Sunday, 30 December 2012

Public Service Announcement

I was browsing through the blogs earlier today when I came across an old man who wouldn't say his prayers. Er, sorry, mixed up with a nursery rhyme! I came across a blogger who was appealing for those of us with dark backgrounds to our blogs to opt for black on white text because he was getting on in years and found the more exotic colour schemes taxing. My immediate reaction was one of 'bugger off, it's my blog', but on second thoughts I wondered how people who have genuine sight problems do manage with some of the stranger blog designs. I had a word with HRH who's a social worker (mental health, so seemed appropriate) and had a look on the RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind) site for a few ideas and you can now evaluate the result.

There are surprisingly few templates which fit the bill and aren't too boring, but I opted for this look with a large font and a pretty open text. The hard fact is that these blog templates aren't particularly consumer orientated. However, I've changed the last couple of entries to conform to the new look and I'd like your opinion

I might be insensitive, but I'm not convinced visually impaired people are likely to flock to blogs about painting figures and wargaming, but that's not to say some do and I think we owe it to them to try to make it more user friendly for them. On the other hand, if you're a silly old sod like me and you're having difficulty reading the blogs, delete the porn sites and up the zoom on the page in question.

So there you go. 

I've added a few piccies salvaged from the depths of the memory to brighten up this entry for those who really can't read the text . . . .







And a Happy New Year to you all, wishing you a better than average 2013.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Still here!



Well, three months have shot past like thirteen weeks passing very quickly.  This isn’t an end of the year address, but it will contain my usual quota of perspicacity and wisdom. The real world invaded my little bailiwick of delusion too frequently for comfort, which can be tedious, but I managed to avoid total immersion in the humdrum and get some painting and basing (ugh!) done.  Anyway,  as the world didn’t actually end today (yet?) I thought I might as well crack on with this.


I also thought I’d post a couple of photos of bases from Warner’s Additional which I found skulking on a USB stick. These are all from the Perry range:



The plod to get some 15mm Napoleonics finished and to progress the 15mm ACW stuff has been challenging, mostly because it only involved painting figures in a bit of a rush to top up existing units. All my own fault because I decided to change the figures scale, but couldn’t face increasing the size of the original units. Some of this was achieved by amalgamating battalions, but there was still a good deal of painting to be done. So,  I’ve included a few shots below; a couple for interest and one to give a bit of a review. First two are French dragoons of the 14th (could be 17th!) regiment. These figures are so old they’re from the original Battle Honours range when Battle Honours really was Battle Honours back in about ‘87. The poor lads haven’t been in production for a while, which I think is a shame because the new generation figure isn’t a patch on this one for movement and a dynamic pose. I’ve put up two to show the original horses (not that different from the new AB sculpts). They’re done in the usual block painting and wash finish, but with a bit of inking in to match with the rest of the original unit (my new organisation standardises on  4 figure squadrons so, where possible, all the extant cavalry regiments have to be beefed up).  That’s a way of proving that I used this method years ago! ;O)























The next couple of figures are just to show examples of the Warmodelling range. They’re stocked in the UK by Mike Oliver’s Warmodelling UK (http://www.warmodelling.co.uk/) . I ordered several packs of this range to increase the size of the French battalions and I’ve got mixed feelings about them. Overall the quality is fine and the poses are pretty good, but, to be honest, I don’t rate the mounted figures and, although the infantry and artillery figures are generally good, you do come across some oddities.  Also, the metal used is particularly hard, which makes cleaning up the castings a bit of a pain. However, they’re pretty good value despite this. I’d rate them as better than most of the Old Glory range, but not as good as battle Honours, AB or Blue Moon. Haven’t counted in Minifigs because they’re a totally different style and I don’t think they mix well with the other ranges. That’s not a reflection on their social skills, just the difference in sculpting. I’ve included a photo of two mounted officers to give you a good idea of the figures and the standard of the horses.


 

Now to the 28’s. The first two photos are of figures from the first batch of Sherbourne’s, possibly the most colourful American unit of the war and probably in just about everyone’s collection. They’re from the original Foundry range, sculpted by the Perry twins, and certainly one of Foundry’s better ranges. Unsurprisingly, given their pedigree, they mix well with the Perry Miniatures  AWI figures and in some cases I think they’re better sculpts. However, I think we’re in for another pulse of energy into this period when the Perry Plastic British infantry are released which will match both ranges. Prediction: they’ll be launched at or in time for Salute – betcha!




Next are two bases from Warner’s Additional Regiment which have been hiding on a memory stick they’re only posted to show the difference (if any) between the newer and older generation of Perry figures:






Now, while I’ve got your attention, I’d like you to have a look at the list of blogs in the column to the left. This is obviously  a  matter of personal preference, but in amongst them are blogs packed with information, tutorials, stunning pictures (yes, I know, not like mine!) and just plain fun. There’s nothing wrong with plundering links, it’s a noble browsing skill, so, if you haven’t already done so, have a shufty; that’s what they’re there for. I’m not going to make any special mention, but you’ll already have some of them and others will be familiar from the ‘magazine’ websites and forums.


A month or so ago I finally got my pre-ordered copy of “British Army Uniforms from 1751-1783: Including the Seven Year's War and the American War of Independence” by Carl Franklin (Pen & Sword). I’d almost given up hope of it ever being published (almost a year late), but finally for it for £32. I haven’t read it properly yet (does anyone actually read a book like that?), but it look very good and is a really nicely finished book. Naturally I’m expecting somebody to spot a mistake here and there, but what the hell? For information, you can now get this book for £25.60 from Amazon UK – bugger!


O.K., that’s about it for now and probably this year if I’m honest. I’ve no plans as such for 2013 as things stand. I’ve enough to do with the projects already in hand, but there are so many temptations out there I think it’s going to be difficult to stay on the straight and narrow. I’m really tempted by Stefan Gruber’s Landsknechts. They’re superb little sculpts by Paul Hicks with bags of character. This isn’t helped by a continuing unhealthy interest in the late medieval period which is continually fueled by inconsiderate gamers who post photos of exceptionally well painted Perry Wars of the Roses figures on their blogs in a variety of disguises. I like the history, but I’m actually not over-keen on gaming the period unless it includes a quite involved campaign which would be able to reflect the effects the personalities on the period had on events. You’d be on to a winner if you’re able to build in mechanisms to handle sub plots and secret agendas such as Percy’s ambitions and to bring in characters like the Duke of York (who really did know what he wanted?) and the poor Duke of Clarence “false, fleeting, perjured Clarence” who made more bad decisions in a lunchtime than most people make in a lifetime. So, unfortunately for me, there’s plenty of food for thought. Iron Ivan Games, Impetus, Foundry medieval rules the potential is very interesting . . . .

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Gettysburg - nearly as long as the film!


Last week I nearly gave up the ghost, being bored to death with 15mm Napoleonics and so decided to have another mess around with a couple of command figures. Purely by chance I picked up two Confederate brigadier types:  Henry (Harry) Heth (pronounced Heath) and George Pickett from the Perry command packs. For the uninformed, this is the American Civil War we're talking about; a conflict I've always found more than a bit interesting.

Now then, coincidence or synchronicity? The two officers were actually cousins, both passed out last (the 'Goats”) in their respective classes as West Point and both went into insurance business after the war, Harry for only a short period though. They weren't astral twins or anything though because, whereas Harry was certainly not an academic, but could work, cousin George was vain, thick and idle. Heth more or less started the battle of Gettysburg and Picket more or less ended it. They're the type of general wargamers try to avoid like the plague in campaign games . . . .

I don't want to turn this blog entry into a huge history lesson, but it's difficult to know where to start and finish, given that some reading this will be expert in the ACW while others will have little or no knowledge. On the other hand, the back story to these two figures is like something from a Dennis Potter play. So, I've tried to keep it to the battle the figures are sculpted from and not go too much into anything else – but it's a temptation. Gettysburg the campaign and the battle) is full of 'what ifs' and 'might have beens'. Both armies had had significant changes in their command structure; one was supremely confident, the other unsure, but out for revenge; gripping stuff. Add to this, if Lee's army won, the war could be won for the South (or at least massive damage limitation); if Mead's army won . . . . well, we know what happened next.

The following passages (in italics) are extracted from "The Generals of Gettysburg: The Leaders of America's Greatest Battle" by Larry Tagg and, although not Oxbridge standard, certainly save me having to revert to historian mode. Let's start with Harry Heth.

Heth's troops were on the Chambersburg Pike toward Gettysburg by 5 o'clock on the morning of July 1. An artillery battalion was in the lead (a careless choice, showing that Heth expected no serious trouble), followed by Archer's brigade, then Davis, Pettigrew, and Brockenbrough. At 7:30 A.M., cavalry outposts were spotted about three miles east of Gettysburg and the first shots of the battle were fired. The cavalry were slowly pushed back about a mile to Herr Ridge, and when that eminence was secured, Heth deployed Archer on the south side of the Pike and Davis on the north side, both facing east. The artilley were unlimbered on the crest. By that time it was 9:30 A.M.
Heth then gave the battle line the order to advance without bringing up the rest of the division--a costly mistake. By the time his two brigades had worked their way across the shallow valley in their front and ascended McPherson's Ridge, they were surprised to meet the two just-arrived brigades of the crack First Division, First Corps of the Army of the Potomac. In this initial confrontation, which lasted until about 11:30 A.M., Archer's brigade was routed, losing about 600 men, including many captured--among them Brig. Gen. James J. Archer himself. Davis's brigade fared no better. After a promising beginning, Brig. Gen. Joe Davis was thrown back with similar losses, including large numbers captured in the Railroad Cut. Heth's shoe expedition had turned into a foray, and the foray had stumbled into a disaster. His poor judgment and recklessness had committed Lee to the battle he expressly wished to avoid until his army was concentrated.
There was a noontime lull in the fighting while Heth sent back the news to Hill and reformed his lines on Herr Ridge, bringing up Pettigrew and Brockenbrough and sending his two damaged brigades to the flanks--Archer to the right and Davis to the left. In the meantime Rode's division had come up on Oak Hill and attacked the Union defenders on McPherson's Ridge from the north, and Lee had arrived with Lieut. Gen. A.P. Hill to survey the situation. At 2:30 P.M., watching Rodes's attack and seeing Pender's division available to support Heth's men, Lee saw an opportunity and gave the order for Heth to renew his attack. Heth threw his division forward in a head-on assault in concert with Rodes. Col. John Brockenbrough's Virginians struck the Yankee "Bucktail Brigade" near the Pike, and Pettigrew's regiments met the Iron Brigade and another Union brigade further south. Both sides suffered horribly in the desperate fighting which raged on McPherson's Ridge over the next hour. Great holes were torn in Heth's lines, fighting and dying at distances of only a few paces from the Union muzzles (one of Pettigrew's regiments alone lost 687 men), but Heth neglected to ask for support from Pender's division when it might have spared his own men much suffering.
At this moment, Heth too became a casualty, victim of a bullet which struck him in the head and cracked his skull open. His life was saved because, a couple of days earlier, he had gotten a new felt hat, one of dozens captured in Cashtown. Since the hat was too large, his quartermaster had doubled up a dozen or so sheets of foolscap paper and stuffed them inside the hat, insuring a snug fit. "I am confidently of the belief that my life was saved by this paper in my hat," Heth wrote later. As it was, Heth was knocked unconscious for a full 24 hours. Although he insisted groggily on sitting in on Lee's consultations with his officers the next day, Heth's part in the battle was over. His brigades, meanwhile, had been shattered. Nearly half the men in the division had been cut down in Heth's clumsy head-on rushes.
Heth was not publicly chided for his recklessness, however, perhaps because such lapses were so general in the Army of Northern Virginia over those three July days, perhaps because of his special relationship with Lee. Heth was back in command by July 7, and directed the fight at Falling Waters as Lee's army recrossed the Potomac. He commanded his division until the final surrender, and briefly took command of the entire corps during the final winter while Hill was on sick leave.”


(http://www.rocemabra.com/~roger/tagg/generals/general63.html)





The Delaying Action, July 1st 1863 Map by Hal Jespersen, www.posix.com/CW


Now, there appears to be some debate about the shoes saga in that even Shelby Foote believes the story to be true, but others (including me) ignore or dispute it (Ewel's Corps had passed through Gettysburg a few days before and it seems unlikely that such a useful prize as a hoard of new of shoes would have been ignored by an infantry corps). However, Heth wasn't noted for his discretion, nor A.P.Hill for his lack of aggression. While there is apparently no record of a written order from Lee to Hill to avoid pre-empting a major engagement, the move was intended by Hill to be reconnaissance in force and not the opening phase of a general engagement. Unfortunately Heth didn't seem to appreciate this, even though, on 30th June, Lee had instructed him not to bring on a major engagement. Heth had had a less than brilliant service record so far in the war and was keen to make up lost capital.

Heth was new to divisional command and throwing two brigades up a single road in a reconnaissance is somewhat heavy handed: too strong for the intended job and more likely to fight if attacked – just what Lee didn't want. However, one of the brigadiers, Archer, was a veteran of Hill's famous 'Light Division' and should have been able to handle any situation, whether they faced dismounted cavalry, militia or the Iron Brigade. There was really no excuse for Heth's 'reconnaissance' to develop into a full scale battle.

Anyway, here's a similar (but hopefully for my troops, better) general waving on his men into the attack. He's certainly sculpted as Harry Heth, but not intended to be him.









And now for George Pickett (same source as above: http://www.rocemabra.com/~roger/tagg/generals/general47.html)

Just about everybody was fond of George Pickett, one of the most affable officers in the Army of Northern Virginia. He combined conviviality with a swashbuckling image. "Dapper," and "dashing," were the two words most frequently on the lips of witnesses; one spoke of his "marvelous pulchritude."
On July 1, Pickett's division was at Chambersburg, detached from the other two divisions of Longstreet's corps, which were at Greenwood, about seven miles to the east. All three were waiting to march over South Mountain toward the battle raging at Gettysburg about 20 miles away. Pickett's division, guarding the army's rear, was ordered to remain in Chambersburg until relieved by Imboden's tardy cavalry brigade, and it wasn't until that night that Pickett received orders to move toward Gettysburg.
Pickett's men got a late start, and made much of their march during the hot daylight hours of July 2, arriving exhausted about three or four miles east of Gettysburg late in the afternoon. Although Pickett reported to Lee that the men would be ready to pitch into the fighting that evening if given a couple of hours rest, Lee sent back word to go into camp--they wouldn't be used that day.
Pickett and his men rested in their bivouac on the Chambersburg Pike until the morning of July 3. Although Lee intended an attack early that morning, the balky Longstreet waited to issue marching orders to Pickett until 3:30 A.M., making Lee's dawn attack impossible. Lee made a new plan, wherein Pickett's three fresh Virginia brigades, plus all four of Heth's brigades, two of Pender's and two of Anderson's, would assault the middle of the Union line. The focus would be a Clump of Trees on Cemetery Ridge where the Rebel army had nearly made a breakthrough at the end of the previous day's fighting. This plan was put into execution, and would become one of the most famous assaults in the history of warfare--known forever as "Pickett's Charge."
After daylight, Pickett led his division forward to a spot "into a field near a branch," probably Pitzer's Run, a few hundred yards behind the main Confederate line on Seminary Ridge. The men fell out and relaxed in the morning air for about twenty minutes. Then they formed battle lines and advanced east a few hundred yards before they were ordered to lie down. They advanced again through Spangler's woods and lay down again behind another crest, on which Confederate artillery were perched. Pickett's division would form the right wing of the afternoon's assault. Pickett drew up his men in two lines, with Kemper and Garnett in the first line, right to left, and Armistead behind. Pickett at this time was "cheerful and sanguine," according to artilleryman Col. Porter Alexander, and in fact "thought himself in luck to have the chance." Another colonel remembered Pickett "in excellent spirits," expressing great confidence in the Confederates ability to "drive" the Yankees after the artillery had demoralized them.
About 1 o'clock in the afternoon the Confederate artillery began their bombardment of the Union line where the assault would be directed. About 150 guns opened up at once--the biggest artillery barrage in the history of the North American continent--and thundered with bone-jarring ferocity for nearly two hours. Pickett made a dangerous ride along the lines with answering Union shells bursting and cannonballs whistling all around him.


Map by Hal Jespersen, www.posix.com/CW
Just before 3 o'clock, while he was writing a letter to "Sally" Corbell, his fiancée, a note came to Pickett from Alexander: "For God's sake, come quick, or we cannot support you. Ammunition nearly out." Pickett read the note, then took it to Longstreet. "General, shall I advance?" he asked. Longstreet, with no confidence in the attack, could not speak, but merely nodded. Pickett saluted and said, "I shall lead my division forward, sir," and galloped over to his waiting division. Pickett's men rose to their feet and Pickett made "a brief, animated address," as Confederate generals were expected to do, ending with "Charge the enemy, and remember old Virginia!"
Pickett began his advance from the bottom of a swale, but within five minutes came to the top of a low rise where the whole line came into view of the Yankees. According to everyone present on both sides, the Rebels' perfect order and steady advance gave a sense of overwhelming power--"beautiful, gloriously beautiful," wrote one Yankee--and made one of the grandest spectacles in the annals of warfare. Pickett himself was by all accounts alert and active during the entire short affair. He sent aides in all directions. He was seen galloping to the left to steady the men there, and one aide remembered him personally ordering the division to double-quick at the end of the advance. But Pickett's whereabouts during the latter stages of the assault which bears his name is a mystery. He probably halted at the Codori farm, a couple of hundred yards behind the farthest advance (exactly where he should have been as a division leader, exercising command from a position where he could observe the situation). It probably took twenty minutes in all for the Confederate host to cross the shallow valley and hit the stone fence behind which the Federals crouched. After another fifteen minutes or so, though they breached the Federal line on the ridge at the Clump of Trees for a few precious minutes, the assault ended in a monumentally tragic loss of life and the annihilation of Pickett's division. Two-thirds of the division lay crumpled on the field or languished as prisoners. Pickett was the one who finally called retreat, according to Longstreet.
The heaps of Confederate dead left after the ill-considered assault could be seen as the price Lee and the Rebel army paid for their arrogance after a year of smashing, odds-defying victories over the Army of the Potomac. Immediately afterward, Pickett was seen in tears. When Lee asked him to reform his division to repulse a possible counterattack, he replied, "I have no division now." He became embittered, and blamed Lee for the "massacre" of his brave Virginians. For their part, there was no hint from Longstreet nor Lee that Pickett had performed less than correctly--he kept his command until near the end of the war, though he never rose further.”
Pickett lamented the losses at Gettysburg for the rest of his life. In around an hour, the approximately 12,500 to 13,000 infantry who set out towards Cemetery Ridge had been reduced by 50% or so. Some 6,600 were dead, wounded or prisoners. Mead's army lost some 2,300 dead, wounded and missing. Not bad for an afternoon's work.
Nevertheless, the modern view of Pickett is one of a tragic hero thanks to Michael Shaara's novel and the Gettysburg film (which really is a great film if you just suspend disbelief and accept the indifferent acting, false beards and overweight re-enactors!). I know what I think of him, but I'll give George the last word himself. When asked why the charge failed, Pickett is on record as having said "I've always thought the Yankees had something to do with it." ( Boritt, Gabor S., ed. Why the Confederacy Lost. Gettysburg Civil War Institute Books. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. ISBN 0-19-507405-X.)

So, a 'not' George Pickett figure (he was fair haired for a start!), but rather a brigadier in the "Get a f****n' move on!" pose as two privates move at a leisurely pace towards the fighting:








Thursday, 30 August 2012

Wash'n'Brush Up!



I mentioned a couple of posts ago that, for a while now, I've been trying out several types of brush with the aim of finding a practical replacement for the now horrendously expensive Windsor & Newton Series 7 sables. A good brush won't make you a Michelangelo, but it will improve your painting; the old saying about a bad workman always blaming his tools is only partly true. The exercise seemed pretty simple and so it was, but there are a couple of things I ought to explain before I begin on the run down of the brushes I tried. My choice of brushes to trial was an fairly educated one in that I've come across some absolute rubbish and some indifferent stuff over the years and there's no point in throwing good money after bad. Conversely, I've used some good brushes I knew ought to stand up well in any test. Some brushes just aren't suited to the splashing of paint onto lead. That said, I'm certainly no brush expert and can only base my choice(s) on what I prefer and what suits my style of painting and the consistency of the paint I use. Consequently, I haven't made any actual recommendations (though some things are hard to deny); you can make your own decisions - yer pays yer money and takes yer choice.

Firstly, the important part of the brush is obviously the business end, where the hairs, bristles, filaments are, that said, the rest of the brush is pretty important too as it will influence the durability and its ease of use. For example, there are broadly three lengths of brush: pocket, 'normal' (often unmentioned in a description) and long handled. My advice is to ignore the pocket size (short handled) and the long handled (unless you fancy yourself as another Da Vinci) and stick to the NATO standard length. Why have I bothered to mention this? Well because I bought a long handled brush by accident and had the chop it in half or risk poking myself in the ear or eye every time I painted anything. The difference is obvious, but sometimes the different lengths can be difficult to spot when you're ordering and watching the telly at the same time ;O)

O.K., other blindingly obvious advice includes washing the brush frequently during use and, for God's sake, don't overload the brush. The main thing is to keep the hairs/fibres as free of paint as possible and certainly don't get any where the hair joins the ferrule or the brush will reach the end of its life very quickly. Some people go through a religious brush cleaning ritual at the end of each painting session, using washing up liquid, brush cleaner or whatever. All well and good and it certainly lengthens the life of any brush, but, normally, I'm far too lazy to do that and, when yo see some of the prices later, you'll see I'm not such a Philistine after all. However, being my usual inconsistent self, I actually did treat some of the brushes to a good wash just for my own curiosity and I think you'll be able to spot the ones that scrubbed up well.

Now, a quick point about the ferrule. It's not just there to hold the hairs onto the end of the stick. It's also there to prevent water or spirit damage to the hairs and the binding agent (glue). The ferrules on good quality brushes are crimped twice (they're the two rings around the top end of the ferrule. This not only makes sure the brush head and handle don't part company, but it also give additional water proofing.

The business end of the brush (the head) is designed both to hold the paint and to apply it, so a brush with about three hairs in it isn't really any use. What you should look for is a brush head substantial enough to hold enough paint to do the job and a fine enough point to do the job properly. The point is usually the first casualty, but a brush that loses its point shouldn't just be ditched as it can have an afterlife as the brush you use for basing work (applying glue as well as paint) and for dry brushing/wet brushing

Now, as to the actual trials. I had a bit of a problem in that it's not so much the number of figures you use a brush to paint as the number of times the brush is used. Six figures painted over, say, four sessions can mean the brush has been used four times, once or six. However, this test wasn't intended to be that scientific, so I've used the rough number of figures each brush has been used on and you'll have to make your judgement from that. It's as good a guide as any and, for information, I tend to paint my figures in a couple of sessions (or three or four for mounted), so a hundred figures means a brush has been used for two hundred sessions (but then painting figures in lots of ten will put a lot more strain on a brush than painting figures singly!).

The figures themselves were mainly 28mm (30YW/ECW; AWI; ACW; Modern - mostly Vietnam - with a good few 15mm/18mm Napoleonics thrown in for good measure). However, as far as the figure count for each brush type is concerned, the totals are composed of 28mm only where it's less than about 80 figures and 80:20, 28mm to 15mm for totals over this. Clear? I bet not!

I'm pretty catholic in my use of paints and, although I tend to most commonly use Vallejo, I frequently use other brands/types. I've listed them below:
Vallejo Game Colour
Vallejo Model Colour
Foundry
Games Workshop acrylics and inks
Windsor & Newton Galleria
Windsor & Newton inks
Daler System 3
Craft Acrylics (various makes)
Games Workshop paints, foundation paints and inks
Army Painter inks
Oil washes

However, not all the brushes were used with all the paints and more than one brush type has been used a figure to give an many as possible a run out.

I had intended to run the trial using only size 0 brushes (my most commonly used size), but, as you can see from the photograph below, there's no apparent standardisation in head sizes. I can understand this to some extent because of the different fibres used, but some differences are quite remarkable. The photo probably doesn't show the differences as well as seeing them in the flesh, so to speak.


So, as I was already using some of the brands/types I wanted to compare, but in different sizes, I included whatever brushes were in use at the time. I'll still use all the size 0's I bought anyway, so there's no waste.

Right, on with the results - sorry the photos aren't exactly David Bailey standard.

1.   The 'survivors': Windsor & Newton Series 7 sable. The first three (sizes 2,1 and 00) are about twelve years old and the separate size 1 (at the bottom of the picture) is about 17 years old. They've seen a lot of use and actually have been looked after, but nowadays only get involved with ink or oil washes and lining in. To be honest, the older size 1 is probably the best liner I've ever had.
    Cost new: £6.58 (size 0)



    2. Proarte Series 100 'Connoisseur' sable blend, size 0; cost: £2.17


    Fine point;
    slimmer than the 'Prolene' synthetic sable;
    hard wearing;
    retains point;
    available from craft and art shops as well as online
    These are decent general purpose brushes and the one in the photograph has probably been used on around 120 figures.



    3. Proarte Series 101 'Prolene' synthetic, size 0; cost: £2.12


    Fine point;
    quite full bodied;
    retains point, but those I've used before tend to lose their point after around 79 – 80 figures;
    this one has been used on about 30 figures;
    available from craft and art shops as well as online.


    4. Proarte 'Renaissance' sable, size 0; cost: £2.58


    Fine point;
    full bodied;
    retains point reasonably well;
    brush in photograph has been used on around 50 figures, mainly for shading and lining in, but it has long hairs and so they can make it difficult to control for precision work;
    available from craft and art shops as well as online.


    5. Daler-Rowney 'Dalon' D77 synthetic, size 5/0; cost: £2.10


    This brush has been in use for about the past five years and has only ever been used for inks and lining in etc.;
    very fine brush;
    excellent point;
    it's been used on God knows how many 15mm and 28mm figures.


    6. Ken Bromley Artists' Value Kolinsky sable, size 0; cost: £2.33


    Fine point;
    full bodied;
    seems to retain its point, but only used on 36 figures so far;
    again, long hairs can be more difficult to control for precision work.

    7. Ken Bromley Artists' Value 'Panache' sable, size 0: cost: £1.72


    Surprisingly disappointing performance compared to their Kolinsky sable, but this brush has been used on around 100 figures (15mm and 28mm);
    more of a 'spotter' type, with much shorter hairs than the rest of the brushes used;
    difficult to keep clean and hasn't retained its point at all.

    This may well be a 'Friday afternoon' brush, but I won't be using any more of this series.


    8. Rosemary & Co. sable blend series 401, cost:
    size 0:£1.65
    size 3/0: £1.55

     

    A major contrast in brushes from the same series, which is surprising. If you refer back to the photo of the Windsor & Newton series 7 brushes, there is little difference between the length of the heads in the three sizes shown. However, the series 401 3/0 is only about three quarters the length of the size 0 and looks more like a 'spotter' than a standard watercolour brush. Also, whereas both brushes have been used on around 100 figures (of various sizes), the smaller brush has just a bout reached the end of its useful life, but the size 0 has plenty of mileage left. The 3/0 also shares the same problems as the 'Panache' brush, above.

    Single crimp on ferrule.

    I don't plan on using any more of this series either.

    9. Rosemary & Co. pure sable series 99; cost:
    size 3/0: £1.75
    size 4/0: £1.65


    Good points and good, durable brushes and they hold more paint than you'd think. I can't complain about these brushes as they've coped with around 120 figures each (15mm and 28mm) and still have plenty of life left.
    Single crimp on the ferrule, but they're almost unbelievable value.

    10. Rosemary & Co. Kolinsky sable series 33; cost:
          size 0: £3.65
          size 10/0: £3.40


    Generally the same comments as for their series 99, above. However, these are noticeably better quality and, although they have been used on as many figures as the series 99, they're still, more or less, as good as new. Both the series have a wide range of sizes, but the series 33 10/0 is a very useful brush and capable of much finer detail than my eyes or ability can manage.
    Single crimp again, but I've not noticed any negative effect so far.

    After all this, you still have to accept that there's always the chance of getting a duff brush from your range of choice. Obviously, the best (and probably least hygienic) way of selecting a brush is to wet the end with your tongue/lips and reform the point. Not easy to do by mail order, but I doubt any of the mail order people would worry too much if you returned a brush you found damaged.

    I've listed below the suppliers  I used, but for proprietary brands of paint brushes (or if you're non UK and the postage is horrendous) just shop around the net. There are plenty of art supply companies about.


    Ken Bromley Art Supplies: http://www.artsupplies.co.uk/