Thursday, December 16, 2010

Product Review: GW How To Paint Citadel Miniatures Book

Yes, this book has been out for yonks now and I'm just now getting a review in. Sue me. I recently got my hands on a copy and, whilst reading, thought "this would make an excellently snarky review on EoG!". And so, here we both are...

As I've said, this is a 100-page book published by Games Workshop starting a few years back for $30, ostensibly as the cover suggests to help one paint miniatures made by GW. Don't let the title fool you. You can paint miniatures from any company you want using the same techniques taught in this book, though perhaps I'll receive a C&D letter from GW Legal threatening me with letting that little secret out. Anything is possible!


The book's arranged well and I'll go through each section front to back. First up, we have the materials section detailing all the tools one will need to paint miniatures. IMHO, this is the worst section for painting beginners based on two issues - the product placement of Citadel brushes and the total and utter lack of primer listed anywhere. The brushes are a sticking point with me simply because I dislike citadel brushes - they are cheap, made of synthetic materials, and cost just as much (if not more) than a top-of-the-line Kolinsky Sable (arguably the painting world's most lauded brush type, and for good reason). This being a Citadel book (and the fact I'm still confident the average person can smell product placement a mile away) I'm willing to let this slide a bit.

What's not so easy to let go, and is most baffling, is the lack of primer being discussed here! Normal spray paint IS NOT PRIMER. Additionally, an undercoat is not the same thing as a primer coat. Yet, the author makes no mention of these points and tends to mix these phrases up freely throughout the book. This is a HUGE FAIL, especially for a miniature painter the caliber of Mr. Priestley, and for this book's audience. Primer coats provide a stable surface for paints to adher to the metal of plastic below, help to bond paint to the miniature in the process of transport/play/damage, and will affect how easily the miniature can be painted (or not).


(Nerd-rage fading.....)

Forward to the prepping minis chapter! After years of painting models, this - for me - is perhaps THE most crucial step in whether the subsequent painting is either easy or difficult and whether or not the miniature will withstand the long years of storage, transport, and gameplay that come after. And, god help me, this section just sucks balls.

I'm sorry there's no other word for just how damn lazy this section is! First, the pinning process (whereby a small rod is inserted into the joint between two metal parts to reinforce said joint) is not even mentioned. I'm not saying it's not described in detail, it is simply not even hinted at! I can't imagine a beginner getting his first metal mini and this book, assembling the mini with just glue, going to all the trouble of painting it, and then having an arm or leg fall off (inevitably taking the surrounding paint with it) the first time it's put into transport. That's completely disheartening for a newbie and it's a shame the author doesn't feel the need to even mention this process as an option.

The removal of flashing/mold-lines and the assembly of plastic miniatures is handled well though. Gap-filling and minor GS work is also discussed well - with enough detail for a beginner to understand the concept, without being bombarded by over-information. One last minor quibble - the general sanding/polishing of metal minis isn't discussed. However, as there is still some debate whether this is truly necessary, as well as this being a beginner's book, it's not necessary to include.


Other than my conniption fit above about the priming/undercoating mix-up, this is a nice little section. The differences between a black basecoat and white basecoat is discussed in depth and with enough information for a beginner to get the gist.


Strangely, "temporary mounting" is discussed near the very end of this section, when it should be included here either before anything else or (better yet) discussed at the end of the Prep section.


Another section that suffers from techniques being out of place. Here, "protective coatings" are mentioned in detail before "applying decals/painting designs", when these latter techniques are one of the most valuable parts of the mini one would usually want protected!


Probably the best section of the book, if a bit wide-ranging for most beginning players. Models are included from each range and are generally those most frequently encountered by beginning players - Space Marines/Eldar Dire Avengers, Empire Spearmen/Dark Elves, Rohan/High Elves - and the section ends with a short blurb on John Blanche.

The one very badly done tutorial here is the WHFB Orc Warrior, whose flesh is painted in a base coat of dark red and highlights of bluish-white!


Overall, is it really worth the money? Probably not. For all the nice technique tutorials included, there isn't anything here that a beginning player couldn't get from perusing gaming forums for a few hours or so. Also, after learning the techniques, this book will probably collect dust on a shelf somewhere.

-Great Techniques section
-Great Step-By-Step section
-Certainly not the worst book you could buy on the subject for a beginner

-No distinguishing between primer/undercoating
-No pinning process discussed for metal miniatures
-Many sections suffer from having techniques out of order
-TERRIBLE Orc Warrior painting tutorial
-Little to no "replay value"

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