Wednesday, January 28

Review: The Paint Guide for Figures of World War Two By Joaquin Garcia-Gasquez

We all like to improve. As modellers we would all like to be the best we can be, and there is an industry in education of modelling in airbrushing, painting and weathering and construction but never enough books and videos on the very personal method of painting figures. We thought we would look at Joaquin Garcia-Gasquez’ book on just that subject in today’s review…

The Paint Guide for Figures of World War Two
By Joaquin Garcia-Gasquez
Publisher: Histoire and Collections
Book Format: Softcover 0.5 x 8.2 x 11.8 inches
Languages: English, French
USD $26.96
ISBN-13: 978-2352502982
Go to Histoire & Collections to order this book directly or to find their distributors. 

“I am rubbish at painting figures” …So often heard in conversations in all circles of the modelling world including the best figure painters who no doubt think they can always do better. Therefore a book centred on painting figures in a 35th scale WWII setting must really hit the modelling zeitgeist.
I have been following the work of Joaquin Garcia-Gasquez for a while now. I think he makes great dioramas and he models nice figures to fill these environments. What better way to fill some holiday reading then by picking up his latest book specifically on the painting of figures so I can tell you about it? Let’s start at the start then...
This book is a portrait format A4 size 0.5 x 8.2 x 11.8 inches which is bound in a flexible glossy softcover. The many pictures inside are very clearly shot under good lighting and clear in focus. The book is mainly made up of an SBS (step by step) mode of telling the story. Paint mix and dilution and the use of oils and acrylics is discussed. Now I must say here that the English proof-reader is probably not a native speaker as there are constant misses in grammar. These only give you a momentary hiccup as the misses are not that bad. The pictures and their captions are here in the biggest part of this book and these shots mostly tell the story. Let’s look at the chapters.
The author talks to us a little about the basics of figure painting and assembly and his own approach in the starting paragraphs. We look at the brushes, glues and materials Joaquin uses in his craft and the very basic but sometimes unknown methods to assemble a figure to best paint and weather your creation. This isn’t much described in any books and so it is very welcome addition to this book. Sometimes we miss the simple things and so the basic approach is welcome.
Light is very important in life. We only see things because they are lit, and the very slight differences in how the light hits the subject are discussed early on in this book. The aspects of zenithal and directional light are discussed and you are shown the differences between the two quite clearly in pictures and text. We see why the lighting angle is so important to the finished figure. Again this insight is interesting to myself and I think many people.
Theory out of the way we get into the SBS parts next. Firstly we start with the face. The ideal pint to start and probably the most difficult. We look at the face in several phases of painting the complexion and basic colours of skin tone. The lips, nose ears and moth along with shades of hair are all shown and talked about in simple step by step processes from the author, all with great clear shots in accompaniment. 
Uniforms of soldiers in WWII came in many shapes and hues. The greys of the German army and the blacks of their tank men along with the camouflage and winter white uniforms are shown in the same SBS format in the next chapters. The greens of the soviet army and the French with blues and accessories like an addition of a red scarf and all leather clothing are sown in action here. We also learn how to paint the guns, equipment and personal effects of each of these soldiers in a chapter. These sections are the most helpful and well done in the book.
Next we set the scene with a chapter on staging. The diorama scene is so important to the believably of these figures and the author is a very talented at making a scene come to life with figures. He talks about the techniques and methods he uses to make his figures come alive in these dioramas by using his own piece called “Hunter Hunted”. In which two Russian soldiers bear down on a soldier of the “Charlemagne” unit in the last days of the war. Thoughtfully composed you see how he sets the parts in a logical way so that the finished article is not only believable but a practical piece as well.
The last chapters feature galleries of the work in the book all put together for the reader to see. Included in these galleries are Japanese and French soldiers as well as the Germans and soviets we have already seen. The colours we need to create the uniforms and equipment are given in simple, easy to follow charts which is really helpful as well.
This is a very well-conceived book which is tied up nicely at the end to make a quite inspirational bit of reading. Sometimes the textures on the faces are a little harsh, and the translation could do with a more polished approach but if I were half as good at putting a book together and at painting figures – well I would write my own…
A great book of 99% of modellers out there – the other 1% probably cannot be told anything. I am in the 99% range and I like this book a lot.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Histoire & Collections for this book to read and review