En Prayse of the Drye Brushe

This article is a response to a friend of mine’s post in our local Warhammer Community page, here.

I love drybrushing. It’s a fantastic tool to quickly pick out texture on a miniature. Some, however, deride it as lazy. What utter crap.

Look at this jerk. I’m proud of this jerk. This jerk is drybrushed.

An army finished is always 100% better than an army unfinished. The trouble with that is, our ‘canvas’ consists of anywhere from 10-200 or even more 28mm-ish sized miniatures. In addition, the ‘why’ behind our painting is totally different from other art forms. This art is your own – for your own enjoyment in the process and your own immersion in the game. It’s not for anyone else except yourself. We do this for fun, limited by our free time and our patience to achieve results. If the standard to which you paint is acceptable to you, then no one else has any right to criticize your work without your consent.

Now look at this jerk. I’m also proud of this jerk. This jerk is also drybrushed.

A caveat here is that none of this applies to the competitive painting scene. For those demigods of brushwork, one hundred to two hundred hours of work on a single miniature is considered adequate.


The goal of army painting should never be done ‘bottom up’ – that is, under an obligation to perform every task and technique prescribed by others. Instead, I would encourage you to approach it from a top-down perspective. Pick a standard at which you want to see your project when it’s finished, then identify the tools, techniques, and amount of time that will be required to achieve it. It’s like Yoga (which you’ve never done so are woefully ill-equipped to use this as an analogy – wife) – the instructor will give you all these poses and stuff (see what I mean? – wife) to perform, but if you can’t, then it’s not a reason to leave the class – do a modified pose with the time and energy that you have (please stop – wife).

Enter drybrushing.

For those unfamiliar with the term, drybrushing in this context isn’t an exfoliating technique (Note to self – pick up an aromatherapy body brush and lavender body oil and get scrubbi-wait, what was I saying). It’s a painting technique in which you use a dry brush (go figure), load it up with a little bit of paint and wipe most of it off onto a paper towel. From there, you lightly drag it across the detail of a model that you want to highlight it. It’s a lot easier than edge highlighting, but can be messier if not done properly.

I love drybrushing. It’s a fantastic tool in my arsenal of painting techniques that allows me to achieve quick results where time and patience are low relative to the demands of the project. Any detail, from fur to power armour edges, can be drybrushed. Sure, you *could* edge highlight your entire 200-model army of Astra Militarum Militarum Tempestus Tempestus Scions, but the question at that point is, will you finish before your eyes fall out of your skull?

And for those who say you can’t achieve good results with drybrushing? I want to leave you with this image of Maxime Pastourel’s Valkyrie from the July 2017 edition of White Dwarf (you can see his blog and more of his awesome work here):


2 thoughts on “En Prayse of the Drye Brushe

  1. Good post mate, and lovely work on that Marine & Or(u)k! I find that I’m less confident drybrushing where there are loads of fiddly bits & different colours going on, big I’m a fan when it comes to big monochrome areas


    1. Thanks man – yeah it really riles me up when people deride any painting techniques. Sure, are there times when edge highlighting might achieve a better result? Maybe, but who gets to decide what that ‘better’ result is? No one except the person painting the mini.

      I agree with you on the confidence though, I find drybrushing a better technique earlier in the painting process where you can be a bit messier. Also, I’ve snapped more than my fair share of fiddly bits when trying to drybrush a delicate model. That said, it’s part of the learning process how you approach it, and if you break a few models on the way to figuring out your own style and favoured techniques, then more power to you.

      I’ve been watching too much Bob Ross lately (can you ever really though?).

      Liked by 1 person

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