REVIEW: Girl Power - by AK Interactive

by David

Disclaimer: I received the book as a complimentary 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.

Hey all,

David's back with a little review of a recent book. This time it's Girl Power by AK Interactive.

This book is a little different than most other books I reviewed recently, which typically either present general advice and step-by-step instructions on how to deal with specific topics or techniques (such as this one) or summarize the painting-approach of individual artists (e.g., this book). In contrast, this book focuses more on the artists themselves and their individual, very personal "take" on miniature painting. And as the book's name suggests, all featured artists are "girls"; well, actually, they are women - extremely creative and talented women who are highly respected in the painting community.

The book does not include a table-of-contents, but lists the featured artists on the first page.

Edited by perhaps one of the most well-known - and surely one of the most beloved - people in the community, Margot Crombeeke, the book brings together an impressive line-up of eight female artists from all across Europe who have left their mark on the painting scene over the last years. Next to Margot, who also has an authored chapter in the volume, these are: Katarzyna Górska, Helen Bourch, Maartje Giesbers, Georgia Sarantinou, Anna Shestakova, Marion Ball, and Anna Machowska.

A glimpse at Katarzyna's approach to achieving color harmony.
Helen shares some secrets on how to paint involved freehands on her geisha bust.

Each chapter presents one of the artists in their own words. While the chapters differ somewhat in the details, they are basically structured along the same lines: they mostly start out with a brief hobby-biography of the artists, in which they talk about their way into the hobby and their general painting philosophy, and then proceed to explain and illustrate their personal approach to miniature-painting in a step-by-step description of an exemplary project. The book is available for a suggested retail price of 18.95 Euros through AK's webshop and all hobby stores that stock their products.

Maartje's chapter is shock-full of info on a wide variety of painting topics, including painting skin, sheer clothing, hair and a tiger's fur - all in small scale!
The final steps of Georgia's "girl with a dragon" sculpt.

The book's main feature is the vast and diverse range of topics, models and approaches presented. The featured works represent both historical (Marion and Anna S.) and fantasy (all others) topics, and include busts, full figures and flats (Anna S.'s vignette) in different scales ranging from Maartje's 32mm girl with tiger, to Margot's and Katarzyna's 1/10th scale busts to Anna M.'s 80 mm full figure with base. The chapters showcase the artists' vastly different approaches and painting styles that give their miniatures their easily-recognizable looks: Katarzyna, for instance, explains how she achieves her trademark style of creating a very colorful and strong impression using a very limited palette; Marion, in contrast, reflects on the goal of achieving historically "correct" (or at least, realistic) color schemes; and in her chapter, Georgia shows how to sculpt a little vignette of a girl and a dragon. Interestingly, given the extent of diversity in the approaches, the choice of subject is rather uniform: only Marion Ball has picked a male model for her sample project (true, in Anna S.'s scene there's also a guy - but he's a flat so, he only counts as half-a-man ;-)).

Thanks to Anna S.'s chapter, the book brings flat figures to the fore!
Marion Ball's chapter on the specific challenges of painting historical figures also include a brief section on how to create a simple yet effective display base.

The book is professionally produced, with lots of high-quality pictures that show the process of creating iconic projects that exemplify the artists' painting (and sculpting-) styles and gives insights into their approaches, preferred materials and techniques. The descriptions, provided both in Spanish and English, are clear and informative and together with the rich step-by-step illustrations allow the reader to follow the artists' thoughts and procedures. On first sight and touch the binding might not leave the most sturdiest impression, but thus far it has weathered all (in parts pretty rough) handling and has accompanied me on several trips without fail. In terms of content, I particularly liked the diversity of painting styles and preferences in subjects, scales and color schemes summarized in the book - which is greatly inspiring and makes me want to try out new approaches to contrast and color schemes. In fact, I already have a project in mind that I want to try the dramatic light and color contrasts that Anna Machowska has used to great effect for her interpretation of Lady Godiva. When reading the book for the first time, I was a little surprised that the artists were talking relatively little about their experience as female painters in a relatively male-dominated hobby. But I found not focusing too much on that particular issue to actually be a pro of the book as it highlights the painters' art, skill, talent and passion - and not their gender.

Margot's chapter focuses strongly on her approach of creating textures.
Anna M.'s wonderfully colorful and contrast-rich Lady Godiva.

In sum, I think this is an excellent contribution to any hobbyist's bookshelf. The book combines brief hobby-bios of eight incredibly talented painters with excellent step-by-step guides presenting their specific philosophy and approaches to the hobby. As stated in Margot's introduction, the book's goal is to showcase and highlight the work of women in the hobby, and to show that female artists "are represented in all areas" of our little figure-modeling world. And I think it accomplishes this job really well: the book is a great celebration of the female artists in our hobby and their work. As such and for the showcased diversity, I strongly recommend it!

The gallery page presents pics of all eight finished projects.

Talk to you soon!

Best, D.


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