Book Review
Realistic Wood Effects
AK Learning Series: Realistic Wood Effects
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by: Jake McKee [ COMMUNITYGUY ]


I’ve never really been proud of my wood painting techniques. I’ve tried to paint beat up wooden truck beds and pioneer tool handles, but the results have been marginal at best. So I was really excited to see AK Interactive’s new book “Realistic Wood Effects”. I ordered it quickly and it arrived today. It was sitting on my desk all day, calling my name, but work was getting in the way of cracking the cover. So when the work whistle blew the call for the end of the day, I grabbed the book and settled in to read cover to cover and then get to practicing!


So how did it hold up?
This book is exactly the right concept with exactly the right content direction. The choices of what the authors focused on was something every level of modeler could appreciate and learn from. The pictures are gorgeous and the results of the modelers are stunning. There are 15 different chapters, each focused on a different project and technique. And all of this at a price point that makes it an easy purchase.

I read it cover to cover in one sitting, with the full expectation that I’d need to go back and consume in detail over time. But by the time I reached the end of the book I was simply frustrated. The English translation (I have to assume this is all translated) is horrible, and the way techniques are explained seemingly would only make sense to the modeler himself. The grammar and the editing were simply unacceptable. For example, there’s an entire chapter with “I” isn’t capitalized!

Sure, the reader can work through these issues, but reading this book is a true chore. Beyond these obvious (and easily fixable with proper editing before sending the master files to the printer), the biggest problem is trying to understand most of the image captions that describe each technique.
* “We set up a palette with dark oil paints which will be melted in order to provide the box with a dirty look” (page 18)
What the heck is “melted” in this context?? It’s certainly not explained as a technique anywhere!

Or when reading about painting pioneer tools, the entire chapter is so thin on details, it’s nearly impossible to understand what’s going on. And what little content there is sounds like this:

* “Next we paint in a darker color focusing on the irregular shape joints” (page 13)

Great. But what do I *do*?? What do you mean focus? What do you mean “irregular shape joints”? I seriously don’t know what to do in this step or any other.


At the end of the day, there’s enough good in this book at a relatively low price point to make it worth picking up. It’s terribly sad to see a product with such potential, end up missing the mark so badly based on easy to fix issues. I truly hope they do a second edition with even a basic amount of proofreading and some beta testing of the content with people outside the author base. They are so, so close to awesomeness! A necessary, high relevant book that every modeler would love to have. Sadly, it falls short in the content development department which makes it a highly ineffective book.
Highs: Beautiful images, perfect subject matter.
Lows: Extremely poor text content.
Verdict: A solid attempt at a good book, that simply falls short of being an awesome tool on every modeler’s bookshelf.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: N/A
  Suggested Retail: 9.95 EUR
  Related Link: Official Product Page
  PUBLISHED: Jan 19, 2014

About Jake McKee (communityguy)

I built a ton when I was in high school, won a number of awards, and had a great time. I dusted off my equipment a few years back and have been building quite a bit. I even paint things sometimes! German WWII armor is my main focus, but I have started doing WWII Allied and some WWI subjects. I'm...

Copyright ©2021 text by Jake McKee [ COMMUNITYGUY ]. All rights reserved.


Thanks Biggles2 I can understand that one .
JAN 21, 2014 - 04:36 PM
I just want to add my vote for "most useless book of the Year"... When I read this review I thought it may have been a bit harsh and decided to buy the book and give it a chance. Well... that was a BIG mistake! The book really IS that bad! I don't understand half of what is written and I really, really did NOT learn ANYTHING... at all... Here's another example of how things get confusing fast: On painting vehicle tools: Text: "We apply several coats of orange brown and we start drawing the veins" Okay... we see a bottle in the background with the number 70981. So is that the one you use for the "several coats"? Or to draw the veins? With what did you draw the veins?? How?? The next step is just a photo... no comment... The next step is just another photo... no comment... In the next photo the bottle in the background changes to no. 70984 and the text says "with a brush we gently unify the look with thin strokes". Sooo... have we changed colors?? To do what exactly?? thin strokes of what? How?? Man.... at least say SOMETHING useful... On top of that the photos are small (and all of them fairly dark!) and detail is often not showing. So it's also neigh impossible to deduct from the pictures themselves what is going on. Let's look at it like this: if you were to find an article of this caliber on the Internet, you most definitely would not add it to your bookmarks! Even though it would be free. This book is now a pile of paper, and a small one at that, waiting to be binned. I hope this prevents others from making the same mistake I did. Cheers! John
APR 18, 2014 - 07:18 PM
I agree, after the review I avoided it like the plague. How does a large, usually reputable company put something like this out? Where are the proof readers prior to publication?? How about a "Hey Mike your from the U.S (or other English country) read this over and tell me what should be done prior to publication so all audiences understand" (Seems like for their own audience also)
APR 19, 2014 - 12:35 AM
Yes, indeed! It's beyond me why they didn't do that... and they very obviously didn't. In fact, they could have just as well left it in Spanish and it would be equally "informative" to anyone that doesn't understand a single word of Spanish... since the information is pretty much totally absent anyway. Had they done what you just suggested I'm pretty sure the book could have been a great source of both inspiration and information because the end result pictures look absolutely awesome. But it's simply impossible to understand how to got there... Now it's just so bad it's almost funny. What WERE they thinking??
APR 19, 2014 - 04:25 AM
Completely agree, and if you thought this was bad check out the second volume, Panzer Crew Uniforms - absolute garbage. Nothing more than a thinnly-veiled AK catalogue advertising products that don't even exist yet without any reference to colours or techniques at all. Up your game AK, selling us this stuff is just taking the proverbial.
APR 25, 2014 - 08:00 AM
Hi, Biggles, Thanks for the link. I tried it on the desks of my Bedford QLR: it gives a fine wood effect. So your tip saved money! And the explanation of the technique is easy to follow and reproduce. The photos only make it even more simple! So you earned some
APR 27, 2014 - 01:34 AM
That technique is great for aircraft propellers, wood paneling, and wood furniture. Not too sure it will work where distressed or weathered wood is needed.
APR 27, 2014 - 04:06 AM
I just want to let everyone know that an updated and corrected edition of this book is going to be released probably within a month from right now. All problems with language, grammar, etc. are all being fixed. The re-edited version will be free from flaws. And all other future AK books are being run by an "English Editor" so these mistakes don't happen again.
OCT 18, 2014 - 01:48 AM
I like those of you above who bought this book could not wait to get my little fingers on it and gain the knowledge on how to do wood effects DAH like JohnVK and Jack McKee I have had to use my fingers instead to scratch my head and think what the F--- .I see MichaelD413 says that a revised version is coming out does that mean I can return mine and with the flaws and get "THE ENGLISH EDITOR VERSION" ln return.Yeah as if.
JAN 01, 2015 - 10:21 PM

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