Friday, February 20

Review - Landscapes of War - Greatest Ever Guide - Dioramas

A while ago we had the pleasure of getting our hands on "Airplanes in Scale -The Greatest Guide" from  Accion press, we really admired the models and structure in the book. Now something for the land-lubbers at long last – the new book “Landscapes Of War. Diorama vol 1. - Greatest guide series.” looks to give the same great guidance as the aircraft book – let’s have a look at this forthcoming title in today’s review…
LANDSCAPES OF WAR. DIORAMA vol 1. - Greatest Guide Series.
By Rodrigo Hernandez Cabos
Accion Press
112 Pages, A-4 format
All text in English or Castilian
 Landscapes of War. Vol.I
Available from the Euromodelismosite
 price: € 18.00

The new book Greatest Guide Series of books from Accion press has begun very impressively with the first book on aircraft models "Airplanes in Scale -The Greatest Guide" that we reviewed earlier on the news – we found it indeed to be a top shelf product with great models and techniques and we found it to be well written and photographed. Most of all we learned a lot from it. When we heard that this book on making dioramas in the same series was coming, well our interest peaked.

Physically this book is a glossy softcover in A4 portrait format. The pages inside are nice and shiny and not see through, the paper is of good quality. The writing is in a style of a short prologue with then numbered step by steps to take you through the processes inside.
A little about the author. When you open up the small gatefolds inside you really do think to yourself “gee this man is FROM the wild” – but after a short read of the introduction you soon learn that this guy has his head screwed on and anyone that can use the work “didactically” in the context of making a model diorama certainly instantly had my attention. You can tell this man has a real passion for the outdoors and making beautiful replicas of reality.
The book is divided into four major parts. Each of them documents a quite different part of nature. One section is even made as a summer diorama and then winter is added with snow and ice effects – pretty smart and it looks completely like a new dio. This book is well thought out in this type of fashion and although at first the four sections do not seem to look like they are much but when you get into it there is an incredible wealth of knowledge in these 112 pages.
The first chapter is called “Operation Barbarossa” – and it features a dio laden with coniferous forest with rocks, both a knocked out early German StuG III and the rather tall Soviet T-28 tank which has been covered with shell debris (as has the surrounding rocks and foliage). Added to this are some advancing soviet soldiers taking it all in their stride.
This chapter is the largest in the book and a lot of it can be used on any type of diorama base you are making. The author shows us how he creates his light but pliable base from using cork and several other substances. The sculpting of rocks and how to recreate the slightly different types of coniferous pines are discussed in some detail, as well as where you would even find these trees in the world. Roots and branches as well as making scale pine greenery is shown here as well. 
All of this is tied together with a masterclass on pigments and painting each of the different earth elements such as a deep crater, dust, rocks, and dead and alive tree bark. The step –by step process along with a summary at each of the chapter’s sections is a great thing to have in this book and I think the best way to learn. The use of pictures of real roads and pine forests and the author’s extensive knowledge only enrich the learning experience.
Next we go onto a clever double use of a diorama. Called “Counterattack – Withdrawal, Fall-Winter 1943-1944.” This diorama heavily features making rocks, water, vegetation, snow, ice and icicles in the portrayal of two different seasons.
The start of this dio sees us making a tight road scene in late fall in 1943. The DAS clay is built up onto a cork base and the art of the author stands out again as he sculpts the rock, brick and road detail into the scene and then paints the base like a landscape artist. Then again we see that vegetation go onto this base to make is a late fall scene with small waterfalls and moss effects. A summer three tone painted Panzer IV is placed on the top of the road to complete the scene. All of this is easy to follow and it teaches you a lot about the theory and practice as you read.
Next we see this diorama transform into a whole different incarnation. Added to this fall scene is ice and snow effects first, not only in the water but on the trees, road and the bridge but icicles and treaded snow with some winter warmly dressed figures and the Panzer IV heading the other way whitewashed in retreat. With a little simple planning it shows you how to get two scenes from the same dio. Smart and insightful again.
The transformation is compete – you would not know that there is a lovely fall diorama painted up underneath this. The reference pictures of snow and ice are also helpful in a hot country that does not see much of either!

We go back to the water next with “Cruel Pacific Beach Bloody” which shows us how to make a torrid pacific beach diorama featuring sand and surging seawater. The scene shows the surge of water almost washing away the small Japanese tank that the US marine is standing atop of.
The dio starts off with a full Japanese tanks sitting on again a cork base – already beaten up the author shows us how it is converged with modelling clay to look like it is sunk into the diorama. After showing us a few options to replicate the surging sea retreating the author tries Milliput and that works just right… 
Using paint and thin fibrous material to represent the ground and water on the beach and the effect is enhanced with clear resin. We go step by step into a sequence that shows how the waves are brought to life through paint, water effects and other clear materials. This is a really complex walkthrough that would be a lot harder if you were trying it without the help here. After a lot of work the dio looks a lot like a steep beach shore stripped of sand..

Next we look at a dio called “The Duck Hunt” - it features two USGI’s in an army DUKW churning through river water and reeds with splashing torrents shot up by bullets that are being shot at these quacking targets.
The base is made of a new aspect in the book, clear water. We see how to create the open water scene and insert the army “duck” inside it. The water around the bow surging is created as are the banks of solid ground on the side. This is a simple looking dio but the set-up is more complex than you might think to get such a good looking result.

Reeds, grass, bullet strikes on the water and lastly a frog is included to recreate the look of this “duck hunt” in WWII.

Lastly we have an illustrated index of all of the techniques & themes included in this book..
Well that brings us to the end of the book. I had high expectations because of this book’s stablemate on aircraft modelling. Looking at the book it only had 112 pages and there is a LOT in there and it is packed in sometimes confusingly. The layout is like the Accion Press magazines, and although what I am saying might not sound like I was impressed you would be wrong..
With fewer pages than other competitors, concise writing and the smart use of step by steps with actually something interesting in each step this book gets a lot done in less space than a bunch of other large, more expensive to buy and ship coffee table books. I can now say that the book educated me - not in a “didactic” way but an informative and sharing way that left me so impressed that it is now a companion before I start my next diorama.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Accion press for sending this book for us to read and review - This book is available from the Euromodelismosite