What is dry brushing painting | (Guide)

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From scale models to miniature kits, painting your model requires technique to give them an almost authentic effect of their large replicas. 

One of these painting techniques that helps you achieve this is dry painting, also called dry brushing. 

Dry-brushing is one of the oldest and simplest painting techniques used by scale modelers to give models a realistic finish and improved visual appearance on the model kits and miniatures. 

*Never dry brush with sable brushes or any other natural hair paintbrushes

What is dry brushing painting for models and miniatures?

A dry brush painting can also be called a subtle painting. 

The simple reason is that this technique involves running a paintbrush with almost no paint on its bristled end over the model’s surface. 

Once placed on the model, only the edges and surface details of the model pick up the paint. The result is a highlight effect on raised surfaces, and can also be used for a rough, weathered effect. 

The right way to dry-brush is by using a lighter tone of color than the one on your model. this will give the illusion that the raised surfaces get more light hitting them, giving depth to the model. otherwise, the model looks flat.

In short, unlike many painting techniques in the modeler’s toolbox, dry painting serves two purposes; emphasizing surface texture and highlighting the model’s edges to make it stand out. 

dry brushing models and miniatures Will Make The Paint Job Much Better

Like many other painting techniques, dry brushing offers numerous benefits that stand out. 

Dry brushing is one of the best techniques in model and miniature painting since it highlights the model, make the details pop, and gives depth and a realistic look to the miniature.

It helps you create rapid highlighting effects and works best with plenty of texture. Even without lots of textured parts, you can also create texture on flat surfaces with dry brushing. 

Its simple-to-use form makes dry brushing a good technique for beginner modelers. and, this means that beginner and advanced modelers will find it useful and even necessary when painting a miniature or a model. 

Dry brushing introduces beginners to shading so they can easily master other challenging painting techniques. 

The type of paint brushes used for dry brushing

Dry-brushing is hard on brushes, so it is best you use an older, short-flat, and soft-bristled brush.

Older brushes are stiffer, which makes picking highlights easy. New brushes have fine bristles that don’t offer subtle shading, so you want to avoid them. 

What Brushes are used for dry brushing miniatures

Every old, soft-bristled brush will work well for dry brushing miniatures, but the best brush will offer a bit of spring while the bristles stay together as you paint. 

You don’t want the bristles to shoot out on each stroke, as it prevents you from controlling where the paint goes and how much. A springy brush will help with how much paint enters where you want it as it allows for much lighter pressure.

If you’re considering getting a good brush for dry brushing miniatures, choose the Citadel Small Drybrush or the Citadel Base Brush. 

This is a good utility brush that offers the right spring and bristles. This brush is cheap and won’t damage easily while dry brushing your miniature kits. 

Many painters also use cheap makeup brushes.

What kind of paint and colors are used to dry brush models

Dry brushing is mostly used for highlighting the model and making it look as if the light hits raised surfaces, but doesn’t reach lower surfaces. this gives depth to your paint job.

The color you should use for dry brushing is a few tones lighter than the color on your mini. Most mini painters will just use white in small amounts rather than a few tones lighter, and it all depends on the effect you are trying to get.

So, for example, if you paint your space marine Ultramarine blue, you’ll want to highlight it with Talassar Blue or Pylar Glacier Blue.

As for types of paint, you can dry brush your miniatures and scale model kits using oil, enamel, acrylic, or dry paints. 

Acrylics are the most commonly used paints for models and miniatures. 

For dry brushing you can use a designated paint for dry brushing such as GW Citadel Dry Paint.

That being said, the same type of paint you used on your model can be used for dry brushing. The only thing you should do is let it sit for a few minutes so it will start to dry and be less watery.

The best paint for dry-brushing models and miniatures 

When it comes to buying the best paint for dry brushing, you’ll find several options on the market.

Nevertheless, the best paint for dry brushing is one that can load easily on the brush and have high pigment density and low moisture content. 

These types of paint offer more consistency since they have a medium-thick paint viscosity when soaked in the brush.

So, if you want to get the best paint to dry brush your model and miniatures but don’t know which to buy, the Game Workshop Citadel Dry Paint can be a good choice. 

These are specialized paints that don’t require sitting before painting and offer excellent high-pigment density and consistency. 

So, How do you dry brush 

  1. Mix the paint to get the desired color. You can try thinning the paint for better quality. 
  2. Pick up the paint and wipe the paintbrush on a paper towel.
    After you got paint with your brush, you’ll want to get as much of it off the brush, but still leave just a tiny bit of it. So don’t just wipe it until its clean, wipe it until you see only small amounts of paint on the bristles.
  3. Don’t leave too much paint on the brush, as too much paint conceals the details and will look as you are re painting the model rather than dry brushing it. 
  4. Test on a spare model before applying paint to the actual kit.
  5. Lightly run the brush back and forth and vertically on the raised surfaces and edges of your models. Ensure you brush back and forth repeatedly to slowly build the paint. 
  6. Don’t force it. It is quite a tasking process, and you won’t see the change immediately. just keep on going back and forth on your model and soon you will see highlights.
  7. you’re Done! Clean the brush several times to keep it damp and prevent it from drying.
    If it dries while painting, you may have to stop and wash the brush before starting again. 


So, what is dry brushing? Dry brushing is a simple painting technique that isn’t time-consuming and does not require pre-learned skills to get started

It is a good technique for beginners and helps you enhance the realism of your scale models and miniatures. 

However, you only achieve desired effects when you use the right paints and brush. Game Workshop Citadel makes some of the best paints and brushes that make dry brushing satisfying no matter your skills.