Drybrush is a painting technique in which a paint brush that is relatively dry, but still holds paint, is used. Load is applied to a dry support such as paper or primed canvas. The resulting brush strokes have a characteristic scratchy look that lacks the smooth appearance that washes or blended paint commonly have.
Drybrush is a relief painting technique, especially used for miniature painting, realistic painting of models and model making.
It consists of using a small quantity of almost dry paint and brushing the part to paint with a brush with more or less hard bristles. The paint is deposited at the top of the reliefs and then reveals the details with more clarity. By using a clear paint, we can achieve a semblance of lighting reliefs, and bring out the details and edges of the model.
The wash is a complementary technique that can also give relief, and consists of diluting a little paint darker than the base color to make it completely liquid. We then obtain a juice, which is applied to the model or figurine and the liquid paint will be fixed in the hollows and interstices, giving the impression of shadow.
The drybrush technique can be achieved with both water-based and oil-based media. With water-based media such as inks, acrylic paints, tempera paints or watercolor paints, the brush should be dry or squeezed dry of all water. The brush should then be loaded with paint that is highly viscous or thick. The loaded brush should then be applied to a dry support. With other water-based media, the brush should be loaded with paint then squeezed dry.
With oil-based media, such as oil paint, a similar technique may be used, although instead of water, the brush should be dry or squeezed dry of oil and solvent. Because oil paint has a longer drying time than water-based media, brushing over or blending drybrush strokes should be avoided to preserve the distinctive look of the drybrush technique.
The technique is frequently used in model painting to apply highlights to miniatures.
Oil-based drybrushing can also be scrubbed onto paper, canvas or absorbent gesso with stiff bristle brushes to impart smooth airbrushed or pastel-style effects. Next is that drybrush is sometimes mixed with other painting techniques
Coming from the dry brush technique, an autonomous painting technique developed in a comparatively short time:
For painting with the dry brush a small amount of oil is used. The color is diluted with a few drops of linseed oil. From this mixture very little color is added to the brush. In the next step the brush with the color on it is spread out very well on a color palette and the oil is secreted. The brush must be dry at the end of this step.
Iinseed oil, when used with oil paint for dry brushing, will yellow if it becomes too warm, such as being left in a car in the summer sun. Sewing machine oil and diesel oil work just as well and do not yellow.
Now a very thin layer of color is applied to a watercolor paper. By reworking with an eraser at this point it is possible to incorporate different lighting effects and details.
Images – painted with a dry brush – are characterized by the specific transitions of light and shadow and gossamer tones. A work done in black and white appears similar to a coal or fine pencil drawing.
The practice of “brushing” requires a little training, but it is better not to have enough paint to have excess. To check the amount of paint on the brush, simply pass the plate of the hair slightly, either on a piece of paper towel or on the tip of a finger (Attention to a possible toxicity of the paint).
If there is a lack of paint, the color will not settle, if there is too much, it will completely cover the details (your fingerprints when you test the brush, texture of the paper, etc.), if the dose is correct, the hue will be deposited only on the reliefs. To make a good brushing, it is better to use a flat brush.
During dry brushing, the pressure and the amount of paint will affect the thickness of the line. It is therefore possible to very easily create a gradient from darker to lighter, playing on the intensity of brushing.
This technique can also be used to weather a surface, light brushstrokes on the entire surface can irregularly apply a lighter or different hue, resulting in a worn or dirty look to the object, and bring out the fine details (rivets, bolts etc …)
The combination of dry brushing and wash allows for example to obtain a realistic rendering on the cape of a figurine: wash for the hollow in dark, then dry brushing on the edges.
Dry brushing can be done with a sponge or cloth when the object to be brushed is on a sufficiently large scale; another reason for using these tools instead of the brush is that when you look closely at the texture of the brush brushing, you notice the furrows created by the hair.
The application of the dry brush differs from the place of application
In futuristic dioramas, especially those for wargames such as warhammer 40,000 where urban ruins are depicted, the white / gray dry brush applied on a black primer is suitable to represent the remains of asphalt (white ruins on black asphalt, in fact) .
As an alternative to artificial snow it is also used to represent snowy landscapes by applying more hands of dry brush on the reliefs.
In fantasy dioramas (eg warhammer), the dry brush is suitable for roof tiles or pavements, as they contain many crevices and many reliefs. In the case of assembled buildings alone it can also be used to make the brick effect.
In futuristic models, the dry brush is indicated for textured parts as an alternative to ink cleaning. The pink dry brush for humans or green for orcs or other alien races can always be useful in place of ink wash to represent the difference in skin color from the recesses of the skin.
Dry brush is useful for representing fire damage, carried out by weapons such as flamethrowers or thermal rifles against normal vehicles or soldiers. By entering more detail, the dry brush can become recurring in representing bio-damage, using a darker color for the hollowed-out holes made by these particular futuristic weapons.
Wargames, or just collections of miniatures, use baskets on which to place the thumbnails. In this field, the dry brush returns as useful as the dioramas: through it can be seen city ruins, snow or other special effects such as burnt earth
Like the futuristic models (which often resemble application targets), in modern models representing units from the 1st World War onwards, the dry brush can be used to represent damage and relief.
In fantasy models, the dry brush is used to represent elms and other parts of the ruined armor, as on smooth surfaces the ink washing is not a good home effect to the impossibility of getting into the recesses, which in these cases are nonexistent.
Likewise, the dry brush lends itself to the plumes and to represent arms with padded grip formed by various strips of leather interwoven with each other.
Unlike the futuristic bases, in the fantasy bases the dry brush is not much used except for rocky bases, resembling the city ruins. Other applications are small-sized dumbbells