffens them and makes them more brittle, meaning that they’re more likely to break even as you try to work the paint out. A paintbrush with dried paint in its bristles isn’t a brush, it’s a stick.  The easiest way to avoid dry paint in your bristles (and ferrule) is to rinse your brush often. Rinse it before reloading more paint into your brush, when changing paint colors, and when you’re congratulating yourself for completing a model and how far you’ve come in the hobby.

wash brush


3. Deep Clean (and Condition) Your Brushes Regularly

Beyond swishing your brushes in water during the process of painting, it’s a good idea to get some brush soap and give your brushes a cleaning, particularly brushes you use for dry brushing. I am endeared to a particular drybrush from the cosmetics aisle. I use a combination of brush soap and rubbing alcohol for this brush’s synthetic fibers to break down dried paint stuck in its bristles. While it does eventually get destroyed by the really harsh drybrushing process, it still has significant longevity because I deep clean it after every time I use it.

For my natural fiber brushes, I’ll use some soap and cheap conditioner (or olive oil) to keep the bristles in good shape. I use natural fiber brushes for detail work, so it’s mostly about keeping the bristles paint-free and moisturized so it doesn’t dry out and the bristles don’t become brittle.

If you want a rundown of these rules as well as a few additional tips, check out my Geek & Sundry Vlog on the topic:

Be sure to join Will Friedle on The Painter’s Guild this Monday on Alpha and jump on the miniature painting bandwagon!

Watch Geek & Sundry's Painter's Guild


Image Credits: Teri Litorco

Teri Litorco is a tabletop game fangirl who makes YouTube videos about miniature games that include various painting and scenery tutorials and helpful tips. She’s also the author of The Civilized Guide to Tabletop Gaming and the Geek & Sundry Vlogs miniature wargaming vlogger. To keep up with her personal projects, her on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter, and help her continue to make accessible painting tutorials by supporting her on Patreon.

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