Upgrading my brushes?

Trying to improve my figure painting , what is generally considered the best brushes on the market?

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As far as I know, the best brushes are Winsor & Newton Serie 7


Yes Winsor & Newton Series 7 are universally considered the highest quality, best painting, longest lasting brushes in the world. I have had them for 30 years.


A lot depends on the medium or type of paint you’re using.

I do prefer natural sable bristle brushes for both water-based acrylics and artist oils, but for acrylics, I’ve found that long-bristle “liner” brushes work best since they hold a greater volume of paint for their tip-size, but short-bristle “brights” or “rounds” work best for oils since the shorted bristles are stiffer which helps with blending.

I’ve also used W&N Series 7 brushes for decades, but I’ve also learned that as long as the bristles are genuine Sable and the tips are well formed, that brand name is much less important. So, for instance, if you can check out the tips first-hand, the Army Painter line of brushes can offer up some good value. Grumbacher also has some very nice brushes, again, if you can check out the individual brush first-hand before buying.

However, if I’m going to spend money on-line and buy brushes “sight-unseen,” then I’ve never been disappointed with any W&N brushes.

Another thing, if you’re going to spend serious money on brushes, be sure to learn how to clean and store them properly. If you take care of them, and don’t abuse them with harsh use (like dry-brushing), you can get years of use from a quality sable brush. Abuse it once or fail to clean it properly, and it’ll last just one or two projects.


Speaking of cleaning, here’s a good investment…

—mike …:paintbrush:


so as usual , thanks for the helpful responses, what is your recommended care/maintenance plan for the brushes ? do you recomend 1 set for oils and another for water base? can you mix them for both uses?


Personally I use a separate set of brushes for oils and enamel washes- ones made for oil paints. I also keep a separate set for metal colors too.

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For cleaning, I use a two-stage process:

First, I clean the brushes using W&N “Brush Cleaner and Restorer.” This stuff will get ALL of the paint - no matter what the medium - out of the bristles. I wet the bristles in the W&N cleaner, allow it a few moments to soak, then employ a rolling-dragging method across a piece of folded paper towel. I put some pressure against the bristles by tilting the handle with the end of ferrule on the paper while turning the handle back and forth and pulling it (so as to not “bung” the tips of the bristles. I repeat this until there’s no more pigment color showing on the paper towel.

Second, I give the brush a rinse in clean water and use The Masters Brush Cleaner. For this, I put about a half teaspoon of water into the pot and use the now wet brush to whip up a bit of lather. Once the brush has become saturate with the Masters Cleaner, I use a gentler dragging-turning method to re-form the shape of the bristles with an emphasis on getting the tip nice and pointed. I allow whatever amount of the Masters Cleaner that remains in the bristles to dry there.

So, I deep clean and then condition and shape the bristles. Note that shaping the bristles is really only useful with NATURAL bristle brushes. Nylon or other synthetic (regardless of the brush maker’s proprietary name for them) bristle brushes are impervious to the shaping process. You can clean them really well, but once they lose their shape, there’s nothing to be done to restore it.

I store all my brushes, tip up in a couple of small jars that I keep on my painting bench. If I take brushes somewhere, like to a model club build day, I’ll put a protective tube-cap over the bristles.

Before I use any brush to paint with, I first rinse it off in whatever the appropriate thinner is for the medium I’m going to use (mineral spirits for oils, water for most acrylics, etc.). This will remove the dried Masters Cleaner and - MOST IMPORTANTLY - it will pre-load the bristles where they enter the ferrule with clean thinners and mitigate how much actual paint will absorb into that area. This greatly extends the life of the brushes by making them easier to clean and reducing how much paint gets into the ferrule.

I don’t keep separate sets of brushes for different mediums. I pretty much just use natural bristle brushes for all my detail and figure painting, either sable or squirrel (depending on the shape and size of the brush). The shape and type of brush really determines whether I use it for artist oils or acrylics.

However, I do class my brushes according to use. So, really good, top-condition brushes are used for figure and detail painting. I have other brushes (usually cheaper “hobby” brushes bought in “packs”) for working with heavy materials like acrylic gel mediums, dry-brushing groundwork on dioramas, vignettes, or figure bases or applying and manipulating pigments, etc.

Some painters keep separate brushes just for metallic paints. I don’t do that (given what I think is a very good cleaning regime), but I do use separate jars of thinners for metallic paints and very seldom mix painting metal colors with other colors in the same session. If I do that, I generally try to paint the metallics after painting the other colors so that I don’t have to switch and clean thinner jars. In the end, though, I guess I’m just not as careful about this depending on the subject that I’m painting. An odd flake or two of a metallic pigment is not too objectionable (or even noticeable) on most AFV models, but taking more care with figures is important.