SMHB Figure Modelling 21 – A Closer Look

SMHB Figure Modelling 21 – the PRELUDE

So SMHB is now standing at 23 issues plus several other issues that focus on a theme, for instance the volumes on WWII. This SMHB Figure Modelling 21 of the separate Figure series, maintaining the same style and format as previous issues, it is a classy, high end publication and one I look forward to every quarter. This particular issue focuses on the two Great Wars. You can check out other Issues here starting with Volume 18.

This volume, published in March of this year, sees the long awaited debut of Master figure painter, David Zabrocki. Toshihiro Sano piles in with three articles whilst, Christos Katselos, Stelios Neofytidis and Ernesto Reyes Stalhuth all share secrets and techniques. The book consists of nine chapter from five different authors, crammed full of tips and hints, recipes, historical backgrounds and high resolution images throughout. This is without doubt the best published resource for the figure painter and if we wish to see it continue we need to support it at every level, sharing on Facebook and social media and adding it to our library of references in our studios! The 50 pages  within are dedicated to figure painting tutorials with just a couple of adverts, relevant to figure painting, restricted to the inside of the cover.


The design and layout of each volume is well considered and easy to follow. The photographs are relevant, the step by step pictures in particular are numbered and clearly show the progress of each step. In my opinion this is THE publication for figure painters and although it is clearly aimed at historical figures, all genres are represented and each volume is great value for money.

Not only do we get the step by step process but more importantly the authors regularly divulge some tip or nugget of wisdom that frequently helps to piece everything together and aid us on our personal journey of development.


First up in SMHB Figure Modelling 21, we have Toshihiro Sano who over nine pages of text and 75 images discusses in detail how he painted Stormtrooper Miniatures Untersturmfuhrer Reifkogel, a 120mm scale figure. The painter goes through his process of using Tamiya Enamels to paint the figure, with clear and concise steps fully annotated along with colour recipes for each phase of the painting. He also talks us through the scenic base he creates and explains the process of weathering and paint chipping. Toshihiro is a regular contributor so if like myself you like his work, there will be plenty of opportunities to see more.

SMHB Figure Modelling 21

WWI British Ace Pilot bust of James McCudden

Next we have a four page article, once again written by Toshihiro, this time on a WWI British Ace Pilot bust of James McCudden who was awarded the Victoria Cross. We are presented with a historical background and once again, a concise step by step of his process, in my opinion the only thing missing from his writing is more explanation on why and how, the what being fully covered.

Then an article by David Zabrocki and here is everything good about a written article on how to paint figures. We are provided with an introduction, preparation and assembly and then finally a large body of text on the actual painting of the figure, in this case its a Royal Field Artillery Major produced by the British company, Tommy’s War. This is without doubt my favourite article in this issue.

SMHB Figure Modelling 21

a really informative piece of writing in this article

David predominantly uses a mix of Enamels and Oils and the writing is in-depth, explanatory and interesting too. David’s warmth for the hobby shines through and he explains in detail the WHY and HOW he paints and not just WHAT he does, which I believe is really important for the reader to fully understand the process.

This is followed by a short but concise write up by Christos Katselos on painting the various elements of the German 6th Army, Stalingrad bust by Life Miniatures, talking us through the process. This article is at the other end of the scale compared to David’s piece where Christos focus predominantly on WHAT he did and providing colour recipes for each element.

SMHB Figure Modelling 21

Christos Katselos provides all the palettes he used recreating this bust

Toshihiro returns once more, this time tackling the dramatic set of figures titled WWI German stretcher team, which was produced by Andy Cairns of AC Models based out of New Zealand. Again the focus is on his approach using Enamel paints, each step is backed up with a numbered image and is straight forward to follow. At the end of the article we have a gallery of images showing the dynamic vignette from several different angles.

SMHB Figure Modelling 21

stretcher team

I was really excited to see a contribution by Stelios Neofytidis in SMHB Figure Modelling 21, as I really like his work. His painting of the Alpine Miniatures Waffen SS Grenadier using acrylics and oils is delightful, the finished work is very good indeed, sadly this was just a short article, more of a colour recipe/paint by numbers. I would much rather have heard how he painted the camouflage for instance or more detail on the groundwork.

We have three more very short articles at the back of SMHB Figure Modelling 21, again more of an insight into colours chosen etc rather than in-depth writing and the standout piece is that by my good friend Ernesto Stalhuth who paints the haunting German Stormtrooper bust from Young Miniatures. Once again each element of the bust for instance, Face, Coat, Collar, Rifle and so on are listed and colour recipes given for each. There’s very little mention on how he achieved those delicious textures and some more images would have been much appreciated to fully savour the wonderful paint job.


There are different approaches through the book as it is written by a variety of artists who have their own skills and techniques and indeed their own way of putting across the information they wish to share with the reader. Some of the articles are more step by step and concise, others are informative and insightful but they are all relatively easy to follow and understand. My favourite article is definitely the one by David Zabrocki but I am also aware that some painters prefer to learn from colour recipes so the book provides a nice mix of article types.


The SMHB series from Mr Black Publications is without doubt the leading printed, reference for figure painters around the world and SMHB Figure Modelling 21 is another great addition. For me it has become an invaluable reference to my painting and is also a major highlight when the post man delivers the next issue.

The design, photography, writing, editing and the quality of the collaborating artists makes this a must for the serious figure painter looking to develop further along their own painting journey.


PRICE                            14.95 €

No of PAGES                50

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