Army Painter Mega Brush Set Review for Miniature Painters

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Army Painter Brushes Review for Miniature Painters - Featured

Packed with all the brushes you could possibly need for all your models, The Army Painter Mega Brush Set is a worthy introduction to the world of entry- to mid-range brushes.

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The Army Painter Mega Brush Set Review – Summary

Whilst some of the brushes have their flaws may lack the style and finesse of top-end competitors, the Army Painter Mega Brush Set is a decent contender deserving of consideration by any beginner or intermediate painter on the quest for their next batch of brushes.

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.

The Army Painter Mega Brush Set Review – Introduction

Danish wargaming and hobbying supply manufacturer known for their paints, their brushes, their scenery, and their incredible pedigree (founders Bo Penstoft and Jonas Faering have an impressive resumé between them, featuring tenures with Games Workshop and the ‘Eavy Metal team), The Army Painter is the one non-Citadel hobby company everyone will come across during their hobby journey.

They’re one of those companies frequently recommended by non-Citadel product users, and rightly so: their Warpaints received a glowing review here a year ago.

Personally, I first came across TAP when I was a complete amateur hobbyist looking for something to jazz up the bases of my first ever Stormcast Eternals. I loved their Highland Tufts so much, TAP’s other tufts have been my go-tos on every army I’ve done since.

So with such an impressive background, how do their brushes fare?

The Army Painter Mega Brush Set Review – Design

There are ten brushes in the Wargames Mega Brush Set:

  • Insane Detail brush
  • Detail brush
  • Character brush
  • Regiment brush
  • Monster brush
  • Small Drybrush
  • Large Drybrush
  • Vehicle/Terrain Brush
  • The Psycho brush
  • The black-handled Kolinsky Masterclass Brush, which is an additional freebie.

For this review, I’ve also got The Army Painter’s Stippling Brush as an extra. The more the merrier and all that.

The brushes are delivered in a fairly standard The Army Painter-style box.

Army Painter Brushes Review for Miniature Painters - Box Front

The reverse features a little info and a couple of previews of the contents, as well as teases the inclusion of a free painting guide.

Army Painter Brushes Review for Miniature Painters - Box Back

The guide itself offers a fairly rudimentary and all-encompassing look at how to make a start with miniature painting.

Army Painter Brushes Review for Miniature Painters - Army Painting Guide

It’s a good guide for beginners, and serves as a handy The Army Painter product catalogue, but as far as the painting guidance covered goes, anyone with any kind of experience in the hobby will have likely outgrown this.

Army Painter Brushes Review for Miniature Painters - Leaflet Open

The brushes and guide are themselves loosely packaged inside a plastic case.

Army Painter Brushes Review for Miniature Painters - Box Interior

There’s room for them to rattle around, but it’s testament to these brushes that none of them arrived with me damaged following their trek from their place of birth, to Casa Del FauxHammer, and then on to me.

Now, the important thing to note: as anyone passably familiar with TAP brushes will probably be aware, the handles of TAP’s detail range have a trihedral design, visible below on The Psycho through to the Kolinsky Masterclass brush.

Army Painter Brushes Review for Miniature Painters - Brushes

This is an exercise in ergonomic comfort. The three-sided brush handles are designed to be as comfortable as possible to hold.

When I first came across TAP brushes as a new hobbyist, the trihedral design really appealed to me as it really helped me get to grips with controlling the brush and prevented me from gripping the brush too tightly.

It’s definitely a feature implemented with beginners in mind, and having recently been a beginner myself, it’s one I very much appreciated. If, however, you’re already used to round-handled brushes, these might be a bit of a disconnect for you, and I imagine you’ll either love them or hate them.

The Army Painter Mega Brush Set Review – Testing

Because of the sheer number of brushes in this set, I’ve had to take a slightly different approach to testing these brushes as I would normally – where I would paint up a figure or figures using them.

I dug out my backlog of Nighthaunt minis for this one. Given the relatively different sizes of the figures, it seemed like a good way of ensuring as many of the brushes could be tested as possible.

So, that’s a Knight of Shrouds on his spooky steed, a Guardian of Souls, a Spirit Torment and the Crawlocke the Jailer trio.

The Larger Brushes

Starting with the largest brushes – as, I imagine, that’s where painting starts for the majority people – there are five bigger brushes in The Army Painter’s Mega Brush Set:

  • The Wargamer: Vehicle/Terrain
  • The Wargamer: Monster
  • The Wargamer: Large Drybrush
  • The Wargamer: Small Drybrush
  • The Wargamer: Stippling Brush

The Vehicle/Terrain

Starting, then, with the biggest of the bunch, first up is the Vehicle/Terrain brush.

Army Painter Brushes Review for Miniature Painters - Wargamer Vehicle Terrain Brush

As the name suggests, there’s no way in hell you’re using this on your Space Marines.

The bristles on the brush are quite coarse, which is a good thing for a brush dedicated to larger models or scenery. The relative rigidity of the bristles ensures that the brush would be able to survive the strain of prolonged use over your larger lumps of plastic, whilst also doubling as a large-area drybrush – perfect for getting just a little extra colour on the grit of the battlefield you’ve been building in your loft.

The Monster

Next comes the Monster. Once again, as the name suggests, this brushes is designed to be used on your larger figures: your Bloodthirsters, your Rhinos, so on.

Army Painter Brushes Review for Miniature Painters - Wargamer Monster Brush

It has a much softer brush head, as you would expect from a brush designed to be used when putting down those larger base coats on your bigger figures.

The brush has a nice amount of control to it – the larger brush head is easy to keep on target, so you needn’t worry about it slipping. The head also holds a decent amount of paint, as you’d want when painting larger figures.

Army Painter Mega Brush Set Knight of Shrouds Based
Big brushes for big figures.

The Monster was invaluable in getting on the largest basecoats on my Nighthaunt gang. It’s bristles are quite rigid and springy, so it holds is shape very well. It has a reasonable point, and its larger head makes paint delivery to the surface of your figure nice and efficient.

Army Painter Mega Brush Set Crawlocke the Jailer Based
…And the same big brush for some smaller figures.

For those of you who are regular readers, you’ll know I usually paint my Nighthaunt with black shrouds and green, wispy bodies. A few of these figures, however, are not wearing shrouds, so in order to keep some synergy across my growing army, I decided to have a go at blending from black to green.

Army Painter Mega Brush Set Nightaunt Heroes Based
Black and Gold? Nah. Black and Green’s where it’s at.

I was able to do this with the Monster, and its reasonably sharp tip meant I could get some of the colour on some of the thinner wispy bits. However, by the time I had finished using the brush, I noticed that oh-so-common “synthetic bristle flick” already beginning to develop on the brush tip.

That its bristles are so firm, though, mean that the model often yielded to the pressure of the brush, not vice-versa, which made painting some of the more fragile Nighthaunt very difficult.

The Stippling Brush

I’m actually a big fan of the Stippling Brush. Those of us who have tried stippling on your miniatures, their bases, or any other scenery will know from sad experience that it’s a death sentence for whichever brush you choose to use.

Army Painter Brushes Review for Miniature Painters - Wargamer Stippling Brush

The nice thing about TAP’s Stippling Brush is that its bristles are far harder than those of any other brush in the set – and those of any other brush I’ve ever used in my fairly brief career as a hobbyist.

I used this to build up some of the layers of brown and orange for the rust on my figures. The bristles are super tough, so just be careful how you use it. You can get a good sense of the end result on the completed figures below.

Army Painter Mega Brush Set Nightaunt Heroes Complete
Nothing says “buried ina Shyishian graveyard for a thousand years” like a thick coat of rust.

Having placed this brush in my regular use pot, my old discarded brushes heaved a collective sigh of relief. Their destiny is no longer to have their heads drenched in rust-coloured paint and be smushed all over Nighthaunt weapons.

The Drybrushes

As anyone who has read any of my previous brush reviews will know, I’m very picky when it comes to drybrushes.

For me, when I was a beginner painter, drybrushing wasn’t a gentle process. It involved assaulting my figures with a brush with very little paint on. As such, there were only ever three drybrushes I’ve liked, and all three of them will evoke winces of disgust from more experienced hobbyists: a Citadel S, a Citadel L, and a £4 makeup brush off Amazon.

All three have been used to such an extent that they’re barely recognisable, and are the next in line for becoming dedicated stippling brushes.

Since, I’ve become a convert to the Artis Opus domed Series D brushes which are, without doubt, the best drybrushes I’ve ever used.

TAP’s drybrushes, however, are crap.

Army Painter Brushes Review for Miniature Painters - Wargamer Drybrushes

Their bristles are too soft to survive drybrushing tasks, and even after a single use the tips on mine were beginning to split. Whilst I’m sure they’d do for a beginner, who just needs to get a feel for the technique, if you’re an intermediate-level or improving painter, these just aren’t going to cut the mustard.

I had a go at using these on my Nighthaunt models to reapply some green over their wispy bodies and try to build a silver highlight on the metallic areas. More often than not, I found myself having to wipe off paint with my finger because the bristles just weren’t holding the paint correctly.

I eventually got so fed up with the results I was getting, I switched brushes, using my Artis Opus Series D and Squidmar M to get a decent highlight.

The TAP drybrush brush head is just totally wrong to work as a drybrush. The bristles are too soft and smooth to retain paint when you work it off – you literally just wipe the paint off the brush, leaving you with an insufficient amount to get a good texture with.

If you try and leave more paint on the brush, you just end up smearing lines of paint all over your figures. As such, while they’d make decent basing brushes, these are some of the worst drybrushes I’ve used.

Luckily, TAP seems to know this, as they’ve created an infinitely superior set of domed drybrushes.

The Detail Brushes

The detail brushes in this set consist of:

  • The Wargamer: Kolinsky Masterclass
  • The Wargamer: Regiment
  • The Wargamer: Character
  • The Wargamer: Detail
  • The Wargamer: Insane Detail
  • The Wargamer: The Psycho

Because each brush shares a lot of similar features and are each designed to be used to do the majority of the work on your miniatures, and for the sake of brevity, I’m going to lump these together,

Beyond the relative sizes of each brush head, there’s not an enormous amount of difference that needs to be noted. There are, however, a few general things I’ll cover here.

Army Painter Brushes Review for Miniature Painters - Detail Brushes

The trihedral design that is a feature of all TAP detail brushes is a useful addition to the design of these brushes. As mentioned above, this is something that new painters will likely benefit from, as it’ll help them get to grips confidently holding a brush.

Whilst the design is optimised to ensure the brush fits snugly between your fingers, it’s possible that more experienced painters, or painters who have been using round-bellied brushes for a while, may find these a little too different to what they’re used to in order to be worth making a change to.

First, the negatives, and there are quite a few. All in all, the smaller brushes just aren’t that good.

The Regiment brush’s head is a little too long for me. Its head isn’t fat enough to support the longer bristles, so the brush lacks a little control. That said, it’s a good one to use for carefully applying washes or shade paints, as the longer bristles hold a good amount of wash and you’re at less of a risk of oversaturating your figures. Still, in terms of control, there are vastly better products available.

The Insane Detail and Psycho brushes suffer from the same problems as each other: both have such tiny brush heads that any paint applied to the bristles dries extremely fast – which isn’t what you want if you’re gearing up to painting an eyeball or some teeth.

They’re also a bit of a gimmick: super small brushes for the sake of super small brushes. The Psycho also barely has a point on it, as you can see in the image above, and has several stand-out straggly hairs that make it very difficult to paint with. Because of how small the brush head is as well, it’s going to take some seriously steady hands and some very strained eyes to correct this.

The Character brush, which I used to get some of the basecoats on the details of my figures, split very easily after only a little use. I had to spend a lot of time re-shaping the brush, and eventually I got sick of unruly fibres sticking out of the brush head and set it aside in favour of my usual brush.

Finally, that trihedral handle design has one quite serious drawback: the hard, flat edges makes the brush very difficult to roll between your fingers.

Think. You’re doing your details, you’ve got paint on your palette, trihedral TAP brush between your fingers. You dab the brush-head into the paint and try to pull it away, rotating the brush as you to to work off excess paint and to make sure the brush head is in a nice point. However, as you do so, the flat sides and hard corners of the handle catch on your fingers.

Suddenly, it becomes noticeably difficult to manipulate the brush. A couple of times when I was painting, I had to stop myself from accidentally applying semi-overloaded brushloads of paint to my figures. Definitely something to be aware of.

Army Painter Mega Brush Set Crawlocke the Jailer complete
It’s not all bad: I was pleased with how Crawlocke and his pals came out.

Now, the good bits: they’re comfortable to hold, thanks to their shape – though, as stated above, this comes with a serious caveat. The free Kolinsky Masterclass is quite good. It is a good size for all those picky bits of detail, and the sable brush head works well on miniatures. It was this brush I found myself using for all detail and edge highlighting because there’s a noticeable difference in quality.

Army Painter Mega Brush Set Knight of Shrouds Complete
Nagash punishes the souls of synthetic brush-users by turning them into ghoulies.

The Detail brush was also quite good: the length and thickness of the brush head made it quite useful for getting into some of the smaller areas, particularly on the Knight of Shrouds, but even this came with a caveat: after a little while, I found the tip splitting again.

Will The Army Painter Mega Brush Set Improve my Hobby?

This very much depends on where you are with your hobby.

If you’ve found a set of brushes you’re happy with, or have mastered your own painting style, the likelihood is that TAP’s Mega Brush Set won’t offer you anything that you can’t already do with the resources you have.

If you’re an experienced painter with a decent set of brushes, TAP’s Mega Brush Set won’t be able to hold a candle to your (likely) sable brushes.

However, if you’re a newer painter, or perhaps just haven’t quite found a set of brushes you’re completely happy with yet, TAP’s Mega Brush Set is a reasonable shout: the box contains a brush for just about everything, and on the whole the quality of said brushes isn’t too awful.

This would make a good set for anyone new to the hobby with just a little bit of painting experience. Say you’ve just painted up your first box of Space Marines with one or two Citadel brushes, and you’re looking for something to bring a bit more range and diversity to your painting; TAP’s Mega Brush Set is an obvious go-to, and a logical next-step along the road from bare-bones beginner to pro painter.

The Army Painter Mega Brush Set Review – Price and Availability

The set is available for €49.99 (around £45/$61USD) from The Army Painter’s website, excluding P&P, which works out to around €5.50/£5/$7 a brush – excluding, of course, the free Kolinsky Sable brush.

With Citadel’s basic Layer/Shade/Dry range clocking in around a similar price per individual unit, TAP’s brushes are an obvious alternative to Citadel’s brushes.

The Army Painter Mega Brush Set Review – Final Thoughts

ProsCons
Very competitive price.
Excellent brushes for beginners.
Thorough range of products available.
The trihedral handle on the detail brushes is a feature that will help beginner painters.
Some brush heads are a little too small to be practical.
On some of the larger brushes, the bristles do not yield to the model so well.
Synthetic curling.
The balance between bristle length and brush head thickness is slightly off with a couple of the brushes
Brushes split very easily.
Hard trihedral edges may make manipulating the brush more difficult.

Whilst they aren’t the fanciest – or, by any stretch of the imagination, the best – brushes in the world, The Army Painter’s Mega Brush Set makes a solid addition to the beginner/mid-range brush market.

But that’s it.

There are too many serious drawbacks with this set in order for it to be useful for improving or experienced painters. The brushes split, some of the bristle-length to brush-head-thickness sizes could be tweaked a little, and some of the tip sizes are just too small to be practical.

However, beginner painters looking for some Citadel alternatives probably aren’t going to notice or be all that bothered by this – and the overall advantages offered by this set will dramatically outweigh the drawbacks.

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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 48 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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