I love weathering books; seriously. I have over 40 painting/weathering books just in the English language and three milk crates of clipped articles, printed forum topics, and on-line articles. There is always something to learn and I will freely confess to being a weathering imitator, not an innovator. I copy techniques from more gifted modelers and, as they develop new techniques, I steal them for myself.
I still have my original dog eared Shep Paine books and the various Francois Verlinden books. In my humble opinion, the last milestone was Miguel Jimenez's first FAQ book. Not so much because it was the be all and end-all for weathering but because it was a comprehensive look at the various facets of the new "Spanish School" of finishing that put all of the information in your hands. Michael Rinaldi has begun doing the same thing for his style.
First off, as an artist his skill is right up there with anyone else you can name. Personally, I really like his style as it combines a great deal of visual richness and appeal without looking too impressionistically "arty". It also has been refined to be reproducible and uses oil mapping and hair spray in ways that are rather unique.
More importantly, he can break this information down into understandable steps for those of us who need that. So he's writing us textbooks. And I mean that literally. These books are not really ones where you can browse through and snag techniques or tips at random. They are carefully written explanations of how and why things work together where the 195 pages of text and photos build on each other. In other words, this is a reading book, not a looking book. The pictures are clear, detailed, and helpful but they are used to illustrate in great detail what the text is explaining.
This book has 12 chapters as follows:
Products and materials
What to buy, what style of brush to buy, what products to use and why. The author is giving you a shopping list detailed enough that I'm mildly surprised he's not telling you what soap he washes up with after pigment weathering. That's not a criticism, he's giving you everything you will need to try his methodology, down to what bristle type you want on your angled chipping brush.
A short section where the theory behind his finishing approach is described so you understand the terms that will be used throughout the book.
This is overtly about a whitewash finish but really serves as an overview on how to use hairspray for chipping and distressed paint finishes. Read it carefully, because the author uses this technique for an awful lot of applications.
Oil Paint Rendering
Again, pay attention when reading. This is a very powerful technique but also one that I personally have been finding is very idiot friendly as you can repair poor results quite easily. What is nice is in this book Michael shows models with very minimal use of this technique so if you choose not to use it you will still get methodology from the book that you can use.
Painting Olive Drab
Six pages on a controversial enough topic that Steven Zaloga has to come out every year or so and go over his research again (and again) to demolish recurring myths like crabgrass. What I appreciate here is that it is made idiot proof again where the Tamiya and LifeColor paints are detailed. It also introduces us to a lacquer thinner distressing technique which seems very useful moving forward.
I hate pigments. I rub them off, they don't do what I want, and generally frustrate me because I don't use them properly. Which is the point of this chapter as it takes stubborn modelers like me or beginners and walks them through the process step by step, including the type of paint finish you need for them to work. I'm not quite ready to give up Humbrol in an airbrush and brushing with thinner but chapters like these are starting to wear me down. . .
5 Step by Step Builds
The next section of the book covers five models in detail, exhaustive detail. The pictures are plentiful and detailed, there are step by step photos that illustrate specific points from the text, and the chapters build off each other. for me, that is the ultimate strength of these books so far. They don't show the same approach to successive models, rather each model is a showpiece for one area of Michael's overall method where you get a very in depth instructional on it. As an example you get 26 pages on a very lightly weathered KV-1 that maintains visual appeal and richness with an out of the box build and none of the crutches of using heavy chipping and rust to bring it to life. It's a subtle build and perfectly illustrates how to use this overall method on a fairly new vehicle. This section also covers a Russian lend lease Churchill III, an M-26 Pershing, a Char B1 bis, and a Sherman Firefly.
At the end of the book we get a chapter on figure painting by Radek Pituch. This 12 page chapter is the weakest of the book and if I have one criticism of these books it is this chapter and the parallel one by Marjin van Gils in the first volume. Both of these painters are masters but the section is simply too short to do justice to their skills and tantalizing tips are given without the now expected in depth coverage of how to do them. It's not that they are bad chapters and both these painters pack a large amount of information and guidance into these chapters. However, they suffer because these books are all about giving you in depth details and guidance in minute detail, then you get to these chapters on the Achilles heel of so many modelers and you get a section that you would expect in a lesser book. If I have one suggestion, it would be to give these sections the 30 or so pages that they deserve and use them to build from volume to volume as almost a serial of sorts. Sculpting clothes in one, painting a face in another, weathering a painted figure's clothes in yet another, etc.
If you are looking at doing more than basic weathering with an overall wash and drybrush and you like the finishing style that today's masters such as Michael Rinaldi uses, this is the best English language book out there. If you're choosing between the 2 volumes pick this one if you model Allied, volume 1 if you model German. There is enough overlap where you will get what you need from either book. However, each book goes into different details, tips, and applications so if you want a truly comprehensive instructional you should buy both. Personally, I am extremely excited about this series as it promises to be a graduate level course in weathering. The only thing I can think of in the modeling world like these are Reverend Romero's 6 book practicum series on building the HMS Warrior. One book building on another with a consistent approach and vision? Yeah, I think I can scrape together $30 every few months for that. . . I pay $10 for a magazine with one 8 page article I like and here for 3 times that I get over 20 times that.
Highs: Detailed, methodical, engaging text
Excellent and plentiful photos of all steps and stages
A user friendly and comparatively goof-proof methodLows: Several typos in the text
Figure section not up to the detail of the rest of the bookVerdict: Buy it. Seriously.
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