Monday, August 9

Read n' reviewed: "DioramaProject 1.2 - Figures" From Accion Press

Dioramas without a living being in them are often just a collection of objects or a scene. The team at Accion Press has recognized and addressed this important, living part of your next diorama by offering this, the new book "DioramaProject 1.2". The book is a learning tome on the painting of figures of many of the sides of WWII, and it has promise. Is it worth the look? See what we thought in our review...

Read n' Reviewed: DioramaProject 1.2 - Figures
From Accion Press
Compiled by J.David Hernández Chacón 
152 Pages
A-4 Portrait Format
Available in English, French & Spanish languages.
price is 29.50€ from the Accion Press Website
Following on from their previous book that featured the armoured vehicles of war called "DioramaProject 1.1", the latest "DioramaProject 1.2 Figures" volume sets its sights directly on the human element of dioramas, the figures. Adding scale, a theme and some human touch to any project, getting figures just right is the holy grail of modelling your own lifelike and believable scene that others can relate to instantly. This is why books like this one "DioramaProject 1.2 Figures" has caught our eye.

DioramaProject 1.1 AFVs at War &  "DioramaProject 1.2 - Figures"
To properly assess everything in the book we will describe the book's makeup, describe the style and format of the book, then we will go chapter to chapter to explain exactly what is inside and how effective the contents are at the end of the review...

The book in its physical form.
Accion Press "DioramaProject 1.2 - Figures" has many fathers, though it is compiled by J.David Hernández Chacón. The matte, softcover book is an A4, portrait format, with one hundred and fifty-two pages inside, each one packed with full coloured images in your choice of either English, French & Spanish languages.
Soooo.. what's inside?
The book is divided into nine chapters, a short introduction and material section before we go step-by-step through the tutorials. after the exercises, the book looks at the different military forces of many of the combatants of WWII before a final gallery at the end showcasing how these figures can enliven your scene.

Contents of DioramaProject 1.2:
2.- Introduction
4.- Work Space
16.- Preparatory Work, Assembly and Detailing
36.- Paint Techniques
46.- Face Painting
54.- Paint Methods
82.- Weathering
88.- Military Forces of WWII
146.- Gallery
Page by Page.
We start by reading the smart introduction which explains the value behind the addition of quality figures to your diorama, and the leap of skill and faith that need to go hand in hand to attempt to add figures to your own diorama. We also see the ideal working space, something we can all aspire too I am sure, but one that is a lot easier to achieve - for some! 
In the materials section, we look at the tools of the trade, what you need on your bench to get started, the acrylic and oil paints that are used in this book, the difference of the brush types and shapes, how to create your own wet palette, thinners, enamels and pigments. The author describes the merits and detractions of each material, and what applications are best for each in this broad introduction to the materials you will be using in your own project. 
The next chapter is called "Preparatory Work, Assembly and Detailing", it shows is some of the modelling construction tools that you need and how to use these tools effectively to prepare your figures for painting. A description of each tool,  knives, saws, cutters, sandpaper, steel wool drills, vices, clamping tools and putty are all shown and a rough how-to is described in this small section which compliments the painting and materials section of the previous chapter.  
"Assembly and Detailing" is next, with hands and the actual models showing not only the simple art of construction but the adaptation through working the plastic, putty and thin metal foil to add straps, change details and alter the figures to better suit your needs. This Is such an important feature of figure making and I am glad the authors added this to show you how to improve your figure of how to truly make a figure of your own from something off the shelf.
"Paint techniques" is the next chapter, with the author taking us on another step-by-step journey of first preparing, choosing an airbrush, cleaning, priming and then beginning to paint your project figure by figure. There are clear pictures and text to accompany it describing the steps of the pain, the pre-shading, layers of painting in changing shades gradually. We also look at thedetail profiling and highlights, working with dry brushes and washes and mud and dirt on the figure. It starts to look more like a person than an object.
The hardest battle is next with a chapter named "Face Painting". As you might have guessed this is an important part of the figure making process and a make or break a figure. This chapter is all about stages and steps. The author walks us through step-by-step the easier, then the harder methods of face painting - showing us the paint to use, where to paint, what step to add the eyes, darkness and then highlights in flesh tone with brushes and airbrushes. This is a great exercise and practice shelter for the reader/ modeller to take in.
We look at the next chapter called "Paint Methods" next. This chapter is a description of a few different methods and tools you can use in a process to get your figure over the line. Each method has its own plusses and minuses, and each is described in step by step detail and then in a summary at the end of each process to reinforce the learning of each method. Methods used are: 
- Painting acrylics with a paintbrush
- Paintbrush + airbrush + acrylic profile detailing
- Airbrush + paintbrush with profile detailing using inks 
- Airbrush & paintbrush with oilbrushers
Figure painting master Jaume Ortiz Forms then walks us through his own preparation, references and thoughts about painting his own masterpiece. the step by step process is followed on here and Jaume's show and tell is another excellent learning tool in this book. It is really inspiring to see his work and his words and to try it yourself later on in your own figure. 
With the dirtying, wear and tear on the vehicles we make, it seems odd not to apply at least some of those techniques to figures where we can, so in the next short chapter called simply "Weathering," we look at the aging, the dirtying and staining of not only the figures but their clothing and equipment. These effects build on and improve the figures we have seen made throughout the book so far and the layers of learning are well explained, shown and thought out here.
We go around the world next, with the combatants of Germany, the Soviet Union, the USA and the Japanese armies of WWII featured, but most importantly their weapons and equipment are the subjects of detail in small chapters of their own over the next half of the book. These are practical lessons in each chapter with more step-by-step pictures and supporting text to apply to each example's clothing, weapons and gear. Excellent pages of photo examples of each of these lend weight to the reference and are of a great help to the modeller.

German infantry are first, with the typical bread bag, three-point harness, jackboots, gas mask, zeltbahn, helmet, ammo pouches guns and other equipment typical to the German soldier under the spotlight in the guide. 
US Marines are next, with the face, helmet, leg warmers, weapons, dirt and sweat that is typical to the pacific theatre's warriors during WWII. Replicated in step-by-step processes in words and images, easy to follow and understand, the image galleries of the real equipment on real people and the colour palettes of each part of the figure (present on each of the nationalities here in this book) make this reference a must have.
The Soviet soldiers are next, with those very brown uniforms, the rifles and PP-SH, sacks on the soldiers and leather belts, boots are combined again with the real items and those helpful colour palettes to save you the hard work of finding the right colours.
The soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army are next, with the World War Two uniforms, equipment of weapons, pouches, sword in its scabbard and headgear of a Japanese tanker being the main subject here. This is the shortest chapter of the four nations and we do not see any references of uniforms which are the only thing the authors have neglected to include here.
In the last chapter, we see a beautiful gallery of all of the stars of this book, the figures painted by many modellers, shown in their natural habitats - the dioramas that we all want to make. It is a perfect way to end a book like this - proving the worth of effort the modeller takes in the reward that these figures bring to a diorama.
With that, the book is finished, but what did we think?

I review heaps of books. I take the time to read them all, and for the most part, the books we choose to review are good (that's why we show them to you) and so make for a good review. The hard part is deciding whether or not you want to keep this book and USE it on a project. That is the ultimate accolade to me that this book secures.

This book does several things right:
- It does not champion one paint brand over everything else
- It has a show and tells step-by-step learning method - the best way to learn a skill
- The writing is simple and easy to follow, the photos are an excellent complement.
- the reference photos of the real objects are an excellent addition
- The layers of learning are placed just right. A logical way to learn to build your skills.
- The subjects are broad - even if they are just WWII subjects.

This book is a great open page guide to accompany your journey through the learning process of developing your techniques of putting together, altering and improving and then painting and weathering figures. It is a great book and a credit to the authors, modellers and publishers. 

A must-have.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Accion Press for sending us this book to read and review. You can get your own copy from their website at this link