January 24, 2017

TRENCH RUNNER REVIEW: Vignettes A How-To Guide

To order this book Click HERE
Vignettes A How-To Guide 'A Guide to Realize Scenes and Vignettes' by Joaquín García Gázquez
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First off I have to point out that the English copies of this book have six miscollated pages. They are out of sequence. In speaking with the publishers this is not a easy thing to correct and unless the first printing sells out it won't be. A bummer yes, but a minor distraction because this is an amazing book, and for a number of reasons. First and foremost it guides you through building vignettes from beginning to end. Similar books on dioramas are exclusively or at least mostly focused on replicating nature...the groundwork, water, terrain and foliage. However this guide contains not only the above but also teaches you how to paint and weather vehicles, and how to paint figures. These areas receive the same degree of attention, so it can be considered three books in one, for scenes, vehicles and figures -all of them needed to build a vignette. But it is unique because it deals exclusively with vignettes, that is, small scenes with a base, one vehicle and one (or a couple) figures. Although the techniques may be similar, large dioramas are out of the scope of this book. I came away from this book with the feeling that I could actually pull one of these off.  The featured projects are also affordable and all of the processes are carefully explained, step by step with excellent text and photographs.

The book, as the title says, is a how-to guide for creating and building vignettes. There are several scenes with a detailed construction process, explaining not only how to do it but also why. I found the 168 pages more than adequate to cover all the aspects in depth. All articles feature 1/35th scale elements. It is softcover, printed in good quality paper, thick and glossy and it is published by Accion Press, the publishers of Panzer Aces magazine.

The author is Joaquín García Gázquez, a Spanish modeler with a long and successful career. His works have been published in Military Illustrated Modeller, Abrams Squad, Steel Masters, Military Modelcraft and The Weathering Magazine. He also wrote the popular book The Paint Guide for Figures of World War Two published by Histoire & Collections. Two of the chapters have vignettes by Andrés Bernal and Javier Redondo, modelers of great skills who make an interesting contribution to the book. Unfortunately, these two articles lack the detailed step-step painting photos for both vehicles and figures, although they do a good job with the text and images.

The book opens with a foreword by the author and an editorial from Rodrigo Hernandez (who is the publisher and owner of Accion Press). Then starts the content itself with an introduction that defines what a vignette is and gives some basic composition and design information. The rest of the chapters are based on a vignette each, except one which is focused on proportions. Apart from the introduction, this is the only theoretical chapter but it is kept to a minimum. As one would expect, the book is full of images. Most of them are photos but there are also drawings. One interesting technique used is a transparent overlay highlighting the design process.  The photos of the finished projects are just a few for each vignette, so there is no "gallery of models" occupying lots of pages. This is not a draw back but a plus in my mind. The text is clear and easy to understand, with both a main story and detailed captions for the photos. Some original Spanish text has slipped on a couple of illustrations, but it does not really affect the readability of the book.

The layout of pages is very nice and easy to follow, including numbered photos for easier location of the text. As for the products used, there is a variety of known brands with no particular preference for one or another. All of the chapters by Joaquín García Gázquez start with a study about the composition, followed by step a step detailed sections on how to paint the vehicle, the figures and how to build and paint the base and its elements. It is noteworthy that the techniques are explained once, and not repeated for each scene. For example, the first chapter explains how to paint figures, then the next just give the colors used and some photos.

Highlighted sections include:
- Why Scenes are Made
- Composition-
A brief study, dealing with symmetry, balance and height to create a pleasant view.

- Basic Decoration Tips-
Days of Wine and Roses, a vignette of a German soldier with a Simca car on a countryside road in France, the ground has some bright green plants and a small water stream.

A Simple Anecdote-
The (other) Desert Fox, again a German soldier in Africa with a Kubelwagen, on a desert terrain with sand and dust that cover the vehicle.

- Composing a Vignette-
Hungarian AFV Crew on Manoeuvres, features a Toldi tank with three soldiers crossing a rail road, using different heights for the elements and positioning the figures to keep the balance and interest.

- Playing with Different Heights - 
"Region Esercito", Tunisia 1943, by Andrés Bernal, showing part of an AB-41 with two figures at very different heights, showing how works the triangle overall shape.

Tilting the Planes-
Stalinetz S-65 with Howitzer, Spanish Civil War 1938 built by Javier Redondo, where the tractor and gun are positioned on a sloped street with a house. The house and walls are made of stone.

- Telling a Story-
The First Flower of Spring A T-70 in front of a house, with a soldier and a girl giving him a flower while a lady looks through the door from inside. The wooden house has faded paint and there are patches of snow in the ground.

- Other Approaches-
Postwar Kids, a small scene of two kids seated on an abandoned T-34 track and playing with papers.

This is an excellent guide that goes beyond what you would expect from a diorama/vignette book, as it covers all the processes from composition to painting and weathering vehicles and painting figures, all in great detail. The text is clear and easy to follow and is supported by many excellent photos showing both general views and details. The examples cover most of the situations found in nature...desert, snow, urban, countryside.

I absolutely recommend Vignettes. A How-to Guide both for new modelers and experienced ones. The former will have a detailed yet easy to implement guide, while the latter will surely find new and interesting advice and techniques.
Arley Mitchell 2017
To order this book Click HERE

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