Monday, February 1, 2010

Brush Cleaning and Les Bursley

AH, the sweet smell of well-made tutorials. Breath deep my friends, there's plenty for everyone.


First up, a whole bunch of stuff on proper brush care.
Notice a trend (besides how cleaning your brushes is good)? All of them suggest the same product - Master's Brush Cleaner. If you spend more than 5 bux on a brush, go get some of this stuff. Brush snobs like myself tend to drop the cash on the Winsor & Newtons and other what have yous. Even if you're not paying MSRP, 8-12 bux is a pretty big investment for a single brush. A good paint brush should not be a readily disposable item. Take care of the damn things! They'll last longer which is good for your wallet* and they'll hold their points better which is good for your art. Plus, a thing of the Master's Brush soap is like 5-8 bux OR less than the cost of a the brush you ran into the ground or think you ran into the ground.

The magical properties of Master's Brush Soap are not exaggerated. Its exactly as easy and as powerful as the above articles suggest.

Official Personal Testimony: One of the many tricky parts of this hobby of ours is that the vast majority of its participants tend to be self taught. Score one for your bootstraps, but loose one for incomplete knowledge. For me, this is why it took my so long to get some brush soap - I just didn't know about it. I wish I had known about 2 years and 50 bux ago... but that's something to impotently shake my fist at another day. Anywho, the brush soap totally revitalized 3-4 of my brushes the first time I used it. Saving me around 40 bux. Not too shabby.

Now to segue from one of those previous tutorials...

Les Bursley of Awesome
Not entirely sure how I came across this guy's stuff**, but its well worth the time to explore his content. The above video is just one example of the kinds of science this guy is dropping.

I only know a handful of things about Les Bursley:
  1. He has tattoos
  2. He makes great video tutorials
  3. He sells his own line of washes and pigments
  4. He's out there on the internet EVERYDAY trying to get people to paint their armies.
The second and fourth points there are the most important ones.

Making a good tutorial requires things that many tutorial authors don't have. Skill with every aspect involved - photography, image editing, writing, spelling, grammar and... the actual painting. On top of all that, large amounts of patience and time are required as well as a commitment to doing it 'right'. Did I mention you have to have something to show people that they're actually interested in? 'Cause ya do.

I'll man up and state that I just don't have the photography skills or the patience to do a truly solid tutorial - mostly the patience. A lot of people have even less than that. That's why there's such a high noise to signal ratio out there. There are a ton of people who have no business writing a tutorial - let alone one about how awesome dry-brushing is - but do anyway. Complete with blurry pictures and more terrible jokes than actual information.***

But not Les. According to his youtube channel, he has 30+ videos. All of them good. They provide a clear picture of what's going on, detailed information as to what's being done and the guy clearly has talent. On top of all that, these are all videos. Videos people! You can actually see what the hell he's doing as he's doing it. These aren't just collections of snap shots of the process. He actually captures the process.

Now, I don't always agree with his choices, his techniques or his positions on things. BUT, my disagreements are over matters of personal preference rather than questions about his competency. Much of this is related to his intended audience.

You see, the other super cool thing about Les is his slogan on all of his videos: "paint your stuff". He also sells a t-shirt that says "primer armies = fail". Les aims his tutorials at people who are either at the beginning stages of learning to paint or who may just not that interested in the whole process in the first place. Most of the tutorials focus on very easy to learn and implement techniques. Rarely anything more complicated than layering, washes and paint thinning. I especially like that he is such a huge advocate of Thinning Your Damn Paints - a common thing beginners miss. Solid results without a a metric crap-tonne of work and practice.

The tutorials all aim to give people the tools they need to achieve solid results without a lot of the off putting froufrou (you know, the stuff I have a hard on for). He rarely uses any exotic paints and isn't out there to terrify people with the prospects of learning how to do a perfect blend. So, while I may not be fond of his imperial fist color scheme, I salute him for gettin' out there and trying to improve table top standards.

So check out Les's stuff for some good ideas and an example of "doin' it right".

--[Foot Notes]--------------------------------
*Or your billfold if you're over 50. Which you almost assuredly keep in the back pocket of your dungarees and/or trousers. I would also wager that you have a pair of penny loafers as well.

**That's not entirely true. But a short story about how I surf the internet breaks up the already questionable flow of my article here. So it gets a footnote! Here's the story: I found his stuff while surfing the web for tutorials. Probably while on dakka. Wee.

***Though I will say that the more the digital camera has proliferated, the better things have gotten. People are becoming aware that a cellphone camera is not particularly useful when it comes to this kind of stuff.

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