This is the first of many Tools of the Trade articles where I'll be going over various items that my friends and I use to make our lives as professional miniature painters easier. I will be dividing these into 3 categories to make them easier to spot, beginner, intermediate, and expert. I will also be covering techniques in an upcoming series of lessons to make you a better painter.



Over the years I have used everything from the cheapest brushes to the most expensive. As a miniature painter one of the most important things in our toolbox are the brushes that we use. Now as you know there are literally hundreds of options out there and I have used many of them over the years that I have been in the hobby. I am going to share with you some things that will hopefully make your life easier and save you the troubles that I had. Back when I started it was WalMart specials and GW brushes. I was able to put paint on the model but they would lose their point really quickly and I would go through brushes quite quickly. At 3 or 4 dollars each the cost of using cheap brushes would go up quickly.



About 10 years ago I decided I wanted to do the painting thing a bit more seriously and I went out and purchased brushes that were aimed at artists. I used Mastertouch and Winsor and Newton brushes that were designed for acrylic paints. I made an important discovery. My painting really did improve, the control was better and I was able to do finer work. That said, the brushes still wore out quickly and so I decided to take some advice from some of the professional artists that I'd met and moved onto Kolinsky Sable brushes.

DiVinci 1526Y
The first Kolinsky brush that I bought was on vacation at my mother's house. It was a DiVinci 1526Y. It was on sale and was cheap enough where if I decided that these were not for me I wouldn't waste a bunch of money. Wow, I was sold from the start! The detail I was able to pull of was amazing, far better than any of the other cheaper brushes I'd been using. This sold me on the idea of using Kolinsky. After about a week of doing research online I decided on using Winsor and Newton Series 7 brushes. Some people will tell you that using a certain type of paintbrush will not make you a better painter but I say that it in fact will. I noticed even more of an improvement to my painting when I started with these brushes. I was able to pull off blending better and easier and the tips stay incredibly sharp for a long time.  

Now most people will probably get sticker shock when they see the price on the Series 7 or any of the other fine art brushes but I will tell you why its better to go with them over the cheaper brushes. While I was using cheaper brushes they would last maybe 3 months tops. This meant I would replace them 4 times a year.


  • 4 brushes a year x $3.00 brush = $12.00 per cheap brush per year. 
This is also conservative, normally the brushes would only last a month or two tops. So in reality I would be spending $24+ on cheap brushes just to paint. Now a Series 7 size 1 is $12.99 and Size 2 is $15.49 from my favorite online art supply store Merri Artist. I know what you're thinking, yes they do cost a lot from the start but in the long run you will save money. I have had my Series 7 size 1 for over 4 years of painting. 

  • 1 Brush / 4 Years = $4.25 per year of use (and counting).
Winsor and Newton Series 7
Now I understand some artists out there will replace their Kolinsky brushes once a year, but these are the guys who paint hundreds of minis on theirs per year, and by paint I mean award winning stuff. So as you can see you will end up saving money, lots of money in the long run of using good quality paint brushes over the cheap brushes that you will get from places like WalMart.

Now don't get me wrong, Winsor and Newton series 7 are not the only high end brushes out there, in a poll I did on several sites and twitter they are the most popular but here are some of the others that are used as well:
Games and Gears Master Series
Available at www.gamesandgears.co.uk on preorder

Raphael 8404 
Escoda Reserva
Escoda Reserva Travel Brushes

You can find these brushes at a variety of stores including but not limited to www.merriartist.com, www.dickblick.com, www.secretweaponminiatures.com, www.plazaart.com and many more. There are even more options then those that I have listed. Next up in the series will be a quick walk through on cleaning these wonderful brushes, stay tuned here.  If you have any questions please feel free to post them below, or if you have any opinions on this age old debate please post them up as well!


 
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