No, that isn’t a typo. Earlier in the year I backed another brush Kickstarter, this time by the guys at ‘Wamp’. Yes, I know I said I’d never back another Kickstarter involving brushes after the awful brushes I received from the last one I backed. Fortunately no such disappointments this time as the brushes fulfilled by Wamp neither purported to be “Pro-Studio”, “revolutionary”, “innovative” or any other such marketing clap-trap. They were however manufactured as far as I can tell by Rosemary & Co here in the UK and thus far have performed admirably. I haven’t had the opportunity to test all of them out fully so please don’t misconstrue this as a review, although I’ve painted the Imperial Assault characters below and the majority of the Halo UNSC and Covenant ships so far this week using solely the Basecoat and Large Detail Brush. As far as I’m concerned both stand up to my regular Windsor & Newton favourably.
Brushes don’t magically make you a better painter, but bad ones sure as heck ensure the learning process is considerably more frustrating. They are simple tools and all you really need is a decently constructed brush with the right characteristics for miniature painting. In my humble opinion the two primary requirements are in order of importance, a good tip and a decent shaped belly to hold a reservoir of medium (water). Without those two things everything else, such as the build quality, snap and brush size or weight become less relevant as none of them will overcome deficiencies in the first two. Get the first two requirements right and you’ve got the makings of a workable brush. What Rosemary & Co delivered for Wamp in the Basecoat brush is all those things and more, it forms a nice sharp point with a consistent snap and after painting the three minis shown shows every sign of keeping it too. That says to me sourced from a reputable artists brush manufacturer. The handles are about the right length for me and there’s a good length to the bristles, almost too long if I’m being ultra-picky. And I am being picky here based on my own amateur skill level and preference.
My favourite W&N Series 7 size 1 finally passed on recently after several years of sterling performance, so I’ve been using a Rafael which has an oh-so slightly longer length of bristle. The snap is fantastic and it has a pin sharp tip but it does take a bit if getting used to the extra flex and movement it offers as a result. In the hands of a more skilled painter than myself I suspect it’s a characteristic that will be highly prized. The Wamp Basecoat brush demonstrates very similar characteristics and the Large Detail (Yes large) is even longer again which to me makes it feel almost like a fine-liner. Based purely on the dozen or so miniatures I’ve painted to date with it, the Wamp Basecoat brush is rapidly becoming my favourite go to all-rounder so I’m really looking forward to trying out a few of the larger brushes in the range. That may seem slightly odd when there are many more smaller brushes, but I’ve never really subscribed to the idea that size 000 brushes are better for fine details than a larger brush with a good tip which offers more control. I maybe in the minority here though so guess it’s a personal thing.
Getting back to the miniatures in hand, these are three of the wave one character packs for Star Wars: Imperial Assault and although designed with the board game collector in mind I still think they paint up pretty well and compare favourably (if not better to be honest) than most of the Star Wars RPGS ranges currently out there. With my eyes still playing up a bit I wanted something a little less demanding than the Infinity Yu Jing I’ve been working on lately, so returned to the easy going and undemanding comfort of the Star Wars figures again.
There aren’t many fan favourites bigger than Han’s loyal partner in crime and co-pilot Chewbacca, so it was important I got a good range of tones into the fur. Several layers and glazes later got me more or less what I was looking for.
The bounty hunter IG88 is an interesting character as it’s both easy and tricky at the same time. Easy in the sense you can pretty much dry-brush it silver, give it a black wash and a final light silver dry-brush highlight and it will still look pretty good. Not dissimilar to the technique on the Imperial Probe Droids. Reference photos of IG88 however reveal that it has a much richer variety of tones from oily black and sepia, through to burnished blue and warm rusty reds. For such an iconic Droid I felt I needed more control over the placing of highlights to really bring out its character and tonal glazes to provide some variation in what would otherwise be a very neutral grey metal.
I opted to stick with true metals and not NMM for a) simplicity and speed and b) because I don’t think it would suit the miniature. That being said I also didn’t want the irregularity of a dry brush which is too coarse. I lightly primed IG-88 a flat grey and then gave him a second priming in Vallejo Silver. This was followed by an overall wash of 50/50 black and mud brown. Once dry I applied the highlights in silver to the upper surfaces and where it’s thin upright form would trap the most light. Notably the tops of the feet forearms, shoulders and the top of the drinks dispenser, sorry, head! I then hit these points with an additional spot highlight to give them volume.
Moving onto the glazes. For the hip joints, torso pistons and ankles I applied several thin glazes of Sepia to warm up the metal in those areas. I also deepened the shading with a black glaze in and around the back and under the arms. To create a rusty tone I added flesh wash to the sepia glaze to increase the red and applied that to a few spots only like the sockets and chest area. Finally a very thin blue glaze added a cooling tone to the tops of the feet, shoulders and top of the head. It’s one of those odd miniatures that the light plays with really nicely in real life but comes across flat in the photograph sadly.
Royal Guard Champion
A lovely dynamic pose in the Royal Guard Champion sculpt so I kept it to a simple palette not dissimilar to the standard Royal Guard. The staff shaft is supposed to be gold, but I think it’s too bright so preferred a base of Japanese Uniform to which I added Ivory for the highlights. The overall effect is similar to gold, just a little more weathered and ancient looking.
For essentially a couple of hours work and considering I couldn’t see all that well half the time I’m not displeased with the end result. More importantly the two Wamp brushes I used throughout behaved themselves impeccably which was the real reason for the exercise. I’m pretty confident normal service (and sight!) should be resumed again by the weekend so am quite looking forward to trying them out on something more challenging like my Domaru Butai.
The other milestone passed was the completion of the Heroes from the core set. Diala Passil had been looking a bit sad having to go on mission after mission in white primer so I gave her a bit of colour at the same time as The Royal Guard. That brings my base hero set to a conclusion along with the rest of the box, which is a pleasing target to cross off the list. With the three additional characters above also done I have only a couple now remaining of Wave One to complete, namely Han, the Rebel Troopers and Rebel Saboteurs.
In many ways Fantasy Flight taking so long to actually get their Star Wars releases into the stores is something of a blessing in disguise as I very rarely get the chance to stay on top of a games releases from a painting perspective. With Imperial Assault the slow but steady drip feed of expansions and Heroes and Villains packs is paced just right for me. I suspect by the time I get the final characters above done, it will be just in time for a pair of iconic Droids and a Bounty Hunter to turn up. Well bless the maker!
Until next time.