This article started as a short review of the second book, and I soon realised I was talking about it more in terms of it’s relationship to the first book, than on it’s own merits, so I decided not to fight it, and to talk about both.
A bit of background - I came at these books having been involved in model making and specifically wargaming for many years, I’m a digital and creative art teacher, and so a lot of the stuff contained in the books was not new to me, but some was, moreover, some were techniques i knew but just hadn't shifted paradigm to even think of using them in my hobby modelling.
I don’t often do product reviews on the site, only really when something exceptional comes along, and these books are certainly that, but let me know in the comments if this article was any helps, and if you;d like to see me write like this more often.
Both the books discussed are available through Forge World. both are priced as £26 at the time of writing.
The first model masterclass book is incredibly useful, and I think every modeller who works with vehicle kits can get something from it, no matter that it’s called a “masterclass” some of the very easy and effective techniques can help out any modeller.
Now, is it essential? no, not at all.
Can most of the stuff in it be learned form the web? Sure, you need to trawl through military modelling website though, and have a rough idea what you want to achieve.
Where this first book wins is in gathering all these techniques from the scale and military modelling worlds together and showing how they are done in one neat package for the hobby modeller, I cant recommend this book highly enough to well, everyone.
This book covers some advanced modelling and painting techniques and is very easy to follow, it’s strength lies in it’s simple layout and good, step by step instruction.
It’s also packed full of stuff you just haven’t thought of.
Now we come to the second book, and where things get stickier. it’s much lighter on actual techniques, having shown most of it’s aces in the first book. the whole book lacks that level of simple, step-by-step instruction that the first has.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing, to repeat all the steps of book one would be pointless, but it for sure assumes you have the first volume. I think this is exactly what this book needed to be, but I can see some people being disappointed at that lack of clarity of technique.
it’s still got the same excellent photography and production values, it still has a decent price point, and I find it contains plenty for me to both be inspired by and learn from.
There are articles covering some of the famous, high visibility models and dioramas to come out of Forge World, and as such it is a very informative books, but i wouldn't recommend it as widely and universally as the first book. it’s much more about finesse, ways to combine techniques for subtle variation of finish. and it is much more a book about how certain effects on certain models were accomplished.
This is not a book everyone needs, it wont give you the same feel of a new technique on every page. it does have some beautiful models in it, and it does tell you how techniques were applied to create effects, but it’s much more a book about how to achieve certain effects, than the first, which reads much more like book about universal techniques.
So do you need both? no. but if you’re like me, you might want both.
Do yourself a favour and don't buy the second book expecting the same amount of new and revelatory techniques as the first, buy it to see some of the best our hobby has to offer, and maybe pick up a thing or two on the way.