Book Review: “Modeling Fallschirmjäger Figures”

Today, I’m going to review another book. This time, it’s an Osprey Modeling publication by Jaume Ortiz Forns and Daniel Alfonsea Romero, entitled "Modeling Fallschirmjäger Figures".
There are two reasons I requested a copy of this book. First, I recently picked up a Dragon 1/72 King Tiger (a.k.a. "Tiger II") set that came with eight Fallschirmjäger figures–all of which would require painting, of course. And, just short of digital camo, Fallschirmjäger camo is probably about the most complicated uniform pattern I’ve ever seen. The idea of trying to paint it in 1/72 without additional reference was a truly daunting idea. The second reason was that, although I’ve collected a number of books on various modeling subjects, I had nothing specifically about figures. And I like figures. Thus, this book seemed like a very good fit. Just how good a fit it turned out to be, I had no idea.
The book arrived in my grubby little hands on Friday, and I think I finished my first read-through on Sunday. If you’re interested in the history of the Fallschirmjäger, then this is not the book for you. If, however, you’re interested in painting better figures and trying to accurately depict Fallschirmjäger camo, then this book is a near-perfect match. Through the four well-documented projects in the book, the reader is taken through the fundamental skills of painting an out-of-box 120mm figure through creating a 1/35 diorama project by sculpting and re-sculpting existing figures.
What truly made this book especially helpful to me is the fact that the method they show for painting (both faces and bodies) involves hand-painting with acrylic paints. I’d honestly always thought that the best results were achieved with oils, but the results shown here are amazing. I’m really looking forward to trying out these techniques on 1/20 and 1/35 figures. In addition, they show using a forced lighting perspective when painting. In short, this means that the shadows and highlights are painted as though there is a light source directly overhead. This makes the end-result more striking. And it does go into detail on painting various Fallschirmjäger camo patterns–something that I’ll be able to apply directly to those 1/72 figures. A number of color swatches are also printed onto the pages, to help as a reference.
The format of the book was also a great asset to the modeler. Although there’s only four projects that are shown here, they really do take you from the fundamental techniques through much more advanced projects. And they do it progressively, letting it build up from one project to the next. The other nice part is that there are dozens of photographs for each project, which allow the authors to clearly show the step-by-step process of each technique. There was no point in reading along where I wasn’t able to follow along with the photographs to see exactly what they meant. With modeling, that’s truly a blessing.
A helpful tip–that I should have been aware of but wasn’t–is that they use Tamiya "Flat Base" with nearly everything. I had a bottle of the stuff, but really wasn’t using it properly. The proper way to use it is to mix it with every paint you’re using–on the palette–to achieve a truly flat color (as opposed to "gloss" or semi-gloss).
In conclusion, this is a great book if you’re interested in painting figures, or painting figures better. The techniques shown–for both painting and sculpting–are going to be directly applicable to nearly any figure project. It also speaks about the importance of the composition of a figure display (be it a diorama or a simple vignette). There are certainly more comprehensive guides out there, but they also carry a much larger price tag. In terms of value for the money (for the subject of figures), I don’t think this book can be beat. I have no doubt that I will continue to use this as a reference for many years to come.

This book was contributed for review by the management of a local Barnes & Noble (and I’ll be more than happy to keep mentioning them in exhcange for other model-related books). To order the softcover edition from Barnes & Noble, click here. They offer free shipping for orders over $25. To find a Barnes & Noble near you, click here.


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