Today I am going to be giving an Ichiban Pro line brush review having received my order from Games and Gears’ recent Kickstarter.
First off I have to say that I stick with my preferred brand religiously, I trash brushes and they are cheap enough that I can keep buying but have the quality needed to get the job done. So when I saw these on Kickstarter I was surprised that I had that oh so familiar knee jerk, ” must buy new shiny hobby kit” reaction.
Out of the box
Fast forward 2 months and my early bird package arrived. My first impressions were all positive. They are aesthetically very pleasing and they look like they have a bit of weight to them but are surprisingly light for their size and appearance. Straight away the cap came off to see the business end and again all good things, 3 out of the 4 had perfect points and the one that didn’t (the 00) just required a quick brush lick (yes I am a brush licker) and was perfect.
One thing that was immediately apparent was the chunkiness of the actual brush body compared to what I was used to, this boded well I thought, as it would hold a good amount of paint.
It had more body but still retained the point required for detail work. I was excited at this point as I am usually pretty suspicious of the next big thing, especially paints and brushes. I’m all for progression and innovation but you have to be pretty innovative to fix something that really isn’t broken.
Putting them to the test
Paint needed to be laid down and I had a bust of Garviel Loken waiting for some attention, so I cleaned the head up so I could test both blending and detail in one hit. This is how he looked in his raw state.
First up I had to lay a base coat down, some old tanned flesh came out. I wasn’t about to go easy on this product and I had been dazzled with good looks and knew it. The paint was in a fairly gelatinous state and once on the wet palette I watered down and began to apply. Now this isn’t a flesh tutorial but needless to say when moving up in scale I water down a lot more for smoother transitions over larger surfaces, I was painting with coloured water………It took two coats!
It was smooth, no brush marks and I was now loving the feel also. That chunkiness I mentioned about the bristles follows through into the handle. I had adjusted to it immediately without even realizing it, and when I did stop to think about the difference I actually preferred it. Even though I was just laying down a base coat they gave a feeling of control and solidity my old brushes lacked.
I proceeded to put a wash of Dark flesh over the head and again complete and even distribution of paint. Now for some more accurate application of paint.
After I added some deeper shadows and some lighter layers i needed to underscore some of the forehead furrows. This was a pleasure to do with these, springy bristles and the wider ferrule gave me a more relaxed grip on the brush and free handing lines was better than normal. At this point I was totally convinced I may have a superior product. Then a niggle set in. When I washed the brush and gave it a wiggle in my water pot I felt that the handle was loose. I removed the handle and inserted the brush tip back into the protective handle and felt in this closed position it was a tighter fit than when open and the handle was was attached to the butt of the ferrule. I fixed this with a layer of Tamiya 5mm masking tape around the butt of the ferrule where the handle fits and the slight girth increase sorted it out immediately.
With flesh sorted I then added some stubble, and in doing this I punished the brushes. After a couple of glazes I then started to stipple with them adding some random tonal variation to his face. I know some of you are wincing at the thought but rest assured the point came back much to my relief.
I then unleashed the 00 size bush and painted the eyes in. At this point I did have to get my old smaller size brushes out to put in iris highlights but I couldn’t say whether this was a fault of the brush or my personal limitations but it didn’t matter to me at this point.
Ichiban Pro Line brush review conclusion
I love these brushes and I will continue to buy them. They hold paint well, they lay paint well and they keep their points well. All the most important bases are covered for me along with the confidence they inspire. I genuinely do not think these are gimmicks that will fade and the benefit of being able to completely cover the bristles inside the protective handle is a massive bonus for me as I have three boys that are 5 and under who will show no mercy if they get hold of them.
Bottom line is that they do their job and they do it well with some added perks. They also inspire confidence, now this could be a placebo effect related to me wanting this product to work but it doesn’t matter if you felt you painted better with them.
I don’t know what the retail price will be but these were less than £10 each on the kickstarter. The RRP could go up 10% but this would still put them below W&N series 7 brushes. Games and Gears have a new long term customer in their Ichiban Pro Line brush set.
If you are interested in following the painting of the bust used in this post make sure you like my commission page Fifty Shades of Wray on Facebook.