by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
I’ve read a number of modelling encyclopedias over the years, which viewed in retrospect almost serve as an unfolding history of the state of the art of our hobby at any given time.
The last few years have seen the rise of what is often called “the Spanish style”, introducing some truly remarkable finishing techniques that have taken weathering (in particular) to new levels, so I was particularly excited to have the chance to read this new book by Daniel Zamarbide, on of the leading exponents of these techniques. Over the course of 300 pages, he sets out to explain and illustrate how to master the style. As he puts it neatly “...to offer you help and inspiration to finish your models and face those challenging finishes that we do not dare to try”.
I'll state up front, my one misgiving with the book being published by AK Interactive was that it would prove to be not so much an encyclopedia, but more a totally understandable showcase for their own range. Happily, this is not the case at all, and Daniel features products from a multitude of manufacturers with a commendably even hand. So, while you'll find plenty of AK Interactive products mentioned, essentially this is the "Daniel Zamarbide way" using whatever works best for him.
The book breaks down into two main sections. The first 100 or so pages is along the lines of a traditional modelling encyclopaedia, and gives a detailed breakdown of the essential materials and techniques - e.g. preparation, gluing, filling and painting. The sequence is nice and logical, starting with the real basics of how to remove parts safely from the sprues and a good explanation of the various types of glue and putty and how they work.
Things soon get more involved, though, with an introduction to scribing and reproducing riveting, along with what is for many of us the first step towards more serious modifications - separating and re-positioning control surfaces. All the staple techniques are covered - using wire, polishing canopies, creating lamp covers and stretching sprue, while Daniel covers some quite advanced methods such as scratchbuilt turnbuckles
The section then turns to painting and weathering - introducing washes and filters, applying decals, and then shading and highlighting. This really is the backbone of the “Spanish technique”, and realistic chipping, fading, rust and corrosion techniques are all covered in detail. There are no less seven different methods described - all useful in their own way, depending on the circumstances.
Some of Daniel’s weathering techniques involved are pretty involved - and they certainly aren’t for anyone lacking in patience, because the more elaborate involve multiple stages of masking, sealing and re-masking. But the results are quite remarkable - proof that it’s definitely worth persevering.
I suppose that the only modellers who won’t really benefit from these extensive weathering tutorials are those who prefer to build their models strictly “factory fresh”.
The second half of the book takes a quite unique approach in tackling various parts of an aircraft kit, on a case-by-case basis. So it breaks topics down into eras and nationalities. This format works really well for me, as it means that whatever type of aircraft you might be building, you can go straight to the appropriate chapter for some help and inspiration. While, clearly, the techniques overlap and aren’t mutually exclusive, it means that you can pick say, a German WW2 cockpit, a WWI rotary engine, Soviet jet camouflage or Cold War-era missiles and find pertinent techniques.
The important thing for me is that you can mix and match the methods that Daniel outlines to develop a style all of your own. Indeed, it would be rather dull if everyone slavishly mimicked every aspect of what’s shown and left it at that - if nothing else, our hobby is one of constant experimentation and refinement.
The photography and illustration throughout is excellent, with large, clear step-by-step images in full colour. The captions are very helpful and easy to follow. Occasionally, an odd word here or there gives the game away that the text has been translated from the original Spanish (indeed, one caption slipped through untranslated), but it’s simple enough to understand the meaning.
This is a really useful book for novices and experienced modellers alike, and I’d be surprised if anyone could honestly claim they didn’t find anything new to learn from. There are already a mass of new things I’m keen to try out from just a first pass through the book, and I’m certain there will be many more as I explore deeper.
The final section of the book is a gallery of finished models, some familiar from the preceding tutorials, but others not shown before. What would have been nice would be brief notes outlining the materials and techniques used, referring you to the appropriate sections. Some readers may feel the a Gallery is a little superfluous, but it does show the models in their totality, illustrating how the various techniques come together in a finished model.
ConclusionI’ll certainly keep this FAQ as a handy ready reference by my workbench. Highly recommended.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.