How To Dry Brush Miniatures


Materials needed

Dry brushing miniatures is a popular technique that adds depth and highlights to your painted models. Before you get started, make sure you have the following materials on hand:

  • A set of miniatures to paint
  • Paintbrushes in various sizes (including a dry brush)
  • Acrylic paints in the colors of your choice
  • Palette or paint mixing surface
  • Water for rinsing your brushes
  • Painting palette or dish for diluting paints
  • Protective surface or newspaper to work on
  • Optional: Primer to prepare your miniatures
  • Optional: Sealant to protect your finished miniatures

This list of materials should set you up for success in your dry brushing journey. The specific colors and types of paints you choose will depend on your personal preferences and the style you want to achieve with your miniatures. It’s always a good idea to invest in high-quality brushes to ensure better control and more precise results.

Next, let’s move on to the steps involved in dry brushing your miniatures! With the right materials in hand, you’ll be able to bring out the details and enhance the overall appearance of your models.

Step 1: Preparing your miniatures

Before you start dry brushing your miniatures, it’s crucial to properly prepare them. This step ensures that the paint adheres well and gives you a smooth surface to work on. Here’s how to get your miniatures ready:

  1. Clean your miniatures: Use a soft-bristle brush or a toothbrush to gently remove any dust or debris from your miniatures. This step is essential to ensure that your paint application is clean and even.
  2. Remove any mold lines or imperfections: Inspect your miniatures and use a hobby knife or file to remove any visible mold lines or imperfections. Smooth out any rough areas for a better painting surface.
  3. Optional: Prime your miniatures: Priming is not always necessary but can be beneficial, especially if you want a more durable finish. Apply a thin layer of primer to your miniatures using a spray can or airbrush. Let it dry completely before proceeding.
  4. Ensure a stable working surface: Place your miniatures on a stable surface, such as a painting handle or small wooden blocks, to make it easier to work on them without smudging the paint or holding them directly.

By properly preparing your miniatures, you create a clean canvas for your paint application. Cleaning and priming help the paint adhere better and improve the overall quality and longevity of your finished miniatures. Once your miniatures are prepared, you’re ready to move on to the next step: choosing the right brush.

Step 2: Choosing the right brush

Choosing the right brush for dry brushing is crucial to achieve the desired results. Here are some factors to consider when selecting a brush for this technique:

  1. Size: Opt for a brush with a larger size compared to those used for regular painting. The size of the brush will depend on the size of the miniature and the level of detail you want to achieve. A larger brush allows for more coverage and faster application. However, ensure that the brush is still small enough to fit into the crevices and details of your miniatures.
  2. Bristles: Look for a brush with stiff bristles. Stiff bristles help to create the desired dry brushing effect by picking up minimal amounts of paint and depositing it lightly onto the surface. Avoid brushes with soft or floppy bristles, as they won’t produce the desired result.
  3. Quality: Invest in a high-quality brush. Cheap brushes may not hold up well and can result in a frustrating painting experience. A good-quality brush will have sturdy bristles that retain their shape, allowing for more control and precision when dry brushing.

Once you have chosen the right brush, it’s important to prepare it before you start dry brushing. Use your fingers or a clean cloth to gently reshape the bristles and remove any loose hairs. This will ensure that your brush is ready for optimal paint application.

With the right brush in hand, you’re now ready to move on to the next step: preparing your paints!

Step 3: Preparing your paints

Before you begin dry brushing, it’s important to properly prepare your paints. This will help you achieve the desired consistency and ensure smooth application on your miniatures. Here’s how to prepare your paints:

  1. Choose the right paints: Use acrylic paints specifically formulated for miniatures or models. These paints have a better consistency for dry brushing and come in a wide range of colors to suit your needs.
  2. Squeeze a small amount of paint: Squeeze a small amount of paint onto your palette or paint mixing surface. Start with a conservative amount and add more if needed. It’s better to work with smaller quantities of paint to maintain control over your dry brushing technique.
  3. Dilute the paint (optional): Depending on the thickness of the paint, you may choose to dilute it slightly with water for a smoother and more subtle dry brushing effect. Add a few drops of water at a time and mix thoroughly until you achieve the desired consistency.
  4. Remove excess paint: After diluting (if necessary), wipe off any excess paint from the brush using a cloth or paper towel. The brush should appear almost dry, with just a hint of paint remaining on the bristles. This is crucial for the dry brushing technique.

Taking the time to properly prepare your paints ensures that you have the right consistency and control during the dry brushing process. Adjusting the consistency and removing excess paint from the brush will result in more precise and controlled application on your miniatures.

Now that your paints are prepared, it’s time to move on to the next step: applying the base coat on your miniatures.

Step 4: Applying the base coat

Before diving into dry brushing, it’s essential to apply a base coat to your miniatures. The base coat provides a foundation for the subsequent layers of paint and helps bring out the details of your models. Here’s how to apply the base coat:

  1. Choose the base color: Select a color that will serve as the main coat for your miniatures. This color will highlight the main features and set the tone for the overall look.
  2. Load your brush: Dip your brush into the base coat paint. Make sure to load the brush with an adequate amount of paint, without overloading it.
  3. Apply the base coat: Start applying the base coat paint onto your miniatures using smooth and even strokes. Focus on covering the larger areas first before moving on to the smaller details.
  4. Avoid overpainting: Be cautious not to obscure or fill in the intricate details of the miniatures with excessive paint. Keep the base coat thin enough so that the fine details remain visible.
  5. Allow the base coat to dry: Let the base coat dry completely before proceeding to the next step. This is important to ensure that the subsequent dry brushing layers will adhere properly.

Applying a well-executed base coat is crucial in achieving a clean and polished look for your miniatures. Take your time during this step to ensure even coverage and preserve the details of the models. Once the base coat has dried, you are ready to move on to the next step: adding highlights with dry brushing.

Step 5: Adding highlights with dry brushing

Dry brushing is the key technique used to add highlights and depth to your miniatures. This step involves applying a light layer of paint over the raised areas to create a subtle contrast. Follow these steps to achieve stunning highlights with dry brushing:

  1. Load your dry brush: Take your dry brush and lightly dip the bristles into your chosen highlight color. It’s crucial to use a sparing amount of paint for this technique as dry brushing requires minimal paint on the brush.
  2. Remove excess paint: Gently wipe off any extra paint on a paper towel or cloth. The brush should appear almost dry, with only a small amount of paint remaining on the bristles.
  3. Prepare the surface: Lightly drag the brush over a clean, dry surface such as a paper towel or palette to further ensure that there is minimal paint on the brush.
  4. Apply the dry brush: With a light touch, briskly and quickly move the brush back and forth over the raised areas of your miniatures. Focus on the edges, textures, and details to bring them out through the contrasting highlight color.
  5. Build up gradually: Repeat the dry brushing technique, layer by layer, to gradually build up the desired intensity of the highlights. Take breaks between layers to assess the effect and avoid overdoing it.
  6. Blend and feather: To achieve a smooth transition between the highlighted areas and the base coat, use gentle circular motions or light sweeping motions to blend and feather the edges.

Remember, dry brushing is a subtle technique, and it’s better to start with less paint on the brush and gradually build up the highlights. The goal is to create a natural and nuanced contrast that enhances the details of your miniatures without overpowering them.

Now that you have mastered the art of dry brushing, it’s time to move on to some extra tips and tricks to take your miniatures to the next level!

Step 6: Extra tips and tricks

Now that you have the basic dry brushing technique down, let’s explore some additional tips and tricks to elevate your miniature painting skills:

  1. Use multiple highlight colors: Experiment with using different highlight colors for various sections of your miniatures. This adds depth and visual interest to your models.
  2. Layer your highlights: Instead of applying all the highlights at once, layer them gradually. This technique creates a smoother transition and more realistic shading.
  3. Practice on spare miniatures: Before working on your precious miniatures, practice dry brushing on spare or unpainted models. This allows you to refine your technique and experiment with different color combinations.
  4. Try dry brushing on textured surfaces: Dry brushing isn’t limited to miniatures. Use this technique on textured surfaces like terrain pieces or dioramas to add dimension and realism.
  5. Add washes: After dry brushing, consider applying washes to your miniatures. This technique involves using thinned-down dark paint or washes to enhance the shadows and details further.
  6. Experiment with metallic paints: Dry brushing with metallic paints can create a striking metallic sheen and bring out the metallic elements of your miniatures, such as weapons or armor.
  7. Take breaks and step back: While working on your miniatures, take occasional breaks and step back to examine your progress. This allows you to spot any areas that need additional highlights or adjustments.

Remember, practice makes perfect. Take your time to experiment with different techniques, color combinations, and styles. The more you practice, the more confident you will become with dry brushing and miniature painting in general.

Now that you have a few extra tricks up your sleeve, let’s move on to the next step: sealing your beautifully dry brushed miniatures!

Step 7: Sealing your miniatures

After putting in the effort to dry brush your miniatures and achieve stunning highlights, it’s essential to protect your work by sealing the paint. Sealing not only helps preserve the painted finish but also provides additional durability. Follow these steps to properly seal your miniatures:

  1. Choose the right sealant: Select a sealant specifically designed for miniatures or models. There are various options available, such as matte, satin, or gloss finishes. Choose the one that suits your desired look.
  2. Prepare your workspace: Find a well-ventilated area and cover your work surface with a protective material or newspaper to prevent any overspray from getting on your surroundings.
  3. Shake the sealant: Before applying the sealant, shake the can or bottle thoroughly to ensure that the mixture is well blended for an even application.
  4. Hold the miniatures: Hold each miniature by its base or use a painting handle to elevate it. This allows for easier and more thorough coverage without smudging or touching the painted surfaces.
  5. Apply the sealant: Start spraying the sealant in smooth and even strokes, keeping a consistent distance from the miniatures. Be sure to cover all the painted areas, including the dry brushed highlights.
  6. Allow drying time: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the recommended drying time. It’s important to let the sealant cure completely to ensure a strong and protective finish.
  7. Assess the finish: Once the sealant has dried, evaluate the finish. If you prefer a higher level of gloss or shine, consider applying an additional coat of gloss sealant over the matte or satin finish.

Sealing your miniatures not only protects the paint job but also adds a professional touch to your finished models. It helps prevent chipping, fading, and wear over time, ensuring that your dry brushed highlights stay intact for years to come.

With your miniatures now sealed, it’s time to move on to the next step: properly caring for your brushes!

Step 8: Properly caring for your brushes

Your brushes are essential tools for miniature painting, and proper care will help extend their lifespan and maintain their performance. Follow these steps to ensure your brushes stay in top shape:

  1. Clean your brushes after each use: Rinse your brushes thoroughly with warm water after each painting session. Gently massage the bristles to remove any paint residue.
  2. Use a brush cleaner: For stubborn paint or dried-on residue, use a brush cleaner specifically designed for acrylic paints. Follow the instructions on the cleaner to remove any remaining paint.
  3. Reshape the bristles: While the brushes are still damp, gently reshape the bristles to their original form. This helps maintain their shape and prevents splaying or fraying.
  4. Store brushes properly: Avoid storing your brushes with the bristles facing upwards, as this can cause them to bend or lose their shape. Instead, store them flat or with the bristles facing downward to maintain their integrity.
  5. Avoid harsh solvents: Do not use harsh solvents like acetone or alcohol to clean your brushes, as they can damage the bristles. Stick to gentle soap or brush cleaners specifically formulated for acrylic paints.
  6. Protect brush tips: Consider using brush protectors or rubber bands to keep the bristles in shape during storage or travel. This will help extend the lifespan of your brushes.
  7. Replace worn-out brushes: No matter how well you care for them, brushes will eventually wear out. Replace brushes when the bristles become frayed, splayed, or lose their shape, as this can affect paint application.

Properly caring for your brushes ensures that they will continue to deliver optimal performance and precision during your dry brushing and painting sessions. By taking the time to clean, shape, and store your brushes correctly, you’ll prolong their lifespan and maintain their quality over time.

Now that you know how to care for your brushes, let’s move on to the next step: troubleshooting common issues that may arise during the dry brushing process.

Step 9: Troubleshooting common issues

During the dry brushing process, you may encounter some common issues that can affect the outcome of your miniatures. Here are a few troubleshooting tips to help you overcome these challenges:

  1. Streaky or heavy application: If your dry brushing appears streaky or too heavy, it could be due to excessive paint on the brush. Remove any excess paint by wiping the brush on a paper towel before dry brushing. Alternatively, you can try using a lighter touch and layering the highlights gradually for a more natural effect.
  2. Limited color variation: If you find that your dry brushing isn’t creating enough contrast or color variation, consider using different shades or tones of the same color for your highlights. Experiment with layering multiple highlight colors to add depth and dimension to your miniatures.
  3. Loss of texture or detail: If you notice that your dry brushing is obscuring or filling in the texture or details of your miniatures, you may be applying too much pressure or paint. Use a light touch and a sparing amount of paint to preserve the intricate details while still achieving the desired highlights.
  4. Messy edges or bleeding: If your dry brushing is resulting in messy edges or bleeding onto areas you don’t want to highlight, try using a smaller brush or a fine-tip brush to work on specific areas. This gives you more control and precision over where the highlight is applied.
  5. Inconsistent highlights: Inconsistencies in your dry brushing can occur due to variations in pressure or paint distribution. To maintain consistency, practice consistent brush strokes and apply the same amount of pressure with each stroke. Additionally, pay attention to the amount of paint on the brush and ensure it’s evenly distributed for each stroke.
  6. Overbrushing: Overbrushing occurs when you continue to dry brush on an area for too long, resulting in a muddied appearance. To avoid this, use quick, light strokes and move on to a new area after a few strokes. This prevents excess paint from building up and keeps the highlight effect crisp and clean.

Remember, practice and experimentation are key to troubleshooting and refining your dry brushing technique. By addressing these common issues and making adjustments as needed, you’ll be able to overcome challenges and achieve the desired results.

Now, let’s move on to the final step: showcasing your beautifully dry brushed miniatures!

Step 10: Showcasing your beautifully dry brushed miniatures

After all the hard work and dedication, it’s time to proudly display your beautifully dry brushed miniatures. Showcasing your finished models not only allows you to admire your skills but also provides inspiration to others. Here are some ideas for showcasing your miniatures:

  1. Display shelves: Invest in display shelves or cases to exhibit your miniatures. Arrange them in an aesthetically pleasing manner, taking into consideration their size, theme, and color scheme.
  2. Custom bases: Create or purchase custom bases to enhance the overall presentation of your miniatures. Consider adding scenic elements, textured materials, or small props that complement the theme or setting.
  3. Photography: Capture high-quality photographs of your miniatures to showcase their details and highlights. Experiment with lighting, angles, and backgrounds to bring out the best features of your models.
  4. Participate in competitions: Enter your beautifully dry brushed miniatures into miniature painting competitions or online showcases. This allows you to not only showcase your work but also gain recognition and feedback from the community.
  5. Share on social media: Share photos and progress shots of your miniatures on social media platforms dedicated to miniature painting and hobby communities. Connect with fellow enthusiasts and receive support and feedback.
  6. Create a diorama or scene: Extend the storytelling aspect of your miniature painting by creating dioramas or scenes using your beautifully dry brushed models. This adds depth and immerses viewers in the fantasy or historical setting.
  7. Participate in game sessions: Put your miniatures to use by participating in tabletop gaming sessions. Position them strategically on game boards to showcase their highlights and engage in thrilling battles.

Remember, showcasing your beautifully dry brushed miniatures is an opportunity to share your passion and inspire others in the miniature painting community. Embrace the journey, continue to hone your skills, and enjoy the pride and satisfaction that come with exhibiting your finished creations.

Congratulations on completing all the steps and mastering the art of dry brushing miniatures!