Sharff & Raphael 8404 vs. Winsor & Newton Series 7

NOTE: This article compares the Raphael 8404 to the Winsor & Newton Series 7 brushes (both styles) -- and we are now stocking the Scharff brushes, which is a clone of the Raphael 8404. The Scharff brushes have the same properties, and the same quality, but are MUCH easier to keep in stock. Everything said about the Raphael brushes applies here.

"If you were a plumber, mechanic or carpenter you would never go to work without good tools. Even if you're just making a table as a hobby you'd use good tools. As a painter why would you do any less?"

When I was asked that question the most expensive brush in my bin was a $3 synthetic brush. I had considered more expensive brushes but kept telling myself I wasn't "good enough" to bother. I went through brushes fairly quickly too and figured it was better to buy ten $3 brushes than three $10 brushes.

I was wrong.

A natural hair brush will stay wet longer than a synthetic. This means that you can apply less pressure with your brush and get greater control over paint application. The length and quality of the hair is also important. The best for acrylic painting is red sable - with Kolinsky red sable at the top of the list for quality hairs.

I'll cover brush care below but I wanted to look at the two most popular Kolinsky red sable brushes - the Raphael 8404 and the Winsor & Newton Series 7.

From top-to-bottom: W&N Series 7 Miniature, W&N Series 7, Raphael 8404.

All three brushes are size 0 and you can see a difference in their shapes and sizes immediately. The W&N Series 7 Miniature brush is a very fine detail brush - but because the hairs are so short the paint has a tendency to dry very quickly.

The Raphael 8404 brush has a tip as fine as the W&N brushes but has longer hairs and a larger reservoir which means that you can hold more paint in the brush and it will stay wet longer.

From top-to-bottom: W&N Series 7 Miniature, W&N Series 7, Raphael 8404.

Ideally you want to use the side of your brush more than you use the tip of it. This gives you better control for blending, keeps paint from pooling too thickly in any one area and reduces the number of bubbles you will create. The Raphael 8404 stands out again for having longer hairs and a larger reservoir.

While there are technical concerns to consider when buying brushes, such as the ability of natural hair to keep paint wet longer, in the end the "best brush" is a question of personal preference. For my money I'm stocking the Raphael 8404 brushes.

Brush Care: If you are considering the Raphael 8404 brushes I recommend that you also purchase some "The Masters" brush soap and a small amount of natural turpenoid. You should be able to find either at your local arts store. Use the turpenoid daily to help remove paint from the ferrule by dipping your brush into it when you are finished painting. Use the brush soap weekly to remove dried paint from the bristles.

If you have a question about this article lease email misterjustin at secret weapon miniatures dot com.

-- misterjustin

Thanks to Obsidian Painting for the photos.