Flow is the operative word when it comes to painting. The whole
idea of a brush is that it flows paint onto a surface as smoothly as
Any given brush, no matter how expensive or what the quality, will brush
some mediums poorly. In other words, If you have a good brush and the
paint job ends up crappy, it's not the fault of the brush. Assuming
you did everything else right (preparation, paint thinning, etc.) then what
remains is that you used it improperly or you used the wrong brush (which is
also using it improperly).
So how do you know if you have the right brush? Ask the manufacturer
what type of paints the brush is intended for. The company website
will probably have this information by searching for the brush model number
at the site and looking at what family of brushes it is part of.
Paint is an important factor here. It must strike the balance between
remaining wet long enough to flow from the brush and then for brush marks to
flow out but it must dry eventually.
Quality of the brush is important. The reason I care about the quality
is that I brush small details (knobs, instrument panels, etc.) where the
shape of the tip of the brush makes the job easy rather than the frustration
caused by using a brush having a poorly shaped or damaged tip or a brush
having the wrong type of bristles.
Sable brush enthusiasts are very vocal about the quality of these
brushes. There is no doubt that they
are very good brushes but I do not believe they are enough better than quality
nylon brushes to warrant the price or the attitude that most modelers have
in regard to them. I have a few sable brushes that I reserve for times they will make a
noticeable difference which is almost never.
I mainly use good quality nylon brushes I picked up in
Europe and am quite content with. The same quality brushes are
available in the U.S. as well. Regardless of what anyone tells you, good
nylon brushes work well and will save you a lot of money.
I suggest that you purchase brushes at a good art store rather
than the local hobby shop because the selection is larger. Decide the sizes
and types of brushes you will need.
Inspect every brush they have of the size and type. If
the shape of the brush bristles is not right, then do not buy the brush — the
shape will never be right.
All the brushes of any given size and type cost
the same amount so there is no
reason not to buy the best one in the rack. If none of the brushes are
good do not buy one. If the brush is supposed to have a cap make sure you
get one in the deal. Often the caps fall down in the racks.
Thinning Paint for Brushing
Most people new to painting are concerned about how much to thin paint for
spraying but never ask about thinning paint for brushing. I used to assume
that paint was ready to brush as it comes out of the can. I'm guessing a
lot of people believe the same thing.
All paints need to be thinned even if being brushed. I knew
nothing about thinning paints when I was a kid. That was the reason I had
so much trouble. The paint went on too thick, didn't flow out properly and
took forever to dry. I haven't even attempted to brush a coverage coat for
years, but back in the days when I did they were pretty much thick crap.
I thin enamels to the paint where they are the consistency of hot melted
butter. I use Mineral Spirits (for enamels, not for all "oil base"
paints listed above) because it is a slow
drying solvent that allows time for the paint to flow.
I can't tell you anything about thinning acrylics for brushing because I
always spray them.
Don't Ruin Your Brushes!
Never soak your brushes to
clean them. Standing the brush on its bristles will prevent the
brush from ever taking the proper shape again.
Never let paint dry in the brush. You will never get
dried paint completely cleaned from the brush.
If you have to soak a brush because you let paint dry in it, then suspend the brush in the jar using a clothespin or something.
The ferrule of
the brush should never be submerged into paint. That is a
sure-fire way to guarantee that the wrong color paint will bleed out at the worst