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. 

What is dry brushing painting for models and miniatures?

A dry brushing 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. However, the result is a rough, weathered effect. 

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. 

How do you, dry paint models 

  1. Mix the paint to get the desired color. You can try thinning the paint for better quality. 
  2. Soak the paintbrush in the thinned paint. Ensure that the bristled ends take a good amount of paint; then get as much paint off the brush as possible.
  3. Don’t leave too much paint on the brush, as too much paint conceals the details. Instead, use minimal paints per stroke. 
  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. Apply strokes lightly to avoid damage to the brush and painted surface.
  7. 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. 

The benefits of dry brushing models and miniatures

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

Dry brushing is one of the fastest techniques in model painting since it is fairly simple and gets your models looking good enough without too much effort. 

It helps you create rapid highlighting effects and works best with plenty of texture. But, 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. But, this does not mean advanced modelers won’t find it useful. 

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

What type of paint brushes to use 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. 

The best brush 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. 

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. 

What kind of paint to use to dry brush models

You can dry brush your miniatures and scale model kits using oil, enamel, acrylic, or dry paints. 

Most modelers prefer oils or enamels; sometimes, a combination of both since they offer a longer drying time.
However, acrylics are the most commonly used paints for models and miniatures. 

Acrylic paints are less toxic, non-flammable, and do not leave a foul odor. Plus, even young modelers can use them.

Acrylics also offer a short drying time, which makes it easy for you to move on to the next stage almost immediately. 

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 those 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, choose the Game Workshop Citadel Dry Paint. 

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


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.