Book Review
eBooks - Building a Diorama Base

by: Scott Lodder [ SLODDER ]

eBooks from Keith Magee and came from a need to share. Keith has authored a number of articles and stories for magazines. What has frustrated him is the time it takes to get the information out to modelers. So he came up with a new idea and he contacted me to do an interview with him about the idea. The idea is - eBooks

the interview
Armorama Editor (AE)- Keith, this new idea of yours, an eBook, what is it?

Keith Magee (KM)- An eBook is simply an electronic book. It’s a book on CD, or even “online”.

AE-You mean you’ve published a full book on a CD?

KM-It’s more like a magazine than a book. Each eBook is a full length article covering a complete modeling topic. I have written the complete text and supported it with pictures and diagrams of the technique and of some examples of the completed work. Each eBook will cover a different topic from; Water, to Rubble, to Base Construction, to Figure making. My goal is an entire series and to have a monthly publication.

AE- You currently publish Digital Diamonds © on Armorma, is this an extension?

KM- Yes it is, some of the eBook topics will be directly related and more in depth. Those are just the start, I have plans for new topics too.

AE-Why do an eBook when there are magazines that cover all of this material?

KM-The time delay is the issue. From me completing an article for a magazine publisher and the time it hits the news stand for customers can be up to a year. On top of that my work may never see the printed page. The focus of the magazine may change mid stream, leaving my work out of print. That gets very frustrating and discouraging to me as an author. I want to share my knowledge with other modelers and waiting a year for that to happen made me think of new ways to get that done.

AE-So you will publish your material faster than a print magazine?

KM-Yes. Since I control the writing, production and distribution I can publish as soon as I have a feature done.

AE-So, how often do you plan on doing that?

KM-My plan right now is for a monthly publication. I have material for a whole long series of eBooks. Not only do I get to control when things get published, I also get to ensure that the all the desired content is published.

AE-What do mean; you loose control of the content in a magazine?

KM-Sure do, based on the magazines page count, and publication directives/goals, they have the editorial ability to cut the content of my features or edit them down to ‘fit’ a given publishing run. With an eBook I can ensure that my customers get the full story that I want to share. For example – an article I write may originally have 20 or more photos, but the magazine version will only have 10 images-- they have space constraints… eBooks don’t.

AE-Tell me more about what a customer is going to get.

KM-They are going to get either an email in their inbox or a CD. Each will have a dynamic multi-page, multi-media, feature. Depending on the issue there will be at minimum a Step-by-Step process outlining the given topic. There will be real life photos of process and in some cases there will be video.

AE- Video of what?

KM- There may be video of certain techniques showing a process to it’s fullest. Static images in a magazine don’t always do a technique justice. With a computer based product I am able to take advantage of video. That gives the modeler a great resource as far as seeing a technique done first hand. For example, pouring a product to replicate water in a diorama is best suited to a video rather than images. You can see how fast a technique is done. Another example is drybrushing… a new modeler can see how hard or soft you need to brush. Video is a better option.

AE-I can see the advantage in that, what else….

KM-Another advantage is that you are not tied to a given format. You can view it on screen, print it to hard copy, print multiple times, etc. If you bring a magazine or book into your hobby area to work on a project, and then spill glue or paint on it, your investment is shot. If you print off a page or two of an eBook and spill glue on it, pitch it, and reprint another copy.

Another advantage is that you have electronic version of the photos. You can drop these right into a ‘photo’ program and zoom in or out on a particular area of an image that interests you. You can also print a copy and scribble notes on it without marring the original.

AE-So, is this a solo effort? Are you “goin’ this one alone” or are you in a partnership with others?

KM-Well, ebook concept is mine. I worked with a graphics professional named Dan Sturdivant to help with the overall template layout. I think the graphics professional is a good investment to ensure a consistent quality product over time.

I am also open to partnering with others on content. If there are others who have ideas and content, we can team up using the template system and my established website ( as a leverage device to help bring others work to customers. I already have the electronic shopping cart, and the online traffic to bring exposure to the product. There’s no sense in re-inventing the same wheel.

AE-You said you have a lot of content, is this going to be a multi-volume product like Digital Diamonds ©?

KM- The concept of Digital Diamonds is “one idea on one page”. The eBooks are much more in-depth. If someone subscribes to a year’s subscription, then each month a new eBook arrives in your in mailbox automatically. If readers prefer to just purchase a single subject ebook, they can do that too, by going to the website and purchasing it online.

AE-Well these sound great. I think it’s time for the review now.
eBook review
As it was stated in the interview above an eBook will come as either an email attachment or a file on a CD. The eBook is not your normal book. It’s an electronic version of the magazines you’re used to. This may throw you at first; double clicking an icon to read your material, hmmm. It’s actually pretty cool. Instead of cracking the spine and thumbing through a magazine or book, you will find yourself double clicking and skimming through screenshots on your computer.

The eBook I reviewed was Building a Great Dio Base. Its 43 pages/screens long. There are 30 pages of ‘process’ and ‘meat’ and the rest are examples and extra pages for reference. Keith said he has material for the following volumes: water, scratch building walls, tip and tricks for armor, room temperature vulcazing (RTV) mold making, figure repositioning, and more.
Since this is a new method of receiving documentation I’d like to take a few minutes to discuss the layout of this product.

It is a PowerPoint presentation with each page being a slide. Each page has a template applied giving the entire book a nice consistent look and feel. The uniform feel made it easy to find and absorb the material presented. You can see from the example shots what the basic ‘look and feel’ is.

The navigation is simple, just mouse clicks. Left click takes you forward, right click pops up a navigation menu. If you’ve done any PowerPoint work at all this is easy. If not, the forward part will be second nature; the backward part may take a moment of thought to remember what to do. Not a big deal though.
The material covered in this eBook is quite comprehensive. It takes you easily through a ‘Step-by-Step’ process from start to finish. It explains the raw material and walks you through each stop with text, images, and added graphics explaining the process of making a three layer street base.
The material is relevant and well written. It is written so that just about anyone can read and understand it. Each step is explained nicely. There are even added graphics pointing out specific information or details.
The use of this is easy. I read through the eBook and looked through all the images. It gave me a good knowledge of the topic and some inspiration for some other dioramas.
I wanted to fully utilize the material so I printed it out and used hard copy. The print quality is good (limited in part by your printer) and does not loose any readability going from screen to paper. It was nice to carry a copy or a page to my workbench and not have a big book. With a subscription in mind I looked at the hard copy with the idea of putting a collection into a binder to be able to have a collection on a shelf. The template that is used makes this easy. You don’t have to worry about punching holes through any text, image or detail. There is ample space for a three ring binder hole punch.
The concept of an eBook is great. The advantages really make this delivery medium easy to adjust to. Multiple copies, easy reprints, harder to loose, or destroy, easily transported to any other location via email.

This is a diorama builder’s subscription to get. Looking over the topics Keith has outlined and knowing what’s been in Digital Diamonds ©, there won’t be any wasted articles. Being written by a diorama builder for diorama builders this series won’t have any non-relevant features.

The pricing of this is just as flexible as the eBook itself. The price is dependant on how you receive the product. You can get it via email or CD through the mail. It will also be dependant on if you have a subscription vs. a one-time purchase. The average price will be right about $5.00 per eBook. Please double check the web site.

Keith Magee brings us his diorama building skills paired with his authoring skills in a new format - eBooks - electronic books. This method ventures away from traditional pushlishing methods in order to bring information to diorama enthusiasts in a more timely fashion.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:1
  Suggested Retail: See Text
  PUBLISHED: Mar 27, 2005
  NATIONALITY: United States

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.


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