Monday, April 23, 2012

[Review] GW's How to Paint Citadel Miniatures Book/DVD

I am probably the perfect customer for this product. I'm a casual painter with absolutely no real training. I taught myself, but I have a notoriously heavy hand and I find my work to be sloppy, grungy and just plain messy. If anyone needs help learning to paint, it's me.

A sample of my work. 

I love products like this, with step-by-step PICTURES of how those guys behind the curtain accomplished their magic. I bought the Privateer Press DVD as well, and watched it several times in the vain hope that talent would be transmitted through the screen to my feeble self.

I really enjoyed the P3 video, but I thought it went a little fast and missed some vital "up close" materials a NEW painter would want to see. Not so with the GW book. I've only browsed through it a few times and quickly gone through the DVD, but I can tell you that I will be checking both out over and over again.

So here's a look at the actual book:

It's got a "kickstand" or easel that's intended to help the book stand up right in front of you was you paint. The pages are magazine thickness and glossy, and spiral bound to make flipping to a specific page a breeze, with no worries about breaking your binding or pages falling out.

There are several sections of the book that I found super helpful, and others were "meh". The only issue was sometimes these were on the same page!

Warning! Blurry Pic. 

This example is from the "Shades" page. They show 3 examples of using their shades products. Example 1 is super clear about what they used and where. Example 3 is also perfectly clear- what shade was used, how much, and why. Example 2? VAGUE AS HELL. It also had a small box of text about "how much is too much" that I found to be counter-intuitive for a beginning painter, advocating a "laissez-faire" attitude on washes. For a beginning painter, this was not helpful. However, it's countered by two great samples, so it works out to be a "meh" for me.

I have only checked out two sections of the DVD so far. One was the "Basecoating" section, and the other was the "Glazing" section. The Basecoating section has been super, super informative for me already. Just by watching the demonstrated watering down technique, I can see where I have room to improve. (Uh, that would be everywhere, folks!) I also saw how OTHER people hold their brushes and their approach to the model that has given me a hint that maybe more is NOT better after all.

The glazing section was incredibly cool for me. I truly enjoyed seeing ways to add depth and intensity to models- it was sort of like watching someone get their hair glazed... but with models. (Dudes, ask your lady people about hair glaze. It's awesome.) I want to try it (someday).

The DVD comes right IN the book- no weird sleeve or taped in envelope to lose. 

I've had a couple people in the store balking at the price. I can understand the concern, as it IS spendy. I did (and will) point out to those that are concerned on cost that I GLADLY spent $25 for the P3 video, used it over and over and over; and find the GW Guide to be FAR superior. It is well worth the money to me, especially with the well designed format and obvious THOUGHT that was put into how someone might want to use something like this.

The breakdowns and sections on each step of the modeling process inside the book are full of tips that I found very helpful (along with an interesting outright admission that FINECAST products are prone to warping and bubbles from the injection process), making the book more than a "painting guide". It's a great primer and starting point for a beginning or inexperienced hobbyist.

For the more advanced model enthusiast or painter, this product is a little tougher to see as useful. I didn't see anything "to write home about" unless the start-to-finish army guides are your thing.

Just having this book out and open ALMOST makes me want to break my models out again to start painting... which could well be worth the $50 price tag if it means my procrastinating streak is broken and I get SOMETHING done!

So there you have my take on it- I found it useful and will use it a lot, assuming I get back to painting. It is intended for a starting or inexperienced painter, but it's a well made product with thoughtful touches throughout to make a good, solid and useful tool for someone without a good painting background. 


  1. Neat. I hadn't really heard much about this, thanks for the in-depth review!

  2. I think that last paragraph of yours may be fitting to describe the range as a whole. GW seem to be pitching this at people who lack that background you mentioned, and that's... actually quite a good idea, given that they still tend to be people's first point of contact with The Hobby At Large.