Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday Tip

Continuing on from last week's paint brush tip, this week we have detailing and special effect brushes. When shopping for detail brushes, you must be picky. A lot of the brushes you'll find in a store like Michael's are going to be ruined already because people are not careful with them. So, find the sizes you want, but be sure to inspect each one for a fine point and no frayed or stray hairs. When you check out, don't let the clerk just toss your carefully selected brushes in a bag! Your brushes can be safely transported in a bag, but they should be gently laid inside, and the rest of the plastic wrapped around the handles with a lot of no-touch air space around the bristles. Pictured above and below are some of my favorite brushes:

From top to bottom: Leow-Cornell 18/0 round - this brush has a fat and slightly shorter than normal handle. Great for roaning, it holds its point very well in general, and I keep lots around. Leow-Cornell 2 round stroke - a larger brush for filling in areas of white that are too small for large brushes and too big to waste tiny detail brushes on. Leow-Cornell 10/0 spotter - Great for smallish sabino type spots, and can pass for a roaning brush when you're in a pinch. And my favorite, the Winsor & Newton Sceptre Gold II 0000 round. It is a sable/synthetic blend and holds a very fine point. These are a little more expensive, but are well worth the money.

With all tiny detail brushes you have to expect that they are not going to last long. Be as careful as possible with them to avoid early fraying; clean gently and rinse often, don't load a ton of paint on the brush (you don't want that for detail work anyway) and work them in a straight line, not back and forth. Watch the tips on your brushes - after a while they will begin to curve over if you do a lot of hair detail work with them. This can be useful to an extent, but it is the beginning of the end for an otherwise "pointy" brush. When you notice a brush is not performing at its best, it is time to retire it to the "other work" bin. They can have great second careers for other uses! Those that still have fairly good tips can be used to apply and blend paint precisely in small areas. The bad ones are still good for hairy details with practice.

These are all old detailing brushes, most cut down to stumpy little frayed things, and rubbed on a bit of sandpaper. These are great for roaning effects, but you do have to be careful around hair whorls because the larger group of hairs can make for muddy or misunderstood looking hair growth patterns. Try them for anything you can think of, and see what sort of effects you get! Sometimes you will find that your larger brushes are useful to cut down as well:

On the left is a Monarch round that was no longer good for dappling, but it make a nice hair detailer now in its cut down form. The hog's bristle brush on the right is useful for very general roughing in of roany spots, but I rarely use it because the bristles shed so badly. I would not recommend a brush like this, but I have to concede I do still use it from time to time. If you do go with a hog's bristle for some effects, just be absolutely sure to remove all the little fragments of brush that get will inevitably get stuck in the paint. It's also best for use when you are planning a paint job that will be so roany that the slightly rough spots left behind from removed hairs won't be noticeable. In other words, run the other way if you are planning a mostly solid colored horse.

Some brushes are designed for special effects, such as the fan on the left and the rake on the right (below). I should say though that I bought these brushes ages ago, and haven't had to replace them yet because they rarely get any use. It is difficult to be very precise with these so they mostly get used only when I know I will be doing a lot of tiny detailing over the fan/rake basecoats. They are pretty useful for variegated colors on manes and tails, but cleanup with a fine round after is usually necessary.

One last thing... Your experience may vary, but I no longer purchase detailing brushes with long hairs, and this is why:

They look very appealing in the store, and are supposed to be useful for long fine lines. But when it comes to actually using them I cannot for the life of me keep a good consistent point with these, perhaps because the lines I paint are very short. They are also not as easy to control as the smaller rounds and spotters.

I hope these paint brush tips have helped! I am still looking for suggestions for future tips, so drop me a line or post here if you have any requests!

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