Book Review
Video Review included
Realistic Model Buildings
Expert Model Craft Realistic Model Buildings DVD
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by: Scott Lodder [ SLODDER ]

This DVD covered the basic techniques for painting, finishing and detailing buildings for dioramas. With this installment from Compendium Films Marcus Nicholls shares a wealth of knowledge in direct hands on fashion. The focus of this DVD is techniques; there is very little attention to the kits or their ultimate destination (a diorama). Each section/chapter of the DVD focuses on a given finishing technique. Main chapters/topics covered by the DVD are as follows:

  • European Brick
  • Stucco
  • Stone Farm House
  • Timber-Frame Building
  • Modern Concrete
  • Index
  • DVD Extras
  • Alternative Brick Finishing Technique
  • Iron Reinforcing Bar
  • Doors and Shutters
  • Correcting Common Mistakes
  • Profile of Marcus Nicholls
  • Recommended Products

Main Chapters
The main chapters dedicate a lot of time to explaining each step to completely finishing a building. Each example takes you from an assembled kit through all aspects of paint, weathering, and detailing. Marcus talks and shares information almost non-stop. That really makes this DVD full of information.

While there is a wealth of information on finishing a building, this DVD does not result in a complete kit. It focuses on the primary subject kit. If the kit does not include a roof, no roof is discussed. If window frames are not part of the kit, none are included. I point this out to make sure you’re fully aware of the product in the box. On the flip side, many Mini-Art building come with a sheet of posters. Marcus includes how he applies and finishes one of these. In another example a detailing technique is outlined on how to add battle damage.

The example subjects
The DVD walks you through a variety of building styles and mediums in order to share a number of styles and techniques. There should be a building style to suite almost everyone’s building genre. The first is a plaster kit representing a brick urban building. With this example Marcus shows how to get rich mortar lines and heavy dusty weathering.

The next example is called a Stucco building. The kit used is a Mini-Art styrene building that would suit an Eastern European project. In this example he shares a very unique ‘alternate’ product to help with chipping. Along with this technique masking window frames is reviewed. When done washes are displayed well. You see an in-depth step-by-step on how to detail where two different building materials join.

The stone farm house used is a resin building kit. This subject focuses on airbrushing techniques along with some brush detailing. Once done you’ll understand how to pick out and detail rocks/stones (of any type). Be patient because there are lots of small techniques layered on top of each other.

Mini-Art gets center stage with the Timber-Frame house. Washes on wood and masking are the stars of this chapter. In this example you get great lessons on how to paint wooden timbers and the plaster areas of these types of buildings. Again, be patient because there are lots of layers. Nothing is left out of the main building, wood grain, plaster, underlying bricks, washes etc.

The last main example is a plaster building representing a modern concrete ‘block’ style building. In this example the airbrush comes out quite a bit and Marcus shows how to add realistic battle damage. Masking and pastels/power work are also included on this project.

Delivery Medium
This DVD represents one of the newer means of distributing the knowledge and research we all talk about. Ten years ago we had the local library and whatever books were there, then home delivery of periodicals/magazines. The Internet opened up huge avenues for information sharing. This DVD is another step on the delivery path.

One thing I see requested over and over in forum is a ‘detailed Step by Step’ on any given technique; then follow-up questions on a specific step. In print and static pictures it is very time consuming and difficult to convey some modeling technique. Full motion video provides just the filler for this gap. You can see and hear the explanations as you. You see the speed of movement and get a better sense of ‘touch’. You can gauge how strong or light movements are in video.

There is constant information being shared with this delivery style. As you see a technique being applied Marcus discusses what he’s doing and the affects and reasoning. This ‘talk over’ information is everywhere and useful to all builders.

What I learned from this DVD is that there is a technique to using these DVDs from Compendium Films. As with everything else in this hobby, if you want to get the most out of it you must study it and pay attention.

I’ve watched this DVD probably four or five times and it continues to enlighten areas of the subject. The coverage of the techniques is good and solid. The techniques are basic and experienced diorama builders may not be ‘blown away’ after watching them once. They will definitely help a new builder right away.

An experienced builder needs to watch it a few times and focus on different things. Watch the background and see what materials are used, listen to the airbrush to get a sense of how fast or hard its running. Watch how the paint is mixed, get a sense of how big ‘a drop’ is. Check out the size of the brushes used. There is a lot here and more than you can imagine on first view.

This DVD does have ‘extras’ and they really make the DVD applicable to the upper end builders. Nice focused techniques that can be used to enhance the main projects. The DVD itself is smartly and professionally produced and is top quality. The camera work is excellent. Marcus’ delivery is conversational and easy to listen to.

If you build dioramas you will eventually need this DVD. You will eventually include a building in a project and that’s when the information in this DVD will help. You may already know how to wash a building or add pastels to a rock wall. This DVD offers a variety of ways to do it. Marcus shares a variety of products as well, from paints, to pigments, to kits, to brushes.

For the beginner, this should be high on your list of research materials. It should rank above printed materials. For the expert it should be on your list, maybe not as high. For all, I ask that you watch it a few times and really listen and pay attention to what’s going on all around the video screen.

Realiststic Model Buildings
Marcus Nicholls
ISBN NO: 978-1-905573-77-6
Highs: Lots of examples, lots of hands on SBS. Great product explanations as well. Tons of ‘talk over’ information. The delivery medium, you get to ‘see’ how things are done. The ‘extras’ section is fantastic. It’s reasonably priced.
Lows: The majority of the in-depth conversation is on basic techniques so the High End DVD delivery is not for the High End diorama builder.
Verdict: For new dioramists this is highly recommended, buy this before printed material. For experienced modelers this is lower on the list, but still definitely on the list.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: 978-1-905573-77-6
  Suggested Retail: $24.95
  PUBLISHED: Jun 28, 2008
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

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About Scott Lodder (slodder)

I modeled when I was a teenager. College, family and work stopped me for a while. Then I picked it back up after about 12 years off. My main focus is dioramas. I like the complete artistic method of story telling. Dioramas involve so many aspects of modeling and I enjoy getting involved in the ...

Copyright ©2021 text by Scott Lodder [ SLODDER ]. All rights reserved.


Having recently seen a friends copy of the MIG video on weathering, this is really a medium that will grow a lot, IMO. To see the methods being applied "first hand" along with the explanation is going to be very popular. Prices for DVDs are also another big advantage over printed high-quality paper. Thanks for the review Scott ... something else I must look into.
JUN 29, 2008 - 01:21 AM

Video Review

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