You might have noticed the ever building scene of the left of centre, far from normal fantasy scenes at model show and on the internet. As the norm in military and even civilian get “taken” by other modellers the imagination of the individual remains the last bastion of individuality - Accion Press’ latest title brings the world of fantasy modelling within your grasp as the techniques and tips of just how to become a better fantasy modeller are shown off. Let’s have a look at this new book in our review…
"The Rise of Fantasy – How to Build Fantasy Scenes.”
by J.J. Barrena
Softcover A4 format
22€ from Accion Press
We all want to bring something of our own to the table. It seems as soon as you see something somehow you feel like it’s been “done” – like if you were to do this yourself after you have seen it that it would be almost like plagiarism to try and make the same thing. It’s an odd feeling but it seems to purvey our hobby. We all want to bring our own touch of individualism to a model and a scene – and in that strive to be different modellers are often looking further than aircraft, armour, cars and ships. Past spacecraft and sets that you can identify just by looking at them. People are going further to create their own vision, and the world of surrealism and fantasy are seemingly the only place we can all have a vision that is our own. We are seeing more of these sorts of scenes at shows and on the internet. Some of these are done wonderfully so how do you try to match that?
Accion Press has the answer in their new publication "The Rise of Fantasy – How to Build Fantasy Scenes.” It is a book of 112 A4 Portrait orientated pages dedicated to just that poser – how to make your mind come to the modelling table with a finished scene? The book is written by Spanish master modeller J.J. Barrena and although this book is in English the publication is available in Castellano/ Spanish as well. The book is a softcover with full colour pictures throughout and the writing is well translated in my copy and easy to follow.
Accion seem to pick a real gem of a modeller to do their books, and after we read their books on “TheWorld’s Greatest Aircraft” and “The World’sBest Dioramas” and seeing the glossy cover images and the contents teasers of this book we simply had to look at this to see if it matched up to those rather special titles. This book is broken into two main sections both of the theory and the practice in the shape of pictorial model building guides.
Theory sections of this book:
- Painting a Figure
- Ground with layers of Milliput
- Rust & Water
Fantasy scenes included:
- The Sea Lion
- Underwater Attack
- The Wolf Pact
- The Usurper
- The Conjuring
- The Kitchen
- The Puppeteer
JJ starts with the very basics – his tools of the trade. This section of about eighteen pages talks us through the starting tools, consumables and theory you might need to make your own scenes of fantasy. We look at the very basics – JJ uses mostly Vallejo paints in this books so it does not look like a painting catalogue and I am grateful for the lack of product placement unless it is needed for something different to the norm. Paintbrushes are important and given some time here, along with metal and resin working tools and putties and lastly a brief overview of the basics of putting a figure together before we look at the hard theory of fantasy. (– surely an oxymoron?)
Composition is important especially in figure dominated dioramas as Fantasy models seem to be. We look at several different ways to compose your scene and populate it in various manners to emphasise something or other. Composition theory is tested with the compositions in the book before we look at how light works in these scenes as we look at how to paint your own figure. The author shows in block text points that correspond with panels showing in the top left corner the colours he uses. Sometimes you could get lost and I think step by step (SBS) style could work only slightly better here. There is a lovely figure called “Jack the Plugger” with a bunch of information about the shades that is ALL in Spanish. This is the English version and it’s a shame this was missed in proofing. However these two are minor points as JJ does share his feeling about the painting process which are very nice to read and otherwise quite detailed and helpful to those used to painting only wings and steel hulls. Quite a lot of figure painters will like his processes shown here.
Better is the next demo showing how to make both a barren, scorched section of earth and a black and white tiled floor base for a scene both with Milliput. This will be helpful to those out there who need help with this stuff (– it’s always too hard for me) as will the section on how to add more greenery to your scene with planting of Ivy vines on a tree trunk (he missed the lady bits) and the booming addition to rust to metal in a scene and then lastly the use and construction theory behind a scene full of water are discussed and shown. All in a paragraph–for–picture here so easier to follow and quite helpful.
These sections show a hint of what is to come in the seven fantasy scenes now covered in this book. They are a great leap from the theory we have already looked at in the first part of the book.
We go to sea now with a Man’s body and a Lion’s head aboard a heaving ship deck in crashing seas (a sea loin?) – Anyway we look at JJ’s very water and wood based dio here. The author shows us how he builds his wooden deck and the ropes the figure clenches to atop the waves. Strangely the painting of the figure isn’t detailed here but I suppose if you read the sub tittle (“Searching for the Ideal Setting”) this chapter is more about making a great base to suit your figure rather than the figure as well.
We stay underwater next but with no waves or water to be seen as we look at the struggle between a beautiful “water Person” and a monster of the deep in “Underwater Attack” This diorama is not at all about the setting but the two figures which are very different. The semi naked lovely humanoid is a real lesion in flesh tones whilst the sea monster is a very detailed tutorial in how to make the blue/green/yellow tones of something supernatural mix in together whilst looking very natural. It’s an effective study of painting figures that are precariously balanced and seem to swirl around each other
Next we look at a scene called “The Wolf Pact” where we see a desperate battle between a knight in armour and two zombified rotting flesh covered “Dire Wolves” who are leaping at our valiant hero.
We see a tutorial here in painting blues and armour with the knight’s clothing, the flesh of his face and conversely the dog like shades of the wolves as well as the colours of rotting flesh and skeletal shapes of the wolves baring their teeth and their innards as they attack the bold knight during his night time dinner. Interestingly here the imagination stretches as his weapon of choice is his dinner pot from his fireplace!
We next look at JJ’s very “Conan” like diorama of “the Usurper” who is an ancient king on his cracked throne with a serving maiden at his feet. She has a bad case of athlete’s foot and some frog like hands if you look twice at her…
The author shows us how he adapts another chair and destroys his base chair with some scratchbuilding to combine them into something of his own making. He also shows us both the flesh (and green) tones of skin on our semi clad protagonist and his maid while we also look at the colours and shades of the throne and the skull accouterments.
Next we go vertical with a fantasy scene of a warrior and his Dragon enemy in “The Conjuring” This dio looks like it is truly alive with JJ’s depiction of dripping water in the base and the moisture of the monster’s maw as it opens ready to gobble up our hero who holds his sword aloft on the plinth the dragon circles as it rises.
A well-executed dio scene here with guides on painting the monster, the creation of the rocks and the composition and the masterful use of water here which brings so much life to the setting. The figure’s basics are already covered earlier in the book and JJ tries to highlight the new points of each scene he models instead of simply repeating himself.
We go surreal next with a scene on many levels – really complex and almost “Salvador Dali-like” in its composition. Literally the levels of this dio climb into the sky and this is very much a demonstration of the right composition for the right setting coming to life. Again we look at the new – with the many levels and their items shown as well as the dandy looking cook and the little girl and the cat. Very Alice in Wonderland as well and maybe this scene done so well show us how we can take something that exists and still make an original work of art out of it.
Lastly our noses would be growing if we lied about not liking this fantasy. The Puppeteer sits next to his puppet show wagon with his wooden “family.” This Wonderfully dark scene gives us a tutorial on the making of the cart and cobblestones in some nice detail including a 54mm plan to help make your own circus cart if you are somewhat challenged as a builder with wood.
Both the stony road and the wooden and red/ white painted cart are examined in the shading progress. Wood colouring and battered paint is seen here as well as the customizing and paint of the three figures (and the orang-utan) to make quite a great finale to this set of masterpieces on display in the book.
Definitely one of the best fantasy modellers out there - J.J Barrena’s new book is a wide ranging and very helpful tome that goes from zero to ten in a learning curve straight after the theory stops. This won’t put many people off and I hope it doesn’t as we can all achieve results like this – it just takes some practice and maybe some instruction. That instruction normally doesn’t come for free, and this book is a great tool to have in your arsenal. Maybe to take something from common place, or your own imagination and indeed make it your own for your own flight of fantasy.
“The Raise of Fantasy" is a great book that will tempt a lot with this largely uncovered ground in this hobby. A great book for those wanting to broaden their horizons in their own models. I know I learned a heap reading this book…
Thanks to Accion Press for sending this book for us to read and review - You may want to also look at some of the special “combo offers” in collaboration with Nocturna Models & Acrilicos Vallejo that are now on offer as a package from Accion Press