We're beginning, and it's an interesting development, to see some of the specialist publishers (particularly in Europe) bring out books which have a more 'regional feel' to them. Recently we've seen books on the work of dioramists from Scandinavia, now, here's one focusing on the work of Spanish modelers. Considering the awards that they've received over the years, it's not an entirely surprising development.
Although this might seem like a fairly 'narrow' or insular view to take of something, which if only going by the global nature of sites like the Kitmaker Network which is incredibly international, it should be seen in a positive light. Many of the modelers in this book get regular coverage within the 'National' modeling press and feature regularly on Spanish sites. So, in my opinion, it's important that a broader 'audience' has a glimpse of what is happening in modeling in different countries.
The book - briefly
The Spanish Way #1 - Painting and Displaying Military Models, is from the Spanish Publisher, Xtreme Modelling. The book is softcover, A4 Format and consists of 128 pages. The book contains an introduction, a prologue, six FULL build articles and two addendums. I'll give a full list of the contents further on in this Review.
This is the start of a new 'Showcase' series from Xtreme Modelling whose intention is to bring together the 'brightest & best' of Spanish Diorama modelers. However, this is more than a series of images, the book is full of some superb hints & tips. A real amalgam of the modeling manual and the showcase type book.
The book - In detail
Once again, following on from my initial comments, this is NOT one of those 'coffee-table' type books which have lots of high-quality images showing finished dioramas. On the contrary, it's a book of techniques, hints and detailed guides to finishing, groundwork and many other important aspects of creating convincing dioramas. Xtreme Modelling's editorial policy is one of presenting a clear division between the areas covered. Once again, the themes are consistent with those of their other books - Elements, Spaces and Seasons. The Elements are the four areas of Fire, Water, Air & Earth. The Seasons reflecting the period of the year the diorama is within. Spaces is in reference to human structures - streets, buildings etc. This is more than adequately explained within the presentation by José A. Azorín. The other part of the introduction to the book is by Miguel 'Mig' Jiménez where he looks a little at the influences which have shaped his progress as a modeler.
Moving onto the largest part of the book, there are six chapters - two each on 'Elements, Spaces and Seasons'. All present a very different setting and a variety of vehicle types are included. Four are in 1/35th scale with the remainder in 1/72nd scale.
The final two chapters consist of a nine-page article by 'Mig' Jimenéz on his diorama Bronekater, The Riverine Soviet Tank which consists of photos of the finished diorama along with many photos of the WIP. The last, which is particularly well-timed (considering the recent announcement of the release of the vehicle by Dragon Models), consists of a FULL reference article on the BISON I by Guillem Martí with full-color profiles by Claudio Fernández. This also ties-in with the article by Juan L. Mercadal on the Bison, in which he sets the vehicle in Russia in winter/spring 1942.
In my recent review of another of the company's publications, I was particularly impressed by the structure of each chapter. This book follows the same format. Each element is presented separately (along with a list of AM material used for each vehicle), full descriptions are presented of the groundwork, of any constructed element and, something which is VERY useful, a couple of pages on Perception and Perspective. This shows, through sketches and graphics how we 'see' a diorama and how this can be adapted to improve the finished piece.
Leaving this section, as an overview, I'll now look at a typical chapter and expand on it...
Case study - 'Burned'
Set in an urban setting during the initial stages of the German invasion of Russia, this diorama, by Chema Cabrero, features a wrecked T-26 and Soviet infantry. Three distinct elements come into play here - the transformation (and rebuilding) of the AFV, the street scene and the infantry figures.
The chapter begins with a written description of the author's conclusion that it was necessary to completely scratchbuild a T-26 using a few elements from the Zvezda/Mirage kit. This is backed up by 14 photos of the model in-progress. A further 24 photos show the painting/weathering process along with sidebars on recreating the effects of rust, soot and fire on an AFV.
The second part of this chapter looks at the diorama base. Here, the building is one of MiniArt Ltd's vac-formed structures which was modified to recreate the look that Chema was aiming for. Some excellent images are used to show the WIP of a base of this sort and many pointers are included on recreating rubble.
The final element of the scene concerns the figures. Here, three are used and seem, unless I'm mistaken, from one of Masterbox's Early-War sets.
Within this chapter, there is an extremely useful couple of pages on perspective which is something that all of us could pay more attention to!
This is a good 'typical' section of the book, many of the factors in the execution are sufficiently common to allow it to be used as a good example of the book as a whole.
WIND On the run - Andrés Bernal
FIRE Burned T-26 -Chema Cabrero
SPRING Bison I - Juan L. Mercadal
WINTER The Suburb - Francisco J. Arévalo
CITY A streetcar named defeat - Javier Franco
FACTORY Stalingrad' Son - Javier Redondo
GUEST MODELER: Bronekater, The riverine soviet tank - Mig Jiménez
HISTORICAL (Reference Section) BISON I - Guillem Martí (Profiles by Claudio Fernández)
So, who EXACTLY, is this book aimed at?
It should, in my opinion, be useful to modelers of many different skill levels/experience. There are some excellent pointers to the creation of a diorama. These should be useful to novices and experienced modelers alike. It has some excellent how-to's on using items such as Pigments. It also covers many of the current techniques such as pinwashes or chipping. These are covered in other similar publications its true, but they really are covered very exhaustively here and, within one volume...
On the subject of a 'Spanish (or even a European) School' of dioramists, it's an interesting proposition that perhaps deserves a lot of discussion. There is little doubt that what is being developed in both style and content is having a great influence on the rest of the world. So, perhaps it DOES need to be given a greater shop-window?
There's no doubt that much in the way of techniques presented in the book can be seen on (in particular) the 'Web. Unfortunately, we don't see as many detailed features of the entire process of the creation and building of a Diorama as we would wish too. Frequently, an award-winning diorama will be seen on images from a show and, if we're lucky a handful of photos will try and capture it. However, IMO, there's a need to see a lot more of the process. This book does present this very well.
One of my personal 'niggles' with this book is a perception of 'imbalance'. Two nationalities are presented in the various projects - The Soviet Union and Germany. This could well put many modelers off considering it. However, in defence of this approach, no-one could be expected to slavishly follow every subject in the book and recreate it exactly. The overwhelming majority (if not all) could be used with any nationality of figures or vehicles - with precisely the same impact.
I was pleased to see a couple of good-sized 1/72nd scale dioramas. I would have been, considering its increasing popularity, absolutely delighted to have seen a 1/48th scale diorama as well.
It's a very well-edited, and visually interesting book and could well become one of the 'staple' books that most modelers have on their bookshelves. Ultimately, very satisfying and VERY highly Recommended.
Highs: Quality of images, structure of each chapter, the 'approaches' to different problem areas are absolutely first-rate.Lows: Perhaps a 1/48th scale diorama? Also something of British or U.S. subject matter would have added to its appeal?Verdict: Superb book and really well-worth adding to your personal library - and, at a VERY reasonable price!
Our Thanks to Xtreme Modelling! This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
About Jim Rae (jimbrae) FROM: PROVINCIA DE LUGO, SPAIN / ESPAñA
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...