I wanted to write a short article on the technique of dry brushing to paint miniatures. I don't think it is any secret that as a group, table top wargamers that is, we have plenty of members within our ranks that can be very snobbish about how people wish to play the game, pursue the hobby, and paint our miniatures.
I am guilty of this myself in many respects. I play very much for fun and fluff, and those persons who garner their joy from the purely competitive and "game breaking" aspects of the game are as much anathema to me as perhaps I might be to them. Yes, everyone who plays wants to win, but I'll take a fun loss over a dirty win as it were any day of the week.
Similarly I like to play against painted armies, or at least see my opponents progressing with their army towards a painted state as I play against them, rather than just a perennially grey or undercoated army. I have very little care for HOW people paint their armies as we all sit at different abilities and as long as someone has taken the time to get it to a painted state I'll be damned if I judge them for that.
However, something that crops up a lot as a trawl youtube, facebook, and comments section of blogs much larger than my own, is the idea that dry brushing is a "lesser" technique. I think this inherently judges hobbyists who might not have the time nor skill to apply other techniques to their armies and thus is derogatory to the painted outcome, but I also find that is generally misunderstands the technique itself.
People are often quick to express their loathing at playing unpainted armies, but then will also be quick to judge painting that falls short of their own given arbitrary standard. Dry brushing is an excellent technique for beginners and veterans alike to get an army ready and painted for the tabletop and provides and easy to use technique that allows for a very visually satisfying standard when you view them on the tabletop.
I have known people to paint upwards of 400 miniatures a year with dry brushing which has allowed them to accrue and play with vast and multitudinous armies. And playing is really rather the end point if you are in it for the game itself no? Certain schemes do lend themselves to this style more readily I feel, such as Iron Warriors (or many space marines in general), as well as Orks and Tyranids to name an extremely un-exhausted list!!!
Long story short, if people are critical of your army simply for the technique you've used to play it then I daresay these people are much fun to play against let alone become friends with! I encourage anyone who thinks that they "HAVE" to aspire to wet blending and other advanced techniques to really eschew that mentality.
If you are happy with the army that you have produced then to hell with anyone else, pursue new and exciting painting styles at your own pace and don't ever feel belittled because you don't have a Golden Demon... you know like most of us!
The Art of Dry Brushing
The second part of this ranting and meandering article is about generally dispelling the concept that you can't reach "high standards" with dry brushing. I am a HUGE fan of dry brushing as a technique. Dry brushing, in concert with washes and glazes, is the main painting technique I use for my most prized armies. I very rarely apply line highlighting to my armies and it is usually only in a few very select places like the lenses of eyes or lights.
The picture below is my current range of dry brushes that I used regularly:
As you can see I go from a big fat brush on the left to a size 0 brush on the right that I have trimmed with a scalpel and scissors to have only a few short stumpy bristles left alive to tell the tale.
Like any technique in painting, dry brushing can be as a simple or as complicated as you want to it to be. I suck at wet blending an line highlighting, like a really fucking suck at those techniques. I don't think that limits me at all, as I just look at a problem and see how I can fit a technique that I am comfortable with (dry brushing if you hadn't guessed...) to fit that problem.
Every miniature in this article has been primarily painted with basecoats and dry brushing with washes and glazes used to blur the dry brushed layers together and make it less obvious. Thats it! YES it has taken me several years of experimenting to get to this stage and plenty of practise believe you me! But I've got to a stage of making miniatures that I really enjoy looking at and I am proud to place on the table without learning many of the so called "advanced" painting techniques.
This has been quite the rant from me I'll admit... But I find that this hobby can sometimes be very unforgiving by arbitrary standards set by a select few that can shout loudest and longest and this can serve to demoralise budding hobbyists of any age that want to show of their latest work on many types of social media platforms but perhaps are put off because they aren't using the latest painting styles or aren't at competition winning standards.
I have to stop here and take note of all the brilliant people out there who DO encourage and guide and help anyone and everyone whatever level they are at. I have been the recipient of endless kindness and guidance on forums, social media and my blog alike. But so too have I suffered crushing snobbery and brutal criticisms that have done nothing but make me devalue my work unnecessarily!
I hope that reading this has instilled in at least a few people that you don't have to become a master of all painting styles to produce beautiful miniatures and you certainly shouldn't have your standard of what is good set by anyone but yourself. If you're happy you're happy and you should play away :)
I do apologise for the wall of text and the ranting tone as well... I'll get back to mostly pretty pictures tomorrow :P