Reaper Miniatures Brushes Review for Miniature Painters

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Reaper Miniatures’ fine detail brushes will make your previous detail brushes look heavy and cumbersome. With needle-thin brush heads in sizes so small and delicate that no detail on your figures – be it cracks on teeth, bloodshots in eyes, or even their cell nuclei – need not remain unpainted.

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The Best Brushes for Miniatures & Models

This article is part of our series looking at the Best Brushes for Miniatures & Wargames Models.

Best Brushes for Painting Miniatures

If you want to check out what the best brushes are for your projects, please check out our Best Brushes for Miniatures article by clicking the image above.

Reaper Miniatures Brushes Review – Summary

Whilst their ultra-fine tips are a marvel of brush engineering, Reaper Miniatures’ fine detail brushes might well prove to be too small to be useful for the vast majority of hobbyists.

(FauxHammer: Unless you are specifically using their paints, which are awesome)

Reaper Miniatures Brushes Review – Introduction

Over the last few years, Reaper Miniatures have muscled their way into the big leagues of miniature painting. Known for their reasonable prices and good-quality but very affordable miniatures, they have established themselves as the one-stop-shop for D&D and Pathfinder players looking to grab that perfect mini to represent their new character.

But Reaper’s range is not just limited to figures, oh no. The chances are, if you’ve heard of Reaper Miniatures, you’ve also heard of the MSP Series of paints. Much like their miniatures range, Reaper’s Master Series Paints has also been established as a well-priced alternative to market hoggers Citadel – and they come in dropper bottles, much to the jubilation of many painters.

It is perhaps unsurprising then that Reaper do a range of other hobby products – including both sable and synthetic brushes. What sets their range apart from many others, though, is their unwavering devotion to the most detailed of details.

Reaper Brushes Review For Miniature Painters - Packaging

Sure, they offer #2, #1, and #0 brushes, as well as a smattering of flat, wide-headed brushes for basing and drybrushing, but the majority of their range is focused on infinitesimally tiny-tipped brushes, so small that they are almost ludicrous.

Reaper Miniatures Brushes Review – Design

For the purpose of this review, we received:

These things are needle-sharp.

Reaper Brushes Review For Miniature Painters - Reaper Pro Sable Brushes

Whilst the brushes are nothing special to look at – another case of why fix something that isn’t broken – the sizes of the heads on these brushes is, to be honest, a bit terrifying.

I thought the 10/0 was small when I fished it out of the box it was delivered in. When I realised there were not one but two sizes smaller than the 10/0, then 20/0 and 30/0, I couldn’t quite believe my eyes.

Reaper Brushes Review For Miniature Painters - Reaper Pro Synthetic Brushes

These things are beyond tiny. And also a living nightmare to photograph.

To look at, the brushes are nothing special. They’re brush-shaped with metallic ferrules and a little text printed on them. They’ll break no records nor win no awards for their looks, but what does set them apart from more or less every other mass-produced brush going at the moment are their sizes.

Oh and the handles are thin, really really thin.

Reaper Miniatures Brushes Review – Testing

So, with a set of finer-than-fine detail brushes, my usual method of testing (painting up a figure or figures with the entire range of brushes) wasn’t going to work. If I tried to use only the six Reaper brushes to do all stages of even one small figure, I would likely be here until Earth is swallowed by the Sun, having still not finished getting my base colours on.

At the time of writing this review, I was close to finishing painting up the Space Marine halves of my Indomitus and Command Edition boxes, having successfully got colour on fifteen Assault Intercessors, six Outriders, three Eradicators, three Bladeguard Veterans, a Bladeguard Ancient, a Primaris Lieutenant, a Primaris Captain, and the Judicar. I was also roughly halfway through the Chaplain that comes in the Indomitus box, so with the majority of his base colours already on – thanks to the flabbergastingly good Squidmar Mk. I M, possibly my favourite brush ever – I was approaching the detail stage, and thus the perfect opportunity to put these needle-tipped brushes through their paces.

I’m going to break these into two groups: the Pro Paint brushes and the more expensive Pro Paint Sable brushes, and use both to tackle a range of details across this one figure.

So, here he is:

Reaper Brushes Review For Miniature Painters Based Primaris Chaplain

For the most part, his base colours on give or take a few. He’s almost ready for all those fiddly bits of detail that these brushes are meant to conquer. So, here we go!

Because the brush head is just so small.

Reaper Pro Paint Sable 5/0, 20/0 and 30/0

I started by using the 5/0 to finish off the few small bits of basing I hadn’t done such as the Rakarth Flesh basecoat and Kislev Flesh layer on the Chaplain’s head, and the Leadbelcher and Khorne Red on his gun.

It’s a decent brush, and holds its tip fairly well. When it came to picking out some of the texture on the Chaplain’s robe and purity seals, the brush did begin to lose its point a little. That said, it’s a good size, with the bristles neither too long nor too thin to compromise on accuracy and paint delivery. It’s just the right size for those slightly smaller areas that need a more delicate approach.

Reaper Brushes Review For Miniature Painters - Reaper Pro Sable Brush Tips

I switched over to the 20/0 and a pot of Mephiston Red for some of the tiniest bits, such as the red button-type details on the Chaplain’s armour and his cybertronic eye.

Whilst its point is great and the brush is excellent for reaching those minute details, the fact the brush head is so small means the paint dried out on the tip of the brush very quickly. In spite of using only five or six tiny dots of Mephiston Red, I had to wash my brush and return to my palette several times.

The 30/0 is frighteningly tiny, and suffers from the same issues as the 20/0. Its brush head is so miniscule that it can barely hold any paint at all, and that which it does hold dries out extremely quickly. Whilst this was great for getting some White Scar on my chaplain’s teeth, redoing the black outline of his eyeball, and getting a little paint – and a tiny Abaddon Black pupil – on the eye itself.

Once all the brushes were tested and done, it was the 5/0 I found myself returning to in order to finish off my models. It is, without doubt, the best and most versatile brush of the lot. Its point is fine enough to tackle more extreme details, whilst its head isn’t impractically small.

Reaper Pro Paint 10/0, 20/0 and 30/0

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there’s a very marked and obvious difference between the quality of the synthetic Pro Paint brushes and the more expensive sable brushes. By and large, the general rule with paintbrushes is that sable trumps synthetics. It’s just a better material to paint with, which is a shame given that it comes from an animal.

Much like their more expensive counterparts, these brushes are frighteningly small – the 30/0 was a nightmare to picture because the brush head is just so small.

Reaper Brushes Review For Miniature Painters - Reaper Pro Synthetic Brush Tips

I used the 10/0 to get some Ironbreaker and Stormhost Silver highlights down on the silver metal areas, such as the cybernetic part of the Chaplain’s face and the edges of his gun. This brush is probably as small as you can make a brush without compromising the delivery of paint to the figure. I didn’t catch myself returning to the palette too often with the 10/0, and although it doesn’t hold its point as well as the sable brushes, it’s definitely a decent bit of kit.

As for the 20/0 and 30/0, they suffer from the same issues as their sable counterparts, but lack the surety and strength of the more expensive brushes. I began trying to do some edge highlights on the Chaplain’s sceptre with the 20/0 and 30/0 but wasn’t getting on with them so went back to using the sable 20/0.

All in all, I was pleased with how my Chaplain came out – even if his one eye is a little bit wild!

Will Reaper Miniatures Brushes Improve my Hobby?

Answering this question is quite difficult. These brushes are a mixed bunch: the sable-bristled brushes are far superior to the synthetics, but both groups of brushes suffer from some of the same issues regarding their size.

Whether or not these brushes are a purchase worthy of your hard-earned money very much depends on where you are in your life as a hobbyist. If you’re the sort of person who has already invested in some good brushes, then you can probably safely pass Reaper’s brushes by.

The majority of experienced painters will also not feel the need to use miniscule-tipped brushes, and will be able to reach the same level of detail using any more expensive brush that holds its tip. If, however, you are the sort of person who likes to have a different brush for every level of detail, these will be worth a look.

If, however, you’re a reasonably new painter looking to graduate from really cheap brushes or Citadel-branded brushes to something else and would prefer working with a fine-tipped brush to help you start getting to grips with painting extreme detail, give the synthetic brushes a look, just to get your measure of them. They aren’t too expensive, so it won’t matter if you get them all gungy.

Reaper Miniatures Brushes Review – Price and Availability

Just as there is with their quality, there is a big discrepancy between the pricings of these brushes.

All are available from Reaper’s website, and lots of other local hobby stores will carry the range in the US, in the UK they are quite scarce even on places that sell their awesome paints. So if you’re interested in these brushes you may want to shop around to see where you can get the best deal – that is, of course, unless you want to support a small business and buy directly from Reaper.

Reaper Miniatures Brushes Review – Final Thoughts

ProsCons
Detail destroyerToo small, most paints dry on bristles before you’re able to get to the miniature
Tiny brush head compromises paint delivery

A mixed bunch, there’s no doubt. It’ll come as no surprise to anyone to learn that the sable set are far better than the synthetic set – and twice the price. Even then, this comes with some caveats.

Whilst the sable 5/0 is an excellent brush, and the 10/0 is about as small as a brush can get whilst still being somewhat-practical to use, the 20/0 and 30/0 are a little too small to be useful. You will find yourself repeatedly returning to your palette as paint will dry so quickly on the tips of these tiny brushes.

Whilst these brushes make short work of any and all details, the majority of more experienced painters won’t feel the need to have a microscopic-tipped brush, and will be able to paint to the same level of detail with their favoured brushes. That said, if you are the sort of painter who likes to have a different brush for every single level of detail, these will appeal to you.

The synthetic brushes aren’t anywhere near as good as the sable brushes, but are far more affordable and should be the choice for beginner hobbyists.

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Author

  • Rob has spent most of the last 15 years playing World of Warcraft and writing stories set in made-up worlds. At some point, he also managed to get a Master's degree by writing about Medieval zombies.

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About VoltorRWH 36 Articles
Rob has spent most of the last 15 years playing World of Warcraft and writing stories set in made-up worlds. At some point, he also managed to get a Master's degree by writing about Medieval zombies.

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