Reading internet and magazine articles on finishing techniques is all well and good, but few of us would argue that they're no substitute for having someone actually show you how to do something, real time, from different angles. So Compendium Films' “Realistic WWII Aircraft Finishing Techniques” with host and tutor Geoff Illsley, a multi-award winning UK modeller and Chief Judge at Euro Militaire, is a very useful DVD release indeed.
Geoff doesn't set out to explain how to model any particular aircraft, rather his film deals with finishing techniques (some general, others quite specific) that are applicable on any WW2 subject and beyond. Available in PAL and NTSC formats, with a running time of approximately an hour for the main programme and a total length of 95 mins, the DVD is broken down into the following sections:
- Spinner spirals
- Luftwaffe Mottle Camouflage
- Natural Metal Finishes
- Decal Finishing
- Extras Section
For the purposes of the demonstrations, Geoff concentrates on a series of Bf 109s and a B-26 Marauder. His explanations are clear and well-paced (accompanied by the occasional “pphuttt!” from his compressor as it recharges). The video camera work and editing is very good for a programme like this; slowly paced, with clear angles to capture the details and allow the viewer to understand what's happening.
And there's plenty to take in - from the use of some more or less common tools, to Geoff's skilled close-range airbrush work and some materials and tools that may be new to many of us. The n/m finish section gives a very useful explanation on how to apply Alclad II, while the canopies section offers plenty of good advice on preparing these delicate parts.
As befits a show judge, Geoff isn't shy about expressing his opinions. His particular pet hate is over-weathering and pre-shading in particular. It's bound to be a little controversial as he singles out some well-known book illustrations as examples of bad practice, describing the results of such weathering as looking like “flying pavements”!
The DVD is certainly up to date, as it features some products that have only very recently hit the market. For the tutorials, Geoff keeps his own weathering very restrained, with panel lines highlighted with Promodeller Weathering Wash. As he admits, this is so much easier and less risky than his traditional technique with oil paints, he's unlikely to go back.
You shouldn't overlook the extras section as it contains a number of short tutorials that didn't find a home in the film itself. So. Here you'll find more detail on paint-chipping, cutting masking tape, storing solvents, attaching canopies and an explanation of colour shift and scale effect.
There's also a look at some common mistakes, an overview of the references available and a list of the recommended products featured in the film.
“Realistic WWII Aircraft Finishing Techniques” is definitely worth watching, whatever your skill level. While beginners won't be able to match the results straight away, the film teaches good solid techniques that will help them avoid problems in future – and for experienced modellers, well I'd be very surprised if you don't find some different twists on how you do things, or even methods that you've never tried before at all. Recommended.
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