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Miniature Brush Care (9 Steps to Avoid Splitting Brushes)

Tired of splitting and damaged brushes?

Are you tired of your miniature paint brushes splitting and messing up your work? Miniature paint brush care is actually quite easy and will help you avoid this issue.

Follow these 9 easy steps to take care of your brushes!

If you want to, you can also watch this article in a video format on my Youtube Channel


YouTube video


1. Avoid getting paint in the ferrule

When loading your brush with paint you should always avoid getting paint near or in the ferrule (the small metal part).

Here is why:

The metal ferrule is the thing keeping the bristles together in a sharp point. If paint gets into the metal, you cannot get it out. When the paint dries, it will ‘glue’ your bristles together, so it feels more like a stick than a brush. This will cause you to lose the tip, and the brush will split when you try to paint with it.

If after painting for a little while with a brush and the point starts splitting, it is likely this is your problem. When this first happens, it is very hard to fix.

A picture of me getting paint in the ferrule of my brush. It is stupid that I did it, because the brush will most likely split now.

2. Use a different brush for taking paint out of the pot (and mixing paint consistency)

Do you use the same miniature paint brush to scoop paint out of the pot as the one you are going to paint with? Well, stop doing it!

Each time you do it, there is a chance you get paint in the ferrule. Even if you do not, you will almost certainly get paint at the end of the bristles. That paint can have a thick consistency, so it will make it harder to clean your brush later on.

Scooping paint out of the paint pot with a bad brush

In general, you should only use your good brushes when applying paint to the model. So if you need to mix your paint, either to achieve a specific consistency or to change the colour, use another brush.

Pro tip: all those old splitting brushes now have a use!

3. Use a suitable brush when drybrushing

Dry brushing is a great painting technique. It can save you time, and you can achieve some of the best looking effects. But if you have tried it, you know it will wreck a good brush in no time.

Now that you have a spare splitting brush laying around (that you use to scoop up paint and mix it) you can just as well use it for all your dry brushing needs. You will save money in the long run by not killing your good brushes all the time.

4. Never let paint dry on your brush

Thick dry paint will over time damage the bristles. This will make the brush unusable for high detail miniature brushwork.

This means you should rinse your brushes in water constantly while painting. Never put the brush down without quickly shaking it in a cup of water.

Just take your brush and spin it quickly in a cup water. Avoid contact between the bristles and the bottom of the cup.

This is a gif of how to rinse your miniature brush in water to avoid it splitting

Some people get in the habit of thinking they are “wasting paint”. This is a ridiculous notion. Paint is cheaper than good brushes and you will get bad results if you try to paint with semi-dried paint you left on the brush for a minute.

5. Change water regularly while painting

While painting and rinsing your brushes regularly in water it will eventually get murky. Some people believe it is fine to rinse brushes in murky paint water, but you should stop doing it.

Here is why:

While the brush looks clean when you get it up it is actually not. The water will have a lot of paint particles in it. If you store the brush paint water in it, it can damage the bristles and the ferrule.

Metallic paints are especially bad for your paints, so I make it a habit of changing water after having used any metal paints.

This is an image of murky paint water with metal particles in it. This should be changed before rinsing your brush in it. If not, you can damage the brush and it will split.

6. While painting store your brushes to protect the tip

I see a lot of people storing their paints in their water cup while painting. Not only is the water damaging over time, but they are messing up the bristles by putting pressure on them.

By doing this, you will kill the point and the bristles in no time. You should either store the brushes flat on your painting station or in some other way that will not damage the brush.

This is a picture of brushes standing in a cup of water. They are standing on the bristles of the brush, so this will surely destroy them quite quickly

7. Clean your brushes with warm water after use

Now that you are done with your paint session it is time for cleaning (do not skip this or you will regret it).

Go to the sink and turn on some warm water. Not hot water, as this can make the dried paint stick to the bristles. Warm water will make the paint come off more easily. Use your fingers and gently help the paint out of the brush.

Cleaning paint from a miniature brush

You see that dried paint by the end of the brush just before the metal ferrule part? Get it off! This is the part of the brush where the bristles are tightly locked together, so it can be quite hard to get out. It also means that if you leave some paint to dry there, the brush will likely get damaged.

Be careful to not be so hard on the brush that you mess up the bristles while cleaning. Your nails can be useful to get some of the gunk out, but threat your brush like a fine lady while doing it.

Now the brush should look completely clean, and when you run hot water through it, that should also come out clean.

This is a picture of the Master Brush Cleaner and Preserver. It will help with your miniature paint brush care as it will help avoiding splitting and damaged brushes.

8. Clean your brushes with the ‘Masters Brush Cleaner Preserver’

Most people do many of the above steps. And yes, water and care will get you a great lifespan on many brushes.

But do you want your brushes to last longer? Here is the magic trick:

Get your hands on some of the ‘Masters Brush Cleaner Preserver‘. This is some high-end brush soap but if you ask anyone who has used it and they will say it is worth every penny.

I have had a pot for three years now. I have used it after each paint session, and it is first now that it is running out. That is maybe the most well spend £10 I have ever used on my hobby.

Now with your master brush cleaner in hand, and after having cleaned your brushes with water, gently dip your brush into the soap. The excess warm water from the brush will make the hard soap soft, and you will quickly see how much dried paint it removes. The first time I did it I was amazed at how much dried paint and gunk it could get off. My brushes were like new!

Cleaning a miniature brush with the brush master cleaner and preserver

Do that until the brush is totally clean. If the brush is badly damaged, you can leave some brush soap on it while you store it.

Now that your brushes are spotless you should make sure they are as dry as possible before they go back in storage. Water that dries up in the ferrule is bad for the brushes.

After using the brush cleaner, you should form the tip of the brush as neatly as possible.

9. Store your brushes to protect the tip, the bristles and the ferrule

Common wisdom will tell you to store your brushes with the bristles upwards and the handle downwards. This is done to protect the bristles. But I have found another way that I think is more effective:

Most miniature paint brushes come with a small plastic cap. I save that plastic cap and put it on my brushes after use. Then I store them with the bristles downwards, resting on the plastic cap, in a brush holder.

In this way, excess water or paint (if anything gets through my rigorous cleaning) will flow away from the ferrule and onto the tip of the brush. This will cause minimum damage to brush, and it will be easy to get off when you start your paint session.

Miniature brushes standing with bristles downwards

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