RedgrassGames step up to the mark with a couple of brilliant brushes – though they might cost a little more than the average hobbyist wants to spend.
RedgrassGames Brushes Review – Summary
Fine tools come in many shapes and forms, and there’s no doubting that Redgrasss Games’ fall into such a category. Strong-bristled, easy to control, and ergonomic, if you’re an intermediate painter looking to get your first couple of seriously good brushes, here may be a good place to start.
RedgrassGames Brushes Review – Introduction
I’ve decided that brushes are a bit like air.
Don’t roll your eyes and close the article. I’m serious. Plus, do you have any idea how difficult it is to write an interesting and unique introduction to an article about hairy sticks?!
Think about it. We all need air to breathe and thus survive, just as we need brushes in order to put colour on our magnificent collections of plastic amphetamines. One cannot exist without the other. Brushes are to our hobby what air is to our bodies: vital.
But when you stop to think about breathing, all of a sudden breathing becomes quite difficult. For a few moments, you have to consciously make an effort to breathe (like I have to every time I re-read this sentence). What’s worse is when you pause for a moment to consider just what, exactly, you’re breathing. City dwellers are used to their black snot, whilst country folk like me barely notice the smell of pig crap being sprayed onto nearby fields as fertiliser. But when you stop to actually think about what it is you’re breathing (or, in the case of city-livers, when you blow your nose and the stuff that comes out looks like coagulated Nuln Oil), it can become quite harrowing. Surely those fumes, or the wretched stench of pig farts, can’t be doing you any good.
Now, brushes are the same.
Most hobbyists probably get used to working with a single set of brushes, or become so in-tune with their cheap packet of synthetics grabbed off Amazon for a few bob, that they don’t really stop to consider just what, exactly, they’re using. They settle into a niche, a rut where their growth and development as a painter begins to be stunted by the fact they’re using split and splayed synthetics – but they’re so used to messing around with crap brushes that they don’t notice that it may be holding them back. Again, it’s only when you pause for a moment and think about what it is you’re using on your miniatures do you begin to wonder if what you’re doing is actually harming your ability to develop as a painter.
Luckily for us, there are so many people now making paintbrushes of various quality, that finding reasonable brushes isn’t anything like the chore it should be. In fact, it’s the opposite problem: finding those diamond-standard brushes amidst a tide of zircons.
RedgrassGames aim to make up a few of those elusive diamonds with their brushes. A French manufacturer based in Paris, RedgrassGames pride themselves on creating “quality and innovative” products for every part of the hobbyist’s creative journey. As well-known for their high-quality wet palette as they are for their rotating miniature holder, how does a selection of their brushes compare to their reputation?
RedgrassGames Brushes Review – Design
On their website, RedgrassGames make some pretty big claims about their #2 and #00. Sold as “hand-made in Germany by expert brush makers,” and “made from the finest natural Kolinsky hair (Sable),” according to RGG themselves, “there is nothing comparable on the market, with its unique shape and style.”
Big claims, but I’m struggling to see – or rather, feel – the uniqueness in these brushes at this observational stage. Some thought has gone into the ergonomics of these brushes: the finer 00 is thinner and smaller – and, thus, perhaps slightly more uncomfortable to hold for an elongated period of time. But, ultimately, there is nothing special here. They’re paintbrushes, and they look like paintbrushes. The proof will be in the pudding. Or, er, painting.
When holding the brushes, they very much feel like every other round-bellied brush I’ve ever held. They’re comfortable enough in the hand, but that in itself is no achievement and not something a brush should be marked up or down on. Brushes should be comfortable.
I find it quite irksome when brush companies drivel on about how comfortable their brushes are to hold. That a brush should be comfortable to hold is, surely, a base requirement for any paintbrush, be it for painting miniatures or furniture, your living room walls or the roof of the Sistine Chapel. In the instance of the RGG brushes, there is no obvious evidence of special lengths being gone to in order to ensure the brushes are as ergonomic as possible – if they had, the handles may well be triangular, for example. For 40,000 years Man has been painting everything from cave walls to little plastic aliens, so it’s not like we haven’t had adequate opportunity to work on making our brushes easy to hold in the hand.
So, the brushes look like brushes and feel like brushes in the hand, which, as I’ve grumbled about above, are two basic requirements for any paintbrush.
On inspection, the #2 and #00 have reasonably firm bristles – perhaps a little firmer than I was expecting, but not so radically different to that which Monument Hobbies’ size 2 or 3. The Dry brush does not receive quite the same level of hype on RGG’s website, but the synthetic brush is still billed as being perfect for “almost every dry brushing technique”. At this stage, the Dry brings back some memories of the Monument Hobbies Artillery DB2 I reviewed and found wanting – but more on that in a moment.
I’m also going to go out on a limb here and suggest that these brushes might be red because they’re made by a brand called RedgrassGames.
So there we have it. They’re paintbrushes. They look like paintbrushes, feel like paintbrushes, and perhaps even smell a bit like paintbrushes. But the big question remains…
…Do they paint?
RedgrassGames Brushes Review – Tests
I decided to take something of a leap with these RGG brushes. In my Monument Hobbies Bomb Wick Brushes review, I used only the brushes for that set to paint three Sequitors I had fortuitously received the day before as part of my Mortals Realms subscription. That time, I had eight different brushes to use for every conceivable part of my miniatures, and since they have become my go-to set for painting.
On their site, RGG claim that you will only ever need their 2 and 00 to meet all your painting needs. So, with the addition of their Drybrush to make the company of two into a crowd of three, I decided to put this claim to the test and paint the Revenant King I had recently bought to lead my competition-winning (brag) Sepulchral Guard using only these brushes.
So, once I’d jazzed up my Revenant King’s base with a few extra bits that were leftover from my Start Collecting! Skeleton Horde box and coated him in Chaos Black spray, it was time to see if these brushes really are as good as RGG would have me believe.
RedgrassGames Brushes Review – Painting
So, with Mr W. K. primed and basecoated with Chaos Black spray, I needed to start laying down some thin coats. For this, the #2 is the obvious choice
With a reasonably large brush head and long bristles, the #2 makes getting paint onto the larger areas of your figures a breeze.
Using this brush was a real pleasure, and I was surprised by just how much of the detailed parts of my figure I could reach with this brush. Its tip is super fine, and is both firm and flexuous enough to be extremely diverse: I based each key on my Wight King’s keychain a different metallic colour with this brush, and was even able to make a start on the gemstone in his helmet and on his bracers using this brush.
The only issue I had with this brush is the length of the bristles. Often, I find some brushes have bristles too long for the brush head. Longer bristles on brushes are great on two conditions: one, that they actually help the painter ensure they’re keeping their acrylics off their ferrule, and two, if the head is large enough and the bristles dense enough so that the brush remains easy to control. (Monument Hobbies’ #2 is, as far as I’m concerned, almost perfect; their #1, on the other hand, is quite difficult to use for the above-stated reasons).
Whilst RGG’s #2 has decent, firm bristles which make keeping control of the brush easy, they do feel every so slightly too long for me. If the bristles were, perhaps, a couple of millimetres shorter it’d be perfect – but then, I suppose, it wouldn’t be a #2 anymore. Initially, because I wasn’t used to using a brush with a head this long, it did take a moment or two to get used to, but after that I had no real problems with the brush.
As a trade-off, these longer bristles made applying Citadel’s shade paints to the miniature a breeze. With a larger brush head and thicker bristles, the brush held a good amount of wash and applied it smoothly and evenly over all the areas I shaded. I would even go as far to say this just as good as any bush in Citadel’s Shade range.
Whether or not RGG’s #2 is right for you will very much be a matter of personal opinion and how you likes to paint. For me, on the whole I prefer a brush with shorter bristles so I can get my hands in nice and close to my miniature, but whether or not this makes or breaks this brush for you will very much be a matter of personal preference. After forcing myself to stick with it for a while, I decided I was happy to compromise on longer bristles for the fantastic level of control the brush offers.
By no stretch of the imagination is this a bad brush, oh no. This is a well-made and diverse brush, able to hand everything you throw at it. From getting down a good couple of basecoats on some of the larger areas of Mr W. K. (we’ll call him Andrew…?) such as his cape, it was indispensable and made applying those thin coats easy, and that it holds a point well enough to allow me to get in close enough to make a start on some of the smallest details on the figure made it invaluable.
It’s strength lies in its diversity, and there’s really very little this brush can’t do. Basecoats? Check. Shading? Check. Fine detail and even highlights? Check, check, check.
This is a really good bit of kit.
Regrass Games #00
This thing. Woah.
With the same firm bristles as the #2, the #00 straight away feels like a better brush. Its smaller head makes keeping control far easier, and this thing holds a point as if its life depends on it. Its tip is fine – really fine – and its point sharp enough to be dangerous.
Any doubts I had about RGG’s brushes were immediately assuaged by the #00. Nice to hold, a pleasure to use, and as sharp as a razor, this brush made getting some of those finer than finest details on my Wight King an absolute breeze.
I’ve chosen the wrong model for this brush. The tip is perfect for the finest of fine details: eyes, eyeliner, pupils, those teeny-tiny dots of whitest white on the edges of OSL and NMM. Nothing on this figure – or within my ability and knowledge as a painter – can truly do justice to the level of detail you can obtain with this brush. This is something quite special and, when I eventually knacker this brush from a couple of months hard use, which I almost certainly will, I will definitely be getting another.
This thing is, without doubt, the best detail brush I’ve used to date. If you’ve got any pupils, any teeth, or any microscopic hair fibres to paint any time soon, grab yourself one of these and be ready to have your mind blown.
A couple of features on my Wight King were painted by drybrushing: primarily, and most obviously, the trim on his cape. For this, I turned to RGG’s Dry.
My initial concern with RGG’s Dry is that the bristles are too fine, too soft and too smooth. I don’t know about you, but I ask a lot from my drybrushes. Drybrushing is, for me, akin to beating the living daylights out of the figure with a brush, so for me the firmer the bristles the better the result. These Dark Angels (pictured below) were painted almost entirely using dry brushing, and the poor Citadel S I subjected to the ordeal looked less like a brush and more like a troll doll that had been through the tumble drier by the time I was done with it – and Citadel drybrushes are, in my humble opinion, some of the better dries available.
But on closer inspection, in spite of being quite soft and the bristles feeling very smooth, the bristles themselves are actually surprisingly firm.
This is a brush for delicate drybrushing: those bits of fur, that little bit of metal grille or chainmail, or hair on a figure’s head.
It’s not the sort of drybrush you can go nuts with. If you’re a fan of using texture paints and drybrushing on your bases, have a bunch of scenery you want to drybrush, or just any larger surfaces on your figures demanding a good ol’ slap with a brush, this isn’t the correct choice. This brush, though, excels at those smaller areas: the fur trims, the edge of a cape, those fiddly bits of chainmail poking out from beneath a breastplate. The brush quietly makes highlighting those fiddly little areas far easier, and the results are really rather lovely.
Will RedgrassGames’ Brushes Improve my Hobby?
As I’ve said before, just buying a new set of brushes isn’t going to make you a good painter. The better the painter you are, however, the more you will get out of higher-quality brushes.
And there are no two ways about it, these are good brushes.
They’re good to hold, are easy to control, and hold their points well – which is all you can really ask for with a brush. They handle acrylics like a dream, and although the bristles are perhaps a little stiffer than I’d have liked, this didn’t get in the way of my painting. They did take a little getting used to, so if you’re used to softer bristled brushes these might not be for you.
If you have the practice, dexterity and talent, these brushes are great – but I personally can’t completely agree with RedgrassGames’ ethos that you’ll be able to use these brushes, and only these brushes, to paint all your models. At a couple of points in my review above, I did pull out a finer brush for some of the smallest details – not necessarily because the #00 couldn’t handle them, but because it’s just easier to use a finer brush.
Whether or not you as an individual painter would benefit RedgrassGames’ brushes ultimately boils down to the kind of painter you are. If, like me, you’re the sort of person who likes to use two different shade brushes, three dry brushes, and then ten different sized base and layer brushes for every single model you paint, then a complete swap to RedgrassGames’ brushes isn’t something you should do.
If, however, you’re the kind of painter who often catches themselves making do with only one or two brushes – a larger one for the big areas and a smaller one for the smaller – then RedgrassGames’ brushes are definitely worth giving some serious consideration to.
At the very least, their 2 is a great basing brush, so if you’ve room for a decent basing brush in your paintbrush collection, the #2 is a must-have. Also, if you’re a heavy-handed painter, as I am, these brushes will be also be able to stand up to some punishment.
RedgrassGames Brushes Review – Final Thoughts
RedgrassGames’ brushes aren’t going to break any records, or reinvent the wheel (or brush, or whatever) but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Whilst a new hobbyist won’t appreciate what these brushes can do for them, and the advanced painter will need things more specialist, these are the kind of brushes that are perfect for an intermediately-experienced hobbyists who is looking to graduate from cheaper brushes to something better.
They’re also not too expensive, and RedgrassGames’ ethos that the hobbyist will only ever need their couple of brushes has the potential to save you some big money. If you’re the kind of painter who can get by with just a few brushes, or you’ve got a great steady hand, you should give these some serious consideration – if you’re able to to look after your tools, you could quite feasibly spend about £30/$40/€33 on these three brushes and never need to buy any others any again.
Though I’m not completely sold on their #2, RGG’s #00 is, and I cannot overstate this, a damn good brush and will have you reaching for those eyeballs and hyper-fiddly bits in no time at all.
No, they aren’t perfect. No, they don’t break any world records. Yes, they have their flaws, and yet, these are some damn good brushes. If you’re looking for some reasonably-priced, hard-wearing brushes that will help you take you to continue to hone your hobby skills, RedgrassGames’ brushes are a good, safe, and solid bet. They aren’t going to let you down.
If this review has left you thinking that these might be the right sort of brushes for you, all three of the brushes reviewed in this article can be purchased directly from RedgrassGames via their website.