Squidmar Miniature Painting Base Brush Set Review

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Squidmar Brushes: the hype has been real, but how do they fare?

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Squidmar Miniature Painting Base Brush Set Review – Summary

Every now and then, something truly special comes along. Something that just gets it. Something that sees all the fundamentals and says: “Yeah, I can do that, and more, and look amazing doing it”. Something that leaves you unable to think anything other than “Wow.”

Today is one of those days.

Squidmar Miniature Painting Base Brush Set Review – Introduction

You’ve heard of Squidmar, right?

Squidmar is the YouTube handle of Emil Nyström, a softly-spoken, well-groomed artist from Sweden whose dulcet tones have taken the internet hobbysphere by storm.

With a clean aesthetic and well-produced YouTube channel dedicated to everything miniatures, Squidmar has racked up an impressive 198,000 subscribers to his channel to date, eclipsing many well-known YouTuber hobbyists, and also hot on the heels of the likes of Scott Walter and his famous Miniac channel. Whilst Nyström’s Instagram has been kicking around a little longer, and has amassed a 24,000-strong following, it is testament to Nyström’s brilliance and popularity within the community that his YouTube channel has attained such impressive stats – even more so given that his YouTube channel is only a year-and-a-half old.

Originally started on the 13th May 2019, his videos have since been viewed over 11,000,000 times since. With videos ranging from product reviews and tips and tricks on how to build and paint your hordes of little plastic people, to the increasingly popular “I payed someone of Fiverr to do something, let’s look at the results” format of videos, Nyström has simultaneously mastered current trends and carved out his own unique little corner within the dark, twisting and chaotic warp of the internet.

Shortly after the first birthday of his YouTube channel, and with the help of world-famous Da Vinci brushes and their German factory, on June 15th 2020, Nyström launched his Kolinsky Miniature Paintbrush Kickstarter. Pitched with an original, and, perhaps, reasonably modest, goal of SEK 253,700  (approx. £22,000/$28,700/ €24,500), the promise of either four or six Squidmar-designed brushes – Tiny, Extra Small, Small, Medium, Large, and Extra Large, with the first and last exclusive to higher-level pledgers – and a number of other goodies has lured in, as of the 14th October 2020, 7,649 backers

The Kickstarter has also smashed its reasonably modest target, nabbing a whopping SEK 6,193,174 (approx. £538,535.09/$701,222.13/€596,892.38), a ludicrous 2,441% of the original goal.

It’s perhaps not unreasonable, then, that there are some high expectations surrounding these brushes. Nyström is synonymous with good-quality content; just have a look at some of the work on display on his Instagram; if his brushes are even half as good as he paints, we’re all onto a winner.

So, without further ado, brushes.

– Squidmar Miniature Painting Base Brush Set Review – Shipping

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FauxHammer: Woah, hold your horses there Rob, I have something to say.

So, this isn’t something I tend to talk about in a review, but the ordeal I had to go through to get these is worth note!

I spoke with Emil at the beginning of the Kickstarter Campaign to see if we could get some early hands-on (I’m a backer myself as I want those busts).

Emil and his team arranged to ship these brushes early and within a day of talking to him I had a tracking number. And then I waited… And waited.

The tracking number was for a Swedish website and for a couple of weeks, these were sat on “out for delivery”. I checked in with Emil’s team and they said they would chase up with the shipping company and come back. Still nothing…

Eventually after about 6 weeks the team agreed to ship them again, this time I monitored it daily. Until one day, those same words “Out For Delivery” appeared. Going back to the Squidmar team, this looked odd again 2-3 days after the “Out For delivery” status was shown. But I heard nothing again from the team.

Taking matters into my own hands, I contacted the Swedish shipping company who informed me that they just provide the tracking info, the courier was actually DHL. So I tried to call DHL, but without a valid DHL tracking number, you can’t actually get through to a person. So I called DHL Sweden and did my best Emil Nyström Impression. I was found our rather quickly as I could not speak a word of Swedish beyond the odd Ikea furniture range.

I explained that I could not speak to DHL UK as I don’t have a valid tracking number. As it turns out, the Tracking number for DHL changes between Sweden and the UK. Helpful as the Swedes are, the guy from DHL Sweden nicely gave me the UK Tracking number.

Armed with this I could now speak to DHL in the UK. It took days and several phone calls to find out the following;

The new parcel had not been shipped to my address, but to a local DHL drop off point (my local newsagent) becuse “reasons”. I was never informed me of this by any of the services! So anyway, I drove there, only to find they rejected delivery becasue the previous parcel sat there uncollected for 3 weeks (apparently this happens a lot).

Back on the phoen with DHL, it turns out the Depot has lot it. And, this happened last time too, but by the time they found it the previous time, it had excceded the 30 days that DHL hold parcels for. So instead of thinking, oooh this is our fault it”s been missing for 30 days let’s send it to the recipient. No, they just sent it back. So I escalted this to the manager at the depot to say, “please look for it, otherwise, by the time you find it, 30 days will pass again and you’ll just send it back.” Despite several promises of return phone calls and personal emails from support staff (not replied to) it eventually turned up. Hurrah!!!!

TLDR: The Squidmar guys need to get the shipping process sorted for general release, I doubt many people are willing to be this tenatious just to get their hands on their brushes.

Ok Rob, back to you….

Squidmar Miniature Painting Base Brush Set Review – Design

Since starting this hobby again after a decade-and-a-half hiatus, I’ve been lucky enough to see and try out loads of different types of brushes, both privately and for Fauxhammer.com. One thing I’ve come up against time and time again, though, is the look of a brush.

Trying to write anything intelligent and meaningful about the look of a paintbrush has always proved really difficult for me. “Yeah, it’s handle is red,” or, “Yeah, it’s black. The ferrule’s black too. The bristles are bristle-coloured and it looks like a paintbrush. Great.” The look of a brush has never been something that’s really interested me or bothered me before because no one brush I’ve seen has really been very, well, interesting.

Until now.

Because, by the God Emperor of Mankind in all His Undying and Eternal Glory, look at these things.

Squidmar Base Brush Set Brushes Review All Brushes

The wood, with a gentle grain running through it, is beautiful and would not look out of place gleaming atop a musical instrument. The golden ferrule, embossed text, and light-coloured kolinsky sable perfectly accentuate the dark brown of the glossy wood, giving the brushes a grandiose, almost classical and baroque look.

These brushes are, without doubt, the best-looking brushes I have ever seen. They are a true delight to behold, and they look so good I almost don’t want to use them for fear of besmirching their beauty.

Squidmar Base Brush Set Brushes Review Brush Wood

These hand-crafted, high-quality kolinsky sable brushes are aiming to be some of the best out there, and the passion that has gone into the product seeps out of every aspect of the brushes’ design because, and let’s be candid, these brushes are themselves works of art. Where other creators of paintbrushes have gone “Eh, just paint it black and stick a stainless-steel ferrule on it or something,” some real, dedicated thought and planning has gone into the look of these brushes. Someone has said “Let’s make these look absolutely spectacular.” And they have done.

It doesn’t just stop there. A similar amount of thought and care has  gone into the ergonomics of these brushes too. The handles of the Squidmar Mk. I’s are slightly, but noticeably, thicker and triangular in shape – we’re not talking Army Painter’s sharp trihedral design, but there is a subtle curve to the edges of these brushes which allows the brush to rest naturally in the hand, nestled comfortably between the fingers.

But you don’t buy a paintbrush for its looks. You buy it because you want to paint with it, because you need something that can handle your oils, your acrylics, metallic colours, and whatever else you use on your figures.

You buy it because you’re going to paint with it. So, let’s get painting.

(Mind, if there was ever a set of brushes worth buying to admire the look of, these are the ones to get.)

Squidmar Miniature Painting Base Brush Set Review – Testing

I know people have their complaints about Hachette’s Mortal Realms partworks magazine, but every time I find myself in need of a suitable miniature for testing some brushes on, they deliver.

The Lord Executioner, who comes with a couple of his buddies in issue 24, is one of my favourite Nighthaunt models to date. He possesses same eerie, commanding look of the Knight of Shroud, the Guardian of Souls and the Spirit Torment that come with issue 19, whilst still being suitably grim and unique in his own right.

Plus, he has lots of folded cloth details that I’ve never been able to quite nail before that I’d like to test Squidmar’s brushes on.

Squidmar Base Brush Set Brushes Review Lord Executioner Based Close
Foldy foldy.

Now, I don’t like the standard, incorporeal blue look Games Workshop sell their Nighthaunt as. To my eye, they look too wispy, too ethereal, too translucent and not all that creepy or scary. There’s something a bit insubstantial, floaty, and unthreatening about them, and I can’t imagine ranks upon ranks of Sigmarines getting their backsides handed to them by a couple of bits of goth clingfilm waving rusty farming equipment around their disembodied heads.

So, as anyone who may have caught my Thorns of the Briar Queen either in our Monument Brushes review or on Warhammer’s Hobby Round Up a few weeks ago may know, I paint my Nighthaunt a little differently, opting to paint what is modelled to look like flesh and bone, but often painted ghostly blue, the colour of rotted flesh and dark bone instead.

Monument Hobbies Bomb Wick Brushes Review Thorns of the Briar Queen

So, once primed with what was left in the bottom of my tin of Chaos Black spray, it was time to see just how good Squidmar’s brushes are.

The L and the M

I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed basecoating a figure as much as I did with this figure when using the L and the M.

Though the L has the largest brush head of the four being tested, the point it comes to is just as razor-sharp as that on the S or the XS. It makes a mastery of those larger areas – in my case, the ghostly bits being covered in Moot Green as a base for a heavy drenching in Hexwraith Flame – and even some of the smaller, more fiddly edges, such as navigating the fine edges of the Lord Executioner’s black shroud.

The M is much the same in its performance: though its head isn’t quite as broad as the L, its point is as sharp as a needle and its head is a nice length. In fact, of all the brushes in the set, the M is the one that stands out.

It’s the perfect size. It’s neither too big nor too small, and it occupies a space between base and detail brushes that hitherto I haven’t felt has been quite adequately been filled. Those weapon hafts that were too big to justify the use of a detail brush, yet too small for a regular base brush? That bit of a gun barrel that’s too small for your usual basing brush but to big for the brush you like to keep for highlighting? Well, the M has you covered.

Squidmar Base Brush Set Brushes Review Brush Tips
The L, M, S and XS.

In fact, the M is the most versatile brush of the bunch. Its narrower head and sharp point make it ideal for highlights, whilst it’s still bulky enough to handle those larger areas that need a good basecoat on them. It was a godsend for getting dots of Leadbelcher on the nails in my Lord Executioner’s gallows post, but was just as useful for painting a second coat of Dryad Bark on the wood of the gallows themselves.

Squidmar Base Brush Set Brushes Review Lord Executioner Based Front

The brushes are adept at handling washes and more watery mixes as well and distribute washes as evenly as you could want (in my case, a few drops of Agrax Earthshade on the Zandri Dust-based bits and the Ushabti Bone ropes and bindings, Hexwraith Flame over the Moot Green parts, and some Athonian Camoshade over the wood). The larger brush head of the L soaks up a reasonable – but not too heavy – amount of shade, and the M is ideal for getting a drop of colour in those gaps between fingers or between coils of rope.

Squidmar Base Brush Set Brushes Review Lord Executioner Based Rear

Painting with both the L and the M is a true pleasure. They are uncompromising in their pursuit of comfort, and they feel as smooth as cream when being moved across plastic. The kolinsky sable bristles are firm but flexuous which gives you supreme control over where you are directing your paints. I even felt they seemed to wash a little easier than most normal brushes, requiring little more than a flick in the brush water and a tap or two against the edge of the pot to be free of any excess paint.

Winner winner.

The S and the XS

These two brushes are frighteningly good.

Much the same as the L and the M, the S and the XS are stunning examples of just how fantastic a brush can be when done right.

Those razor-sharp points held by every brush across the Squidmar Mk. I range become something else on the tips of the S and the XS. There are few details too fiddly for the S, and those that are will be fodder for the XS. I was able to get some of my finest highlights – such as the Eshin Grey and Dawnstone highlights on the shroud – with the S, and even felt brave enough to do some tiny White Scar spot highlights on some of the most prominent and sharp edges of the spectral green.

The slightly longer head on the S makes edge highlighting with the flat side of the brush a breeze, so getting a thin highlight of Ironbreaker was easy. The fine tip of the S also meant getting an even smaller amount of Stormhost Silver on the pointed edges and corners of the Lord Executioner’s axe as much of a pleasure as it was a doddle. Previously, this is something I’ve always struggled to get right, especially on the smaller raised edges going along the faces of the weapons, but I had no issues doing this with the S.

I was able to get some fine and subtle highlights in Screaming Skull on the knuckles of my Lord Executioner with the help of the S, and the XS was more than small enough to get a few tiny spots of the same colour on the coils of rope on the noose, and along some of the edges of the bindings holding the gallows to the Lord Executioner’s back.

Plus, that the brushes are so ergonomic dissuades you from clutching the brush too hard when focusing on those smallest details, so you’ll dodge the dreaded painting cramp when trying to get that tiny dot of White Scar onto the reflecting part of an eyepiece.

After basing him up and making sure the coiling briar/rose detail on the base was fully painted, the Lord Executioner was done.

Squidmar Base Brush Set Brushes Review Lord Executioner Finished Front

The S and the XS make short work of tiny details, and with brushes so easy to control on the miniature, I felt more confident striving for a level of detail that hitherto I had not felt comfortable reaching for.

Squidmar Base Brush Set Brushes Review Lord Executioner Finished Close

As an aside, the Lord Executioner is really annoying to paint. Because he’s only attached to his base by a bit of floaty/ectoplasmic spook ichor, or whatever you want it to be, he has a habit of wobbling backwards and forwards like a bobblehead. I’d like to shout out to Garfy’s Get a Grips Ultra Painting Handle, as I was able to use the large finger rest to brace the wobbly bit of the figure against, which saved me a great deal of frustration.

I could not wait to try these brushes out on some other figures, so immediately grabbed a few models from my Indomitus box to try the brushes on again. As before, the level of control I felt I had with these brushes far superseded any I had tried before – check out the turning shields on these Bladeguard Veterans (the chap in the centre even has my family’s coat of arms painted on his).

Squidmar Base Brush Set Brushes Review Bladeguard Veterans

I even used them to paint up my Primaris Captain, including the miniscule details on his turning shield, as well as the lines of text on the purity seals. My efforts, which were in no small part assisted by these outstanding brushes, saw the Captain featured on WarhammerTV’s Hobby Roundup show on the 29th October 2020

If that’s not testament to just how excellent these brushes are, I don’t know what is.

Will the Squidmar Miniature Painting Base Brush Set Improve my Hobby?

Seriously, I cannot get over how good these brushes are.

Do they improve my hobby? God, yes. I feel like I’m playing the Stradivarius violin of miniature brushes, not simply because of the way they look, but for the artisan-level craftsmanship and beauty of the things – and I’m pretty sure just having these things in the house adds to the property’s value.

And using them is something else. You can feel how good these brushes are in every stroke along the surface of a miniature, in every successful highlight, each time you put paint to plastic.

The only thing I would say is that if you’re the sort of person who gets anxious about driving their new car, or playing their new instrument, because you’re worried about scratching or denting it, then you may want to steer clear of these brushes, simply because you’re going to experience a similar anxiety using them.

Squidmar Miniature Painting Base Brush Set Review – Price and Availability

Currently, Squidmar’s brushes are only available via a late pledge through the original Kickstarter campaign, though once they are available for public release I am sure they’ll become available on his website at the very least.

The funding tiers available range between SEK 420 to SEK 8,800 (approx. £37-£767/$47-$992 /€40-€848) and come with a long list of funder benefits.

Whilst the lowest funding option is for a miniature bust, the Basic Brush Set is the next tier up, and available for SEK 500 (£44/$56/€48). The Deluxe Brush Set, with the addition of the T and XL brushes is available for SEK 750 (£66/$85/€72).

These are a deluxe product, there’s no two ways about it, and this is reflected in the price. But let’s not lose sight of just how great these brushes are – you’re paying for premium, so you’re getting premium.

Squidmar Miniature Painting Base Brush Set Review – Final Thoughts

ProsCons
Unbelievably gorgeous
Ergonomic to a fault
Very well priced for their quality
Brush heads are just the right sizes
Bristles are just the right mix of firm and flexuous.
Fewer sizes compared to some other brands
No dedicated drybrush in the range (yet…?)

Let’s be honest, a brush with this kind of pedigree was never going to do poorly, was it?

But I didn’t expect them to be quite this good.

Painting with these brushes was a pleasure from start to finish. Each movement with the brushes across the figure was a genuine pleasure, because the Squidmar Mk. I set just gets everything right. They look phenomenal, they are thoughtfully ergonomic, and they perform like a dream. The brush heads are sized to perfection, and the choice of dimensions and materials used across all the brushes is faultless.

The only thing I can say against these brushes – and this is after a bit of head-scratching on my part – is that the absence of a dedicated drybrush from the range is a bit of a shame, but even then that’s me looking to nit-pick.

It’s worth just noting again here that these are being sold as “Mk. I” – does this mean we are to expect further releases like this in the future? Perhaps with other kinds of brushes in the range or more sizes? I sure hope so, because these are some seriously special brushes.

Superb. Sublime. Stupendous.

Squidmar…

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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.

  • Self-appointed Editor in chief of FauxHammer.com - But I need to thank the team for existing and therefore enabling me to give myself role - without them, I'm just a nerd with a computer and a plastic addiction.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Squidmar Miniature Painting Base Brush Set
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Product Name
Squidmar Miniature Painting Base Brush Set
About VoltorRWH 23 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.

1 Comment

  1. This might be a localized DHL issue. In my schmall European country they dont even have a telephone number you can call only an email address.

    Due to the GDP or something like that they often do not have your telephone number and you have to provide it yourself…. they are a very successful company because they have cut the corners at every expense that is not essential but it shows – at least in my experience with them.

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