May 31, 2016

TRENCH RUNNER REVIEW: Steven Lowenthal Takes a Look at AK Interactive's Learning Series no.4 Metallics Vol. 1 Book

There are few things that fill a modeler with consternation like executing a metallic finish.  Some won’t even attempt them. Which is a shame because some subjects almost demand them. Many late war WWII aircraft for instance.  However, some of the trepidation is understandable.  As if the meticulous prep work wasn’t tough enough, the available products can be messy, smelly and difficult to work with. Metallic finishes are fragile. They can be damaged through handling, weathering and decaling.


Coinciding with the release of their Xtreme Metal metallic paint line, AK Interactive has released METALLICS Vol.1, the fourth book in their Learning Series line. The book’s intention is to take the mystery out of using metallics and educate the modeler on how to achieve a realistic finish on different surfaces with the currently available products.

The book is serious about educating the modeler. It begins with a quick discussion on basic Color Theory, Light Diffusion regarding both regular and metallic paints and even touches on how metal rusts. I found the information interesting and a good, albeit, very basic explanation on how matellics work. This section is only four pages long so it is by no means a focus of the book. 
While AK Interactive produces the book, it is not an advertisement for their products disguised as an instructional on the subject. The next chapter presents the currently available products. The paints, pastes, inks, pencils and foils from numerous manufacturers. Next is a Top 10 list of the most popular metals for modelers. How they weather and discolor in real life. With recommendations on how the modeler can replicate this process. Both in the description and with images. One of the best pieces of information is the next section that compares the top brands of the color Aluminum. Comparing them over several criteria and images. This will certainly help with your decision when picking a brand to work with.
OK. We’ve been given the science behind metallics, briefed on the current market, and given the hows and whys on what we are trying to accomplish. With Chapter 4 we are ready to get into the meat of the book. How to apply and obtain the best possible finish from the different materials out there. The following sections are presented by the individual product. Waxes, pigments, paints and so on. Each gives a step by step walkthrough of many techniques, all with high quality photographs.  Extra attention has been paid to the photography as the subtlety of the images tones, shades and weathering show up rather well. The subjects used for demonstration are diverse. Tanks, aircraft, engines, sci-fi and more. Frequently, books from the Spanish manufacturers have grammatical issues that can be challenging at times. I think AK must be addressing the issue as any syntax problems are few and not unintelligible when they do occur. 
Chapter 4.1.1 illustrates using AK’s True Metal Gun Metal wax to paint a German MP40. Since I am currently painting Knight Models’ 72mm Punisher, I decided to give their method a try on his guns and see if I could get a similar result to the book. Since the figure’s gun is smaller than the one in the book, I choose to use a brush to apply the True Earth Gun Metal instead of a Q-Tip as suggested. It comes out of the tube with a consistency like toothpaste. Too thick to apply directly, so I thinned it with some AK White Spirit. Just a dab of thinner was enough. It then flowed smoothly and had excellent coverage properties. However, clean up took more than other “paints”. It needed a lot of repeat cleaning to get those tiny metallic bits off the brush. If you don’t already do it, I’d recommend separate brushes for metallics. After about a 30 minute dry, I continued with the next step and applied a mix of acrylic Shiny Black and Brown Filter (thinned brown wash in my case). It had to go on thick to stay in the small crevices but otherwise it went on easily. Once dry, I gave it a rub down with a Q-Tip and then finished it off with a polish of Dark Steel pigment as the book mentions. Once completed, I was pleased with the results and it resembled what was shown in the book. Overall I would say the methodology used was easy to follow. Someone unfamiliar with the technique should be able to reproduce it. 
AK Interactive has built its reputation on quality modeling products. It’s book line included. I have purchased a number of them and have leaned many new techniques and drew inspiration from their dynamic  photography. This book is no different. I learned a few new ways to reproduce a realistic metal finishes that I haven’t tried before but now plan on using on future builds. Where the book truly excels is as a primer on the subject. Providing enough basic information, and hopefully the confidence, to get the results you are looking for. 
As the title suggests, this isn’t the last word on the subject either, as there is a follow up coming soon, Metallics Vol.2. Where they look at metallics on historical and fantasy figures.  My only question is; How long do I have to wait, AK?
Steven Lowenthal

View to Order in our web store HERE
Read Steve's Review of Volume 2 HERE

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