Sunday, July 12, 2009

Web-Resource Review: The Brushthralls

I think I'll kick off this new feature be reviewing some of the places I go to all the damn time and are on my side bar.

First off, is

This is the site that really taught me how to paint. No joke. When I picked up my brushes a few years ago (after a very long hiatus), the fanciest techniques I knew were washes and drybrushing.

I'm not exactly sure how I found the Brushthralls, but I did and I'm eternally grateful I did.

The Good
So, where to start on this review? The brushthalls content is massive - most I've ever seen outside of the collected junk from a forum. I guess that's as good a place to start as any.

The Brushthralls cover a metric ton of stuff. Everything from pre-painting prep to advanced techniques. Tons and tons of good advice. On top of that, the articles themselves are very deep. Almost everywhere you look there's some piece of useful info.

As to the tutorials themselves, they are, for the most part, extremely well written and contain almost exacting detail. Step by steps are clearly shown (a rarity on the web at large) and pictures accompany at least the important steps. Often more. This is by far the best part of the site.

Often times you get to a tutorial from god knows where and you're stuck with blurry photographs (if you're lucky) or a boring wall of text with some vague steps. Not so on If you read their tutorials you WILL lean something and you WILL know what tools and techniques you need. Professional photographs, step by step instructions and clear writing are the order of the day here.

Continuing with the rambling nature of this post, the guys who create the tutorials are absolutely grade-a good painters. Many of them painted for Privateer Press as freelancers before PP got their 'eavy metal team equivalent. The pedigree is there AND they're willing to share, in detail, their skills.

Most importantly, is the level of involvement the Brushthralls themselves maintain. Running a website on your own time and dime can be thankless and people get burnt out or bored. But even when these guys haven't posted in a while, they seem committed to maintaining the site and committed to doing something to get new content up. Now that some of the original thralls have had life changing experiences (cancer, job lose, kids, etc), some of them have gotten a bit burnt out. But out of the kindness of their own hearts, they get guest writers to step up. Good stuff. On top of all of this, is the fact that they thralls have a forum of their own that they frquent and will answer e-mails from strangers.

Continuing with this gushing praise: Dan Smith, thank you for answering my questions about water bases and pumice paste last year.

The Bad
Well, with anything, there's always room for improvement. Most of the negative things I have to say about the Brushthralls are minor quibbling things.

The first criticism isn't really a problem, but bears mentioning. The site is very heavily focused on Privateer Press models. This is the result of close ties with PP when they first got started. As it stands now, they've begun to move on. Not really a problem, just a bit of a heads up for those of you who might be wondering where all the space marines are at.

I also haven't thought too much of the new guest articles as they continue their quest for new Brushthalls. There was a bit of a lull while the Brushthralls updated their site - a review here and there, but nothing major. The new tutorials have been a bit sparse - very short and lacking any signifigant detail. Kind of a bummer, but that's growing pains for ya.

The only other downside is that their migration to a new Wordpress site has been pretty slow. Not all of their older articles have been re-formated yet. Luckily, they were nice enough to maintain their old site as an archive: archives.

Final Thoughts:
I can't recommend this site enough. Agian, easy to understand and follow tutorials and a lot of involvement from the creators. Whether you're new to painting or looking to get some pro-tips, is a great place to start.


  1. I've been enjoying Brushthralls very much. Learning to paint is fun, but can be frustrating too.

    I spent over a week working on a SM bike command squad. I put a lot of love and energy into them, and thought they looked great. My wife and friends thought they looked great too. Then I went into my FLGS and the local painting guru said "if you want to I can teach you how to paint."


  2. Lol John, I do love being the subject of your posts... :P

    I had a few other folks in my store come up and look at the squad and say they looked amazing. I am happy with them. I still have things to learn, I'm looking forward to getting some tips from the local painting whiz. He is very proficient. But at the same time, I am happy with where I am and where I'm going.