by: Darren Baker [ ]
I have always struggled with figure painting and so when I saw a book aimed at making the process easier I had to pick it up. This offering from Andy Singleton is aimed at the War Gamers in the hobby, but I thought if it can help them it should be able to help me with Braille scale figures and may prove of help in larger scales as well.
The Author of this book titled ‘Painting War Gaming Figures WW2 in the Desert’ is Andy Singlton. I did a little look into the background of this author and it would appear that he now makes a living from this hobby and I am told his work appears in a lot of publications. This book is a soft backed book with a quite stiff card cover that is published by Pen and Sword. Inside that reasonably protective cover there are 158 pages of a good quality glossy paper. A quick look at the page edges will show colour tabs to enable quick access to specific chapters.
This offerings content are broken down as follows:
Part One Basics
Chapter 1: Tools of the Trade (and some basic techniques)
Chapter 2: Boot Camp
Part Two Painting Guides
Chapter 3: Painting the British and Commonwealth Army
Chapter 4: Painting the Italian Army
Chapter 5: Painting the United States Army
Chapter 6: Painting the German Army
Chapter 7: Camouflage Uniforms
Chapter 8: Basing
Appendix: List of manufacturers
The first chapter of this title accurately described as covering the basics will be of little interest to most that have been in the hobby for a reasonable time, but with that said I always look at these sections as occasionally something will appear in the basics that I either had not seen before or that I had not fully understood. I like that aspects such as brush care are covered here as it is something that is often overlooked and good brushes are not cheap to replace; I recommend that every modeller has a bottle of Brush Magic from Deluxe Materials to hand as it will remove any residue from a brush left over from a previous painting session.
I appreciate how the author has selected images to accompany each section of text that provides the reader with a good idea of what the text is going to cover before having read a word. The photographs here are of a good quality and size. The text is well written and easily read and understood and so that clear understanding puts the reader in a good place to begin the hobby or indeed relatively new to the dark art of painting miniature figures.
The chapter titled ‘Boot Camp’ is one area of the book that I feel needed further investment by the author. This area really looks at the assembly of the figures and getting them ready for painting and as every modeller knows with a few figures under their belts, preparation is the key to a good result when it comes to painting. This section is where I would have liked to see the issues that can be encountered with figures in various materials tackled. I noticed flash being addressed but seam lines also need special attention in all materials and problems such as air bubbles in resin. Now while I appreciate that this title is aimed at the painting of figures I do feel a section covering the preparation should be a prerequisite. I would also like to have seen something on fillers being covered.
The chapters covering forces from various combatants I will cover as a whole due to them being tackled in the same way by the author. Each and every chapter is started with a short history introduction on the forces of the country being covered and in the case of Germany a chapter on camouflage which in this case covers the German paratrooper in North Africa. The figure painting has been tackled at three levels in many cases and it does need to be remembered that this book is aimed at war gamers preparing large quantities of figures for the field rather than two or three figures for a diorama.
The easiest approach is covered as the Conscript level and covers the use of an undercoat and also why this is applied and what it provides. I was also pleased to see the importance of leaving paint to fully cure before proceeding with the next step as being in a rush often results in problems. The elements of the figure are then picked out such as helmet, webbing, boots and flesh elements. The next two steps cover a simple dry brushing in order to break up the solid colours and give these colours a basic highlight effect before covering the painting of the weapon. These four steps provide the war gamer with a basic finished figure and I feel finished at a level that new modellers would be happy with.
The next approach is listed as the ‘Regular Level’. Again I was pleased to see an undercoat used followed by a dry brushing that I had not expected and this is followed in the third stage by the painting of the figure elements. The next stage covers the additions of inks to the figure in order to create shade and definition on the figure and the elements of it and then calls the figure as finished.
The ‘Elite Level’ is next on the horizon and again begins with an undercoat followed by the painting of the figures elements. These steps are followed with layered highlighting rather than the use of dry brushing; I personally like dry brushing as it is quick and takes away the guess work of where paint should be added, but its weakness is that paint may end up on high areas where you would rather not have it. Using the layered method really depends on the modeller’s ability as to how good the result is, but it provides the modeller with the benefit of controlled application where wanted. The figure finally being considered finished after several washes and applications of shading.
I liked how the book started with the basics of covering the tools that every modeller should really have as a minimum; my reason being that it answers questions that people new to the hobby nearly always ask. I was a little disappointed that construction wasn’t covered in more detail as a good build is the foundation of a good result; areas such as filling and fixing moulding issues in various materials should have been here I feel.
When it comes to the physical painting of the figures I liked how they were tackled in three distinct levels and so allowing the individual to know where that wanted to be and the result they could expect from their efforts. I was disappointed that nothing was covered on tackling the faces of the figures as we all know this is the hardest aspect of figures, but I also need to remember that these are small figures and the book is aimed at war gamers that perhaps do not have such a high requirement where faces are concerned.
The text is very well laid out and easily followed and so guess work is not required. The paints used are clearly identified within the specific steps and so again an easily followed aspect of the author’s art. I will say that the image on the front of the book does not in my opinion show off Andy Singleton’s abilities at their best as I have seen how much better his methods can result in. I do like how the images in this title have been well placed with the text and so adding the visual element a title such as this requires.