"So he got himself a two inch brush and a pot of black enamel"

There are two new(ish) books out on figure painting which I thought deserved mention. To be honest, I’d been doing the “Um, ah” shuffle  for a little while about getting one of them and ended up with both. The first one is actually more of a booklet produced by the Wargames Illustrated team and is a sort of group effort. It was flagged up by Lee Abbott, who’s a very good painter and interested in that sort of thing and that was my prompt. The second book is by Javier Gomez (‘El Mercenario’) and I was persuaded to buy it by that master of the brush Sir Sidney Roundwood who wrote a short, illustrated review. And now it’s my turn . . . .

The actual titles of the books are:

Wargames Illustrated Paints (still available from the mag stands or from the W.I, webstore); £5.95 at about 67 useful pages (i.e. without the end papers etc.) which works out at about 9 pence per page. I’ll refer to this one as ‘WI’.

Painting Wargame Figures; Javier Gomez; Pen & Sword Military (30 Mar. 2015); ISBN 1848848226; £16.99 at about 218 useful pages which works out at about 8 pence per page. I’ll refer to this one as ‘Gomez’ – well who wouldn’t?

Why the note about the cost per page? Well, they’re two massively different approaches and styles and it’s about the only way to measure relative cost given the limitations of a blog. As it is, they’re both about the same relative value, irrespective of content.

Who would bother to read a book on figures painting? You don’t have to be a master figure painter to be interested in this sort of book, just as you don’t have to be a Premiership player to watch a football match. I guess audience is made up of three groups:

  • those new to painting,
  • those who want to improve,
  • those who are simply interested in reading about others’ methods.

Now, there must be as many painting styles as there are figure painters and, usefully, these are examples of very similar methods, although the Gomez book goes on to mention media other than acryics. Nevertheless, both books could be described as giving instructions on how to paint figures (essentially 28mm) in the three layer/shade method and neither book is going to set you on the path to a Golden Demon Award by next Easter. However, both books are useful manuals for most skill levels. Consequently, the books are necessarily formulaic in their approach. They’re not definitive guides and don’t claim to be although the cover of the WI does boast “Your complete guide to painting wargames miniatures”: I should cocoa.

Hot tip: buy some shares in a certain Spanish paint company as sales may well rocket about now . . . . .

Although broadly similar, each book has its strengths. The WI book has useful sections on the use of decals and figure conversion techniques and Gomez covers individual colours in detail, along with a large section on horse colours and types, although some of this is a luxury in that the section on individual colurs is repetitive: the technique remains the same. Both books contain good sections on basing, but the WI includes mention of painting wood in a variety of conditions, which complements this.

So which one? As with most things in life, the final choice depends on personal taste. The content of both is good, but I prefer the WI booklet because, although it’s not as substantial or glossy as the Gomez book, I find the content more interesting overall. However, as I said, being filthy rich, I’ve got both so it doesn’t matter.

I think it’s fair to say that I, and a lot of gamers I know, use many more methods and techniques than those mentioned in these books, but I’m a dabbler and I’m easily bored so I play around with paint and figures probably more than most. If you scan back through the blog entries here, you'll see several techniques mentioned or described. There isn’t one, single method and some are more suited to some styles of sculpting than  to others.

On a final note, anyone who recognises the words in the title or can sing the actual song is either a member (or former member) of Her Majesty's Royal Navy or should be thoroughly ashamed of himself (or herself). You surely wouldn't sing it to you mother . . . .

The Song of the Dodo

Yes, nice to see you too. Where have I been? Nowhere really, but I've been reading and ruminating and the like. Been cautious about wha...