Dry Brushing

Published 7/25/21updated 2/18/23

I personally use paper towels to wipe off excess paint. You can also use your hand. After lots of practice you could also use a wet pallet so you can reuse some of your left over paint. 

All of the faces and musles were dry brushed on the troll to help make them pop. 

What is and Why Dry Brush?

This technique is something that took me lots of time and practice to learn. Dry brushing is when you take your paint brush with a very little amount of paint and take it over the ridges, bumps, texture and details of your miniature to pop out extra details. Dry brushing uses a small amount of paint that will "dust" an additional color onto your miniature without taking away details or color that was already added into your figure. Dry brushing is a way to high light parts of the miniature

You will need to have something to brush your excess paint off with. Paper towels, brown paper bag, or newspapers are the three that I tend to use for dry brushing. You will also want brushes that match your mini. This means if you are dry brushing large areas, use a larger brush, if you are dry brushing in detailed areas, or doing smaller areas please use a smaller brush. 

I will admit that when I first started painting I was hesitant. You are putting paint on something that you already put a lot of hard work into, and when you are drying brushing it feels like you’re wasting a lot of paint. This was a painting technique that took time to work on, and there were many times that I had to paint over it to fix mistakes. Dry brushing does give a lovely look to the miniature and brings more layers to the details.  

Dry brushing gives details to the cracks, bumps and parts of the miniature. It is an important to add dry brushing because it will add more definition and bring out hidden details that would be flooded with a normal amount of paint. Adding a dry brush layer to teeth can add plaque or gore. Adding dry brushing to faces adds wrinkles, creases and fine details. Adding multiple layers of different colored dry bruising adds tones and contour. It can bring different colors to the fabrics like real linens have. 

Things of Note

You will have more paint on your hand/papertowel than on your brush. 

Both of these buildings were primed black and then numerous dry brush coats of red,brown, tan, grey were applied to get the ruins look here.

Dry Brushing 101

Dry brushing miniatures gives more definition and brings out some of the details that are on your miniature. 

*the paint layer with dry brushing should be so light that it takes a very small  time to fully dry. Make sure that it is dry before continuing to a another color or putting detail work over it.  

Why use a 45 degree angle? If we are using our paint brushes up and down the paint can get into the recesses, cracks and deeper details that we want to stay the darker colors. There are flat faced cylinder brushes on the market that are sold as dry brushing that you can use at a straight 90 degree angles but I personally prefer to use the round or flat brushes in my set at the 45 degree angle as it gives me more control over the brush. 

I personally use paper towels or silicone mats to do dry brushing on, as after a while you will get enough paint on it that you can reuse some of the paint instead of just taking more from the paint pot/wet pallet. Others prefer using their hands/arms to brush off paint but I personally am to much of a klutz for that and my paint on my body brushes off onto other miniatures, the table and my environment. 

In the case of this lovely fellow he was originally painted a very dark brown base coat. All the other layers on top of it (with the exception of the pinks and the teeth) were dry brushed on to add the layer of color. In the case of this mini very little of the original base coat can still be seen. All of the dry brush layers are the details featured. You are free to use as much or little in a layer as you want. It took me years to feel comfortable covering most of the previous paint layers with dry brush. As long as you are happy with your mini at the end that is what matters most. 

Play around with the brushes you use for dry brushing. I find that some brushes will surprise you. Doing the dragon in the picture I found that this dollar store make up brush was the absolute best for dry brushing the wings and large miniatures I have. It's all about finding what is most comfortable for you. Remember to use brushes that are equal to the spaces you're painting, such as not using too large of brushes when dry brushing smaller areas. It is easier to dry brush with thicker paint than watery paint, some pigments will dry brush nicer than others, and dry brushing is a learning process. It will take time and different experimentation to find the things that work best for you and what you prefer for your painting preferences. 

If you found this information helpful and would like to download this and more in a printable brochure form you can find it here for free on our Ko-fi page.