Steps to Avoid Splitting Brushes
1. Avoid getting paint in the ferrule
When loading your brush with paint you should always avoid getting paint near or in the ferrule (the small metal part).
Here is why:
The metal ferrule is the thing keeping the bristles together in a sharp point. If paint gets into the metal, you cannot get it out. When the paint dries, it will ‘glue’ your bristles together, so it feels more like a stick than a brush. This will cause you to lose the tip, and the brush will split when you try to paint with it.
If after painting for a little while with a brush and the point starts splitting, it is likely this is your problem. When this first happens, it is very hard to fix.
2. Use a different brush for taking paint out of the pot (and mixing paint consistency)
Do you use the same miniature paint brush to scoop paint out of the pot as the one you are going to paint with? Well, stop doing it!
Each time you do it, there is a chance you get paint in the ferrule. Even if you do not, you will almost certainly get paint at the end of the bristles. That paint can have a thick consistency, so it will make it harder to clean your brush later on. In general, you should only use your good brushes when applying paint to the model. So if you need to mix your paint, either to achieve a specific consistency or to change the colour, use another brush.
3. Use a suitable brush when drybrushing
Dry brushing is a great painting technique. It can save you time, and you can achieve some of the best looking effects. But if you have tried it, you know it will wreck a good brush in no time.
Now that you have a spare splitting brush laying around (that you use to scoop up paint and mix it) you can just as well use it for all your dry brushing needs. You will save money in the long run by not killing your good brushes all the time.
4. Never let paint dry on your brush
Thick dry paint will over time damage the bristles. This will make the brush unusable for high detail miniature brushwork.
This means you should rinse your brushes in water constantly while painting. Never put the brush down without quickly shaking it in a cup of water.
Just take your brush and spin it quickly in a cup water. Avoid contact between the bristles and the bottom of the cup.
Some people get in the habit of thinking they are “wasting paint”. This is a ridiculous notion. Paint is cheaper than good brushes and you will get bad results if you try to paint with semi-dried paint you left on the brush for a minute.
5. Change water regularly while painting
While painting and rinsing your brushes regularly in water it will eventually get murky. Some people believe it is fine to rinse brushes in murky paint water, but you should stop doing it.
Here is why:
While the brush looks clean when you get it up it is actually not. The water will have a lot of paint particles in it. If you store the brush paint water in it, it can damage the bristles and the ferrule.
Metallic paints are especially bad for your paints, so I make it a habit of changing water after having used any metal paints.