Wednesday, June 17, 2009

24 - Foundry Miniatures Painting and Modeling Guide Review

The internet has definitely made the hobby of painting and modeling miniature figures much less frustrating and more accessible to the beginner. There are innumerable sites available that provide excellent tutorials, tips, and videos on everything from priming to base coating to basing to varnishing, etc. But as a lover of books, nothing beats being able to flip through pages, taking your time studying photographs of well-painted figures, devouring step by step instructions from the comfort of a sofa or your bed or your workstation. And in my opinion, Kevin Dallimore's Foundry Miniatures Painting and Modeling Guide is one of the best how-to paint miniature figure books out there, especially for the beginning hobbyist. Here's my review of the book.

Pros: 176 pages of glossy, high-quality pages filled with Dallimore and other painters' miniatures. Dallimore breaks down the book in a sensible way - from painting miniatures in one color for the beginner (essentially, painting models purely with basecoating, eschewing the more advanced techniques of shading and highlighting) to the more involved two-color and three-color methods (where he explains how to use lighter and darker colors either through ink washes or layering to achieve a greater sense of depth). Dallimore particularly spends a great deal of time on how to paint flesh properly and convincingly. The step-by-step tutorials are invaluable. Unlike other how-to books where the author might show a picture of a primed figure in one photograph and then a fully painted figure in the next photo accompanied by some vague textual descriptions about how this magical process was accomplished, Dallimore walks the reader through every single step in the painting process. Photographs of the work in process figures are shown from multiple perspectives and varying degrees of completion. He also does an excellent job of explaining the more mundane aspects of painting such as the proper way to drag a brush across the surface of a model or how thinned out the paint should be for a particular painting technique. While the great bulk of the book focuses on painting figures, about 30-40 pages are also given over to general tutorials on basing, converting, and building scenery/ dioramas.

Cons: There is a lot of repetition in this book. Dallimore admits this up-front in the first few pages of the guide, but it still doesn't make reading the same exact descriptions of the same exact painting techniques any more enjoyable. While it's understandable that a certain amount of repetition would be required when explaining the painting process in a step-by-step manner, I can't help but feel that much of that repetition is just filler. Also, Dallimore adopts the technique of demonstrating the one-color, two-color, etc. methods on the same figure. Again, while I can see the logic behind structuring a how-to guide in this manner (after all, it allows the reader to see just how different these various techniques are when you see them applied to the same figure), the sheer monotony of seeing the same figure over and over gets a little tiresome. In addition, the guide doesn't really address in any detail the super advanced techniques for painting miniatures, such as Near-Metallic Metals or glazing or wet blending. A four-color method is also mentioned in the introduction, but never really expanded on, or at least I couldn't find anything more advanced beyond the three-color method. There also isn't an index. Granted, the Table of Contents is pretty thorough, but I actually remember one instance when I wanted to find the page where he talks about painting tattoos and had to basically flip through the book page by page in order uncover it. Finally, Dallimore's painting style might not be for everyone. Personally, I find it appealing in a cartoonish/ characterful way, but certainly not at the level of many of the more recent Golden Daemon winning painters, especially from Europe.

In conclusion, I'd highly recommend this guide to all beginning model painters and even intermediate painters. I'm not sure if more advanced/ seasoned painters would get anything out of it because my feeling is that the longer you've been in this hobby, the more you've developed a particular style and technique that works for you. It retails at $39.95 hardcover, but I was able to purchase it off of Amazon for $26.37 (a 34% discount with free shipping). Well worth the price, in my opinion.

Photographs of front cover and interior pages taken from Foundry's webpage advertising the book. The webpage can be found here.


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