Paintbrushes are an essential tool for any artist. They come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties to best suit the needs of different artists. Artists who paint miniatures need a certain type of brush that is best suited to their work. In this post I’ll explore the best miniature paintbrushes on the market today and what you need to know when considering which one will be best for you.
The best brushes for miniature painting are created for detailed work (sizes 0 to 2), have synthetic or natural sable bristles with good capacity, and have a nice pointed round shape that they can easily hold. The popular brands are numerous, so in this post, I’ll explore high-quality brushes on the market today and what you need to know when considering which one will be best for you.
Table of contents:
- How to choose a Brush for Miniature Painting
- Best miniature paint brushes (that will last!)
- Miniature Paintbrush Sets under $20
- How to care for miniature paint brushes
- Best miniature paint brushes FAQ
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How to Choose Your Best Brushes for Miniature Painting
The right brush makes the painting easier and faster and gives you more control of the paint, which is especially important if you’re a beginner in miniature and model painting.
A pointed round brush (also may be called a detail brush) is ideal for painting models. A good brush should have a sharp point.
- Brush sizes
Brush sizes #0 and #1 as universal brushes for detailed work, size #2 for larger areas, and basecoat. If I would only have to pick one size – I would go with #1.
Bristle length of about 8-12mm is ideal, but do not let this factor determine the choice.
A belly diameter of around 2mm.
- Hair types of brushes
Both synthetic and natural bristles may work for painting fine details.
Synthetic brushes may be easier to work with and clean for beginners painting acrylics.
Natural bristles are usually more expensive and more sensitive to damage from acrylic or oil paint. Kolinsky sable brushes are the most common natural hair brushes among miniature painters.
The brush should be flexible. To test it, bend the bristles and watch them – they should come back to their normal shape. It is called snap.
A brush should maintain well the shape and hold a point during the painting session – it is called the spring of a brush. Both snap and spring are vital for good control of the paint flow.
Read also: The 12 Best Brush for Acrylic Paint on Canvas in 2023
BEST MINIATURE PAINT BRUSHES
I won’t make a huge list of the best brushes for painting miniatures, but I will make your choice easier depending on your level, preferences, and budget. I divided recommended brushes into smaller groups:
- Professional natural miniature brushes
- Good quality synthetic miniature paintbrushes
- Miniature paint brushes sets under $20
QUICK BEST MINIATURE PAINTBRUSHES LIST UPFRONT
- Best miniature paint brushes for pro artists OVERALL – Winsor & Newton Series 7 and Raphael 8404 Series size #1
- Best miniature paint brushes on Amazon under $20- Golden Maple Set of 10 brushes
- Best cheap miniature paint brushes for small projects – BOSOBO (set of 10 brushes under $10)
- Best beginner miniature paint brushes – The Army Painter Most Wanted Brush Set
#1 Winsor & Newton Series 7 –Best miniature paint brush for pro artists
Kolinsky sable brush Winsor & Newton Series 7 size #1 is an absolute winner among natural brushes to work with miniatures paint. Famous for being hand-made and offering high-quality natural hair, flow and snap.
This brush is ideal for watercolor and miniature painting because of its perfect finest bristles, durability, and delicacy. Every brush is hand made and it is a product of pride for North America.
- Bristles length is 10 mm 👍
- Belly diameter is 1.9 mm 👍
However, the price may not be so appealing as the quality. A single #1 brush will cost you around $15.
You can consider buying several sizes from Series 7 or a simple set of 5 kolinsky brushes. This set includes sizes #0 to #4 and will cost more than $100. I would not recommend it, as you’re very likely to mostly use only size #1.
Make sure to maintain the natural brustles properly – it may seem harder than cleaning a cheap synthetic brush, but it is worth your time. The better care you give to your brushes, the longer they will serve you.
#2 Da Vinci Maestro Series 10
Da Vinci Maestro Series 10 Size #1 is a kolinsky red sable brush for model painting for professional artists. It is an alternative to Winsor & Newton, but not regarding the price. Da Vinci’s extra sharp brushes are quite expensive.
The natural bristles are of the top quality – Siberian Kolinsky Red Sable fur. The exceptional brush capacity, snap and string guarantee great control of the paint flow and results. In fact, the German standards of quality carried for 3 generations make this brush one of the best natural brushes for miniatures and models on the market.
Note that this specific model has a short handle.
- Bristles length is 11 mm 👍
- Belly diameter is 2.1 mm 👍
Da Vinci Series 10 offer a diversity of brushes of all sizes. While I’m recommending the most universal size, feel free to find alternatives that suit your project the best.
#3 The Army Painter Most Wanted Brush Set
Army painter makes great all-purpose brushes for miniature painters based on their long expertise and practice in wargaming hobby painting. The Wargamer Series includes several brushes for base coating, fine detail, dry brushing, and more.
The Army Painter doesn’t mention sizes as we know them, they have only special names for brushes – so a round pointed brush for detail work will be either Army Painter Insane Detail or Detail Brush or Regiment Brush.
The Most Wanted Brush set for model painting includes 3 Rotmarder sable hair brushes: Regiment brush (kind of a universal brush, close to #1 size), Insane detail (roughly #00 size), and Small Drybrush. Every brush is made and manually checked in Germany, which guarantees good quality and paint’s flow control for layering and applying a base coat.
One of the advantages of these brushes – the triangular grip, which makes them easier to hold. However, I think it is a matter of preferences, personally, I prefer standard grip.
#4 BrokenToad Miniature Mk3 Paint Brushes Set
BrokenToad MK3 Kolinsky paint brushes set is a high-quality handmade set of natural hair brushes. Siberian male Kolinsky sable is known to have fabulous snap, control, and capacity.
- The set includes 4 brushes of sizes 2, 1, 0, and 3/0.
These brushes are trusted workhorses from the UK for miniature painting, but if you’re from the US, you may find it hard to buy them. First of all, the set of 4 brushes is quite expensive – 45 euros. Second, they are not available on Amazon, Blick, or Michaels. You can directly order them from the official website and pay shipping fees.
#5 Raphaël – Series 8404
Raphael 8404 Series from France offer a variety of sizes. All brushes are manufactured with high-quality and durability Kolinsky Red Sable to assure an awesome capacity.
Again, a brush to go is a Raphael 8404 Series size #1, but you can purchase any other brushes starting from size 3/0. Raphael brushes are perfect for precision work and fine details. They will hold the shape after months of painting models.
- Belly diameter: 2.5 mm 👍
- Bristles length: 13 mm 👍
- Short handle
It seems quite hard to find these brushes too. They are widely available on Amazon UK, but if you’re shopping from the US, I found them only on Jackson’s Art store.
One more concern is the price – as with all other natural hair model brushes, Raphael Series is not budget-friendly, however, it will make a great investment if you’re a professional model painter. Some hobbyists consider Raphael brushes to be better than Winsor & Newton.
#6 Rosemary & Co – Series 22/33
Rosemary & Co brush size #1 from series 22 or 33 are natural, high-quality bristle brushes for miniature painting.
Thick belly and conical shape assure great capacity and continuous controlled paint flow. Series 22 has longer bristles which are better for detail painting.
- Belly diameter: 1.59 mm 👍
- Bristles length: 11.6 mm 👍
- You can choose between short or long handle.
The price is fabulous considering that this is a natural hair – around $9 for a brush – and that makes Rosemary a cheaper alternative for Winston & Newton, Da Vinci, and Raphael.
#7 Artis Opus – Series S Brush Set
Artis Opus makes top-quality, expensive, elegant natural hair miniature paintbrushes sets. The one we are interested in is Series S set with 4 brushes: sizes 000, 00, 0, and 1, but also a small brush soapbox and leaflet.
Each brush is handmade and equipped with Kolinsky Sable
The starting price for the S series set is $80.99. Every set can be customized: you can choose the wood and engraving for an extra fee. Which makes these brushes a very thoughtful, exclusive gift. However, if you’re looking for a brush for yourself, I would not pay extra for just a nice wooden box and soap.
#8 Games Workshop Citadel Medium Basing brush – Best miniature brush under $10
Citadel Medium M Basing brush by Games Workshop is an affordable ($6-8!!) workhorse for speed painting and those who work with a large number of models and need to knock them all quickly.
This medium brush is synthetic and doesn’t have a pointed tip and it is ideal for applying the base coat and layering. It may be not the best option for fine details.
Othe good brushes by Games Workshop that you may use for painting Warhammer:
- Medium Artificer layer – highest-quality sable hair for layering.
- Medium Glaze – synthetic brush for finest details.
#9 Monument Bomb Wick Brush DET. CORD
Monument (formerly Creature Caster) brushes are well known for being great for the finest details – the manufacturer creates brushes up to size 10/0.
The brushes are synthetic Kolinsky Sable, which makes them cheaper than natural hair alternatives. Bomb Wick brushes allow smooth and nicely loaded paint application and finish. They hold paint and shape as well as natural bristles.
However, these brushes are unpopular and quite hard to find. As always, I go with #1, and here is the link to save you time digging.
MINIATURE PAINT BRUSH SETS UNDER $20
Not everyone is committed to model painting yet and spending $15 on each brush may seem too much. And it is completely understandable. This is why I added some cheaper synthetic craft brush set that will work just fine for your first project.
#10 Golden Maple Set of 10 brushes – Best miniature paintbrush set under $20
Looking for a budget set of miniature brushes featured by Games Workshop as brushes for Warhammer? Easy! Golden Maple Detail Paint Brushes Set is an absolute bestseller among hobbyists on a budget and beginners. The whole set of ten brushes will cost you less than $20!
- 10 brushes of different sizes: 5/0, 3/0, 2/0, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8.
- Easy-grip triangular handle and ergonomic design.
- Protective tubes included.
- Synthetic hair.
Unfortunately, the snap and flow control will weaken over time as these are not professional expensive brushes. But they are easy to use for beginners and offer decent value for money for 100%.
#11 D’Artisan Shopee (Set of 4)
Featured on Amazon by Games Workshop D’Artisan Shopee Brush set of 4 brushes size #000 is the perfect cheap alternative for Monument brushes for painting details. Yes, there are 4 identical brushes.
If you don’t have a lot of small details to paint, you can save your Kolinsky expensive brushes and have a cheap brush like D’Artisan Shopee.
- synthetic bristles of 7.5 mm.
- triangular handle.
Some model painters survive without such tiny sizes. But it is a matter of preference, experience, and comfort. It is better to try smaller sizes with cheaper brands, and if you really need it, you can, later on, buy a natural hair 3/0 brush.
#12 D’Artisan Shopee (Set of 12)
This time D’Artisan Shopee offers a set of 12 brushes in a size range from #0000 to #1 and three different shapes: 5 liners, 5 round brushes, and 2 flat. The whole set is extremely wallet-friendly (under $30) and will cover all beginner’s needs in miniature painting.
Even though these brushes are synthetic, they are handmade and tested and should offer decent paint hold capacity and snap, ergonomic and durable handles.
The set can be a nice gift as it includes a brush holder and a bag. This set by D’Artisan Shopee is one of the bestsellers among hobbyists looking for brushes for Warhammer 40K, Dungeons and Dragons miniature painting, or other game models.
#13 BOSOBO (2 sets of 10 brushes each)
Bosobo brush set is the cheapest option for craft projects – less than $10 for 20 brushes. I would recommend this set for a total beginner on a budget, but if you’re somehow serious about painting or your hobby, please, spend an extra $10 and get a better brush.
Sometimes beginners are trying to buy the biggest set possible, but you won’t really need all those brushes! However, simply imagine the costs of manufacturing a set of 10 brushes that will cost $6 on Amazon. It won’t last long and probably will start losing bristles very soon.
Of course, this set saves everyone with a tight budget or craft projects. If you’re not sure about your new hobby, try it with cheap brushes and then upgrade your tools.
How to care for miniature paint brushes
Caring for paint brushes will ensure that they maintain their shape, fur or bristles don’t fray or rub off prematurely and the best results for your artistry. Paintbrush failure is usually due to faulty makeup of the ferrule or being dried out from improper storage over some time.
How to clean model paint brushes
To properly clean your miniature paintbrushes, you should first run them under hot water and then apply a mild dish soap. You don’t want to use any harsh products that could damage the bristles of your brush, so stay away from detergents and abrasives.
Next, place the brushes in a cup or bowl and add warm water with a little more dish soap than you would use for the best results. Be sure to gently swirl the brushes around in the mixture. Leave them in there for a few minutes before scrubbing gently with your fingers. Don’t soak the brushes!
Rinse again with warm soapy water and allow them to air-dry before putting them away.
Best model paint brush cleaner
The alternative way to clean the miniature brushes is to use a professional brush cleaner soap or/and a special bucket brush washer. The artist’s brush soap not only helps to clean the brush but also to preserve it through time or save some dried and hardened brushes.
The special soap is quite cheap and long-lasting, but the washer jars and cups may be pricey.
- The best paint brush cleaner is Masters Cleaner & Preserver.
- The best model paint brush washer is Paint Brush Rinse up by Paint Puck.
Best way to store miniature paint brushes
To store your miniature paintbrushes properly, place them in a cup or bowl with their bristles facing up. You can then place them in a protective case that will help to keep the bristles in tip-top shape until they’re ready for use again.
Brushes need to be stored flat, clean, and dry – not curled up like a caterpillar that has lost its way.
Make a DIY paintbrushes holder or buy a simple holder (Mont Martre brush holder as a good example).
Brushes for painting miniatures FAQ
What kind of brushes is mostly used for miniature painting?
A quality natural or synthetic brush of pointed shape and sizes #0 to #2 will make the best brush for miniature models. Beginners mostly use synthetic hair as it is easier to use and clean. Sable hair expensive brushes are more popular among professional miniature painters.
Are synthetic brushes good for miniature painting?
Synthetic painting brushes are absolutely great for miniature painting: they are good quality cheap brushes perfect for detail work with acrylic paints.
What is the finest model paint brush?
Natural brushes size #0 will be ideal for the finest details. If you need something even finer, you can go for #000 (sometimes labeled as 3/0) or even smaller, but I don’t think you’ll really need it. Aim for size #0 for details and size #1 as a universal brush.
What paint brush gives the smoothest finish?
Kolinsky sable brushes offer the best flow and smooth finish. Natural bristles have a larger paint capacity and allow you to make continuous fine strokes.
Alternatively, try airbrushing your models, as airbrushing allows you to get a really nice finish.
What size brushes are best for miniature painting?
The universal brush size for miniatures is #1, you can also use size #0 for fine detail or #2 for large areas. Some miniature sets of brushes include also #3, but it is very unlikely that you will use them.
What brushes do I need for Warhammer?
All brushes for miniature painting will work for painting Warhammer models. If you’re a professional painter and don’t mind spending extra money, choose Winsor & Newton Kolinsky Series 7 brushes. If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, try the Golden Maple set of brushes for Warhammer.
I believe now you can make a weighted decision choosing your miniature painting brushes or set for your favorite Wargaming models and they will serve you for a long time!