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Book Review
Aircraft Scale Modelling F.A.Q
Aircraft Scale Modelling F.A.Q. - AK 276
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by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]

Originally published on:

I’ve read a number of modelling encyclopedias over the years, which viewed in retrospect almost serve as an unfolding history of the state of the art of our hobby at any given time.

The last few years have seen the rise of what is often called “the Spanish style”, introducing some truly remarkable finishing techniques that have taken weathering (in particular) to new levels, so I was particularly excited to have the chance to read this new book by Daniel Zamarbide, on of the leading exponents of these techniques. Over the course of 300 pages, he sets out to explain and illustrate how to master the style. As he puts it neatly “...to offer you help and inspiration to finish your models and face those challenging finishes that we do not dare to try”.

I'll state up front, my one misgiving with the book being published by AK Interactive was that it would prove to be not so much an encyclopedia, but more a totally understandable showcase for their own range. Happily, this is not the case at all, and Daniel features products from a multitude of manufacturers with a commendably even hand. So, while you'll find plenty of AK Interactive products mentioned, essentially this is the "Daniel Zamarbide way" using whatever works best for him.

The book breaks down into two main sections. The first 100 or so pages is along the lines of a traditional modelling encyclopaedia, and gives a detailed breakdown of the essential materials and techniques - e.g. preparation, gluing, filling and painting. The sequence is nice and logical, starting with the real basics of how to remove parts safely from the sprues and a good explanation of the various types of glue and putty and how they work.

Things soon get more involved, though, with an introduction to scribing and reproducing riveting, along with what is for many of us the first step towards more serious modifications - separating and re-positioning control surfaces. All the staple techniques are covered - using wire, polishing canopies, creating lamp covers and stretching sprue, while Daniel covers some quite advanced methods such as scratchbuilt turnbuckles

The section then turns to painting and weathering - introducing washes and filters, applying decals, and then shading and highlighting. This really is the backbone of the “Spanish technique”, and realistic chipping, fading, rust and corrosion techniques are all covered in detail. There are no less seven different methods described - all useful in their own way, depending on the circumstances.

Some of Daniel’s weathering techniques involved are pretty involved - and they certainly aren’t for anyone lacking in patience, because the more elaborate involve multiple stages of masking, sealing and re-masking. But the results are quite remarkable - proof that it’s definitely worth persevering.

I suppose that the only modellers who won’t really benefit from these extensive weathering tutorials are those who prefer to build their models strictly “factory fresh”.

The second half of the book takes a quite unique approach in tackling various parts of an aircraft kit, on a case-by-case basis. So it breaks topics down into eras and nationalities. This format works really well for me, as it means that whatever type of aircraft you might be building, you can go straight to the appropriate chapter for some help and inspiration. While, clearly, the techniques overlap and aren’t mutually exclusive, it means that you can pick say, a German WW2 cockpit, a WWI rotary engine, Soviet jet camouflage or Cold War-era missiles and find pertinent techniques.

The important thing for me is that you can mix and match the methods that Daniel outlines to develop a style all of your own. Indeed, it would be rather dull if everyone slavishly mimicked every aspect of what’s shown and left it at that - if nothing else, our hobby is one of constant experimentation and refinement.

The photography and illustration throughout is excellent, with large, clear step-by-step images in full colour. The captions are very helpful and easy to follow. Occasionally, an odd word here or there gives the game away that the text has been translated from the original Spanish (indeed, one caption slipped through untranslated), but it’s simple enough to understand the meaning.

This is a really useful book for novices and experienced modellers alike, and I’d be surprised if anyone could honestly claim they didn’t find anything new to learn from. There are already a mass of new things I’m keen to try out from just a first pass through the book, and I’m certain there will be many more as I explore deeper.

The final section of the book is a gallery of finished models, some familiar from the preceding tutorials, but others not shown before. What would have been nice would be brief notes outlining the materials and techniques used, referring you to the appropriate sections. Some readers may feel the a Gallery is a little superfluous, but it does show the models in their totality, illustrating how the various techniques come together in a finished model.

I’ll certainly keep this FAQ as a handy ready reference by my workbench. Highly recommended.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: An easy to follow, detailed explanation of techniques from the basic to highly advanced. Excellent photos accompanied by clear step-by-step captions.
Lows: The Gallery feels like a little bit of a "bolt-on". Notes referring back to the techniques used would overcome this.
Verdict: This is a book that will never be far from my workbench. In one volume it covers all the state-of-the-art aircraft modelling techniques and links them to practical examples.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 8436535572767
  Suggested Retail: 57.00 Euros
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Jun 25, 2015

Our Thanks to AK Interactive!
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About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)

I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...

Copyright ©2017 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Historicus Forma or Silver Star Enterprises. All rights reserved.

Reader Reviews
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I'm not sure if I need this or not, but I might just get it to see what Dani has to say I have a mag with his Raiden and I don't like some of the methods used; actually it might be the colours used, but it's the techniques that I'm interested in. I am currently drawing up a set of paint masks for Dani, I'm hoping that the build will appear in one of his publications and I am really looking forward to seeing what he can do with paint masks
JUN 25, 2015 - 07:06 PM
Hi Mal I don't know about "needing" this, but I'd be surprised if none of the stuff covered didn't give even the best among us pause for thought. It's definitely worth a read. Dani uses a lot of masks - both commercial and home-made. Some of what he achieves with the latter is particularly impressive. Of course, it also helps that he's such a fine free-hand painter. Don't you just hate it when someone's good at everything! All the best Rowan
JUN 27, 2015 - 08:07 AM
I will more than likely get it, some of his techniques aren't for me but some will be and even those that aren't will probably give me ideas. As I feel that I need inspiration then this is for me, it is a bit expensive though, too much to ask to get one for Christmas so I will have to use some of my modelling tokens. I gave Dani a set of my Typhoon masks at Telford last year and I am currently producing a set of masks for one of his latest builds, a 1/32 Spitfire MkIX and I hope that he will use more of my masks in the future
JUN 27, 2015 - 06:30 PM
Very interesting Rowan! Like you say, often these books are just a showcase for a certain range of products (I recently got the Ammo WWI Weathering Magazine, and though very useful and inspirational, there is a lot of product highlighting of smartly packaged chemicals and pigments. Of course some of them very useful, but still). I also think that lately we have seen an increase of weathering techniques for the sake of just showing off the brilliance of the artist, where perhaps historical accuracy has suffered somewhat. Overly highlighted rib tapes on bi-planes and heavily worn aircraft, that had a combat career only lasting a few weeks to name a couple of examples... (small rant now over) However having said all this, I think this book looks very good, and I will most likely get one for the sake of exploring new techniques and I'm sure I will gain new insights. Thanks for posting! Mikael
JUN 27, 2015 - 09:35 PM
Hi Mikael I know exactly where you're coming from. Even as a self-confessed "dirty" modeller, I do wonder if the next modelling vogue will see the (re-)imposition of greater restraint in weathering where warranted. The extreme effects are mind-blowing - and definitely have their applications - but there are also many examples out there where it's "weathering for weathering's sake", regardless of historical accuracy. Of course, the "secret" (just as in art and music) is to master the techniques - and then to know when to use them. All the best Rowan
JUN 30, 2015 - 07:15 AM
I picked up a copy myself and am very pleased with it. Honestly I had the same skepticism Rowan, expecting a lot of product plugs for AK but I agree he is very even-handed in his recommendations. I doubt I will use everything but there are a number of truly impressive weathering techniques I want to try. It is definitely a nice reference manual.
JUN 30, 2015 - 12:52 PM
Modelling is a dirty business, but someone has got to do it – at least that is what I tell my wife when she complains I have paint on my hands – again Joke aside – Very interesting points Rowan – I had not really thought about where modeling was heading next. Even more weathering and de-construction would seem unlikely. Perhaps like you say it may be more restrained again. Looking back at books on my shelf from the 70 ies and 80ies, its safe to say that modelling does evolve and fashions come and go... Mikael
JUL 01, 2015 - 07:41 PM
Oh god, I didn't see this review until now - and I was just writing up a review of it for Aeroscale. And yes, this book is great - much like I have always learned something from each of the "How to build" series, I found a lot of new ideas in it. Did you notice the one caption that didn't get translated at all? Or the article where the publisher has written NATO as Tamiya OTAN black? As for the article on a Raiden - I think that the article is probably the same one that's included in the book. I was really disappointed that for this pricepoint, the book wasn't a hardcover.
JUL 11, 2015 - 01:06 PM
Here in the USA the F.A.Q. is priced from $80-$98 dollars. There's a big mark up from importing the book. Makes you hesitant to invest about $100 in a book. However for those on a budget there is an alternative. Get the Free AK Interactive App for Android or Apple and the cost of F.A.Q. is only $37.99! AK's App also allows you to purchase their other book titles and magazines at a substantial savings. The magazines are $5.99. As a bonus the App also features a free download of AK's Catalog. Here's a link to AK's YouTube video about their app. LINK Now with Apple releasing a larger screen iPad you will be able to see these books in a larger format. At this point in time it looks like they don't offer their books or magazines for the Kindle or for a PC based reader.
SEP 10, 2015 - 05:34 PM
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