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Importance of brushes

Discussion in 'Painting Techniques' started by Dolf, Jun 20, 2019.

  1. Dolf Active Member

    Country:
    Portugal
    Hi!

    Most of us here use brushes (I know some may occasionally use airbrushes) so just like the mediums we use (enamels, acrylics, oils, all together, whatever) are important for the final results we aim to achieve, I think the brushes we use are also as important (after all it's our main tool for applying the mediums on our subjects) .

    I'm not sure if the topic has been brought up before, if so please forgive for bringing it up again. A link to possible previous threads on this would be appreciated.

    Anyway, in your own opinion, what would be the best/more suitable (for whatever reasons) brushes for each of the 3 main mediums we use, enamels, acrylics and oils.

    Synthetic or natural hair? (Only recently I bought a couple of Kolinsky sable brushes, I do have a few but all the others are synthetic)
    Question: is it worthy investing on that rather expensive W&N Series 7, or are others (including other manufacturers making the same quality Kolinsky sable but cheaper) as good?
    Recommended brands? (I do have them from plenty of different manufacturers, from Humbrol to Talens, to da Vinci, to Raphael, Van Gogh... a few more... these new Kolinsky sable are from Kolibri)

    Closely related to the brushes issue, is how to better clean them? (In my case it depends on the type of paint I use. If enamels, I clean the brushes with a regular Synthetic Thinner, but if oils, I use either White Spirit or Essence of Turpentine)

    Please share your thoughts.

    Cheers!

    Dolf
    rossbach likes this.
  2. MattMcK. Active Member

    W&N are the best. They hold their points longer than any others I have tried. That said, I'm rough on them. Still, a good W&N series 7 will last a year or more for me, barring user error.

    I always clean with odorless mineral spirits or soap & water, or both. Master's Brush Cleaner is also a very valuable tool to use periodically.
    Dolf and rossbach like this.
  3. harrytheheid PlanetFigure Supporter

    Country:
    China
    I only paint with acrylics and for me the choices are;
    Raphael 8484 or W&N Series 7 for detail work, and Rosemary & Co for more general painting jobs, with locally bought synthetics for groundwork.
    I always used the 7's for details in the past, but fancied a change, so I recently bought a set of the Raphael's and haven't used them enough to form an opinion as yet. Sizes are #00, #0, #1 and #2.

    At the end of each painting session, I clean them with water and then give each a good swirl around on a cake of brush soap. I've no definite favorite on which one I use - I did have a cake of Masters soap, but have no idea where it disappeared to, so I'm presently using Broken Toad's brush soap, which seems to be fine.
    If I really screw up and there's an accumulation of gunk in the ferrule, then they get a good overnight soak in some diluted "Brush Magic" from Delux Materials, then a good rinse followed by the brush soap, followed by a good rinse, followed by the brush soap again until they're as clean as possible and almost good as new.
    During a paint session I do admit to temporarily putting them vertically in an old jam jar with the brush end up; but once I'm finished a paint session and cleaned them, I always pop the plastic tube back on the end and store them horizontally in this nicely carved Chinese wooden box the wife bought me for that exact purpose.

    My airbrushes are only used for priming and sometimes base-coating figures, 1:35 scale AFV's, or spraying groundwork. I have a 0.5mm needle Neo-Iwata trigger action, a progressive 0.35mm needle Apex from UMP and a 0.3mm needle from Mr Hobby - all of them are excellent tools for my purposes. I initially use water and then UMP airbrush cleaner at the end of each spraying session, with a strip-down and deep clean every six months or so.

    Cheers
    H
    Dolf, Scotty and MattMcK. like this.
  4. Banjer Active Member

    Country:
    England
    I have always used no 7's but they are getting very expensive. I was going to try Rosemary and co from El Greco but they were out of stock. I bought two sable brushes from Historex and they are OK but I find the long bristle length a bit unwieldy. My go to now is Proart connoisseur which I buy through Amazon. I don't use them on acrylics as I find the medium hard on brushes and I only use it for undercoating anyway.I paint in oils. I clean brushes in white spirit and restore the point in my mouth, I know I shouldn't but after 40 odd years of doing it , it has become a habit I can't break.

    Bill
    Dolf and MattMcK. like this.
  5. rossbach PlanetFigure Supporter

    Country:
    Netherlands
    Winsor & Newton series 7 have served me well over the years. Their main advantage being their ability to hold a needle point. But the bristles are long enough to act as a paintreservoir as well. True they are expensive but when treated well (rinse in turpentine directly after use and during paintingsessions + cleaning with a brush cleaner & water after each session) they last for years.

    Paul
    Martin64 and Dolf like this.
  6. valiant A Fixture

    Country:
    United-Kingdom
  7. Dolf Active Member

    Country:
    Portugal
    Thank you very much for the replies and details.

    I've already learned a few things with this thread! For instance didn't even know about that Masters Brush Cleaner nor that there was such a thing as "brush soap"! Amazing! As "they" say, we never stop learning...


    "I clean brushes in white spirit and restore the point in my mouth, I know I shouldn't but after 40 odd years of doing it , it has become a habit I can't break."

    Bill, funny that you mention that detail, as I do the exact same thing before popping the plastic tube back on them (only for the smaller sizes, I don't have plastic tubes for the larger ones, but #0s or below do have them, and I always store my smaller sizes brushes with their protective plastic tubes; I have to do it carefully tho, using my glasses, for not messing up and involuntarily damage one or more hairs) :D


    "During a paint session I do admit to temporarily putting them vertically in an old jam jar with the brush end up; but once I'm finished a paint session and cleaned them, I always pop the plastic tube back on the end and store them horizontally in this nicely carved Chinese wooden box the wife bought me for that exact purpose."

    I've already seen pics of systems to store brushes horizontally. But I confess I've never understood the purpose/the reason :(
    Harry, from what you say it seems important to store them that way, as opposed to having them stored vertically in a jar (that is how I've always stored mine... :oops: ) .


    Guess I'll have to invest in some W&N series 7, or equivalent :cool:

    I must say I'm quite satisfied with the results using this couple of Kolinsky by Kolibri (a #0 and a #2/0), and since I got them haven't used the synthetic ones I have, not even for some small details, despite having a couple of other #00, even one 6/0 (Raphael) and one 10/0 (da Vinci), as these two sable ones are obviously much better for details.


    Again many thanks (y)


    Cheers!

    Dolf
    harrytheheid and Babelfish like this.
  8. harrytheheid PlanetFigure Supporter

    Country:
    China
    As I understand it Dolf, storing brushes vertically is held to be bad practice because any paint still left on the bristles can migrate down into the ferrule.
    I reckon there's more chance of this happening due to my habit of popping the brushes into a jam jar during paint sessions rather than after they've been cleaned and put away.
    To be consistent, I suppose they could always be placed onto a chopstick holder, or something similar, during a paint session to keep them almost horizontal and with the bristles clear of the workbench.
    But apart from all that, the wife says it's important they be stored horizontally - and who am I to argue? Besides, how else would I use that wooden box she bought me?
    :unsure:
    Cheers
    H
    Nap likes this.
  9. Dolf Active Member

    Country:
    Portugal
    Harry,


    "As I understand it Dolf, storing brushes vertically is held to be bad practice because any paint still left on the bristles can migrate down into the ferrule."

    Which makes perfect sense!

    Now what if you clean them before storing them? I never put my brushes on the storage jar (where they remain vertically) before cleaning them good ;)



    "I suppose they could always be placed onto a chopstick holder"

    Didn't know exactly how they look like so did some research. Those I saw, holders I mean (not rest), looks like the only way to put brushes on them is vertically, not horizontally, so not sure if it's the same thing you mention :unsure:



    "But apart from all that, the wife says it's important they be stored horizontally - and who am I to argue?"

    They always know :LOL:



    "Besides, how else would I use that wooden box she bought me?"

    Pictures, please :) Based on other pics of yours, I'm sure it's a beautiful one ;)


    Thanks (y)

    Cheers!

    Dolf
    harrytheheid likes this.
  10. Landrotten Highlander Well-Known Member

    I am sure Harry meant the chopstick rests. These are used at the Japanese table to prevent the chopsticks touching the table, and thus soiling the eating environment, and hence its use is considered good manners.
    Never tought of that, but I will be making something similar myself.

    I was told some sime ago that if you are painting with water solluble paints, it is a good idea to use a small shallow dish (such as a teacup saucer) filled with water to let your brushes rest. The heads are sitting inside the small puddle of water, which means they are at all times immeadiately ready to receive a load of paint.
    Seems logical to make sure you only put clean brushes on this plate --- don't ask me how I know:oops:
    Dolf and harrytheheid like this.
  11. Helm A Fixture

    Country:
    England
    Dolf likes this.
  12. fogie Well-Known Member

    Country:
    United-Kingdom
    Brushes must be considered as consumable, I'm afraid - they wear out or their points 'break'. They must then be relegated to the box reserved for
    old brushes and used only for mixing purposes. Sable brushes, particularly Kolinskys, are obviously the best for some work - but that doesn't include
    painting figures. They were designed for artists specialising in water colour painting, and no matter how careful you are, oils and even acrylics will
    quickly wreck them. The thing is, Dolf, you buy the best brushes you can reasonably afford and renew them from time to time. My own choice for
    years now is Pro Arte Prolene 103 series 7's. They are known as riggers, and the synthetic hair extends the 'mileage'. The bristles are longer than
    normal so they flex a little more but provide a decent reservoir for the paint

    Mike
    Dolf likes this.
  13. Hawk_Uk PlanetFigure Supporter

    Country:
    United-Kingdom
    Hi Dolf

    Lots of good information has all ready been given but a few others that come to mind;

    W&N Series 7 were design for Queen Victoria who was an accomplished Watercolour artist. But can be used for any type of paint, though recently they have had some quality issues search the forum regarding this.

    But the general consensus is that a good quality Kolinsky Sable brush is what most modelers use whether it is figures or AFV and to a certain extent Aircraft. After use though make sure they are cleaned thoroughly with an appropriate cleaner and the point reformed.

    The plastic sleeve apart from protecting the bristle is there so you can stand the brush upside down, once they are cleaned, to let any liquid drain out through the tip and all good quality brushes should come with them even the larges sizes. During painting then some sort of rest can be used, I personally tend to have them rolling around the desk, but Sphere Products give out brush rest (like the chop stick stand) at most shows they attend. Well worth stopping by there stand and picking one or two up.

    As Mike says brushes do wear out and I know a couple of modelers who will use a new brush every time they start a new model, expensive with W&N 7's :), but then again they are Gold medal winners.

    But in the end find a brush that you feel happy using and that works for your style of painting and enjoy wearing them out.
    Dolf likes this.
  14. Kimmo Active Member

    Been reading with interest as I've gotten my skill level to the stage where I am going to start looking into brushes a little more purposefully to find the right set(s). To date, I've used whatever I can afford, which has usually meant "decent" brushes and mainly synthetic. There are some very excellent synthetics available, but they aren't exactly cheap either... I did pick up some Raphaels that were heavily reduced and found them to be much too floppy for working with acrylics. The quality of the brushes weren't really the issue, it was the way the brush behaved. I've noticed this tendency with other sables as well which is why I've avoided spending money on them as a rule. I work exclusively with acrylics and brush paint everything, from bases to vehicles and everything in between so I go through a lot of them, or at least did until I learned what brush types were best suited for any particular application and got to the point where my skills dictated better brushes for detail work. I have a selection of cheap nail art brushes for primers and sometimes base coats, then a better quality selection for blocking in and my best brushes are reserved for detail work only. You might be surprised how good "cheap" brushes can be, the downside being they lose their shape very quickly, but if they cost less than 1 euro a piece, it's not going to hasten bankruptcy if you do need to buy a new set each year.

    I will be looking into the Artists Opus M range when there is some extra cash to be had as they claim to be stiffer and designed for detail work. And to that end, are there any other sables out there that are stiffer? I prefer a medium to small (shorter) brush head, riggers and liners are right out. The few of those I have are only brought out when absolutely necessary. I find the shorter bristles are best suited for my style, which also brings up the point that brushes are very personal and it may take some time to find the right type for you, your style, ability and budget.

    Kimmo
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  15. harrytheheid PlanetFigure Supporter

    Country:
    China
    Yeah, my bad, I was indeed meaning chopstick rests, which come in all kinds of designs - some dead cheap and some unbelievably expensive, but all end up doing much the same job.
    Some examples;
    2.jpg 3.jpg 1.jpg

    I use a saucer for mixing and diluting acrylics. Not sure about letting brushes lie in a puddle of water during a painting session though.
    I guess it works fine, but not something I've ever thought of doing - my work table is cluttered up enough as it is.

    Cheers
    H
    Dolf likes this.
  16. harrytheheid PlanetFigure Supporter

    Country:
    China
    Oh, she's a beauty all right - yeah, the box as well....:whistle:
    Here you go - that's my new Raphael 8484's and my "working" Series 7's;
    5.JPG

    They all fit nicely into an old Broken Toad brush box;
    6.JPG

    Which then fits into the wooden box that Keeper I'm married to says she bought me - although I've a sneaking suspicion it's just an old chopstick box one of her friends gave her.
    Naah, perish the thought - forget I wrote that....:LOL:....apart from the Keeper bit.
    7.JPG

    I forgot to mention, until John's post reminded me. Yes, one of the purposes of the plastic tubes is so you can store them bristles down after a good clean.
    That's how I keep my Rosemary & Co's ready for action and how I also store my back-up set of Raphael's.
    8.JPG

    As other members have said, choice of brushes is one of those subjective things that will vary from one person to the next.
    For example, I quite like Rosemary & Co's series 33, but prefer the Series 22 because the bristles are longer. Some guys prefer shorter bristles on their paintbrushes. It really depends on what you're looking for in a brush and how easy it is to adapt to your own particular style. It would be a dreary and quite dreadful world if we were all boring clones wisely nodding our heads because we all liked exactly the same things, whether that be paintbrushes, types of paints, figures scales, figure genre's, and so on, and so on, and........;)
    Vive la différence

    Cheers
    H....:)
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  17. Dolf Active Member

    Country:
    Portugal
    Hi Harry,


    Wonderful box indeed! Thank you for the pics! (y)


    "I forgot to mention, until John's post reminded me. Yes, one of the purposes of the plastic tubes is so you can store them bristles down after a good clean."

    Amazing! All these years using brushes, and I had no idea about that! :oops:

    One more thing I've learned from this thread! (y)



    "my new Raphael 8484's"

    Have tried to find these, but can't find them! Can find a Raphael 8404 red sable watercolor brushes series, but no 8484 :unsure:



    "Yeah, my bad, I was indeed meaning chopstick rests, which come in all kinds of designs - some dead cheap and some unbelievably expensive, but all end up doing much the same job."

    Ok, that's what I thought ;)

    Indeed, almost anything can be used for that effect, a simple pebble with the right shape for instance, anything where we can put down our brushes for a short period of time (while on a painting session for instance) .
    I'll have to look into that and find something that I can use for that purpose.



    "Vive la différence"

    Absolument! C'est ce qui rend chacun de nous, unique ;)


    Cheers!

    Dolf
    harrytheheid likes this.
  18. Dolf Active Member

    Country:
    Portugal
    Hi John,


    "The plastic sleeve apart from protecting the bristle is there so you can stand the brush upside down, once they are cleaned, to let any liquid drain out through the tip and all good quality brushes should come with them even the larges sizes."


    Thank you very much for the information! (y)
    Really had no idea about that important detail!


    Cheers!

    Dolf
  19. harrytheheid PlanetFigure Supporter

    Country:
    China
    Not your fault - it's me being incredibly stoopid. They are indeed 8404's. It's not even a typo. For some reason I had 8484 on the brain? Must be this week's winning lottery number or something!
    That's a few "Senior Moments" I've had recently, or maybe just "Careless Moments", or even both. Sorry about that.
    :rolleyes:
    I got mine from Broken Toad. Here's the link.
    https://www.brokentoadstore.co.uk/index.php?id_category=83&controller=category

    They also have W&N series 7's at a reasonable price for the sizes I use most often; #00, #0 and #1.
    Dolf likes this.
  20. Dolf Active Member

    Country:
    Portugal
    Hi Harry,


    "They are indeed 8404's."


    Thanks for confirming. No need for apologizing (y)



    Not sure if I can find that Raphael's 8404 series here, but I do know where they do have those W&N series 7. As for the prices (check them here: https://www.pontodasartes.com/en/ca...tetico/winsor-newton-series-7-kolinsky-round/ ), as usual, they are more expensive here than in the UK (in this case I guess it's acceptable, after all I think W&N are based in the UK, right?) ...


    "For some reason I had 8484 on the brain? Must be this week's winning lottery number or something!"

    Lol... If I was you, I'd play/buy a ticket... who knows?

    Some consider "numerologic synchronicities" very important "signs"/"messages"... who knows?... :)

    With me it's the time on the computer (mainly) or the cell phone. There are numbers that at times tend to repeat/show up again & again, and that happens haply, not something I look for. 11:11, and/or 22:22 are two of those that happen regularly, but I have no idea of the meaning (or even if it has some) ! :confused:


    "I got mine from Broken Toad. Here's the link."


    I checked your link, thank you!

    For a number of reasons I do prefer (have to, actually) to buy locally, so I can pay in cash (no cards, no bank accounts, been out of that for a few years now; as everything else, every choice, or decision, it has its advantages, as well as its inconveniences...) . For ordering from abroad, it can get complicate (in some cases), or easily & securely done with for instance WU (in those cases I order from reasonable people) .



    Cheers!

    Dolf
    harrytheheid likes this.

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