You find yourself in your bed at 3 am, watching your favorite Dungeons and Dragons live stream. As the players roll for initiative and the DM unveils the game board revealing gorgeously crafted terrain and exquisitely painted miniatures, you feel a sudden rush of inspiration.
"That looks fun to make!" You think to yourself as you decide then and there to get into the hobby of tabletop crafting.
You're going to need some paint for sure, but what brushes should you get?
Find Your Perfect Crafting Brushes
This article seeks to answer that very question. Here you'll discover what to look for when shopping for the best brushes for painting RPG terrain and miniatures.
If you've ever searched for brushes, online or otherwise, you may have noticed the words "natural" or "synthetic" displayed on the ad or packaging. These words refer to the type of material the brush bristles are made of, which can either be natural or synthetic.
Natural brushes have bristles made from natural animal hair such as hog, squirrel, badger, beaver, or sable. These softer brushes absorb, retain, and release oil and alkyd paints very well and leave a smooth finish.
The problem with natural brushes is that you can't use them with acrylic paints as water makes their bristles tend to swell up. They're also more expensive since manufacturing them is so costly.
On the other hand:
Synthetic brushes have bristles made from man-made materials such as nylon, polyester, or a mixture of both. These brushes can be used with any type of paint but are mainly used for water-based latex and acrylic paints. They leave the same smooth finish as natural brushes while also being firmer.
Unlike natural brushes, synthetic brushes don't cost too much to manufacture so they tend to be more affordable.
The type of brush material you'll need will depend on what you're trying to paint.
If you're trying to paint terrain pieces with mod podge and acrylic paint, synthetic brushes are your best choice.
Synthetic brushes can also work for painting larger miniatures.
If you're trying to give your smaller miniatures a tabletop-ready paint job in time for your next game night, synthetic brushes are perfectly fine. Save your expensive red sable brushes for miniature painting competitions.
Paintbrushes come in many different shapes for different purposes. We could write a whole article just for brush shapes alone.
For tabletop RPG crafting, we tend to rely on just the following:
If you'd like to find out what other types of brush shapes you can get, feel free to check out our article on Best Brushes for Painting on Canvas.
One of the most important decisions when shopping for crafting brushes is what size to get. Needless to say, the size of the brushes you'll need is going to depend on what you're painting.
Planning to build a game board or mat for your war games? Skip the small stuff and get the biggest brushes you can find. Pairing these with medium-sized brushes should save you hours of painting time while still producing great results.
Need to paint that colossal 3D printed tarrasque "miniature" for your campaign-ending session? Medium and small brushes should cover it.
Looking to place at your local miniature painting competition? You'll need the smallest 000 brushes you can get to really catch those fine details.
With all that said:
There is a caveat when buying different brush brands.
Different companies tend to use different brush size numbers. A number "0" from brand X may be bigger or smaller than that of brand Y. So, make sure you know each brand's sizing standards.
Whether you're painting walls or painting 15mm miniatures, you're only as good as your brush. This is why we suggested you save your most expensive brushes for painting competitions.
Poorer quality brushes tend to leave behind hairs/bristles on your work which is never a good look, especially in competition.
The best brushes absorb, release, and blend paint better, keep their shape longer, and can be cleaned and reused for several years. The great thing is high-quality brushes don't always have to come with a steep price tag.
If you're looking for affordable high-quality acrylic paint brushes, Nova Color offers a wide variety of Jack Richeson artist brushes in our shop.