Small-Scale Armour Modelling
I have a number of Osprey’s “How-To” Masterclass books in my library and have benefited from and enjoyed every one of them. This latest volume by Alex Clark is no exception. “Small-Scale Armour Modelling” (yes, I know, it’s not spelled correctly in US English) is a wonderful look at the world of small-scale armor - my favorite modeling subject.
This book (like the Osprey Steve Zaloga armor Masterclass book I reviewed earlier this year) is presented in a hardcover format with a spiral-type wire binding. I really like this feature because it allows you to use the book as a handy desk reference while working, since it stays open to the page you need without having to crack the binding to keep it open. The page stock is nice and heavy and the printing quality is top-notch, with full-color photography used throughout to illustrate many of the how-to ideas in the book.
The book is presented in eight concise and easy to read chapters. They are as follows:
Chapter 1: Tools and materials
Chapter 2: General Construction Techniques
Chapter 3: Advanced Construction Techniques
Chapter 4: Painting and General Finishing Techniques
Chapter 5: Painting - Advanced Finishing Effects
Chapter 6: Presentation
Chapter 7: Gallery
Chapter 8: Further Reading and References
Most of the chapter titles are quite self-explanatory. The chapter on Presentation deals with not only the use of bases for your finished models, but also has a great section on model photography and even a nice little pep-talk on article writing. I personally found the photography section quite helpful in that I am in the middle of looking at digital cameras (again). One thing that Alex talks about (besides photography techniques) is different camera choices in the digital camera field, and he gives his views on what’s best for your particular need.
The Gallery chapter takes an individual look at the various models used throughout the book for technique explanation and gives some final notes on those projects. It also discusses a few of his yet unfinished works-in-progress.
Being into small-scale myself, I found a number of good nuggets in the book that will help me along in the future, things such as tire and track paint finishes, dealing with clear parts, types of epoxy putty and their use (MagicSculpt in particular), installing various types of tracks, installing wire handles, mirror surfaces, and various photography tips, just to name a few!
Throughout the read, I was amazed at the similarity between his approach to modeling and my own, not only in technique, but also in philosophies. He likes the minimalist approach to modeling, eliminating the need for fancy and high-cost tools and materials yet still achieving stunning results. I feel that many of his techniques, with some patience, should be easy to learn and be within the reach of most modelers, both basic and advanced. One really interesting point I took away from the book was Alex’s statement on page 45 (the Advanced Construction Techniques chapter):
“In fact no matter how complex a part is, it can always be broken down successively into more manageable chunks.”
This statement voices a very powerful approach to modeling, from the overall project to just one particular component (as he refers to) which helps to take the terror out of trying new things - and this book goes a long way in contributing to that very point.
Alex makes some interesting points on color accuracy in chapter 4, which at least to me, puts a lot of project procrastination to bed. His tips on painting, weathering, and airbrushing are down-to-earth and easy to understand, as well as being well illustrated via clear, top-notch photos. There is even a nice section on figure painting – the forbidden zone for many modelers! His technique here is simple, produces terrific results, and is well worth reading.
You’ll also find advice on casting your own parts and many advanced weathering techniques such as applying white wash finishes, using hair spray as a weathering medium, and modeling burnt out, destroyed vehicles (can you say, “rust”?).
If all of that is not enough for you, the chapter on Further Reading and References is rich in exactly that. I know that I’ll be checking out how to get my hands on Minitracks magazine! The author also provides full contact information for the sources for many of the tools and materials he uses in his work, as well as the referenced publications for further reading.
My only complaint about the book is that it skewed primarily to WWII German armor, but in the end, that’s all personal taste, I guess. Regardless, the techniques described in the book are applicable to any nationality or era of armor, as well as to other scales and types of models.
At $39.95 (US), this book is not exactly cheap, but in this case, the value it provides for each of your hard-earned dollars is definitely in there. I would highly recommend this book to small-scale modeling enthusiasts as well as armor modelers in general. I would love to see more in the way of small-scale related subjects and I hope that this book will help work towards achieving that end.
Many thanks to the folks at Osprey Publishing for providing the book and also to IPMS for allowing me the opportunity to review it.