Updated: Jun 24, 2020
Greetings one and all. Due to popular demand, I thought I would review a set of brushes I purchased recently, and at the same time discuss brushes in general.
So let's start with a discussion about brushes. Online, some of the most posted questions within the hobby are asking about brushes; which are the best, which ones would be recommended for beginners etc. This question is slightly more complicated than it might first appear, and many factors have to be considered before they can be answered, such as what medium will you be painting with, will you need natural hair or synthetic, and what is your budget. And these questions aren’t even considering the many styles of brush handles.
Firstly, what will you be painting with oil, watercolor, or acrylics? Citadel paints are acrylic, as are Vallejo paints. When picking your brush this is worth considering.
Secondly, what should your brush be made of? Synthetic and natural hair brushes both have their pros and cons. Synthetic bristles tend to be made of nylon, polyester or a mixture of both, and they will often hold more paint on the brush and leave a smoother finish with fewer brush marks. The hard-wearing nature of the synthetic material works well with most paint types, however, they can tend to splay faster than natural brushes. They also shouldn’t be exposed to harsh solvents as this can cause the tips to melt. Natural brushes on the other hand are usually made of some kind of animal hair (so are a straight out no no for you vegans out there). They work best with oil paints and watercolours and they tend to hold their shape better too. But natural brushes require care and maintenance in order to get the most out of them, and so they last longer. This is especially true when using them with acrylic paints, because if they are not taken care of, the paint can damage the brush. (I recommend ‘The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver’ for brush maintenance.)
Now down the budget. As a rule of thumb, synthetic brushes tend to be cheaper than natural ones. That being said, if proper care is taken of a natural brush it can last for years. However synthetic brushes are so cheap that if one gets ruined, replacing it isn’t going to be expensive. I would suggest that you weigh up how much of an initial investment you're willing/able to make.
So what about the brushes I purchased? ABC brushes do a whole range of both natural and synthetic brushes in a variety of sizes and shapes for your painting needs, and at a fraction of the cost of citadel brushes. The set of 8 Pro Arte brushes I bought from them recently only set me back £7.99, and with £0.99 P&P this was a bargain.
The 8 Brushes: Model and Miniature Painting set I purchased contains brushes with two types of synthetic fiber. Four of the brushes have a firmer fiber allowing for better control, while the other four use a lighter fiber which holds more paint and gives a softer feel. After using them for roughly three weeks and painting all sorts with them, from power armour to skin tones, I can say that although they took a little getting used to, the brushes have held their points very well and the stiffness of the brushes has made detail work (like eyes) a much less painful process.
Now, I have an admission here. I have mostly been using citadel brushes, which are natural brushes, for the entire time that I have been painting miniatures (that’s roughly 22 years). However, I can certainly say that I have found an appreciation for synthetic brushes. Now that I’ve used them for a prolonged period of time, they will certainly be a fixture on my hobby table from now on.