by: Carlos Martin [ ]
An unique book
Let me start this review by the end, with the conclusion: this is an amazing book, and for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, because it guides through building vignettes from start to end. The books I have read about dioramas are exclusively or at least mostly focused on the groundwork, sometimes with some theoretical information on designing. However this guide teaches also how to paint and weather vehicles, and how to paint figures. These areas receive the same degree of attention, so it can be considered three books in one, for scenes, vehicles and figures -all of them needed to build a vignette.
But it is unique also (as far as I know) because it deals exclusively with vignettes, that is, small scenes with a base, one vehicle and one (or a few) figures. Although the techniques may be similar, large dioramas are out of the scope of this book.
Finally, a feature which is not exclusive from this book but neither I see often is that it made me feel I can do it. First because the projects are affordable, with few elements, and second because all processes are carefully explained, step by step with text and photos.
The book, as the title says, is a how-to guide for building vignettes. There are several scenes with detailed construction process, explaining not only how to do it but also why, thus showing what is behind what we see.
It has 168 pages, which I find adequate to cover all areas in depth, without requiring a long time to finish reading it. It is a softcover volume, printed in good quality paper, thick and glossy. It has been published by Accion Press, the publishers of Panzer Aces magazine.
The author is Joaquín García Gázquez, a Spanish modeller with a long and successful career. His works have been published in Military Illustrated Modeller, Abrams Squad, M-Hobby, Steel Masters, Military Modelcraft or The Weathering Magazine, among others.
He is one of those talented artists who can make a great model, no matter if it is a tank, aircraft or scene.
Two of the chapters have vignettes by Andrés Bernal and Javier Redondo, modellers of great skills also, who make an interesting contribution to the book. Unfortunately, these two articles lack the detailed step-step painting photos for both vehicles and figures, although they do a good job with the text and images.
While the book is predominantly about painting, there are also several tips about building vehicles and figures. All scenes are at 1/35 scale.
The book opens with a foreword by the author and an editorial from Rodrigo Hernandez. Then starts the content itself with an introduction that defines what a vignette is and gives some basic composition information.
The rest of the chapters are based on a vignette each, except one focused on the proportions. Apart from the introduction, this is the only theoretical chapter but it is kept to a minimum, to lay the foundations of what comes next, and is profusely illustrated.
As one would expect, the book is full of images. Most of them are photos but there are also drawings. One interesting technique used along the book is to present greyed photos with the main lines of the subjects painted over it and axis or proportions used.
Images are of a good size, both general views and details. The finished photos are just a few for each vignette, so there is no "gallery of models" occupying lots of pages.
The text is clear and easy to understand, with both a main story and detailed captions for the photos. Some original Spanish text has slipped on a couple of illustrations, but it does not really affect the readability of the book.
The layout of pages is very nice and easy to follow, including numbered photos for easier location of the text. The fonts used are also clear and of a good size.
As for the products used, there is a variety of known brands with no particular preference for one or another.
So, this is a list of the different examples in the book:
Composition, a brief study, dealing with symmetry, balance and height to create a pleasant view.
Days of wine and roses, a vignette of a German soldier with a Simca car on a countryside road in France, the ground has some bright green plants and a small water stream.
The (other) Desert Fox, again a German soldier in Africa with a Kubelwagen, on a desert terrain with sand and dust that cover the vehicle.
Hungarian AFV Crew on manoeuvres, a Toldi tank with three soldiers crossing a rail road, using different heights for the elements and positioning the figures to keep the balance and interest.
Regio Esercito, Tunisia 1943, by Andrés Bernal, showing part of an AB-41 with two figures at very different heights, showing how works the triangle overall shape.
Stalinetz S-65 with howitzer on the Spanish Civil War, built by Javier Redondo, where the tractor and gun are positioned on a sloped street with a house. The house and walls are made of stone.
The first flower of spring A T-70 in front of a house, with a soldier and a girl giving him a flower while a lady looks through the door from inside. The wooden house has faded paint and there are patches of snow in the ground.
Postwar kids, a small scene of two kids seated on an abandoned T-34 track and playing with papers.
All of the chapters by Joaquín García Gázquez start with a study about the composition, followed by step a step detailed sections on how to paint the vehicle, the figures and how to build and paint the base and its elements. It is noteworthy that the techniques are explained once, and not repeated for each scene to fill pages. For example, the first chapter explains how to paint figures, then the next just give the colours used and some photos.
This is an excellent guide that goes beyond what you would expect from a diorama/vignette book, as it covers all the processes from composition to painting and weathering vehicles and painting figures, all in great detail.
The text is clear and easy to follow, supported by many photos showing both general views and details. The examples cover most of the situations (desert, snow, urban, countryside).
I find it absolutely recommendable, both for modellers new to scenes and for experienced ones. The former will have a detailed guide which is perfect to start, while the latter will surely find interesting advice.