Wednesday, June 7

Read n' Reviewed: Joaquín García Gázquez's new book - “Vignettes. A how-to guide” from Accion Press.

We have looked at books from the master modeller Joaquín García Gázquez before here on TMN. However, he has a brand new book, published by Accion Press featuring the art of the Vignette. Called “Vignettes. A how-to guide series.” it is now available, so we have read and reviewed it for you to show you just what's inside...
Read n' Reviewed: Vignettes. A how-to guide.
From Accion Press
By Joaquín García Gázquez
A-4 format
168 Pages, 600+ pictures
32 €
All Text In English, Spanish version is also available
There are lots of books out there showing us all just how to paint and weather and make models, but less about how to plan, layout and devise our dios and vignettes. Accion Press has sent their latest book that is just about this subject. We were very interested so we decided to review it for you...

This new book is penned by the talented Joaquín García Gázquez. We are a big fan of his work, so we were happy to see this book arrive in the post... The book is presented in a glossy softcover A4 format, with about six hundred images and step by step text packed into it's one hundred and sixty-eight pages. The Story of each chapter is a short block text section that changes into an S.B.S. (Step By Step) build log. This is by far the best way to learn new techniques as far as I am concerned.

Physically this book is a softcover title of one hundred and sixty-eight pages. The book is A4 Portrait format with over six hundred pictures of step by steps within the chapters.  The photography is great and the writing very good. the feel of the book is that of a nice quality soft skin large book.
The writing style of this book is very European English, and although there is nothing really wrong with the text, another set of eyes in the final proofreading stage could have been good – (This is the pot calling the kettle black I know, as my own articles often need "some" work) so I can forgive them on that. Also, some of the captions are in the Spanish language this is a small oversight, the writing in the book is quite sophisticated and the stories told very well. What is written and shot is very nicely done and thoughtfully planned out. The photography is especially well shot so kudos on that.

Instead of just letting you know what sections are in the book, I will walk you through it giving my experience. Let's look into the book now to see more fo what's inside.

The chapters of this book are seven main parts with smaller sub-sections built into the book.
- Basic decoration tips
- Proportions of the scene
- A simple anecdote
- Composing vignettes
- Playing with the different heights and depths in a scene
- Tilting the planes of perspective
- Telling a story
- Other approaches to vignettes
From the first opening pages in the forward and opening scrolls from the author the reader realises that this is NOT another book for those just wanting to know about a weathering technique, how to paint or simply how to MAKE a diorama. It is the rarer bird that is more about how to devise, plan and execute the scene more than it is about making the objects to fill the vignette. There are several SBS tutorials on making the parts of the scene, with figures, people, buildings, ground work, and flora included in some "how-to's" but these are secondary to the nature of the book. It is all about lessons in composition for the reader.
This doctrine (for a better word) of simple steps to creating a vignette are explained right throughout the book in each of it's seven main chapters in the form of a lesson. Every time we go back to the summary of simple rules for composing and developing your scene. Although there are nine steps, some of these you look at without even thinking about them. 

Having them here on paper and diagram form is very handy for the modeller to keep going back to or to revisit when thinking of making their own vignette. Hopefully, you will be able to place to book aside when you learn it all off by heart. After talking through the real reasons the book was created, and the different elements of model composition we get into the first of several practical guides going from scene to scene.
The theory part of the book over with, the exercises begin. The author's work on a small diorama is first, His scene of a small Bronco Simca 5 Staff car. Lie each of these builds in the rest of the book we start off talking about the concept of the model, what the modeller wanted to portray, then go on through making basic elements and then putting them together.
A really nice tutorial on making a beautiful car, the figure, and his customization and then lastly the base are discussed and shown in development, construction and execution in this build section. It serves as an appetiser for the rest fo the models in the book. The axis and perspective of the kit on the base according to the viewer's eye is discussed in repetition throughout the builds shown here to almost drum in the message to the reader in hope of something seeping in.
The figure is another thing that is shown in adaptation and in painting. The darker to light paint of the figure is shown in great detail, who would have known it was so hard to paint a great figure (joking), but this great guide compliments the others centred on figures throughout this book.
At the end of this article is an amazing little graph or template that is on clear paper. This is kind of unexpected and maybe for me it should be part of the introductory chapters, though I probably should not look at it like an editor. The two-way graph is a great illustration of the rule of thirds and the golden ratio which are also explained in this short part of the book. This part is a little advanced, but here you have it in written form so you can read it until you have understood and learnt it. This book is not just for amateurs.
Another practice scene is next. a clever play on words showing a soldier of the Afrika Korps and a real "Desert Fox." As this is a desert scene we are taken through the modeller's mind in his approach to the height levels of the model and why it is laid out like it is. 
The Kubelwagen is beautifully built and painted here in SBS. The figure of the man is also built and painted as is the Fennec.  We then see how the mmodellercreated this rather flat but very interesting scene of Desert Flora and Fauna, with natural and man-made elements made into the base.
We see an interesting railroad siding diorama next. The elements of height are explained and shown through this build of a lovely Hungarian AFV and it's crew. The composition of the scene is discussed over a few pages first, outlying where the eye will be drawn to and why, and what should be placed on the scene and where to naturally compliment the rest of the dio.
A great part of this book is the showing of the building and then painting of all of the elements of the book. We see in this section the Toldi tank in construction in detail, 
We then see a comprehensive painting and weathering guide of the model, this alone in repetition throughout the book almost justifies the price tag alone.
In every scene, we see a meaningful guide on how to make the diorama flora. This is just as important to this scene as the figures and the vehicles. All of the elements, from the laying of the base tot he earthwork placed on it, to the rocks, trees, machinery and traces of the humans that have moved over it.
We look more at elevation in the next chapter, with a very small vignette of two Italian soldiers in the Western Desert in Tunisia in 1943. The two figures of the "Regio Escercito" are climbing over a brewed up an armoured car in a lesson in how to show your scene in a relatively small field of focus but a tall scene. Theory and practical step by steps of all of these included elements are again here.
An interesting scene that displays another aspect of using different heights in a diorama is next. A French figure stands on the slope of a small gradient alongside a Russian-made Stalinetz S65 tractor. These builds are becoming more practical towards the end of the book as less needs to be described about the layout. However, the author always guides us through the thought process right up tot the final execution of the vignette's sum of all parts.
We then look at a very angular diorama on an oval shaped base. The author describes how the angles of the roof, the ground left uncovered and the shapes of the scene point at the focal position your eyes are drawn to. 
The house and the Russian figures inside, the T-80 Russian tank, and the soldier outside of it are put together, again in detail in SBS style befoe all of the elements are added together (combined with a cheeky cover up involving a push bike) in another lesson in model vignette composition and story telling.
Lastly, we see a very small scene, but one that involves a very human element. A picture of two boys playing in amongst some discarded tank track links is the final scene. Replicated in great detail, although not an original one, you see here how to recreate it in a way that still brings attention to the human element, just like the picture it was inspired from.
We spend a lot of time here looking at how to recreate the most realistic way of painting these figures and making the scene. Great advice to the modeller from the author about taking your time to get it completely right is great, and the end product is an award winner of a vignette.
That rounds out this book. A very detailed account of not just the hands-on aspects of model making, but a massive dose of theory in this book is one of the best guides I have had the pleasure of reading. It's not just a picture book - you will have to read, and then reread some of these pages to help it sink in, but the knowlege gained is very much worth it.

I think the book aims to be placed on the bookshelf along side any of Shep Paine's books, which is a high target to aim for – but why not shoot for the stars? I think this book is a great modern companion to those books.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Accion Press for sending this book to us to read and review. To order this visit the Accion Press web page