Sunday, April 17

Read n' Reviewed: Basic Guide: How to make Vignettes by Artur Miniszewski from AMMO by Mig Jimenez

We need more good modelling guide books that show us alternative approaches, techniques and points of view. New approaches are always welcome, especially from a modeller as talented as Artur Miniszewski. His latest collaboration has not been a new set for Mantis Miniatures, but a book published by the people at AMMO centering on "How to make Vignettes". Does this book do what is said in the title? We find out in our review...

Read n' Reviewed: Basic Guide: How to make Vignettes 
By Artur Miniszewski
Published by AMMO by Mig Jimenez
Reference: AMIG6138
Softcover. 96 pages with high-quality full-colour photos.
In the English language. (Also published in French & Castellano)
Price: 18,75 €
Product Link on the AMMO Website
The latest how-to book from AMMO by Mig Jiménez publications is called "How to Make Vignettes. Basic Guide". Written and filled with the work of the founder of Mantis Miniatures, Mr Artur Miniszewski. 

The book in its physical form:
The book is of the usual thick magazine/ thinnish book type. In these ninety-six pages, Artur guides us through five small scenes with different settings, climates and subjects. Step by step (SBS) building scenes are the nature of this book, with chapters detailing the recreation of all types of walls, groundwork, vegetation, wood elements, metal elements, and accessories to add detail to these scenes.
All chapters are filled with excellent, full-colour in-process and then completed gallery photos (450 in total) with text to explain the processes as we go along in various levels of difficulty. I favour this approach a great deal when learning a new technique. Show and tell just works.
Page by Page:
We now look through the book's chapters one by one to show you exactly what's inside.

The cornerstone (😉) of any diorama, the painting and weathering of walls are the subjects of the first part of this book. In eight pages, we go step by step in both a stone and a brick wall, from basic undercoating and painting, to oilbrusher shading, weathering and then filling and finishing the walls that populate our scenes. There are some novel artistic techniques that are used here that I would have thought of before reading this book.
Groundwork is the next subject (laid down), in the next fifteen pages. Mostly a double-page spread each on loose soil, cobblestones and paving on a stone road, leaf litter, rubble and ice are all displayed in different dioramas (there are five in total) shown throughout the book and created to illustrate these applications and techniques. We see each of these in completion between the chapter pages.
When all of these groundwork elements including accessories are combined, it makes it easy to see what makes a great modeller like Artur so good at what he does.
Vegetation is next, with the walls and groundwork you have already seen being added to with moss, ferns, Ivy, tree trunks and branches, branches used as camouflage and reeds in water and ice, in water with water plants, weeds and rocks. Every part of nature strewn about these dioramas are explained in the SBS detail we are appreciating throughout this model...
For a modeller who is well versed in figure sculpting and painting, Mr Miniszewski's part piece (I feel) is indeed the groundwork that his dioramas sit upon. He has a touch that is pretty impressive to this reader, taking objects like a sculpted rock, moss or water algae and transforming them into something that looks to me like a photograph of the real thing. I am truly envious, but who better to learn from than someone who shows how in such an easy manner?
The painting and weathering of several types of wood elements are next shown. Twelve pages, again mostly in a double-page spread showing each type of work. The creation of old, faded, worn and painted wood on subjects like fences, cable reels, doors, roofs, wooden gun stocks and containers cover a lot of your applications in dioramas.
Again a use of the oilbrusher product and weathering techniques showing wear and tear and worn surfaces in different aged and conditioned wood separate builds like this from the pack. If natural vegetation is a strong suit of Arthur's, wood shaped by man is second.  A very helpful chapter for a lot of us as there are so many wooden buildings in dioramas featured in many modeller's works.
The painting and weathering of metal are next on the list in seventeen pages. Step by step tutorials on each of the many objects or types you might find in your own diorama are covered here for the most part. The main challenge I find in recreating the shades and texture of metal are the tiny subtleties that age and create an individual item. I can see a lot of that need for information and solution in this book.
Weapon shells in brass, bolts and straps on cable drums, weapons, rusty roofs in corrugated iron, drainpipes, barbed wire and chains, galvanized metal in stoves, bins and containers along with forged metal like wrought iron are all shown in the scenes and in preparation in smart and easy to follow SBS processes.
The final chapter of SBS builds features the accessories of dioramas you may want to use. From the well-stocked Mantis Miniatures catalogue, the author shows us the realization of his creations in paint with animals large and small, camouflage netting and its application, paper signage and painting tricks and lastly cardboard accessories that are an increasing part of any diorama scene. 
Finally, there is a gallery of all of the five excellent dioramas that you have seen in process during this books step by step processes. Amazing works, but this book has at least given this reader a window into the processes and techniques needed to try to replicate such results.
And, that is all he wrote...
It goes without saying that Artur is one of the great diorama builders in the world, and so the dual appeal of using his own brand of figures, accessories and animals to create scenes in book form is appealing. If you use, or are interested in using AMMO paints, then this book would appeal from the off. One must understand, however, that only the one brand of paints and weathering accessories will be used in this title. We also do not see any of these items in construction or know who makes them so we can try to recreate the scenes to practice on.

However, these are minor issues, and I feel that this book adds a wealth of knowledge and inspiration to my toolset. I was already an admirer of Artur's work, but now I see a great deal more of how he does it. I'm grateful to him and to the publishers for bringing this book to the public's attention to both enlighten and inspire me into making something similar of my own...

Adam Norenberg

You can see more about this and AMMO's other gear on the AMMO Website...