Mr Black Publications is a fairly new company that publishes several series of Hobby Modelling and History books and magazines. This Scale Model Handbook series covers figures, but other series are devoted to other areas; i.e. armor, aircraft, dioramas, etc. This book contains a unique collection of work that is aimed at all levels of modelers. This issue features seven well known artists who describe their techniques for sculpting and painting their figures or busts. The book itself comes in a nice clear re-sealable cover for protection. The 52 pages include the covers. The inside covers and the last two pages are devoted to figure advertisers. If you visit the product web site, you will find additional photos of the contents.
The cover subject and first article is a 200mm (1/9) bust of Michael Wittman by Man Jin Kim. After assembling the few parts for the bust, the bust was sprayed with grey primer, followed by matt black. What follows is a step-by-step guide on painting the face, eyes, eyebrows, hair, and five o’clock shadow utilizing Jo Sonja’s acrylic paints. Wittman’s leather jacket is covered next, then a discussion on representing woolen textures for the cap.
Juanma Vergara’s painting of a 54mm (1/32) Captain provides a step by step guide utilizing a combination of Vallejo acrylics, MiG oils and pigments, Ammo washes, and Tamiya paints. Painting the Highlander’s red coat is gone into some depth with 14 progressive photographs. The tartan kilt presents another challenge and is dealt with in 8 more progressive photos. Vergara covers in detail the figure’s base to imitate the Egyptian desert
Louis D’Orio’s four page recap of his 200mm (1/9) Praetorian Guard provides some insight on how he represents the metallic finish on the figure’s helmet, armor, and sword scabbard. Stelios Neofytidis, offers up two pages on his Private of the 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders, “Le Cateau” 1914 from Tommy’s War 54mm Figure Series with complete painting callouts.
A 150mm (1/12) Bear Clan Iroquois bust by Sergey Popovichenko is presented next with the focus on painting the face. Once base coated in acrylics, the step by step progression utilizes 10 photographs to demonstrate the subsequent oil painting to achieve the end result.
A special feature is Pietro Balloni’s article “Masterpieces in Masterclass Figure Gallery” with nine figures that became Pegaso Model’ “box arts”. Pietro provides a short biography discussing his more than 50 ‘box art’ figures. As a bonus, he provides a discussion on the techniques he uses to paint: “Painting…My Way!”.
Finally, “Rhino” is a fantasy themed vignette by Javier Gonzalez (Arsies). This article is the first part focusing on the conversion of a 100mm “The Incredible Hulk” figure into another of Spiderman’s adversaries, the Rhino. Javier also modified the 75mm Spiderman figure used in the vignette with the article showing the modifications and construction in 42 step-by-step photographs.
The Table of Contents includes the following sections:
- Michael Wittmann - Tiger Ace in Normandy - 200mm [Page 10]
- Captain, the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders at Tel El Kebir 1882 - 54mm [Page 16]
- Praetorian Guard 1st Century BC - 200mm [Page 21]
- Private, 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders, Le Cateau 1914 - 54mm
- Bear Clan Iroquois - 150mm [Page 28]
- Pietro Balloni’s Masterpieces [Page 38]
- Rhino! - 75mm/100mm [Page 44]
This volume is truly inspiring and is an excellent guide to the art of figure modeling. The photography is well done, but I did note that consistent with the publisher, Mr Black, the photography backgrounds are somewhat dark. This does emphasize the figure colors and imparts a certain mood as the flesh-tones and clothing colors really pop-out. The articles are careful to identify the colors and mixes utilized for each step in the painting.
I think that all modelers can learn something from this book even if they don’t do figures necessarily and apply these techniques to their model. The focus is on painting and textures, and this book easily demonstrates how both can be utilized to produce a great model. My thanks to Stevens International Hobby Distributors and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.