3 Colours Up Review – Citadel Brushes

August 11, 2011 by elromanozo

I’m sure most of you know about the Citadel brushes, a staple of the Games Workshop hobby range, but there is still much to discuss about this product…

Years ago, they were horrific brushes… Nylon monstrosities that forked after a few hours of painting, that only twelve year old newbies and their helpless mothers would consider buying. They still have a bad reputation. Maybe that’s why they renewed the whole brush range a while back.

They are now apparently hand made from pure Kolinsky sable, except the Drybrushing brushes (part ox hair and part nylon) and the stippling brush (pure nylon), which is certainly a step in the right direction.

The Citadel brushes are also extremely beginner friendly: They’re limited in number, and named according to their most obvious use, from “Fine detail brush” to “Basecoat brush”, “Large drybrush”, and even the laconically named “Standard brush”… And they’re all color coded for ease of use !

I’m always on the lookout for good painting gear, and I hadn’t tested any new brushes in a while, so I decided to give Citadel a chance… I tested a few. How did they fare ?

Frankly, better than their reputation predicted.

I was pleasantly surprised by the Basecoat brush, large enough to hold a lot of paint yet precise enough not to make a mess of things. The so called “Standard brush” is exactly that : Standard. It gets the job done as long as you don’t expect precision work… That’s what the “Detail” brushes are for.

The drybrushing went well, with the help of the “small drybrush”, but it’s hard to go wrong with that.
A brush for each task, a task for each brush.

I must say I was amazed at the straightforwardness of the whole process… I remember the questions I asked myself as a beginner : Is this a job for a 0 brush or just a 1 ? Would it be too tedious with a 000 ? None of that here, thanks to the self evident names.

That said, I was puzzled (to say the least) at the “Stippling brush”… These rough, thick nylon fibers will scratch paint off if you’re not careful. I hear some painters use this for large random patterns, such as camouflage, mud or rust on vehicles… All of which you can do easily with a filbert.

Maybe I’m missing the point, but it seems to me you can easily find a cheaper replacement for the aforementioned implement…  and a torn bit of blister foam is infinitely preferable for “stippling”, as they say, while being much safer for your work.

As easy to use as they are, the Citadel brushes also easy to use up… I’ve had to keep re-making their point regularly, and my “Standard Brush” is already hopelessly forked after a single miniature (which I guess for tabletop result would be equivalent to two or three). All of the Citadel brushes react in such a way, I’m afraid.

This is, in my opinion, inexcusable for hand-made sable brushes… Even though they’re cheaper than other brushes of the same material, they’re still more expensive than synthetic brushes that would last just as long…

Here’s my observations about the Citadel brushes in a nutshell, each criteria rated out of four stars:

I’d say the Citadel brushes will serve, in a pinch, if you need a brush with those minis you just bought and can’t be bothered to go to another store.

They will be more than enough for beginners who do not know if they will keep painting, but still want to try out good brushes at a fraction of the price of the “posher” brands… People who take up painting for good would do well to move away from the brand after their first brushes wear out… or even before that!