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What are good paint brushes?


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 As I am painting I am noticing that the tips of my brushes continue to curl as well as separate.  I never leave my brush is soaking in water or solvent so I’m not sure whether tips are curling like they are. I purchased some Vallejo Acrylic paints and am very happy with the paint.  Is there a certain paint brush that works good with these paints?

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What is a good brush? An expensive one. I am not trying to be funny, but you get what you pay for. With care, a good brush will last for many years, so it's a good investment. I'm still using 30+ year old sable brushes. These are Winsor and Newton Series 7. They still form a good tip even after use with acrylics. However, as Kurt notes, you are probably better off using synthetic bristle for acrylic paint.

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Winsor and Newton Series 7 comes with good reviews - didn't know there was an acrylics issue I had never heard anyone mention this before.

 

I use the Tamiya Pros mainly because I like the grip to be as close to the tip as possible and generally you cannot go wrong with Tamiya, their tools are somewhat pricey but my view of Tamiya is you tend to get what you pay for.

 

I still have the full set of the black handle versions but I do possess one white handle version, I think the black handle is of slightly less quality than the white handle version but I don't think I could notice the difference! The downside is the pros do not come in the larger brush sizes, but Tamiya have this covered with the rest of their range.

 

One product I do use with brushes is this brush cleaning soap from Masters

tamiyabrush.PNG

soap.PNG

Edited by Richmond
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Guest Riccardo1966

Hello,

I would second Winsor & Newton series 7, high quality Kolinsky sable and perfect for use with Vallejo paints. Other brushes of similar quality would include:

1. Da Vinci Maestro Kolinsky sable

2. Raphael series 8404 Kolinsky sable

3. Rosemary & Co Kolinsky sable  ( Several series and very good value for money)

There are others but, these are some of the very best and that I have personal knowledge of.

Synthetics also offer a cheaper option, I own a number from all of the above manufacturers. Bare in mind that high quality sable brushes will hold moisture content better than most man made bristles.

The separation of the brush into "forks" is likely lack of moisture, more of a problem with cheaper brushes but may still happen as the paint mixture dries in the brush. Vallejo do a "Retarder Medium" no. 597 to add to your paint, this may help (only add a drop or two, very little)

It is very much "You get what you pay for" with brushes, as is the case with most things.

The brush soap is a great recommendation as well.

Rosemary & Co have a website where you can download a catalogue or request a free hard copy, and it is well worth getting. ( I am not connected to them, just a customer)

Hope that helps

Richard

 

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Natural bristle brushes (the expensive ones) are far less forgiving of abuse than synthetic bristle brushes. Natural bristles are best for oil-based paints, while synthetic bristles are best for water-based (for want of a better term) acrylics. Natural bristle brushes require proper cleaning and storage if they are to survive. Harsh detergents wash the natural oils from bristle brushes and greatly shorten their lifespans.

 

I've also noticed that there is now a wide selection of small-sized brushes, primarily synthetics, sold at very reasonable prices as "nail decorating brushes." These are sold for use by manicurists painting fingernails with all  those dots and lines and so on that are now fashionable with some women. eBay is full of them. Some are high-quality and some not. The prices seem much less than similar products in modeling tool catalogs.

 

 

 

 

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Also noticed a few years ago that the booming market for nail-'artists' (perhaps better artisans) provides many interesting articles for modellers. In fact, it seems that they initially borrowed tools and materials from the modelling scene and then developed further. The larger market then has brought prices down. As noted, lining and dotting brushes are particular of interest.

Brushes are one of those items, where it is better to go to a shop and try them out. You put a bit of saliva on your finger tips to we the brush and form a tip. However, self-service racks in many art-materials shops have led to brushes often being damaged by negligent would-be customers. It happened to me that I had to walk out of reputable shops because they just didn't have (anymore) what I wanted.

In desperation, I tried mail order and got a batch from an UK supplier. One or two of their brushes were not ok, but they refunded the money when I mailed them a picture with the defective ones.

Winsor & Newton also do a series of short synthetic brushes, which have some advantage for detail work, though they do not hold as much paint as the standard ones. The fact that they hold less paint requires more frequent refilling with fresh paint, which is better with acrylics that would otherwise begin to dry in the upper part of the brush.

Since my wife gave me one of those mugs with paint-brush soap, I have used this, but before that I used the special washing powder for wool, which is very effective and keeps the brushes elastic.

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Guest Riccardo1966

There seems to be some confusion about "natural bristle" etc. Bristle are brushes made from Hog hair, Chunking bristle from China being a particularly good all round, multi media brush able to manipulate heavy body acrylics and oils. Sable( Mustela sibirica, A type of weasel) brushes tend to be used mostly with watercolours and acrylics because they are not as heavy a paint, they are used less with oils other than with filters and washes. The vallejo paints that Antonio is using are well suited to sable or sable synthetic blends. I am not aware of any brushes that like to be abused and, you should have a few brushes as "throw aways" or older brushes relegated for this purpose. I would advocate care, as with any decent tool. Smaller brushes that hold less will not dry out slower, surface area/volume ratio says the opposite, only retarding mediums will slow the drying time,all other things being equal eg how much a paint has been reduced, temperature etc. I too have seen many tatty brushes and less range than I would like in otherwise good shops. I order online from artist supplies or direct from the manufacturer, these brushes will likely have been handled a lot less than shop bought ones and are easy enough to return if need be. I also never buy from "tool catalogues", they are at best, very average brushes. I know this may seem to be labouring the point( After all, the title did include "Good brushes") but I own hundreds of brushes, not all very expensive, but all good quality and some nearly 30 years old. There are enough bespoke manufactures offering extensive , affordable individual brushes and sets to satisfy most needs.

Edited by Riccardo1966
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A reputable artists' supply store will give you a container of water on request to test out the point of a quality (or pricey!) brush you are considering purchasing. 

 

Brushes usually have 'dressing' in them as supplied to keep the bristles or hairs pointed. This needs to be rinsed off in order to truly assess the brush.

Edited by druxey
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Probably one of the best sources for information on small brushes is an old-school sign painter. Sign painting "quills" are very expensive and the sign painters took great care with them so they'd last a long time. Unfortunately, sign painting is another craft which has taken a big hit in the "digital age" with computer-generated vinyl letters and signs. They aren't the same, of course, and a knowledgeable eye can spot the computer-generated lettering straightaway, particularly on curved surfaces such as boat transoms.

 

It also bears mentioning that sign painting paints are quite suitable for modeling and probably less expensive when bought in pint cans rather than oen ounce bottles. They have the same requirements: lots of very fine pigment and good leveling ability. Sign painters need a paint that will cover well in a single stroke of the brush. They can't be going over a letter over and over again. "One Shot" is a long-popular brand of sign paint in the U.S. Oil based, like all good paint, of course.

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Coach-lining seems to be a craft that has persisted much longer in the anglo-saxon world than in continental Europe, where it all but disappeared after WW2. Nowadays it seems to become more popular again, as it sort of merges into 'custom-painting' of motorcycles in particular and in particular in the USA. There the same 'one-shot' paradigm prevails. On the Internet there are videos of real good artisans in their field. It would be worthwhile to have a look at their 'lining' brushes and the paints they are using.

 

The problem for us modellers is that we should excel in at least a dozen, if not more, crafts ...

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28 minutes ago, wefalck said:

Coach-lining seems to be a craft that has persisted much longer in the anglo-saxon world than in continental Europe, where it all but disappeared after WW2. Nowadays it seems to become more popular again, as it sort of merges into 'custom-painting' of motorcycles in particular and in particular in the USA. There the same 'one-shot' paradigm prevails. On the Internet there are videos of real good artisans in their field. It would be worthwhile to have a look at their 'lining' brushes and the paints they are using.

 

The problem for us modellers is that we should excel in at least a dozen, if not more, crafts ...

Wefalck

 

Is "lining" and pin striping the same thing? From the context of your input, I think it is the same thing but have never heard it called lining before now.

Yes indeed, I have watched professional pin striping painters and it is fun to see them work their craft. Those guys have a very steady hand.

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I gather on my side of the pond, but on the other side of the channel, it is called coach-lining, because it was originally applied to horse-drawn coaches and then spread to railway coaches and engines and finally to commercial vehicles, both steam- and IC-powered ones. It finally went out of fashion in the early 1950s I think. To me it always looked quite 'exotic', as only perhaps bicycles and motorcycles had such lining or stripes, say on the fenders, in continental Europe. At least German steam locomotives were painted black all over since the 1920s, a typical field of application in the UK.

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I have had excellent results with system 3 brushes

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Daler-Rowney-System-Brush-Case/dp/B001DJ8EPA/ref=sr_1_1/261-5851405-9161227?ie=UTF8&qid=1545252558&sr=8-1&keywords=system+3+brushes

 

or pro arte prolene plus. 

 

System 3 and Valejo (thinned with the hand bush media + retarder) produce great results, no brush strokes.

 

 

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Guest Riccardo1966

I have also used/own Pro-Art prolene as well as their angled shaders and "polar" synthetics, brilliant brushes. I also own a wallet of the system 3 brushes, although they are more suited to larger jobs, again, very nice brushes. When lining in the scale we would normally build in, I have used a Bow pen for thin lines, just load up with Humbrol and thin about 60/40 paint to thinners.

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Deviating from actual brushes, there are other ways than the bow-pen of applying ink and paint in a controlled way. After the bow-pen came what is called in German a funnel-pen (Trichterfeder, not sure of the correct term in English), essentially a funnel-shaped device that fits into a pen-holder (it's the fourth from the left in the picture below). A spring-steel wire allows the tube to be cleaned from clogged ink/paint. The line-width is equal to the outside diameter of the tube. It is the predecessor to the fountain drafting-pen.

 

Pen evolution

Image taken from https://www.typotheque.com/articles/from_lettering_guides_to_cnc_plotters, a nice summary of the subject.

 

While designed for use with inks, rather than pigmented paint, I know that it is still being used by porcelain-painters to apply lettering and in that realm still available commercially. I got a couple of them, actually. I would not use them with acrylics, as these just dry too fast, even though the airbrush-ready paints from bottles might be tempting. I think there is also white pigmented ink that dries more slowly. And, btw, normal pens as pictured above are also useful to apply paint to reasonably flat surfaces - but again acrylics don't work very well, unless mixed with a retarder.

 

Further deviating from brushes and looking beyond the plate: women use little foam brushes to apply make-up. I got myself some through ebay (not wanting to steal them from my wife) and they are useful to apply paint to objects, particularly raised features, kind of 'rubbing on' the paint. I have used their big DIY brothers a lot.

Edited by wefalck
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