SMHB Figure Modelling Vol 17


The Scale Model HandBook, the labour of love of Stelios Demiras  now stands at 20 volumes in total with the arrival of Volume 17 this week: including two on Diorama Modelling and a special WWII issue. My issue arrived quickly and safely, securely packaged so no damage was caused during shipping. This volume sees nine in depth articles across fifty, A4 pages crammed full of high resolution photographs. Seven different guest figure painters provide short and concise SBS tutorials and longer, more in-depth articles; artists include, Mike Butler, Anson Chen, Stelios Neofytidis, Ryota Sakai, Toshihiro Sano, Ernesto Reyes Stalhuth, and following from his debut last time around we have the return of my good friend Jason Zhou.



Ernesto’s opening gambit

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 more 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.


Here I would like to provide a summary of the eight articles.

First up is a rather intriguing , ten page article by one of my favourite painters, Ernesto Reyes Stalhuth. The subject is a mounted trooper of the 2nd Dragoons, Balaclava, Crimea (1854) from Stormtrooper Miniatures. The kit is 90mm in scale and is sculpted by Moz Corry. Ernesto takes us through preparation and assembly before moving on to the paintwork. This is broken down in small sections with lists of paints used along with concise instructions on how he achieved the various results across head, coatee, fur cap, booted overalls.


Anson Chen talks about his latest bust

We then move onto the horse, The painter discusses how he used certain techniques including mottling to replicate the random patches of colour to the horses hide. There’s a little write up to about how he created the reins from tinfoil and the chapter finishes with some words on his groundwork and a conclusion. There’s a nice gate-fold showing the finished piece too.

Next up is a change in pace, a short SBS on Anson Chens’ Gaius Julius Caesar bust from NutsPlanet. Ansons’ work is incredible and he gives us some advice on painting eyes, skin, fabrics and metallics.

Accompanying the more detailed write up is a summary of the colours used. He talks about adding textures with certain techniques once the more traditional brush work is completed. This short write up is accompanied with several high definition pictures of the finished bust from different angles.


Mike Butler reveals a few tips

Our third article sees the incredible Mike “The Kiwi” Butler produce a six page account, covering two elements of the Life Miniatures bust “Battle of Britain”. Mike gives us his thoughts on this iconic bust, young pilot with cocker spaniel, and decribes how with one tweak created a New Zealander pilot.

The two elements Mike wished to focus on were painting RAF blue and the hair effects of the dog. Mike discusses colour choice, technique and the use of blending medium to create the serge material effect. Glazing medium is also used to help thin overlaying of shadows and highlights.

For the fur effect Mike creates an impasto paste using Pebeos coating medium, he talks us through adding additional body to the sculpted fur and teasing out individual clumps of the paste with a toothpick. Then he talks us through his technique for painting the fur using oil colours.

Jason Zhou is fast becoming my favourite painter and in addition I really enjoy his style of writing and the level of detail and insight he imparts. Jasons’ second article covers a Templar Knight bust from Young Miniatures. He provides us with a brief historical background before going through the preparation. When writing about painting the eyes and face, Jason skirts a step by step process, likely covered a million times before, but actually gives us an elaboration on some key points to consider.


Jason Zhou returns for another great article

He talks us through creating blood, sweat and scars before moving onto painting the various fabrics. Again he provides some nice tips on how to adhere to historically accurate clothing but using different tones of the same colour to provide visual interest.

We are also treated to how he paints leather of varying shades and tones and provides colour recipes throughout. We get a really nice 6 step tutorial on how he painted and weathered the shield and explains how contrast and irregularities are the two main principles we need to master to recreate authentic paint schemes. He also explains some terms such as colour randomness, harmonising and oil paint rendering. A brief conclusion about the bust is also given.


Battle of the Bulge

Next we have three, short pieces of wring by Stelios Neofytidis covering a sniper team vignette, Australian infantry figure and a Battle of the Bulge vignette. Each gives an historical background, some information behind the kit followed by breakdown of how the various elements were painted along with colour recipes. We are then treated with a short piece on painting a World War I British Soldier from Tommy’s War.

The last is a five page article and it is a collaborative effort between Ryota Sakai and Toshihiro Sano. This is a “wedgie” of a PzKpfw III accompanied by two figures depicting Joachim Peiper and his assistant. We are talked through the construction of the groundwork, the assembly and modification of the “wedgie” and finally the painting of the vignette. Once again a full breakdown of the colours and materials used is presented.

There we have it another great issue! Always a pleasure to receive the next volume and this one is no exception. I have to admit that I prefer the more extensive and insightful writing of Ernesto and Jason but there is something here for everyone!


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.



The “wedgie”

The SMHB series from Mr Black Publications is without doubt the leading reference for figure painters around the world. 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