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Paint Brushes

There is one certainty, paintbrushes vary enormously in quality. Cheap brushes will generally be of poorer quality and most paint finishes will reflect that fact.  The main influence in brush quality is the type of hair used.  Quality brush hairs will naturally form a point and will have a good spring to them, so they can be bent and quickly return to their usual shape. Decent brushes hold more paint and will deliver the paint consistently, instead of a flash as soon as the brush touches the subject.


Traditionally, paintbrushes were made with various types of natural hairs or bristles.  There is soft or stiff depending on the intended use.  These days, many paintbrushes are made from synthetic hairs, and being with synthetic brushes were of debatable quality. The only advantage they had over natural hairs was the cheapness of production. But now, synthetic bristles have improved immensely. Some artists and modellers still insist that the best brushes are Kolinsky Sable hair, but many modellers only use synthetic hair brushes.

For myself, I have found the manufacturer is just as vital factor in brush quality.  I have had exceptionally good and noticeably mediocre brushes made sable and synthetic hairs.

Sable Martin


Listed below are the most common hair used by modelers:


  • Sable - is considered to make the ultimate soft brush.  It is made from the hairs from the tail of a Sable Marten. Sable hair has a natural taper, so when they are put into a brush, they form a point. Sable brushes are generally the most expensive, they are famed for their softness, flexibility, fine point, and ability to hold paint. Kolinsky Sable from Siberia is generally considered the best of sable.


  • Squirrel – are less expensive than Sable, squirrel hairs are soft, but do not have limited spring, so work better in large brushes.


  • Synthetic - Nylon was often used in the early synthetic brushes.  Making the bristles course with thick ends, so did not perform well.  The advantage was being cheap and durable. Modern synthetic brushes have improved immensely, being made from a variety of materials. The best specimens closely mimic natural hair very.  Synthetic bristles occasionally stay in good condition longer than natural hairs, but increased quality often means increased cost.


Sable Marten




Paint Brush Shapes care vast and come in may sizes, and modelllers can easily use most, although in reality most modeller only use a small fraction. The most extensively used modellers brush is the round because it can be used to make fine lines, block in colour and blending. Flats and Washes are also popular to do edges or fat for wider strokes. Liner brushes hold a lot of colour and can make long continuous lines without the need to reload the brush. While Fans can be used for grass, hair, feathers, fur or squiggles.

Paintbrush shapes range from:

  • Angular or Dagger – banding fine lines, leaves or plant stems.

  • Natural Round, Fan and Flat – depending on size and shape, washes, glazes and weathering streaks.

  • Glaze, Wash or Funky Pouncer – adding texture, stains, weathering.

  • Stencil – strong short bristles for dabbing.

  • Bristle Round, Flat and Fan - depending on size and shape, good for fine to thicker lines, blending, blocking in colour, grass, hair, feathers or fur.

  • Wisp or Comb – paint multiple lines at one time, good for foliage, hair or feathers.

  • Wisp Fan – paint multiple lines at one time, good for splattering.

  • Wisp Flat - paint multiple lines at one time, good for grass, hair, feathers or squiggles.

  • Filbert or Wisp Filbert - paint multiple lines at one time, good for grass, hair, fur, feathers or flower petals.

  • Triangular – triple load with colour for blending.

  • Liner – extra fine lines, small strokes and fine detail.

  • Detail -angles shapes, sharp edges and floating colours in tight areas.

  • Script – extra long strokes, lines and scrolling.

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