Review: The Encyclopedia of Figures Modelling Techniques, Vol. 3

by David

Disclaimer: I received the book as a free review copy by the publisher. This will not predetermine the review, which will be a fair summary and assessment of the book's strengths and weaknesses as I perceive them.

The book's cover - again, very nice, but sadly the mini is not featured within the book.

Hey all,

David's back with another review of a recent painting-related book. This time, it's the third and final volume of AMMO by Mig Jimenez' Encyclopedia of Figures Modelling Techniques. As its predecessors, the book is edited by Rodrigo Hernández Chacón, and combines a number of articles by well-known miniature artists on a variety of topics that are summarized as "Modelling, Genres and Special Techniques".

The table of contents

And, true to its title, the book spans a wide and diverse range of topics. The book is about 150 pages strong, which are split up into a two-pager Introduction by the Series editor, and six substantive chapters. The first chapter deals with the very foundation of all modeling work, the modeler's/painter's workbench. Next to the organization of the workbench itself (lighting, set-up, etc.), the chapter deals with the necessary tools of the trade and goes into depth on the various brushes and their uses, and the set-up and use of a wet palette. Chapter 2 also deals with tools, but focuses on the necessary implements to assemble, prepare and modify miniatures. Next to sanding moldlines, and filling gaps, the chapter discusses minor and major conversions of minis of different materials, and even includes a step-by-step guide on how to sculpt a miniature from scratch.

Well-structured advice for a well-structured workbench.
Priming with brush and spraycan.
A snippet of the sculpting-from-scratch step-by-step.

Chapters 3 and 4 focus on color. On five pages, the third chapter presents different ways to prime miniatures using brushes, spray-cans and the airbrush. Chapter 4, then, discusses in depth how to paint specific materials that are likely to appear on most minis: human skin (using the examples of a light-caucasian female and a tan male skintone), leather, and metal (covering both TMM and NMM approaches).

Sketching skintones in practice.
How to paint a lively and realistic TMM.

Chapter 5 discusses the particularities when painting two different types or categories of miniatures: minis for the gaming table, and flats. For gaming miniatures, the chapter first features Marko Miladinovic showing his approach to painting green skin and then Enrique Velasco (Emuse) presents a complete step-by-step on how to paint a GW Nurgle creature. Then, Albert Gros shows some of the specifities when painting flats. The final Chapter 6 provides a survey on a number of tips and ideas concerning base-building and scenery. Next to insights into the general principles of base-composition, this chapter incudes two "putting theory into practice" sections, each showing a step-by-step of building a base. The book closes with a small gallery of some of the authors' works.

Advice on painting a Nurgle creature...
... and where to place light and shadows on a (flat) figure.

This book covers a lot of material, laid out in the same well-organized and easy-to-follow-way as the previous volumes of this series. The pictures are very nice, and the longer and shorter texts provide clear explanations. The diverse range of topics covered by different artists means that there is most likely to be something in the book for every painter, from absolute newbies to advanced hobbyists. The former will particularly benefit from the chapters on the tools-of-the-trade, the setup of a well-laid-out painting table, and the preparation and cleaning of minis. The advanced painter will rejoice in Chapter 4.1, which for me is the star of the book. In that chapter, Arnau Lázaro takes the reader through a detailed step-by-step of how he paints lively, complex and dramatic skintones on a miniature depicting a female nude. Next to sage advice on the subject matter, the chapter also is an excellent example of the sketching approach to painting introduced in Volume 2 of the series. My second highlight in the book is Albert Gros's treatment how to paint flat figures. While Albert nicely points out the particularities of painting 2D miniatures, much of what he has to say on lighting is perfectly relevant and helpful for minis sculpted in the round. Overall, I very much liked that the chapters refer explicitly to concepts and topics introduced in previous volumes, which drives home the encyclopedic character of the series. Finally, and similar to my concerns regarding Volume 2, the cover picture shows a mini that is not really dealt with in the book.

Basing in practice.

The desire to cover so many bases, of course, also comes with disadvantages. For one thing, the fact that the book addresses topics from absolute basics (such as the variety of brushes) to things that require advanced skills (such as the chapter on skintones) makes it hard to clearly define a core audience for the book. This can be interpreted in a positive way as I have above - that the book has something for everyone. But it also will make it hard for someone buying the book to feel fully satisfied with the book-as-a-whole. For another, since so much ground has to be covered, some of the individual topics are necessarily dealt with in some brevity. For instance, I generally like the book's discussion on basing, especially because it includes a few thoughts and guideline on composition and basing principles. But a single chapter simply cannot do justice to a vast and multifaceted topic such as basing. Maybe it would have been better to reserve a full, fourth volume on basing, and vignette/diorama building, which could have gone more in-depth on composition, materials and how-tos.

An excerpt of the beautiful gallery that closes the book.

Summing up, I would say that the book will be most beneficial for beginners. For 29,50 Euros suggested retail price you get a lot of content, presented in an attractive and systematic way. For advanced painters, I think the skintone chapter will be most interesting - but a single chapter might be too little to warrant buying the whole book. And, of course, those wanting to complete their Encyclopedia collection will have to grab a copy, in any case :-D

Thanks for reading. As always, let me know, in the comments, if you have questions. Talk to you soon.

Best, D.


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