Book Review
Getting Started Painting Diorama Figures-Acrylics

by: Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]

Letterman Productions are rapidly achieving an excellent reputation for the production of high-value/high-content publications. What comes through in their publications is that the 'team' of authors they have assembled are total enthusiasts. No-where is this more apparent in the first of the books in this series I am reviewing: Getting Started Painting Diorama Figures In Acrylics The book is written by Brett Avant and includes (apart from the author's own work of course) contributions from modellers such as Joe Hudson and Bill Chilstrom
The Contents...
The book is well divided into (logical) chapter headings. The first chapter concentrates on the first steps to take in beginning to research, prepare and finally to paint a figure. The introduction deals, in the first instance, with materials one requires to begin with. Acrylic paint is well-explained as are basic tools such as brushes, optical aids (Magnifying headset) and the use of item I have never personally considered before, a wet palette. Some consideration is also given to the cleaning and preservation of brushes.

The next part of the introduction, covers one of the vital first steps: Research... Too often, that expensive figure kit cannot be started because of lack of reference sources, a problem which is particularly difficult to surmount for beginners. A brief summary is given of the major Military Publishing houses and very sensibly concentrates on books in-print another aspect that some publishers/authors should take into account - too many references listed in other books are long out of print and only available at PREMIUM prices.
Getting Started, the first steps...
As many who pick up this book will be new to Acrylic Painting, some very-well thought out comments are presented in the chapter titled Basic Painting With Acrylics. Highlights, shadows, layering, thinning the paint and edging are many of the techniques shown and explained in this section. The photographs and illustrations are also well considered, with the process demonstrated from the undercoat to the final, finished figure...

It is also worth noting at this point, that the principal paint used is Vallejo, an acrylic paint which is widely available all-over the world. Many of the color references in the various highlighted projects, contain the correct number reference for these paints.

Several 'lists' are given for various combinations of uniform colors, the (always popular) subject of field-gray and the combinations for various uniforms.
Camouflage? No Way!
Continuing on from the introduction, the truly fear-provoking subject of camouflage is introduced into the equation... a number of the most difficult aspects of this theme are introduced and dealt with in a simply-explained manner... Throughout the book, a number of small sections continue with examples of various designs and their corresponding paint codes.
Black and White
Yet another of those 'bugbears' for the beginner and experienced painter alike, is the thorny problem of painting convincing winter camo schemes. Fortunately, Brett Avants has no such fears, and has done a truly impressive chapter dealing with this subject and i fthat wasn't enough, deals with shadowing and highlighting of black uniforms as well.
Weathering and flesh-tones
The next chapter deals with weathering in a series of highly-informative photographs, charts and text. Again, simply explained, no complex technical terms just good clear English.

Following this, the always difficult theme of painting faces and flesh is dealt with in a simple encouraging manner. Again, much is made of step-by-step photographs which are an invaluable source in gaining the first important steps in confidence.
Not Color Charts - Mixes!
Like many modellers, I have real problems sometimes with the correct combination to use when I am working with various uniform types. This chapter has a mass of photographs of various figures along with a list of the combinations used to acheive the desired effect. The color mixes, which are vital, are also carefully listed.

Continuing with this theme, a considerable photo-gallery finishes the book. All the figures are presented along with their corresponding colors/mixes. A very original touch, which raises the book from that of a simple 'How-to' to the level of a valuable reference source in its own right.
A book like this is primarily aimed at 'new' figure painter. However, the level of information contained within its pages make it equally suitable for the experienced figure painter, who will also gain some invaluable tips and inspiration. The increasing popularity of Acrylics as a painting medium will also guarantee its success. The title seems to indicate that it is a guide to painting figures for dioramas, this for me is a little understated. The techniques so lucidly explained, will find applications for all types of figure painter, from the WWII diorama builder to the occasional single-figure painter.

I would particularly recommend this book to anyone who is 'in-transit' from enamels to acrylics. I would UNRESERVEDLY suggest this book to beginners and 'experts' alike.

I would like to thank Model-Mecca for supplying Armorama with the review copy
A useful and well-detailed introduction to painting 1/35th scale figues with acrylics...
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:1
  Mfg. ID: LP007
  Suggested Retail: $16.95
  Related Link: Purchase at ModelMecca.com
  PUBLISHED: Jun 08, 2004
  NATIONALITY: Spain / España

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About Jim Rae (jimbrae)

Self-employed English teacher living in NW Spain. Been modelling off and on since the sixties. Came back into the hobby around ten years ago. First love is Soviet Armor with German subjects running a close second. Currently exploring ways of getting cloned to allow time for modelling, working and wr...

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  • Getting Started Painting Diorama Figures in Acrylics
    by Brett Avants Part no: LP 007