Escoda. They are half the price of the WN brushes, about $6.50 on sale. I remembered hearing good things online about these, and the art store's staff said they were excellent. (Having a real art store staffed by artists and art majors is so nice compared to the big box craft stores!) Before I bought them, I tried them out with water on paper and was pleased. Hopefully with care they will last.
Put To The Test
As soon as I got home, I put the brushes to work in paint. They are excellent! I've been using Imex's red sable brushes for years, but these brushes blow them out of the water. I can get such a fine line with the #00 it's amazing. Made painting the straps on 15mm pirates so much easier, as well as doing fine touchups. I also used the brushes to paint the flesh on one of my Black Tree Design WWII Soviets, testing a new technique to paint eyes. I followed a modified version of painting eyes from this post on the Vallejo blog. Basically, I used the article for inspiration and then went my own direction.
Jeremy compared the new Soviet face to one of my old cowboy faces and was amazed at how much better I've gotten. He liked the eyes. He says they look real. Two years ago, I painted all the faces on my primed cowboys in one large batch. I feared doing eyes, not wanting the deer-in-headlights look so many gamers accidentally do. The cowboy eyes are just black holes, more or less. They look ok from a distance. Until we compared them to the Soviet eyes and face
I still have some slight tweaking I want to do to the technique I used on the Soviet's eyes and face, but the Escoda brushes made it possible. Using Tamiya Deck Tan for the whites of the eyes and using proper coloring around the eyes also helped. Hey, if I can do it, anyone can! It was easier than I thought! Photos coming as soon as I can snap them. Note: We will not talk about how I spilled my new bottle of Tamiya Flat Black paint all over my work area...
Silicoil Brush Cleaning System
Silicoil brush cleaning system: a tank with coil and a bottle of cleaning fluid. Though not on sale, I do get a 20% faculty discount on everything in the store. Again, I had heard good things about this system. I needed more Pink Soap anyway, so I decided to give this a whirl instead. The tank retails for about $5.50 and the fluid a bit more. The fluid lasts forever. Since the paint settles to the bottom of the far, all you must do is descant the fluid to a new jar, dump out the settled paint, and then put the liquid back in the Silicoil jar.
I like the system. It works better than using Pink Soap in the palm of my hand to clean my new brushes. The fluid has a paint thinner smell to it, which bothered me at first. Once the lid is closed, the smell goes away. The instructions say using plain water for acrylics works fine, but I prefer using a soap or the Silicoil fluid to properly clean and treat the bristles. Note: I still use the Pink Soap to clean my cheap bushes for painting large splotches of paint like Gesso or black--I don't need that stuff messing up the Silicoil fluid.
Note: We went to Hobby Lobby later that afternoon and saw the Silicoil system there as well. The price was much higher and a total ripoff. This seems to be the pattern for art supplies at HL. Maybe I am wrong, but so far I have not been impressed with Hobby Lobby, which just came to Orlando a few months ago.