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Reaper Bones - Brushes


Miniatures

Andoran

Like MANY others, I jumped in on the awesome Reaper Bones Kickstarter and now have around 200 or so unpainted plastic Bones to paint in the near future. I'm very excited to get into this plastic mini painting hobby, but I'll need some expert advice :)

I've been reading up on various message boards but I have a few questions. I'll post each one separately so things can stay on topic. Please remember that I am ONLY interested in how these questions, answers and advice applies to the plastic Bones minis. I'm not interested in painting metal minis.

Onward!

I've been reading up on brushes and I'm trying to narrow down what I should get.

What brand and type is best?

It seems as though many mini painters prefer Windsor Newton, right? The more expensive sable hair is the way to go from what I have been reading. Is this the general consensus?

What about size? I tend to see sizes 00 and 000 mentioned often ...

Looking forward to some expert brush tips, recommendations and advice!

Taldor

2 people marked this as a favorite.

http://www.dndlead.com/Painting/Paintbrushes.htm

http://www.paintrix-miniatures.com/articles.php?&art=8&page=1

I try to do as much painting as I can with a number 2 or number 1 and only break out the tiny brush for awkward angles. The point on an expensive sable brush is just as fine on a big one as it is a small one.

The folks at Reaper recommend:

Reaper's The Craft wrote:


Brushes

Having the right brush will make learning to paint a much more enjoyable experience. Trying to paint with a bad brush will make painting a more trying and frustrating one.

Even if you are just learning to paint, I recommend getting at least one (if not two or three) of the highest grade of brushes: Kolinsky Sable brushes. A good Kolinsky Sable brush will form a very fine point, last a long time, and have good spring and good snap. I prefer Winsor and Newton Series 7 brushes (in normal size), though the Reaper, Da Vinci, and Raphael brushes are also good. Note that not all "Kolinsky Sable" brushes are of the same quality: even if the brand has two "Kolinsky Sable" lines, the more expensive line will likely have a different feel and performance than the cheaper line. A Winsor & Newton Series 7 #2 brush will cost $28 at an artist supply house, but Dick Blick sells them for about $10, so shop around a bit.

If you want to economize a bit, you can buy a Golden Taklon or "White Sable" brush at an arts and crafts store or artist supply house. These synthetic brushes will work fairly well, but won't last as long before they splay and hook at the tip. Even if you buy a set of Kolinsky Sable brushes, you will probably want to pick up one or two synthetic brushes for mixing colors, applying paint over rough surfaces, when you are in a hurry, doing dry brushing, or when you need to reach a tight, highly recessed part of a mini. Look at spending about $3-8 per synthetic brush.

In terms of sizes, I recommend getting at least three to start: a #2 (or a #1), a #0, and a #3/0. The #2 will be useful for basecoats, and if you get a good Kolinsky Sable brush, it will have a fine enough point that you can use it for most of your painting. The #0 will be useful for details and for working on shading or highlighting. You will probably only use the #3/0 for the tiniest details.


Good brushes make all the difference in the world. Nice brushes are SO much better than cheap ones. I've tried some of Reaper's high quality ones, and they're definitely a step up from many things, but still substantially below the level of the real quality: Winsor & Newton Series 7 Miniature brushes.
I can't say enough good things about these. A #1 or #2 will do most of your heavy lifting, and a #000 will be better than almost any detail brush you can get.
The investment in brushes like this pays for itself once you're painting a lot of minis. I've tried many different types, at different price points ranging from super cheap sets from AC Moore to supposedly nice ones from Army Painter (their Wargamer line) to various Golden Taklon brushes (e.g. IMEX). And they all wore out quickly, got hooked tips or splayed ends. But my W&N brushes are still in perfect condition.
Yes, I do use cheaper brushes for priming (I live in an apartment and thus tend not to spray on primer or sealer), as well as drybrushing. But I love love love my W&N brushes.


Kolinsky sable, all the way. W& N series 7 are good. Da Vince Maestro series are good. Raphael 8404s are good. Heck, I know of a top painter who uses a decent synthetic brush for base coats and breaks out the nice brush for details.

There is no standard on brush size. I have a size 1 and a size 2 from different manufacturers that are the same size. But these two sizes from any manufacturer should cover most situations. Each manufacturer creates a brush with different characteristics. Some are more springy, some have fuller bellies.

Also know that brush quality varies between when and where the sables are shorn. Warm winters in Russia produced a bad crop of WN series 7s a few years ago.

Shadow Lodge

Kolinsky Sable brushes. Just get them and treat them right.


Echoing the kolinsky sable. A good brush will make it much easier to paint -- I get really frustrated when I hear new painters say, "But I don't want to mess the nice brush up when I'm new, I'll wait..." because they're just making it harder on themselves.

And one thing to note is -- yes, a good kolinsky sable brush is expensive out of pocket, but it will also last 3 times as long as a cheaper brush. If you spend $3 on a cheap brush and have to replace it 3 times in the same time one good brush that cost you $8 is still going, then the better value is the better brush.

I use Windsor and Newton Artist Series Kolinsky Sable. These are a notch below the Series 7s, but still quite good. The main reason I use these is I can find them at local art stores, I have trouble finding the Series 7s in stores. You can order them online but I get paranoid about getting a brush that's damaged--would suck to order brushes, pay shipping, and then get something with the hair not properly inserted into the ferrule, etc. Sometimes these things happen--though honestly I'm sure it's only a rare problem.

The main size needed is #2. At its very tip, it is as micro-tip thin as smaller brushes. But the bigger brush holds more paint before the brush dries out. You don't want to go much smaller than #1 in any case--smaller than that and the paint dries before you can do much with it.

You may also want a larger brush for base coating or painting larger models.

You will also want some cheaper brushes for drybrushing (something stiff, maybe with the tip cut off--nylon or taklon is good, or just any old brush otherwise not useful).

Also, if you do brush on primer or brush on sealant, you will want brushes for these. These should be larger (size 4-6) and can be cheaper hair or synthetic--brushes should still be soft so they don't leave brush lines though. I brush on both primer and sealant, and I keep brushes solely for those purposes, because the stuff I use for primer (gesso) and sealant both can get sticky so I don't want to use them for ordinary paint as well. Also, if you use a brush for paint and it ends up not being totally cleaned well, and then you use it for sealant, the color remaining in the brush will come out and taint the clear sealant.

But then that leads us to...

Maybe the most important thing to remember is to take care of your brushes.

First, when you paint with brushes, don't dip it so deep into the paint that the paint gets into the area where the brush goes into the metal part that holds it onto the wooden stick--that's the ferrule. If paint gets too deep in there and dries, it will split the brush.

Also, buy some brush cleaner (the Master's Soap or whatever strikes your fancy)--ask the folks at the hobby/art store if you're not sure what to get. It should be pretty cheap.

Whenever you finish painting, go to the sink and gently run water, rinsing the brush and then putting a little cleaner into it. Gently rub the brush from ferrule to tip, molding the tip to a point as you do so, rinse, repeat as necessary until the water you rinse the brush with runs clear. Make sure the tip is molded when done and store upright (tip pointing upward).

Take good care of your brushes and their lifespan will increase dramatically.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

So for the first time ever I have started painting with sable brushes. Nothing too fancy (re: expensive) just some cheapo sable brushes my wife got me from Michael's a few years ago (I didn't even know they were sable until i opened the pack a few days ago).

Oh. My.

The difference is simply *astounding*! I have done about 10 minis all with the same brush over the last few days and still there is no sign of any fraying or loose bristles (or that annoying 'hook' brushes get at their tips). The brush always a tiny tip to it once the paint is loaded up and it releases it to the miniature in a nice steady flow. I can't believe how much easier this is making painting fine details! I've pitched most of my old synthetic brushes except for a few to help mix paint with or apply sealer. I can't wait to get my hands on some top quality sable brushes now!

Andoran

While you will want three Kolinsky Sable brushes of varying sizes, that does not mean that you will want to use them for painting every mini -- or every element of every mini that you DO use them on.

The Army Painter white handled collection of their "3 most popular" brushes are good utility brushes. Army Painter's wooden-handled brushes also serve as good general purpose brushes, too.

If you are going to be painting up 250 plastic Bones like the rest of us, you won't be doing Golden Demon work -- or even aspiring to it -- on the vast majority of those minis.

I have three Raphael Kolinsky brushes and a large variety of other brushes (20+), both natural and synthetic. Sometimes you want to go with a Raphael Kolinsky -- and sometimes you do not. Often, the Army Painter Wargamer brushes I have are *just* perfect for the task.


PsychoticWarrior wrote:

So for the first time ever I have started painting with sable brushes. Nothing too fancy (re: expensive) just some cheapo sable brushes my wife got me from Michael's a few years ago (I didn't even know they were sable until i opened the pack a few days ago).

Oh. My.

The difference is simply *astounding*! I have done about 10 minis all with the same brush over the last few days and still there is no sign of any fraying or loose bristles (or that annoying 'hook' brushes get at their tips). The brush always a tiny tip to it once the paint is loaded up and it releases it to the miniature in a nice steady flow. I can't believe how much easier this is making painting fine details! I've pitched most of my old synthetic brushes except for a few to help mix paint with or apply sealer. I can't wait to get my hands on some top quality sable brushes now!

SEE! SEE! This is exactly what I mean!

Good brushes make it easier to paint. End of the line.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

For cheaper than Windsor and Newton pure Kolinsky Sable brushes I'd suggest having a look at Rosemary & Co's site - especially if you're located in Europe.
In particular her 22. and 33. series.

But, as Steel_Wind says, the Army Painter brushes (white handle) are some of the best non-Kolinsky brushes out there, so they are an excellent start.


Would anyone be interested in posting pictures of miniatures they've painted with the brush(es) used specified? I've just got back into painting minis and love to look at other people's work.

Andoran

I just came from Michael's. I was back in the brushes and paints section and I didn't see any of the brands mentioned here. They had probably ten different brands, each rated from student to pro, but none of these brands!

So, where do you giys GET your good, top of the line brushes?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Dick Blick or Utrecht can supply them to you online- AI Friedman also has the Winsor and Newton series 7. In stores, they're often under lock and key, so you have to ask a sales person to open them up.


Jerry's Artarama (yes, that's really the name) has a huge selection at reasonable prices.

I bought a single Bones mini and have been playing around with it, just to see what I'm in for come March. My thoughts thus far:

"Specially formulated for reaper paints" is more than just a tag line. When I tried using Citadel paints, they crawled terribly, whereas the Reaper paints didn't. Doing a base coat with Reaper followed by a coat of Citadel worked just fine.

This relates to the brush topic how? Reaper paints are very thin; I would squeeze out a big puddle to paint with, and watch the entire thing vanish into the depths of of my sable brush, just because of how well the sable holds moisture. It sounds like heresy, but I found the Reaper paints work better with a synthetic.

Let me be clear, when I say a synthetic, I'm not talking about one of those god-awful free brushes that comes with a kid's watercolor set. If you go to any of the websites mentioned here, you can find some pretty decent synthetics (I'd recommend Creative Marl Beste or Winsor & Newton Cotman, but that's solely IMO).

Before the chorus of derision starts, yes, I prefer sable to synthetics, I'm talking about specific quirk of the Reaper paints.


Marc Radle wrote:

I just came from Michael's. I was back in the brushes and paints section and I didn't see any of the brands mentioned here. They had probably ten different brands, each rated from student to pro, but none of these brands!

So, where do you giys GET your good, top of the line brushes?

I got my W&N Series 7 at a local independent art supply store. The Series 7 brushes were under lock & key however and I had to ask about them. I would look for an independent in your city - the one I have I have used before for other things and they are great.


I usually settle for Windsor and Newton Artist Series Kolinsky Sable Watercolor brushes, which I buy at my local Plaza art (link is to the Website but they have physical stores). While not the utter and total amazing awesome Series 7s are, they are are only merely awesome, and not locked in the special cabinet you have to ask about (sometimes at my store they're out). Although those can also be purchased online as well, which myself I'll bear in mind when I need new brushes.

Michael's used to have Windsor and Newton brand but they seemed to have stopped carrying them for some reason. If you prefer shopping in brick and mortal and Michael's is what's available, what you are looking for are professional quality watercolor brushes -- kolinsky sable round (size 2 is standard). You could ask them what they recommend or see if they could special order you Windsor and Newtons.

Hitdice, I have been using sable brushes AND Reaper Master Series paints for years now and I've never had any problem. I'm not sure what you mean about "absorbing the paint" -- they hold a lot of paint but that's not a bad thing, it means you can paint longer without having to go back to your palette (that makes it easier to paint on detail), and I've not seen them "suck up" paint dotted on the palette (if anything, I'm always lamenting that even when I try to squeeze a little out, I only use a tiny bit and still leave a big puddle on there unused, wasting the paint. It certainly doesn't disappear into the brush. I wonder if it's an environmental issue (my apartment tends to be quite humid--which, by the way, renders half my Reaper paint bottles useless for squeezing from, but that's another story for another time).

I did have trouble painting one particular color group (the violet red family) that had a sort of oogy consistency (I cannot think of any way to coherently describe that, but kind of like way too much paint additive had been mixed in) that caused problems with consistency of coverage, but I didn't blame that on the brush. If anything, it was probably that I had let it sit unused on my shelf for awhile and despite vigorous shaking it still needed better remixing.


DeathQuaker wrote:

I usually settle for Windsor and Newton Artist Series Kolinsky Sable Watercolor brushes, which I buy at my local Plaza art (link is to the Website but they have physical stores). While not the utter and total amazing awesome Series 7s are, they are are only merely awesome, and not locked in the special cabinet you have to ask about (sometimes at my store they're out). Although those can also be purchased online as well, which myself I'll bear in mind when I need new brushes.

Oh they had all of those brushes too (it looked like they carried everything from W&N) but I really wanted to try out the Series 7. Seeing as how I just discovered the awesome that is sable hair I figured i would splurge a little and get top of the line. Given that even my cheapo Michael`s brand sable brushes were head and shoulders above any synthetic I have ever used I think as long as you go with pure sable you`ll be ahead of the game.


PsychoticWarrior wrote:
DeathQuaker wrote:

I usually settle for Windsor and Newton Artist Series Kolinsky Sable Watercolor brushes, which I buy at my local Plaza art (link is to the Website but they have physical stores). While not the utter and total amazing awesome Series 7s are, they are are only merely awesome, and not locked in the special cabinet you have to ask about (sometimes at my store they're out). Although those can also be purchased online as well, which myself I'll bear in mind when I need new brushes.

Oh they had all of those brushes too (it looked like they carried everything from W&N) but I really wanted to try out the Series 7. Seeing as how I just discovered the awesome that is sable hair I figured i would splurge a little and get top of the line. Given that even my cheapo Michael`s brand sable brushes were head and shoulders above any synthetic I have ever used I think as long as you go with pure sable you`ll be ahead of the game.

I'm sure they had them. I'm not saying it's better to buy them. I'm saying I usually get those since it's harder to get the Series 7. (But I will probably order some next time.)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

Regarding brushes "sucking up" the paint. This might seem to be a trivial thing, but you do wet your brushes first, right?
A dry brush will obviously absorb more paint (in the wrong way). You'll also get a much worse result from a "dry" brush and paint straight from the pot.
So, wet your brush first, thin your paint (usually 1:1) and preferably use a wet palette (easy to make with several layers of soaking wet kitchen roll/paper towel + a sheet of parchment/baking paper on top - lots of descriptions and even videos out there if you're unsure how this works) to keep the paint wet.
Quality brushes will also soak up more paint (in the belly), just like DeathQuaker has said, but it'll be released when you start painting.
Last tip: don't dip or smear your tip deep enough in the paint for it to go up to the ferrule (the metal part holding the hairs in place).


Yeah, I wet my brushes; after DQ's description of "oogy" paint I shook all my reaper paints until my arms shook off, and, finding that solved the problem, spent the afternoon using them with sable. I'm thinking that they must have settled oddly during shipping or something.

Osirion Reaper Miniatures

Hitdice wrote:
Yeah, I wet my brushes; after DQ's description of "oogy" paint I shook all my reaper paints until my arms shook off, and, finding that solved the problem, spent the afternoon using them with sable. I'm thinking that they must have settled oddly during shipping or something.

Given that the pigments, matte agents, flow improvers, etc. are suspended in the base, but they do not dissolve, settling may occur. Always shake paint vigorously.

Still, thanks for the support! It's nice when somebody comments that our marketing slogans aren't *just* marketing, but true!


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

To further support Reaper's paints.

I have a decent set of paints, but I haven't been able to paint for... oh the past two years... However having supported Bones I figured I should get back in the habit.

So far not a single one of my bottles dried out... although much shaking is needed to re-suspend the pigment :)

Taldor

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Modules, Tales Subscriber
Hitdice wrote:

Jerry's Artarama (yes, that's really the name) has a huge selection at reasonable prices.

I bought a single Bones mini and have been playing around with it, just to see what I'm in for come March. My thoughts thus far:

"Specially formulated for reaper paints" is more than just a tag line. When I tried using Citadel paints, they crawled terribly, whereas the Reaper paints didn't. Doing a base coat with Reaper followed by a coat of Citadel worked just fine...

Hmm... that's a shame.

I live in the UK and have a big collection of citadel paints, mainly because you can pick them up all over the place here.

Will I still need to undercoat my bones if I want to paint them with citadel paints?

Taldor

Just don't thin the paint on the first coat and you should be fine.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

Regarding paint coverage on Bones minis, here's a video where the presenter paints a Bones mini with 4 different types of paints (and some other stuff too) - Reaper, Reaper HD, Vallejo and P3 paints:
Reaper Bones: A Small Jobs With Jon Review
Of course, if you want to be able to use any kind of paint without worrying about it adhering, you can always prime them first.
Here's an excellent video on priming (with spray cans), which also adds an extra dimension of shading to your miniatures.


Yeah, and you don't want to use any water on a bones base coat. It'll cause beading. Maybe flow improver if you need to thin it out?

But for metal minis thinning with water never hurts.


I also wonder if it would help to simply wash the Bones before painting. I know with resin minis, it's always best to wash them because there's mold release chemicals on them that make it hard for paint to stick to it (as I once learned the hard way). In fact technically you're almost always advised to wash minis before priming/painting so I'd be surprised if Bones were no different.


DQ, when you talk about washing the mini before painting, you're talking about soap and water, and not a wash coat right?

Anyhow, at this late date, I honestly can't remember if I washed off the mini or not; I assume I did, but I have forgotten much more important things in the past, so could go either way. However I prepped it, it was totally weird. I tried using Citadel base and it was like painting a stick of butter, it just beaded up and crawled away horribly. I did a base coat of Reaper paint, which went on fine, and found that the Citadel worked fine on that.

My point is that if GE has the same experience with his Citadel paints, he might solve all his problems with a $4 bottle of reaper primer.

Taldor

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Modules, Tales Subscriber

This is all the more reason to experiment with my sci-fi minis before I start on the stuff I'm really excited about.


GeraintElberion wrote:
This is all the more reason to experiment with my sci-fi minis before I start on the stuff I'm really excited about.

Where are you? (If you don't mind my asking, of course) My point is, one drip bottle of Reaper primer and one Bones mini should come to less than $10, shipping not included. Mind you, international shipping may cost more than the order's worth.

But yeah, my evil plan is to start with the stuff I'm never gonna use, tutorial style.


Hitdice wrote:
DQ, when you talk about washing the mini before painting, you're talking about soap and water, and not a wash coat right?

That is correct, washing with soap and water.

Quote:

Anyhow, at this late date, I honestly can't remember if I washed off the mini or not; I assume I did, but I have forgotten much more important things in the past, so could go either way. However I prepped it, it was totally weird. I tried using Citadel base and it was like painting a stick of butter, it just beaded up and crawled away horribly. I did a base coat of Reaper paint, which went on fine, and found that the Citadel worked fine on that.

My point is that if GE has the same experience with his Citadel paints, he might solve all his problems with a $4 bottle of reaper primer.

I wonder if it takes spray primer okay. I use acrylic gesso myself, I will have to see what happens.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

The Bones miniatures are made of a different material than other resin miniatures, which is why some paints bead up on them.
It's always a good idea to wash especially non-metal miniatures (with soap and water) to get rid of any mold release that might be left. It might not help some paints adhere better to the Bones minis, but it's an important step no matter what.
I haven't checked the Reaper boards, but I wouldn't be surprised if there are threads about what kind of primer works best on the Bones minis.

Taldor

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Modules, Tales Subscriber
Hitdice wrote:
GeraintElberion wrote:
This is all the more reason to experiment with my sci-fi minis before I start on the stuff I'm really excited about.

Where are you? (If you don't mind my asking, of course) My point is, one drip bottle of Reaper primer and one Bones mini should come to less than $10, shipping not included. Mind you, international shipping may cost more than the order's worth.

But yeah, my evil plan is to start with the stuff I'm never gonna use, tutorial style.

I'm in the UK.

I'll test painting straight on and using my GW spray primer. If neither of those work then I can start shopping around.

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