by: Mario Matijasic [ ]
Patience, young Grasshopper... The sentence echoed in my mind. Mike Rinaldi's latest TankArt volume was to be published quite some time ago, but one delay after another and I was getting disheartened. This was the volume on painting and weathering modern armor, the very same I've been waiting for ever since Mike announced his TankArt modeling books series. Patience, young Grasshopper... good things come to those who wait.
Finally! I have the TankArt Vol.3 in my hands! I can't really remember the last time I was so eagerly looking forward to a modeling book... Yes, Shep's classics and MiG's FAQ are still in my library, but TankArt is something special. Mike's concept of TankArt modeling books is inovative and it completely changed the way we perceive "how to" modeling manuals: instead of trying to cover just about everything there is to know about modeling, Mike opted to dedicate each TankArt volume to only couple of painting and weathering techniques which are then covered in great detail and accompanied by large high-quality step-by-step photos of several modeling projects. This idea of quality before quantity proved to be a winner with the TankArt volumes selling like crazy.
The book arrived packed in a hard cardboard box, additionally secured inside a bubble-wrap. Here are the basic facts:
Title: TANKART Vol.3 Modern Armor
Publisher: Rinaldi Studio Press, LLC
Format: paperbound (22x24 cm)
Color: full color
Retail Price: $35
At first glance this book feels a bit different than the previous TankArt volumes. Although a third book in the series, Mike decided to change the design by adding more greenish tones both to the cover and the pages within. The layout is still on par with the previous volumes; pages are packed full of large images, the text is well laid out with separate image captions and eye-catching orange text boxes. The book has 16 pages more than the previous volumes and it includes 6 model project chapters, hence the new price tag. Couple of ads are included as well; Mike is known to utilize various product brands in his projects, so I really don't mind advertizing stuff used on models throughout the book anyway. There are also some changes evident in Mike's weathering principle, but we'll get to that later.
The general chapter organization of the TankArt Vol.3 matches those of the previous TankArt volumes:
Weathering principle & techniques
The introduction chapter briefly outlines Mike's modeling philosophy, but also delivers a very personal message to the reader: challenge yourself, do not fear making mistakes, practice to refine the techniques you use and get maximum satisfaction from the hobby.
The following chapter deals with products and materials the author uses in this book. Included in this section is also a short explanation of Mike's weathering principles, which are best defined by two terms that reiterate in TankArt volumes: layering and artistic scale-ism.
Next are the two chapters on weathering techniques: combining hairspray (HS) technique with oil paint rendering (OPR), and pigment application. HS and OPR are two fundamental painting and weathering techniques Mike uses in all his modeling projects. Previous TankArt volumes described HS and OPR in detail, but combining HS and OPR in TankArt Vol.3 provides in-depth discussion of these two powerful techniques used in concert, illustrating how to use HS in setting the stage for working with oils. This chapter also shows an evolution of OPR technique, which Mike now uses to replace the more standard techniques like filters and pinwashes. Step-by-step images supported by very informative text and a ton of tips for working with oils are included, in order to maximize the results obtained with OPR. Pigment application is the third technique in Mike's weathering regime, providing means to recreate realistic dust, dirt and mud.
The essence of each TankArt volume are the model projects and in the following chapters the reader can witness previously described weathering techniques in great detail. All the projects depict modern armor models, but each unique with regards to weathering concepts and finish.
The first model presented is D9R Armored Dozer in USMC service. This resin beast is the hallmark of the entire title as it pushed Mike to give an all-out effort and elevate his game to match the prominence of the model. The heavy weathering includes several layers of hairspray and OPR to depict rust and paint wear rarely seen on a regular combat vehicle, with pigments providing the ultimate finish and tie this amazing model together. Russian MBT T-62M1 is described in the next chapter. This derelict vehicle from Kabul Graveyard receives a realistic multi-layered camo scheme heavily chipped at each layer and a myriad of dynamic weathering elements using only a few finishing techniques! The following chapter deals with a somewhat obscure post-war subject French MBT AMX-30B, turned into another abandoned vehicle, this one left out on the army range. The subject's fate dictates a different weathering approach to create a 3-tone NATO camouflage scheme with a twist: a faded, cracked and flaky chipped appearance, even with some slimy green moss effects on the lower hull. This chapter also includes in-depth explanation of using Blacken-It on metal tracks. British FV221 Cearnarvon chapter comes next. This full resin kit is built into a desert test vehicle in a project with less intensity and a simple paintjob producing a more subtle outcome... a painting recharge of a sort. A great overview of hand painting layered rust is included in this chapter as well. Mike then turns to his favorite tank subjects in the modern arena, Russian MBT T-72B (mod. 1989), with a nearly 10 year old shelf-queen project dusted off for this TankArt volume and finalized as a Chechen War knocked out vehicle. The paintjob on this model took a wrong turn and instead of water chipping Mike had to switch techniques to acrylic thinner paint wear. Layering the OPR and pigments brings out the maximum of this low-slung big-gunned Russian tank. The final model presented in this TankArt volume is Russian APC MT-LB, with model and text by Andy Taylor. The author does a complete revamp of the old Skif kit and builds an abandoned Iraqi vehicle, depicting a hasty escape of the crew. This chapter is incorporated really well into the volume and follows Mike's idea how to present a model and tell its story... something I felt lacking in guest author chapters of previous two TankArt titles.
Each of the model chapters is about 30 pages long and presents not only tons of images, but also a huge body of text using three parallel narratives. Mike goes into great depth explaining every step of the painting and weathering process, combining the "how" with the ever important "why" the specific ideas and principles were utilized in finishing the model. Paint callouts are included for each project as well as a quick reference SBS images sequence summarizing the painting and weathering process at the end of each chapter.
What's so special about this book?
First and foremost, the images. As with the previous TankArt volumes, the images featured in this book are large and display each step in the painting and weathering process perfectly. Some Images are overlaid with white circles which help in guiding the eye to the section of the vehicle of particular interest. These areas of interest are usually fully described in text captions.
Enormous body of information in the text. Not just the mere explanation of the techniques but also a rationale behind their use. The "how" is visually separated from the "why", the latter displayed in orange text boxes.
Mike's tips and encouragement. Having loads of experience in finishing techniques, Mike provides tips on almost every segment of the process. The emphasis, however, is always on patience and practice in order to gain control over the painting and weathering techniques.
No bias toward any product brand. Mike uses various different products and shares his experiences regarding highs and lows of each product.
Layflat binding. The special reinforced polyurethane resin binding is extremely durable and can be pushed down flat without damaging the book. This way the book can be used directly on the modeling bench!
TankArt series is getting stronger with each new volume. Although Mike decided to change some of the design features, TankArt Vol.3 delivers the same principle as the previous volumes: attractive layout, detailed descriptions of modeling techniques with step-by-step photos, award winning model projects, and three parallel textual narratives covering the "why" as well as the "how-to". With 16 additional pages and 6 full model chapters, TankArt Vol.3 successfully wraps up the first TankArt trilogy as the finest modeling book series on the market today.