Review – The Fine Touch 3-Brush Set (1-,2-, and 3-inch Flat)

I’m not a painter, or at least, not very often. Painting is expensive, time consuming, and space requiring. But nowadays there are budget products that are easing the “pain” a little bit. Bopping in to your local superstore and buying a set of brushes with a canvas or two for less than $20 is incredible. And “The Fine Touch” is one of the more visible brands (in my area at least) selling inexpensive painting supplies, like a set of three 1-inch increment synthetic brushes. Do they really work though?

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Despite the common wisdom for years being that natural hair brushes are superior to synthetic nylon ones, they have made some improvement in quality over that time. I don’t know if the best synthetic brushes are better than the best natural ones, nor would I claim that these are better than any other brush, but I personally prefer the little extra “bounce” the nylon provides, and they’ve worked quite well for me over several painting projects.

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The basic structure is the same as virtually all paint brushes: a wooden handle with information printed on it (varnished in this case) shaped like a paddle with a ferrule on one end that holds in a set of bristles. Conveniently, these also have a hanging hole at the end for easy storage. Everything about them is cheap; the wood is lighter than the bristles, with brush strokes in its finish and burs on the drill holes; the ferrules are a flimsily metal (which will likely rust) that has either cracked or slightly splintered each handle in the fastening process, and the bristles have a bad habit of falling out during the first few uses.

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So obviously they aren’t “forever” brushes, but for what they are (cheap superstore brushes) they are entirely adequate to paint with. If you only have a couple projects, just want to get some paint down, or feel the need to ease into things you might not know you want to do “forever”, then they will work just fine for that. You won’t become a master using these, and you might get frustrated with the bristles in your paintings, but they work, and for just getting started, that’s enough.

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Review – BIC Cover-It Correction Fluid

In what seems like fate’s attempt to make my reviews less relevant immediately, I discovered another type of correction fluid in the store just after I had made a comparison review. Curiously, it’s made by BIC, who already own Wite-Out and Tipp-Ex, and it’s the same volume per-bottle as Wite Out, so I don’t know why they need another brand of white paper paint. Is it really any different?

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The container is very simple (the same as Tipp-Ex it appears). The main body is cylindrical and screwing on to the top is an octagonally-faceted cap. Inside, suspended from that cap, is a bristle brush that does go down pretty far into the container, but I haven’t accurately determined just how far. The fluid itself goes on smoothly, and even with the brush there are minimal stroke lines. Dry time is decent but far from instant, and when dried the mark is matte while being on the cool side of off-white. Coverage for pencils, pens, and other mild inks is good (there is an indentation where the fluid is displaced but that’s the same with all BIC correction fluids), and it even does a decent job with permanent marker, but it starts to show its limits there.

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If I were to compare it to other correction fluids I’d say that it’s almost the coverage of Wite-Out extra coverage, while being a little more on the cool side of the color spectrum. It covers better than Wite-Out quick dry and is more matte and paper-like than Liquid Paper. So it is ever so slightly different. But I’m not sure it’s different enough to warrant its production. Perhaps at store prices it might be a bit less expensive but online it is quite comparable in price to BIC’s other correction fluids, and it’s not in a very nice package. It will get the job done, and done quite well (I’d rather use it than regular Wite Out quick dry) but I don’t see why it isn’t another Wite-Out variation.

Review – Sterling Studio 4-Piece Synthetic Brush Set SS-117

One of the problems with painting miniatures (doll houses, dioramas, war game pieces, etc…) is that it’s difficult to find brushes in the right sizes, and even then, brushes can be expensive. But if you’re not going to be doing a whole lot of work with them, how well would an inexpensive brush set like the Sterling Studio SS-117 work? Let’s take a look.

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Just a bit of a disclaimer, I’m not sure if this set is available anymore or even where one would get it. I got it at an outlet store at a considerable discount and waited to use it a few times before making this review.

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The bodies of the brushes are quite simple. They are a thin piece of wood painted a dark blue with “Sterling Studio” and the brush size written on the side in white. This is followed by a very cheap piece of crimped silver metal, which holds the orange synthetic bristles. The set include a round, two brights, and a spotter. The brights being flat-ish and semi-rectangular while the other two are rounder and pointier. The differences in the round and spotter are very little save one feels a bit stiffer, but I don’t know if that’s from other factors.

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The sizes are quite small, 10/0 (0000000000) and 2/0 (00) {Side note: paint brush sizing is weird sometimes} but they aren’t massively different. While the double zero (2/0) is noticeably larger I’m not sure how much of a difference it will make. The bristles are a pretty cheap synthetic material that is quite springy (which I hear is a bad thing, but my painting skill is not fine enough to really notice) save for one which is very stiff. They seem to wear quickly, but they are quite a small surface area so it stands to reason they wouldn’t take much abuse. I know they aren’t the best quality but I’d say they’re about medium seeing as I’ve used much worst brushes. Since they are so small they don’t hold a lot of paint, but they do work well for very fine detail or fine highlighting. I believe the common wisdom among mini painters is use the largest brush you can get away with, and these in most cases aren’t. And while I have used them, I can’t imagine too many scenarios where I would need to.

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They are quite a cheap set, the wood is weightless, the finish is far from perfect (though fortunately the crimping is not loose), and the brushes will wear out quick. But for the amount of times a brush of these sizes would be applicable (unless you were doing 6mm minis, all of the detail in an already small scale doll house, or all of the detail in an N scale train set) they will do just fine. I can’t say I’d recommend them, but if you might need to paint some fine detail every once in a while, I’d say pick them up if you run across them.

Review – Plaid 10 Detail Brush Set

Well, while perusing my archives, I found a review of Testor’s plastic cement. And that is when I realized I have a whole set of Modeling stuff that I would count as art supplies. So today I’ll be looking at some of those, starting with one of the cheapest and most universal things, a Plaid 10-piece detail brush set.

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This will be general and cover only the quality of the brushes and not the individual brushes themselves, which might be covered in future installments. First off, the bodies are made of cheap wood that is poorly painted with quite good lettering telling you what everything is. There is a brass-colored section near the end, and some very ugly orange bristles pointing out of it. The section and body are quite sturdy for their thickness and not at all slippery, but not too nice in the hand either.

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The bristles themselves are all right. As previously stated, they are an ugly orange, which doesn’t really matter too much. They are synthetic and have a bit of pop to them, which I like, but others might not. At first they are quite soft and strong, but they may easily become frayed and bent. This is more of a problem with individual bristles and not the brush as a whole. This makes it difficult to get a good edge when you paint, until you cut the offending bristle out of the brush. The brush’s life is likely shorter than most brushes (considering they are sold in Wal-Mart), but, honestly, for the price they work very well. They get floppy pretty quick (which some people might prefer) and they do wear out shortly after that. But they have a lifespan the I’d expect for the price, and getting a 10-brush set this cheap is incredible. They’re even relatively hard to stain.

Overall, if you need only limited detailing done on paintings, or are looking to start painting models and miniatures, this is a great starter brush set. One might want to upgrade to a well-know brush brand later, or even to hair brushes, but for a starter set these are excellent.

Review – Prismacolor Premiere 4 Pen Black Set

Some people don’t like Microns, or they just can’t get them. There are alternative technical pens for those, fortunately. There is a set that is even sold in WalMart: The Prismacolor Premier 4 pen set.

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The body of the pens aren’t particularly nice. They are black with an abundance of text. The cap is short with a thin metal clip. The cap is hard to grip and kind of ugly, as it fits on tightly but is hard to remove. The cap can be posted, but is also hard to remove there as well. The section of the barrel that is covered by the cap is short and hard to grip but not uncomfortable. It is slick.

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This set has 005, 05, chisel, and brush tips. They lay down a nice black line. They are archival quality, so they are fade-resistant and acid free. The ink flows smoothly, with the occasional hiccup that happens in all technical pens. The 005 and 05 have a similar size and tip feel to Microns. The chisel is a nice tip, but it is a bit weak and seems like it won’t take much abuse. The brush seems more like a long marker than a brush, and it is not very flexible. It does have quite a bit of line variation, though, when you really push it hard. It’s just more difficult to use.

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Overall this set is a nice one, and it’s cheaper than most other technical pens. They are a bit uncomfortable, and the ink is a bit worse than some of the competitors, though they are quite nice. For the price of a little bit less, they offer just a little bit less. They work great and will serve admirably at their purpose. They just aren’t the best on the market.

 

Review – Pentel Pocket Brush Pen

So I do a lot of non-drafting type drawing, which I will admit is most of drawing. But in that type of drawing, lines are not the same length, they waver, get thicker and thinner and such. If you need to get a similar effect, Pentel has a pen for you.20121205-010917.jpg

 

The Pentel Pocket Brush Pen is quite a nice instrument with a very uninspired name (which is good for tracking it down). The body of the pen is medium length, slick and black. At the bottom of the cap in silver is an asian character that I don’t know the origin of and the word Pentel. They are both slightly engraved and hinder nothing. They are the only adornments on the pen. There is also a clip on the pen that serves its purpose well.

The brush itself is very nice, it is easy to keep at a point and is very responsive to pressure. The pen requires no squeezing or other methods to keep ink flowing so one always gets a nice full line.

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The ink itself is black but thin. It takes multiple coats to create a true black, otherwise one gets streaks, but these are only visible on close inspection and may be what you’re going for. The cartridges are also replaceable and fairly easy to find. The pen comes with two and one can buy packs of four.

In short the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen is just that, a pocket brush pen, and a very nice one at that. It does its job well and painlessly. It is one of the finer and cheaper brush pens I have encountered.

Review – Pigma Brush

Do you like the flowing lines and moderation of a brush, but want the simplicity of a pen? The makers of Micron have a solution. The Pigma brush.

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The ink is the same as the Micron ink. It is a very deep black that applies smoothly to the page and rarely bleeds. It is waterproof and fadeproof archival ink. It marks just as well or better than any pen around.

 

The body of the brush is the same as the Micron’s, as well. It is slick and glossy, but fortunately easy to hold, and never once felt like it was slipping in my hand. The cap locks in place firmly and snaps haphazardly onto the back. The clip attached to the cap works das designed. The writing on the body is easy to read and rub resistant, and the identification on the cap is easy to read.

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But now for what this item is about: the brush. The brush is fairly short, no longer than the nib of the regular Microns or most other pens. The brush at its finest is super thin, and goes up to an above average pen thickness. The line range is roughly equivalent to the Micron 005 to 05 and everywhere in between. The application is buttery smooth and never splutters or splatters. Even when the brush begins running out of ink you will only begin to get a grey line instead of a patchy one. And it takes a long time to get it to run out.20121102-235937.jpg

 

For fine detail work this item is perfect, it is a perfect addition to the Pigma family and suits the audience it was created for perfectly. But it is for a specific audience. Very large or multimedia projects will find the product ill suited to create most desired effects. But that does not diminish the fact that it is a very good pen.