How to Paint Miniatures Without Brush Strokes: 20 Huge Reasons Why Brush Strokes Suck!

Warhammer 40k Space Marine

How to Paint Miniatures Without Brush Strokes: The Guide for Better Results

As an avid miniature painter with over 20 years of experience, I’m often asked how to achieve smooth, professional finishes without visible brush strokes. After testing countless techniques, I’ve learned the key factors for flawless results.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll share everything I wish I knew when starting out – from proper surface preparation and quality brushes to speciality mediums and expert brushwork. Whether you’re new to the hobby or looking to take your skills to the next level, these tips will help you paint miniatures that look like works of art.


How to Paint Miniatures Without Brush Strokes: The Causes of Brush Strokes

Before jumping into solutions, it’s important to understand what causes brush strokes in the first place. The main culprits include:

Cheap Brushes: Low-quality brushes with uneven and coarse bristles make leaving marks inevitable. Splurging on artist-grade brushes is worth every penny.

Excess Paint: Overloading your brush causes paint to pool and drag. Always dab off any excess on a paper towel before stroking.

Fast Drying Paints: Standard acrylics and enamels dry too quickly, preventing the paint from self-leveling. Slow-drying paints are essential.

Difficult Pigments: Glittery, pearlized, and textured paints inherently leave brushy textures no matter your technique. Reserve them only for small accents.

Incorrect Technique: Heavy hand pressure, uneven coverage, and continuously rebrushing semi-dry paint lead to unsightly results. Proper brush control takes practice.

If brushes are the crux of your problem, view our post on The Best Brushes for Painting Warhammer Miniatures

With an understanding of what causes subpar brushwork, we can now explore all the ways to avoid it. From quality materials to expert technique, here is my proven process for flawless, professional miniature painting.


How to Paint Miniatures Without Brush Strokes: Choosing the Right Paints

Just like an artist wouldn’t skimp on canvas and oils, premium quality paints and mixes are non-negotiable for smooth coverage. Here are my top recommendations:

Artist Acrylics: Unlike hobby enamels, professional acrylics offer unparalleled flow and clarity. My favorites are Golden and Liquitex Heavy Body.

Fluid Acrylics: Even more fluid than heavy body, these super thin acrylics are self-leveling and perfect for avoiding brush strokes. Golden High Flow are my go-to.

Slow Drying Mediums: Extenders and retarders slow acrylic’s quick drying time, allowing the paint to settle smoothly before drying. Liquitex Slo-Dri Blend is excellent.

Flow Improvers: These specialized fluid additives enhance flow and transparency. Skip hobby thinners and use artists’ products like Liquitex Flow Aid instead.

Interested to learn more about paint brands? Read here for The Best Paint Brands for Miniatures

Rosemary Brushes

How to Paint Miniatures Without Brush Strokes: Brushes Make All the Difference

With so many shapes and bristle types available, choosing the right brush may seem overwhelming initially. When specifically looking to avoid brush strokes, here are the key features that matter most:

  1. Soft Synthetic Bristles: Unlike coarse hog hair, soft taklon or nylon bristles glide smoothly without friction. Red sable hair is ideal for fine detail work.
  2. Fine Tip: Thin brush tips allow for precise control. For covering large areas, use wider flats while smaller rounds excel at details. Angle shades are also useful.
  3. Quality Construction: Brushes that maintain their sharp tip and snap back into shape are essential. With artist grade brushes, you get what you pay for.

My favorite brands include Winsor & Newton Series 7, Da Vinci Maestro, and Escoda Perla. While expensive, their flawless performance makes them well worth the cost.


How to Paint Miniatures Without Brush Strokes: Mastering Brush Technique

View an overview on Miniature Painting techniques for Warhammer 

With quality materials in hand, executing flawless technique makes all the difference:

  1. Always Thin Your Paints: Adding medium helps paint self-level without drying too quickly. Consistency should be like melted ice cream.
  2. Load Just the Tip: Completely saturating bristles causes excess paint to drag. Only load color into the tip half of the bristles.
  3. Use a Light Touch: Brush lightly, letting the bristles do the work. Heavy pressure causes streaking.
  4. Work Quickly: Spread thinly loaded paint smoothly without continuously rebrushing the same area before it dries.
  5. Soften Edges: While paint is still wet, gently sweep perpendicular to any unblended brush edges to subtly diffuse and blend.
  6. Check For Texture: Periodically feel for any physical texture left behind. Smooth by lightly rebrushing problem areas with medium before drying occurs.

Brushes Miniature painting

How to Paint Miniatures Without Brush Strokes: Advanced Techniques for Next Level Results

  1. Layering: Apply multiple smoothed, thinned layers of paint rather than attempting full opacity in one coat. Allow each translucent veil to dry between layers.
  2. Glazing: Similar to layering, glazing involves using highly diluted, transparent layers of paint to gradually build color with a flawless surface result.
  3. Wet Blending: With a loaded brush in one hand and a clean, wet brush in the other, gently sweep the colors together where they meet while both are still wet.
  4. Feathering: Lightly brush semi-dry paint inward from a hard edge to subtly fade and diffuse the transition with intricate delicacy rivaling an airbrush.
  5. Stippling Layers: Apply delicate speckled layers with a small stiff brush using dabbing motions to build flawless transitions without noticeable brush strokes.

While seemingly complex at first, don’t become intimidated by these techniques. With a little patience and practice, anyone can master smoothing and blending paint for professional quality results.

Recommended Products to Get You Started

As mentioned above, quality tools are an vital investment for achieving better results. Here is a quick list of my top recommended essentials for avoiding brush strokes:

Winsor & Newton Series 7, Size 1 or 2 da Vinci Maestro, Size 1 Liquitex Heavy Body Acrylics


Additional Tips and Tricks

  1. Always prime models first for a perfectly smooth basecoat to build upon.
  2. Mist layers with water to extend working time and allow paint to settle prior to drying.
  3. Matte varnishes hide imperfections wonderfully. Apply multiple thin coats over glossed areas as needed.
  4. Wet palettes keep paint workable much longer. For portability, stay-wet palette sheets work nicely.
  5. Magnification helps identify any texture requiring smoothing while paint is still movable and fixable.

I hope this guide has convinced you that perfectly smooth, professional miniature painting results are possible for anyone willing to learn. While avoiding brush strokes takes attentiveness, patience, quality materials and practice, the results are so rewarding.

Now grab your favorite miniature along with some new brushes and paints, and let’s get to work making miniature masterpieces! Remember, perfectly smoothed blends are only a few layers away.


Related Article