Product Review: Games and Gears Ichiban synthetic brushes

I had the very lucky opportunity to attend GenCon this past July and there were some particular reasons for wanting to attend. Aside from partaking in some FFG tournaments, I wanted to find some new products for the painting studio. Leading up to the event I knew that there were going to be some smaller miniature/games companies and I also knew that there were going to be some painting hardware that I wanted to lay my hands on.

I had seen numerous Facebook posts about Games and Gears brush sets and unsure about preordering a set, I ultimately decided to simply walk up to the booth at the ‘con.

With a solid plan, I scoured the vendor hall and found booth #718 that had the brushes on sale. There were two sets that I spied and picked up, The GenCon exclusive Collectors series (of which a review will come soon as it contains the very special brush named the Xtreme Kitana) and The Ichiban Synthetic brush set, of which this review is based around.

I really liked the feel of the brush in my hand, weight-wise at the ‘con. It seemed to be balanced very well and the construction of the handle, being made of what looks to be a type of aluminium, lends itself to being weighted well. The Ichiban set came as a set of three, in a  leather pouch, so I decided to pick up a set, along with the GenCon exclusive set.

I got these brushes home to Canada and started to use them in a current commission that I had to put on hold whist I attended what is touted as being “The best four days in gaming” (trademarked by GenCon). With no hesitation, I decided to use the size #3 for work on a Landraider Crusader hull for a Deathwing army. This brush was able to give me great coverage over the larger panels, with minimal stress to the brush. As I got further along, I needed to employ the size #2 to the main bone work of the hull for the crusader. This brush quickly took a hit to the tip. I have found that with many brushes, the make or break of the brush, for me is just how the tip holds up to my painting. I know many painters dislike Games Workshop brushes for the quality, but if a brush can’t keep it’s tip, then that caused me more hassle than I need. I then moved onto the finest brush of the set, the #1. The size of this equates to something inbetween a Standard Games workshop brush and their Basecoat brush, so it was perfect for getting some finer details on the hull panels for the Crusader. This brush has really kept it’s point while I edged all of the panels of the Crusader. I am really happy with this brush.

All in all I am somewhat, to pleasantly pleased with the overall set of brushes. I really wish the brush sized #2 kept its tip, as that is the one I really wanted to have do the majority of the Landraider Crusader armour, but this is something I am finding with synthetic brushes, so maybe I am working them too hard? I had barely been using the brush for 12-20 hours of work and found a poor result here.

PROS:

  • The brushes are weighted extremely well, so my hands don’t get tired, or cramp up when painting for long periods of time. This is one of the main selling points for me as I tend to do some super long painting sessions
  • The way in which the handle switches back to provide a cover for the brushes, is a great idea, especially if I should transport them to painting classes.
  • They come in a great case to protect them.
  • The size #3 gives really good, smooth coverage, with a great paint yield. Perfect for doing medium, to large panels for vehicles.
  • The size #1 holds a point well, and this is really good for highlighting larger panels. This size, once again, gave me great paint yield, before I had to re-dip onto my palette for some fresh paint.

CONS:

  • Size #2 lost it’s fine tip much faster than I expected, but I did put it to work very hard once I started.

Overall I am pleased with the set, and if I could purchase the size #1 individually, I would, since it is a really great in between size for me, and one that would see a lot of application for me. If Games and Gears were to allow an individual purchase of the brushes, I would be all over that. If this was the case, then the brushes would score a solid 8/10, but seeing as I must purchase them as a set, I would rate them a 7/10 as I cannot afford to have one brush die so fast, with the other ones left laying around.

The trials and tribulations of assembly

The studio has undertaken a commission to paint up three of the Lieutenants from Descent, Journeys In The Dark. This is a questing game or a”dungeon crawling” game that I have yet to play, but looks very similar to a game that I used to play in the ’90s called Warhammer Quest.

I had some downtime last evening, where I thought it would be great to simply clean up the models ready for the start date of the commission for the client, which isn’t for a while yet. The models I received were three Lieutenants: Belthir, Bol’Goreth, and lastly Valyndra, the Wyrm Queen.

Valyndra is the model that I want to specifically talk about today.

I find the cleaning up of models, really satisfying, but it can be tedious. There is nothing more unsightly than a model that has has a lot of time being painted with mould lines showing. I really felt that as I was developing my abilities as a painter many years ago, even if I couldnt get an ‘Eavy Metal studio paint job on my models, if I could clean the miniature up well, then it helped the aesthetics of the model immensely. I really like to go to town and clean as much off as I can and well sometimes you just can get all, without damaging the model, but I really attempt to have the light shine on the model, to help with finding as much of the mould lines as I can.

After cracking open the blister packaging that the model comes in, I took stock of what I had in front of me:

With this being my very first Descent experience, I immediately found that the model was sculpted in a very beautiful manner. I could tell that there was a major difference in the time required to assemble a Descent model, compared to that of Games Workshop (you could easily spend hours assembling a few models from GW, but that is half the fun). Now dont get me wrong, I understand that the miniatures serve two different markets of gamers. Wargaers who play Warhammer Fantasy or 40k, are modellers and painters as well as gamers and as such command a different level of interaction with the assembly of their models. They like to be able to have multiple parts, so that they can easily convert up models so that one, say, High Elf Lord on a Dragon is different from somebody elses. Whereas gamers who play games with miniatures such as Descent, or Relic, or even Mansions of Madness are primarily board gamers and as such they are a demographic that just want to open the box, setup the game and go for it.

I found that there was a really fine mould line on Valyndra, so immediately I got out my set of files and hobby knife and began to clean up the plastic. The plastic was just shearing off from the edge of the model, making it a really effortless task. I did notice one significant quality to the plastic, of which I will get into in a moment. The mould line, being such a fine line here, was at times a little hard to detect. That actually is a good thing because someone who doesn’t want to do any prep work whatsoever (and for Descent, most don’t) can be assured that they have a high quality miniature that is professionally made. It was clear on certain parts of the body, that because the Wyrm has had the major assembly done prior to packaging, there were slight gaps or minor misalignments evident, but nothing that I couldn’t fix.

Now, as I was filing away I noticed that the plastic was an extremely soft, bendy plastic that I suppose lends itself well to board games miniatures. Its better that if a miniature is dropped, that it bend under the fall. I have noticed that all Fantasy Flight minis for their board games use this particular type of plastic. The main thing I was concerned with is just exactly what type of glue to use here. The two main glues that I have are super glue and polystyrene cement. Super glue is used for any metal miniatures and polystyrene cement is a glue that is used for plastics where you apply a small amount to each of the sides to be stuck together and wait a few seconds. What actually happens here is that it melts the plastic a little and then when you press the two pieces together, the pieces “melt” together and eventually set, resulting in something that is glued together.

I did a little research and found that the material used in production is actually a vinyl plastic, therefore super glue won’t do the trick. Poly cement won’t be as effective as if I were to be gluing GW plastics, so I had to investigate another product. It was something that I actually had already and was called The Last Glue and it is composed of something called Cyanoacrylate. It bonds when the two sides are deprived of oxygen, so if I were to get any on my fingers, everything would be ok, until I touch the two together (which I think is a normal reaction) and it is strong, really strong. I had recently run out, so an order was placed and should arrive in perfect time to glue together Valyndra.

I think my point here is I really like the plastic that FFG use for their miniature products in the preparation, now I just need to get the mini stuck together and painted. There will be many photos of the painting process, so keep on checking back in the future.

The return of Templars and yes we’re back in the studio!

Hi there folks. I has been a crazy month or so. Vacation has been taken and the studio has been inundated with lots of requests for commissions. Keep your eyes on the blog for lots of models from different games, such as Descent, Malifaux and even some Fortune and Glory. All these commissions will give the studio an opportunity to expand the miniature repertoire and this is very exciting

One commission that has just been finished are a unit of Black Templar Sternguard. These models are an absolute joy to assemble and paint. The sheer number of options are just so exciting. The potential here for conversion is just so palpable and any bits left over will most definitely find their way into many other conversions.

So as they say; without further ado, here is the latest unit to come of the Seismic Studio painting table; a unit of 10 Black Templar Sternguard…

Sternguard Full Unit 2

These models from the beginning, were a joy to assemble, and paint. At times were a little overwhelming with just the sheer number of options available on the sprue. There are many, many bits left over to use for a squad or two. It seems like finally GW are really listening to their customer base. This is something I want to explore in another post, for the time being back to the Sternguard.

When I was painting the models some things came to mind that I wanted to showcase.

With the unit being of such an elite status, I really wanted to show them being veterans with their helmets looking really different from that of crusader squads The tactical squad equivalent in a Space Marine army. I felt that when you look at them next to each other on the battlefield, there should be a vast distinction between the regular squads and the veterans.

Another way was to paint the black armour in a slightly different way. I wanted to keep it as similar to the crusader squad that I had previously painted for my client, but during the process I made a fatal error, one that basically erased my work on the armour up to that point. I wanted to make it as rich in colour as possible, so what did I do? i gave the armour a black glaze. This wiped out hours of my painting time and brought the black armour to a point at which I couldn’t really discern what I had done. What did I do I hear you ask? I started to blend on the armour. Now this would be a really silly idea if I was painting a regular unit and it would be even sillier if I didn’t have my saving grace; my wet pallet. This allowed me to keep my paints nice and moist, while I worked my colours on the models. In the end I am really happy with the outcome.

The last way that I was able to have them stand out was through no accomplishment of my own. They have all been given beautifully sculpted robes, that are just perfect for Templars and they all have ornate boltguns and shoulder pads. By painting the Crux Terminatus and the robes in their own distinct style, I could keep the pallet for the unit to be black, white and bone. This is especially effective in tying them to the remainder of the army, yet keeping them looking like they had been through years of campagns.

At the end of the day, I am super happy with the result of the models and will be ready to paint up my own unit of Sternguard for The Aurora Chapter very soon…

Whet The Palette Shall We?

I thought I would discuss something that was a complete eye opener for me; the wet palette.

Back in the day, when I was beginning my painting hobby, I used many things to mix my paint onto. At first it seemed a ceramic plate was a great way to go about thinning and mixing my colours, I soon realised that I needed more of a flat surface, so I moved up to a kitchen tile. That worked for a while, actually for the longest time that’s what I relied upon and only that. I tried other things like paint extender medium, and using mixing pots (which became VERY expensive). I am happy to say I have now seen the light; wet palettes.

As I traveled the Golden Demon award circuits, year after year I witnessed the painters that were on show there using a wet palette. I know the theory; you need to keep the paint moist so you can blend two or more colours on the miniature. It’s just, well, I wasn’t into blending on the model. Maybe I was just stubborn, but I would be the type of painter that used lots of colour gradations on any one space to achieve my desired effect, and would also utilise feathering of my colour(s).That worked for me for a very long time until I realised that wet palettes can serve another purpose entirely.

If anyone has ever experienced the pain in the neck of just how tedious a tile is to mix their paints on and then work against the clock to get that mix used for all your painting, before it dries up and then having to clean it off, know probably just how useful a wet palette is.

For those of you who have no idea what a wet palette is, its basically a shallow container that contains something that soaks up water, but on top of this material, whether it be a sponge, or kitchen towel, you lay your actual palette. This palette is made from a material that through a capillary action, draws water up from the sponge below and keeps the paint you are using most and the best thing, is that it reduces evaporation of your mix. You can get acrylic paper from any art store or you can even use parchment paper, but I have has more success with acrylic paper. It has worked wonders for me and if you have a container that comes with a lid of some sort, then you are able to seal out the outside environment, preserving the paint in a useable form.

It is just so freeing to know that you can work with a colour for as long as you need to, seal it up and then come back after lunch and pick up where you left off.

The wet palette is super easy to make. It doesn’t need to be overly expensive and the cost saving in dried up paints comes back to you very soon.

There are a few things you will need:

  1. A container that has a depth of 1″ to 2″ and can be as wide as you want. Make sure it has a lid that encloses firmly. Mine is about 7″ long, 5′ wide and 1.5″ deep This can be found at a “dollar store” or type of equivalent near to where you live. Usual cost is $1
  2. Cheap kitchen sponges. The thick kind. These can also be found at the same place as the container, so you can easily judge on the quantity of sponges needed. A bag of them should also cost you around $1. Try to find sponges that come to just below the height of the container you will purchase.
  3. “Handy Palette” acrylic paper.The one I found was made by a company named Masterson. This was the most expensive item at round $5.09. This is a little harder to find, but any quality art supply store will stock these.
  4. 5 minutes to construct the palette (time is priceless, so this may cost you more than you were bargaining for)

How to make the palette;

  1. Gather all components (see above) and firstly look at how many sponges you may need.
  2. Place the sponges in the container and cut any to size, to ensure that the entire container has a layer of sponge and leave them in the container.
  3. Take out a sheet of acrylic paper and cut to size to fit on top of the sponges. I like to cut a few at a time as extras for later. Set them all aside, but one.
  4. Take that one sheet of paper run it under HOT water and soak it for about 1- 2 minutes. The paper should become semi-transparent.
  5. Wet the sponges until they are completely soaked.
  6. Take the semi-transparent sheet of acrylic paper and lay it onto the sponges. It needs to stay moist (thanks to the sponges), but not saturated all the time (thanks to the sponges). Initially, if there are large pools of water, just soak them up a little with a paper towel.
  7. THAT’S IT!

You should be able to now place your paints onto the paper that’s moist and you can paint with this same colour, blending  and mixing your heart away for hours and hours. When you need to leave, just seal the container with the lid and NEVER let the paper dry out. just keep adding water to the sponges and keep the level topped up. You can also get more life out of the paper, but washing it off and then flipping it over to use the other side.

Happy painting! Feel free to post you experiences with wet palettes in the comments section below.

Hot Off The Press (well the brush)!

Today we have another addition to the Seismic Studio blog family. Seismic Miniature Painting Studio is pleased to announce an Empire Warrior Priest. One of my most favourite models in the warhammer fantasy range ever released, sometimes the model doesn’t need to be big and imposing, with multiple components; a simple model can inspire us to great painting jobs. this miniature just got his final few brush strokes mere hours ago.

Image This magnificent sculpt is such a characterful model. The anger in his face tells us such a storied history and it seems like he has been wronged in his past. Armed to the teeth with two warhammers, he’s ready to take on all his demons.

I decided to paint his heavy plate armour  and also the two warhammers with NMM techniques and this brings out the amazing sculpt. There are some more photos to check out.

In addition, take a look at the current ebay auction for this new model:

 

A New Dawn

It’s time to CELEBRATE! Seismic Miniature Painting Studio has made it’s first official sale.

There’s been a little more playing of the new 40k (6th edition) and my opponent caught wind that I had a Black Templar Crusader Squad (essentially it’s a Tactical squad that you can add 10 Neophytes-scouts- to)  that I had intended on selling at some point down the road. I had actually painted them up back in the Templar 5th edition days and the models had just been sitting on a shelf so it was perfect that they do something useful and be SOLD!

Together with some freehand banner work, parchment writing and chapter symbols, I am happy to say that they turned out extremely well.

My client even asked that I match up the base of his existing Emperor’s Champion to the unit; they look fantastic together. It’s amazing just what a cohesive base can do for a unit that was painted by two different people, and given that the unit and the Emperor’s Champion are both black; it helps.

What is perfect is that since he is a regular opponent of mine, I will get to see them whenever I play a game of 40k against him.

Next for my opponent are some of the new plastic sternguard veteran models, the question is: five or ten man unit? Hmmm…

Practice, practice practice

So I felt it was time to work on my non metallic metal (N.M.M.) technique, not just painting N.M.M. silver, but gold too. I looked at a few models that have displayed the technique and decided it was something I can definitely pull off. In research for a step-by-step technique, I would like to source http://warhammer-empire.com/theforum/?topic=10116.0 A great resource for painting NMM. It is a style that I have had many friends ask me to do in the past and I gave it an attempt with my Imperial Fist Lysander and also my Eldar wraithlord and they turned out well to a certain extent; both of these models have picked up painting awards in the past.

I felt that I needed to get back to basics with the technique, since doing yellow NMM takes a lot more than I suspected and I realise now that there’s a fine line between painting NMM gold and simply bright yellow.

I found that I had a dwarven Demon Slayer model that is really quite old now. It is one of my favourite models and I have to say that I have always had a soft spot for dwarves. The contrast that you can achieve with the flesh tones and wacky colour hair is really attractive to me and then there is the ability to do some freehand facial tattoos on some of the more rare units, I wanted to keep this model’s flesh clear of tattoos. They are a slow army in the game, so there was my hesitation; they could do with a little speed.

When I was painting the model, I  painted about 95% of the model, not including the areas that required NMM, then moved into the NMM. Tackling one area of NMM silver first, I just practiced where I felt that the light was going to hit it, with sharp contrasts with areas that had little or no light. It didn’t look especially effective. This was a small mistake, but could be easily corrected. I quickly realised that in order for the technique to look correct, I needed to paint all the areas that required the NMM, as the key its to “trick” the eye into seeing the paint look reflective, when it in fact, is just the contrasts between all the different tones. It is not unlike regular painting, where some kind of visual trickery is used.

Bringing all the NMM together was the final work on the gold NMM. I found this to be a little harder to pull off, since I was using more than three paints (silver NMM actually uses Codex Grey, Skull White and Chaos Black). Gold NMM uses a combination of yellows, browns and finally, a very small amount of Chaos Black, which was my added twist to the great NMM painting guide. Another difference between NMM gold and silver,that I learned from the NMM guide mentioned above, is the lack of use of pure white highlight when painting gold. Many other sites did use a final touch of white to reflect the light, but this really detracted from the overall effect of gold NMM (thanks Quadrille).

I hope you like the finished product, I think that for my first attempt, it turned out pretty well, thanks to Quadrille of http://warhammer-empire.com/theforum/?topic=10116.0, for writing such a helpful guide.

Dwarf Demon Slayer. This was a first attempt of doing NMM with a painting guide, from someone who knows quite a bit about painting in that style

The finished Slayer

Please feel free to post comments on feedback for the model. They are always welcomed.