I have to admit that I hate vegetation in Dioramas. Not that I don't admire the work of others, just that it scares me. So, a book like this is (no pun intended) like manna from heaven. Another reason for my antipathy towards vegetation is that unless I mortgage the house and move under a bridge, I can't afford to buy all the beautifully packaged packs of materials which are available (and the postage costs these entail), so being a cowardly cheapskate, I'm looking for an approach which is low-cost and low-pain. This is another reason why this series of books has struck such a chord with me.
Let's Build a Diorama # 2: Terrain & Vegetation is written by László Adóba and is published in a slightly-bigger than A5 format. The book contains 80 pages and has more than 300 color photos. The book is divided into 4 sub-sections which are: I) Surface
IV) Use of Real Plants
Serving as an introduction to the above concepts is the first section which deals with the structure of the base.
The foreword, by László Adóba, certainly gives food for thought. I'm loath to use the hated term 'mission-statement' but that, (in its most positive sense) is what the author gives. He brings up a number of areas - such as the cost of the specialized materials and the difficulty in doing 'Urban' Vs. 'Rural' diorama settings. Once again, following the theme established in the first volume, great emphasis is placed on using readily available materials and tools. Welcome news for ALL levels of modelers.
With this review I'll go into one specific section of the book to try and give the 'flavor' of what one can expect.
Case Study: Chapter 3, Vegetation
This section has two sub-chapters: Grass and Trees. The former in 3 sub-divisions (Made of Brush, Made of Oakum and Artificial Grass). The section on trees looks at the trunk, the foliage and three different species (Birch, Pine and Palm).
Using step-by-step photos, the author presents a variety of techniques -some may be familiar, others not so well-known. Most notable for me, personally, was the technique to make the surface of a model tree look like bark. The techniques are simple but very, very convincing. This is a true multi-media approach. The author discounts no material (until proved otherwise) and the results are extraordinarily professional. The use of glues, the application of pigments and areas such as 'weathering' a tree to give the impression of age or damage are all covered within this section. Ovbiously the techniques involved in the Birch and Pine can be applied to other (similar) species, that of the Palm, is pretty unique to this type of tree.
The various grass effects are explained in an excellent, non-complex manner. Some space is (correctly) given over to considering the various types of grass and in the ensuing chapter - how best to recreate them. Once again, the materials are readily available and low-cost.
Although the Vegetation section was chosen as a 'Case-Study' it is a typical section but is only one part of the complete process. The book in its 80 pages covers a huge amount of terrain (again, no pun intended!) and a huge variety of terrain types - Ice, Desert, Tundra etc. all find a place in the book. Preservarion of 'natural' items such as foliage are heavily emphasized with some excellent tips including the use of glycerine. Some superb notes on the simulation of moss can also be found - an item which occurs in forests and buildings in equal amounts. Another interesting approach is the use of charcoal to simulate rock. Obvious when it's presented in the book - not so when you're looking for an alternative to cork!
There is no shortage of good books about diorama construction, it's a fairly crowded market. So, any author or publisher has to come up with something pretty special to 'compete' with the well-known authors and publishing houses. So, does this publisher have the magic touch? In my opinion, a resounding yes.
Once of the weak areas in the first volume was the English. It was easy enough to understand but could be confusing. In this volume, the English is excellent. A couple of minor translation errors but nothing which had me reaching for the red pen.
Quality of the book is first-rate. Good clear photos, good captioning and clear unambivalent text is the nature of this volume. It's a highly professional work which looks as if it came out of a publisher with 40 years of experience in this material and it's only their second book!
Any doubts I had are laid to rest by the fact that although 80 pages is generous, there's a limit to what you CAN include. There are no 'finished' dioramas - there are plenty of books of that type on the market, the important areas are the techniques. So, I can easily live without those.
If I had been editing the book, I'd perhaps have reconsidered the sections on Snow, Ice and Water. Not that they're badly done, but they are, in my opinion, areas which should be given more coverage - perhaps in the NEXT volume?
All in all, a very satisfying book which is crammed with great tips and techniques. Above all, (and this is much less easy to achieve), it's 100% practical!
Highs: The two P's, Practicality and Presentation. Nothing in the book is beyond the skills of the average modeler and all the materials are easily obtainable. Logical and clear presentation throughout the book makes it easy to find what you're looking for. Lows: Perhaps the sections on Snow, Ice and Water should have been reserved for the NEXT book?Verdict: Excellent.
About Jim Rae (jimbrae) FROM: PROVINCIA DE LUGO, SPAIN / ESPAńA
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...