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AFV Painting & Weathering
Answers to questions about the right paint scheme or tips for the right effect.
Cleaning Hand Brushes
USMA15
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Colorado, United States
Joined: September 25, 2016
KitMaker: 32 posts
Armorama: 12 posts
Posted: Wednesday, June 03, 2020 - 03:49 AM UTC
Hello friends,

I apoligize for such a rudimentary question. I am just getting back into the hobby after ~10 years away for college/work. I'm working on my first two kits and am having a blast, new airbrush, paints, and everything. However, I am struggling to clean my hand brushes properly I think. I use almost exclusively acrylic paints for details (Vallejo, AMMO by Mig, and AK), and I just can't seem to find any good tutorials on how to clean brushes.

What I've been doing is a good swish in Windsor and Newton brush cleaner/restorer, then a rinse in water. However, they dry crispy and I need to dip them back into the thinner to 'clean' them again before their next use.

Am I doing it wrong? Has anyone got a better process, or a tutorial they can link me to?

Thank you so much, and happy modeling!

Andrew
Leopard-2
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Bayern, Germany
Joined: November 10, 2009
KitMaker: 229 posts
Armorama: 220 posts
Posted: Wednesday, June 03, 2020 - 04:06 AM UTC
I was just about to ask the same question here because i'm struggling with getting the brushes clean after using the new AK 3rd Gens. Nothing seems to work properly. Not water, not IPA, not ethanol... Methoxypronanol seems to work a little bit but the best way is to use agressive brush cleaner but even then i have to really work it out. Not good for expensive brushes with really fine and delicate tips...
firstcircle
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England - South East, United Kingdom
Joined: November 19, 2008
KitMaker: 2,249 posts
Armorama: 2,007 posts
Posted: Wednesday, June 03, 2020 - 05:07 AM UTC
Hi Andy, Bernd.

When cleaning it's important to know what paint you are using. This is my view - someone else is bound to think differently.

If you are using pure water based acrylics (mostly the ones in the 17ml squishy plastic bottles) then normally you should just be able to use plain water. This sounds easy, but it is vital not to allow these paints to dry on the brush, because the water won't redissolve dried paint. But if you are careful to keep rinsing the brush while painting, then water should do it. You can also use airbrush cleaner which might help if the paint has started to set, also washing up liquid.

If using the alcohol / water hybrid acrylics like Mr Hobby aqueous or Tamiya, then airbrush cleaner or alcohol, but water will also still work, providing you haven't allowed paint to dry on the brush.

If using lacquers, like Mr Color, the ones that are solvent based, then you need solvent to clean them. Mr Tool Cleaner, Mr Hobby Leveling Thinner, or cellulose thinners from a hardware shop should all work. These are the kinds of things you shouldn't really use in a confined area and should really use a vapour mask.

I'll admit I'm not sure which of the second two categories the new AK paints fall into... If they are like Tamiya, or if they are real lacquers. From what you say, they sound like solvent based lacquer, like Mr Color.

Oiks and enamels, use white spirit (turpentine substitute) or real turpentine if you like stinking the place out and making your eyes water.

I see that W&N suggest that their brush cleaner will help with dried on acrylic paint (overnight soak) but they also underline the point about not allowing acrylic paint to dry on the bristles.

I was using Mr Tool Cleaner at the weekend on some brushesthat had lost their shape and a whole load of old **** came out of them and they did look better. Not sure how advisable it is to use that if your brushes are natural hairs.

https://www.winsornewton.com/uk/discover/tips-and-techniques/other-tips-and-techniques/care-and-cleaning-of-brushes

Kevlar06
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Washington, United States
Joined: March 15, 2009
KitMaker: 3,670 posts
Armorama: 2,052 posts
Posted: Wednesday, June 03, 2020 - 06:19 AM UTC
I just solve the problem of using multiple types of cleaners (acrylics, enamels, lacquers) by using the strongest cleaner I can find to clean all the different types of paint. That would be lacquer thinner. It keeps me from having multiple types of cleaners on the workbench, and also saves expensive proprietary thinners for thinning only. Iíve used this method for years, and frankly, I have the same ďstableď of brushes Iíve used for many years without much damage, if any. Occasionally, when necessary, Iíll use a brush conditioner to keep my brushes viable. I keep a jar of lacquer thinner with a small grate in the bottom for cleaning only. After several days of non-use, the dissolved paint settles to the bottom, and I can carefully pour the useful lacquer thinner off for re-use. Iíve used this method for over 20 years without a problem. I also only use lacquer thinner to clean my airbrush. It really doesnít matter what type of cleaner you use, as bristles will tend to stick together, even with plain water. To solve that problem, clean thoroughly, and use a bit of saliva on a fingertip to ďpointĒ your brush To keep it in shape. Then, just before using, run the tip over a fingernail to separate the individual bristles. If desired, use small amounts of brush conditioner to soften the individual hairs. I prefer sable and synthetic sable brushes.
VR, Russ
phil2015
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Illinois, United States
Joined: July 27, 2015
KitMaker: 502 posts
Armorama: 325 posts
Posted: Wednesday, June 03, 2020 - 07:38 AM UTC
I've learned a lot by watching videos from IanE on YouTube. In this video around the 8min mark he talks about cleaning brushes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_nogruy5ps&t=2s

firstcircle is right that if you are using acrylics you need to constantly swirly your brush in water to keep it from drying on the brush.
CMOT
Staff MemberEditor-in-Chief
ARMORAMA
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England - South West, United Kingdom
Joined: May 14, 2006
KitMaker: 10,954 posts
Armorama: 8,571 posts
Posted: Wednesday, June 03, 2020 - 11:33 AM UTC
I suggest Brush Magic from Deluxe Materials, this stuff removes paint that has been on the brush for years; one minor complaint it will also remove the paint of the handle if you let it get on it. I have not found something it can't shift, I also suggest investing in some brush restorer, especially if you use good quality brushes.
Grauwolf
#084
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Quebec, Canada
Joined: September 14, 2005
KitMaker: 2,485 posts
Armorama: 743 posts
Posted: Wednesday, June 03, 2020 - 12:16 PM UTC
Ditto on Brush Magic...this product is amazing!
Cheers,
wedgetail53
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Queensland, Australia
Joined: October 02, 2008
KitMaker: 658 posts
Armorama: 629 posts
Posted: Wednesday, June 03, 2020 - 12:49 PM UTC

Quoted Text

Hello friends,

I apoligize for such a rudimentary question. I am just getting back into the hobby after ~10 years away for college/work. I'm working on my first two kits and am having a blast, new airbrush, paints, and everything. However, I am struggling to clean my hand brushes properly I think. I use almost exclusively acrylic paints for details (Vallejo, AMMO by Mig, and AK), and I just can't seem to find any good tutorials on how to clean brushes.

What I've been doing is a good swish in Windsor and Newton brush cleaner/restorer, then a rinse in water. However, they dry crispy and I need to dip them back into the thinner to 'clean' them again before their next use.

Am I doing it wrong? Has anyone got a better process, or a tutorial they can link me to?

Thank you so much, and happy modeling!

Andrew



G'day Andrew

There was a very good article in Military Modelcraft International some months ago, titled, IIRC, "The Science of Paint". The author listed all of the various paints as follows:

Acrylic, thin/clean with water - Vallejo Model COlour, AK, AMMO, Mission Model, Model Master.

Emulsion acrylic, thin/clean with alcohol or lacquer thinner - Tamiya, Mr. Hobby, AK Real Colour. From previous painful experience I have learned to only use Real Colour's own thinner with their paint.

Lacquer, thin/clean with lacquer thinner - Gunze, MRP, Tamiya spray cans, Alclad.

I use a lot of Vallejo, and generally use their "Thinner Medium" in the small bottle with brush paints, and their Airbrush Thinner with airbrushed paint. Brushes I clean with a bottle of Vallejo's Brush Cleaner. They also make a Brush Restorer, but I haven't used it yet.

Hope this helps.

Regards

Rob
Dioramartin
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New South Wales, Australia
Joined: May 04, 2016
KitMaker: 1,476 posts
Armorama: 1,463 posts
Posted: Wednesday, June 03, 2020 - 01:08 PM UTC
All opinions valid, whatever works. Spend money as you wish, I try not to unnecessarily. Iíve been buying quality brushes for 40 years, nothing cheap usually genuine sable because they seldom if ever drop hairs. I use the same brushes for oils and acrylics. Itís difficult to estimate the life of a brush because obviously nobody keeps score of hours used, but I expect my brushes to last at least 3 years, most are older and still in A1 condition. The oldest (and still my favourite) must be about 7 years old.

After dipping in water (acrylics) or white spirit (oils) to get most of the paint out (there will always be some seeped up inside the ferule) I pour a few droplets of ordinary washing-up liquid into my palm & gently massage the brush in it for 10 seconds. Flush with water, repeat, flush again really well and then squeeze residual water out with an absorbent cloth in such a way it restores the original shape. The brush can be reused immediately if working with acrylics, but if oils I leave it to completely dry out for several hours, fanning it through fingers regularly if needed sooner.

Brush condition & longevity depends on never leaving brushes standing in any solvent including water for more than a few seconds, and changing the solvent after each session if not during.