They say “a craftsman is only as good as his tools” – and that‘s true. A good brush that holds its tip for a long time will help you paint better and more precisely. Here are the best brushes for painting Warhammer miniatures, from budget to high-end, with additional recommendations for drybrushes and vegan brushes, based on over 20 years of experience.

Over the years, I have tested many different brands and brushes, and I can, fortunately, say: good brushes don‘t have to be expensive. Even if the investment in somewhat higher-priced brushes can be worthwhile.

The best brushes for painting miniatures - Stahly's Seal of Hobby Excellence

What makes a good brush for painting miniatures

Three things are important for brushes: the size, the shape and the material.

Size is pretty self-explanatory – larger brushes from 0 to 3 help to quickly paint larger areas, while smaller brushes from -1/0 to -10/0 are more suitable for detail work and highlights.

Then the shape – do you prefer long or short bristles, a pronounced belly or a slim, tapered shape? You really have to find out yourself. Personally, I think the best brushes for painting miniatures have short bristles for better brush control, and a medium belly so that the tip holds a good amount of paint (but also not too much so that it doesn’t dry too quickly in the brush).

Last but not least, the material: High-grade Kolinsky red sable hair can last for years, holding its shape and tip best, but it is comparatively expensive and an animal product of dubious origin. There are also good synthetic (“vegan”) brushes, but they have different flow properties than natural hair and usually lose their tip after a short time (the dreaded “hook” effect) and need to be replaced often, creating more waste.

The best brushes for painting miniatures
A painting handle can also help to stabilize your painting. The one here is Garfy’s super customizable Get a Grip.

Stahly’s best brushes for painting miniatures

We all started by buying the brushes we found in our local game or Warhammer shop. I know. And although the brushes from brands like Games Workshop and The Army Painter are serviceable, you can find better quality for less money if you look for it. And better brushes = better brush control = better painting.

Withour further ado, here are my recommendations from budget to high end, for dry brushing and vegan/synthetic options:


Best budget miniature brushes – up to 8 €/£/$ per brush

The best budget brush for painting miniatures: daVinci 1526Y
daVinci Series 1526Y

My best budget recommendation is the 1526Y series from the German brush manufacturer
daVinci.
They are cheaper than Games Workshop non-artificer brushes, but unlike those, they are real Harbin Kolinsky sable hair and rival Citadel Artificer brushes. These watercolour brushes have a good spring, bristles of medium length, and they hold their point very well and for a very long time. I use them for techniques like applying base coats and washes, and for mixing paint. I don‘t take great care of them, so they usually only last half a year, but with better care, you will be able to enjoy them for a long time.

Where to buy: In Germany, these are available from hobby store Taschengelddieb, otherwise, your best bet is ebay or looking in (local) art & crafts shops:

The best brushes for painting miniatures: daVinci Maestro Series 10
daVinci Maestro Series 10

daVinci also has a higher-priced range made from high-grade Kolinsky red sable hair, which is on a similar quality level to Winsor & Newton Series 7, Rosemary & Co brushes, and Citadel Artificer brushes. The shape is similar to the 1526Y, with a good spring, medium length, and a little belly. They hold their point perfectly and with good care, they will last for years. My favourite size is 4/0, but it goes down to 10/0, which is really tiny. Since they are priced a little cheaper than Winsor & Newton, I like to use them for chunky edge highlights, for targeted shading or to paint small areas. In this regard, they’re definitely a contender for being one of the best brushes for painting Warhammer miniatures at a competitive price.

Where to buy: Again, you can find these in Germany at Taschengelddieb, otherwise, your best bet is ebay or looking in (local) art & crafts shops:

Another great choice for painting Warhammer miniatures: Rosemary & Co Series 33
Rosemary & Co Series 33

These made in UK brushes are Garfy’s favourites and a great alternative if you can’t find daVinci in your country. They also hit the sweet spot if you find Winsor & Newton too expensive. These high-quality Kolinsky sable brushes are only slightly more expensive than Games Workshop Layer brushes but the leap in quality is astronomical. They will last you for a long time, maybe not as long as Winsor & Newton, but the quality is on eye-level for a more affordable price. Size also goes down to 10/0, which is a plus.

Where to buy: Look in (local) arts & crafts stores, order directly from Rosemary & Co’s website, or check Amazon and ebay for a good deal:

Chronicle Cards Wolf Bristle Brushes contents
Wolf Bristle Brushes Set by Chronicle Cards

Are you looking for an affordable brush set with sturdy brushes that can take some beating? Chronicle Cards’ brushes are made from sustainably sourced wolf hair, which thanks to its stiff bristles allows for good brush control and is durable. Thanks to the high-quality packaging and the noble rosewood handles, the set is also ideal as a gift. You can find a detailed review here.

Where to buy: Over on Chronicle Card’s website (based in Australia, shipping worldwide). Patreon subscribers receive a 20% discount on top:


The best of the best – 8 €/£/$ and more

The best brushes for painting miniatures: Winsor & Newton Series 7
Winsor & Newton Series 7 and Series 7 M

The top dog and for many painters the ultimate brush series for painting miniatures. Highest quality Kolinsky sable. Each brush is packed in a little tube. Series 7 is available with longer length bristles, and with a shorter tip with the capial letter M (M stands for miniatures). You have to try out which series suits you better. With the shorter tips of the 7 M, you have more control, but because of the shorter bristles, the brush can hold very little paint and has to be „reloaded“ more often. Size 3/0 of the 7 M series is one of the smallest and shortest brushes you can find, on par with other rangers 5/0 or even 10/0. I use it exclusively for my sharp edge highlights. Because I take extra good care of them, they usually last 4 to 5 years, which also justifies the rather high price. Apparently, the traditional British company Winsor & Newton is also the maker of Citadel Artificer brushes.

Where to buy: Series 7 is available at Wayland Games, otherwise of course also in selected arts & craft stores and sometimes you can find a good deal on Amazon and ebay as well:

A comparison of Redgrass Games RGG Premium Brushes, daVinci Maestro and 1526Y, Winsor & Newton Series 7
Redgrass Games RGG Premium Brushes

I reviewed these brushes a while ago, and I quite like them. Like Winsor & Newton Series 7 and daVinci Maestro, these are made from premium Kolinsky sable, with all the good things this entails. However, they are slightly more expensive in comparison, in a similar price range as Artis Opus brushes, but much cheaper than Citadel Artificer brushes. They are more for the minimalist, as there are only two sizes: 2 and 0, plus a drybrush. They look stylish though, I give them that. If you can find these at a good price or if your local brick and mortar store carries them, you can’t go far wrong with them.

Where to buy: Redgrass Games products are available in many hobby stores such as Wayland and Element Games, and Taschengelddieb, or of course on Amazon and ebay:


The best brushes for drybrushing miniatures

Cheap Makeup blending brushes from Amazon, also great for Warhammer
Cheap makeup brushes

A real game-changer for dry brushing is inexpensive makeup brushes made of synthetic hair with a round head (typically called blending brushes). You can get them in drugstores and supermarkets or you can order a cheap set made in China on Amazon, preferably one with as many round bristles as possible. Make-up brushes have very soft hair that will help you achieve soft transitions, and the round tips make it easier to avoid annoying streaks when dry brushing. Round tips are also good for stippling. If you‘ve only used flat brushes for dry brushing, this is a must-try.

Where to get: Look for supermarkets’ and drugstores’ own budget brands, but the cheapest are “made in China” make-up brush sets on Amazon and ebay:

The best brushes for painting miniatures: The Army Painter Masterclass Drybrush Set
The Army Painter Masterclass Drybrush Set

I was able to test The Army Painter’s Masterclass Drybrushes a while back and they are a great alternative for makeup brushes. Their natural goat hair bristles are somewhat stiffer, which makes them well suited for terrain pieces (also because even the smallest brush in the set is a bit on the large side for infantry models). It has to be said, of course, that these brushes are heavily inspired by Artis Opus D Series drybrushes, so decide for yourself whether you prefer the cheaper version from The Army Painter or the “original” from Artis Opus.

Where to buy: The Army Painter is readily available in most hobby stores both locally and online, as well as on Amazon and ebay:

The Army Painter Large Drybrush, an excellent brush for drybrushing
The Army Painter Monster, Small & Large Drybrush

The Army Painter’s flat, angled drybrushes are quite nice. The synthetic bristles are rather soft and release paint more quickly than natural hair, which can be handy when it comes to drybrushing. Their flat shape compliments round makeup brushes nicely and are perfect for when you want to concentrate on picking out edges and sharp corners. They’re also readily available and their price-performance ratio is good.

Where to buy: The Army Painter is readily available in most hobby stores both locally and online, as well as on Amazon and ebay:


The best vegan (synthetic) options

Games Workshop STC Synthetic Brushes
Games Workshop STC Synthetic Brushes

We reviewed these brushes on Tale of Painters, and they‘re… decent. They come in useful shapes and sizes and look stylish, even though the white gets dirty quickly. As expected from Games Workshop, they are somewhat overpriced for synthetic brushes. Don‘t let the marketing fool you, these are synthetic brushes like any other and they get the dreaded hooked tips just as quickly. They are alright in a pinch, but ultimately, I’d rather recommend the NOVA series from DaVinci.

Where to buy: Games Workshop products are available virtually everywhere, so you shouldn’t have a problem picking these up:

One of the best synthetic brushes: daVinci Nova Series 1570
daVinci NOVA Series 1570

The NOVA series from daVinci is great. Great quality, great selection, and very affordable. I use them a lot when I work with enamel and oil washes. The NoOVA range has quite a lot of series, all slightly different in shape. For miniature painting, the length of Series 1570’s handles and bristles are best. Unlike Citadel STC brushes, they also come in very small sizes, down to 10/0. As with the daVinci Maestro brushes, there is also a Micro series with shortened handles and extra short bristles that go down to 20/0, but I haven‘t tested these yet. There are even brushes with angled handles, which look very funny. The NOVA series also has various flat and half-round brushes that are very good for drybrushing, so there should be something vegan for every occasion.

Where to buy: In Germany, these are available from hobby store Taschengelddieb, otherwise, your best bet is ebay or looking in (local) art & crafts shops:

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I have compiled this list of my personal best brushes for painting miniatures to share my experience from over 20 years of painting and hobbying. On Tale of Painters, I have reviewed a plethora of hobby products from minor to major brands. Only those products that I actually use myself regularly have made it to this list and received my Seal of Hobby Excellence.

You can find more of my hobby reviews in our review section, including my best-of matt varnishes. A more in-depth guide to miniature brushes with over 11 brush ranges tested can also be found on my Patreon.

Garfy's Get-a-Grip Banner 760px

Conclusion

I hope my recommendations help you to improve your hobby and take your painting skills to the next level. Of course, everything is personal preference, but the selected brushes above have served me excellently over the last few years.

To get the best out of your new brushes, it’s also a good idea to invest in some brush soap. Regular cleaning helps to keep your bristles in shape and lubricated. Check out this review where Garfy explains how to maintain brushes as well as many other tips to keep your brushes in the best shape possible:

What are your experiences with miniature brushes? Which brushes should I definitely try next? Feel free to drop your recommendations in the comments section below so that other readers can benefit from them too.

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