So you've just finished assembling and priming your brand new miniatures and are eager to start painting. You reach for your paintbrush only to find that the brush looks like Doc Brown after a severe electrocution. Your brush has been a victim of bristle neglect, a problem which plagues the wargaming world. Good brush care not only means that your paintbrush will last for longer it will also prevent your paint-jobs from being negatively impacted. After all, how can you be expected to capture all of those little details when your brush is suffering from a bad case of fish tail.

As is usually the case, education is the best form of prevention and here I am to share a few tips I picked up over my years of painting.



Use

  • Use the right brush for the job, fine brushes are best suited for detail work, thicker brushes tend to work well as wash brushes and flat brushes are excellent for dry brushing. Ensure that you only use your brush in it dedicated role to avoid unnecessary wear.
  • Ensure that the paint covers no more than half the length of the bristles as this will not only make the brush harder to work with but it may also cause paint to build up at the base of the bristles.
  • Rinse the brush frequently during painting, every 15 to 20 minutes is recommended. This helps to avoid a build up around the ferrule (the metal band) which can lead to fraying.

Cleaning

  • Ensure that your brushes are thoroughly cleaned after every painting session. Use acrylic brush cleaners, which can be bought from most paint stores, for the best results. This removes paint residue and also restores the oils found in natural fiber brushes. Alternatively you can use a mild soap or shampoo such as those designed for babies.
  • Gently wash the bristles in cool water, gently rolling them between your fingers to ensure that all of the  paint is removed. Never use hot water to clean the brushes as this can melt the bristle adhesive and cause loose strands. If you do get loose strands use fine tweezers to remove them.
  • Restore the points of your brushes whilst the bristles are still wet. This can be done by twisting the brush in the folds of your palm or using your mouth. This will ensure that the brush will dry at a point ready for its next use. 
  • If using natural fibers, you can maintain your points by leaving some normal hair conditioner in the bristles after cleaning. Just ensure that this is rinsed out before starting to paint again.
  • Dry the handle of the brush with a cloth but allow the bristles to air dry before storing.

Storage

  • Keep a hold of the plastic sheaths that usually come with brushes, these will protect the bristles from getting bashed during storage. If do not have them then you could use plastic drinking straws cut to size.
  • Store within a brush case or in a dedicated pot but avoid storing in damp dark areas as this can cause mold to form within the bristles.

Summary

If you follow the steps above you will find that your brushes will last for much longer, helping you to get the most out of your money. You will also find that painting is much easier when you are not battling with overly stiff or limp bristles and you can actually paint those fine details without spilling out. There is also a lot to be said about choosing the right kind of brush, check out our Beginners Guide to Brushes for more information.
 
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