This is the first in a series of diorama modelling handbooks to be published by Mr. Black Publications (the second has also been released). Mr. Black is a relatively new, European-based company specializing in modeling ‘how-to’ books and modeling-related history books. On their website they also offer a small selection of vignette bases and some pro-built models.
This handbook is in the standard European A4 (roughly 8 ½” x 11”) format, and is printed on very high quality, thick matte paper. There are over 400 photos between the covers.
The contents comprise of 9 articles, each written by a different author, explaining the construction and detailing of vignette-style dioramas. The emphasis is on figure-related dioramas, and the contents are as follows:
- Bailen, July 1808, by Jesus Gamarra. This is a 54mm (1/32) diorama of Spanish troops during the Napoleonic Wars, based on a famous painting. Emphasis is on methods use to reposition figures.
- Back to the Front, by Dave Youngquist. 120mm (1/16) WW1 German Trench, circa 1917. Here the emphasis is on the building of the groundwork and various bits that make up the details of the base.
- US M3 Stuart “Honey”, by Noel Petroni. 50mm (1/35) Desert Armor scene. This is the only article in the book that includes a vehicle made from a kit. Emphasis here is on weathering and blending the vehicle into the scene.
- Die Ostfront 1945, by Kazufumi Tomori. 120mm (1/16) WW2 vignette. Here the diorama is restricted to use of Tamiya products (for inclusion in another publication), but the author cleverly creates /converts his own figures using Tamiya epoxy putty.
- Conquistadors, by Sergey Popovicheno. 75mm (1/24) scene of Spanish Conquistadors at a Mayan temple. This shows the process of building a resin set to be used for the kit’s box artwork
- The Canon, by Javier Gonzalez. 50/54mm (1/35 – 1/32) scene of kids at play during WW2, based on a period photo. Here the emphasis is on modifying figures, and creating a tonal ‘mood’ in the painting of the vignette.
- Kings of the Road, by Alex Varela and Antonio Fernandez. 54mm (1/32) humorous vignette. Emphasis here is on scratchbuilding/kitbashing a vehicle, and constructing the scene itself.
- Making Pine Trees in 1/35-1/32 Scales, by Costas Rodopoulos. Self-explanatory! A detailed look at creating realistic trees.
- Near Moscow, by Theodoros Kelesidis. 50-54mm (1/35 – 1/32) scene from WW2. Emphasis here is on creating the entire vignette from scratch, with some heavy figure modification.
With articles by different authors, there are bound to be varying levels of explanation and details. I found each of the chapters/articles to be informative and helpful, although some much more so than others. The only fault I would have about any of the articles is that they are not long enough! Each chapter has great advice and how-to information, but I inevitably had more questions than answers at the end. As a novice in the world of figures and dioramas, I found the work inspiring and a bit intimidating, but overall this book offers some great advice. I am very much looking forward to follow up editions
Thanks to Stevens International for the review copy, and to IPMS for allowing me to review it!