Weathering seems to have become increasingly complicated in the past several years. Gone are the days when we could be content with some drybrushing, a wash, and maybe some ground pastel chalk. In some respects, while masters could make models look great with those limited techniques its far easier to get higher quality results with new techniques for the rest of us. However, it can be overwhelming and scattered articles and expensive books can be an intimidating cost consideration.
Besides stepping into this opening, AK Interactive has also thankfully decided to make each magazine follow a theme. In issue 2, this is dust. I'm pretty happy about this as I fall fully in the weathering camp that dust and dirt are things that are usually underrepresented while things like rust (issue 1) and chipping (issue 3) are overdone. The problem, I think, is that even overdone rust and chipping adds a lot of visual appeal to a model even if the modeler isn't very skilled at it. Messing up a dust job makes a model drab and boring, washing out any camouflage patterns and leading many to shy away from it.
All of this said, the strength of this issue is that it provides a solid overview of most of the established methods; oils, pigments, washes, and misted paint. The weakness of this issue is that it provides a solid overview of established methods so if you've been collecting resources for a few years you may already have them in your library. However, a quick count indicated I spent about $250 in books and magazines to gather the same techniques you get here for $12. . .
John Murphy dusts up a 1/48th MH-60L helicopter using sprayed enamel washes and thinned acrylics. The effects are subtle and realistic, though using dust effects to highlight individual panels might set some purists' teeth on edge a wee bit.
Carlos Cuesta weathers a DML 1/35 Tiger in the next article. Using sprayed dust effects paints, hand-blended oils and pigments. I appreciated the calling out of using fingers and brushes to remove some of the pigment build up from raised edges and areas of high crew contact.
A 1/20 MaK armored suit is up next from Lincoln Wright. This is one grimy beaten up paint job as a base! It starts with some very pin-point style effects which is a useful technique to have in the toolbox.
Carlos Cuesta takes a single page to show off a fairly simple yet well done sprayed Humbrol enamel effect on a T-34 turret. This has become my personal favorite dusting style since I started following the works of master painter Joaquín García Gázquez. Some of this may also be due to the fact that I have a natural gift for finding the one well done pigment area that I put on a model and streaking it off or leaving a big fingerprint in it. . .
A filthy Merkava Mk IV by Chris Jerrett is next and covers oils, sprayed acrylics, pigments, pigment washes, plaster, and actual dirt. There is also a description of using Gravel and Sand fixer to glue down real dirt, plaster, and other large chunks of landscape to the model.
2 Pages on dusting up a stretch of cobblestone section are next. John Murphy uses washes and pigments to the table for this.
Ruben Gonzalez then spends 2 more pages doing a desert landscape with natural materials as well as acrylics and oils. Very realistic and gives a solid overview of how to make a visually interesting desert road that is a highlight and not just a monochromatic stand for a model.
Cesar Oliva covers an area often forgotten, using acrylics and dust effects to add dust to a figure. Those tie-ins to a dusty model are an important touch and they are well covered here.
Carlos Cuesta spends another two pages on dusting Tiger tracks for the previously described model. I'm going to dispense with repeating "well done" and such for the rest of the review, all the articles are well photographed, clearly described, and the effects are top tier.
John Murphy combines airbrushing Lifecolor paints and careful streaking and removal with white spirit on a Sherman turret. Oil paint is also combined to add extra dust around protrusions and raised areas.
Mig Jimenez then models an abandoned Porsche VK4502 that is covered in rocks, gravel, and heavy dust. The use of natural materials is also covered.
Martin Kovac creates a dirty M117 Guardian in a typical NATO paintjob. It was very nice to see a modern forest camo'd vehicle used, since that scheme seems to be easier than most to obscure and make uninteresting. It also covers dusting tires and basic wet effects.
Three pages of photographs of heavily dusted subjects ranging from tanks to trucks are next followed by a page of color profiles.
Six pages of an HO scale BR39 train are next from Mig Jimenez. Streaked acrylics and enamel washes are used. Taking a pre-painted toy-like looking small scale train and making it look vastly better and more real is a great cross-over article for people in other hobby fields.
Rodrigo Hernandez Cabos rounds out the how-to articles covering a rocky desert diorama base with interesting rock formations and crevices. It's beautiful work and really shows what can be accomplished with a desert base if care is taken. Humbling to me as my first forays into dioramas were all deserts because they were easy and (in retrospect) horribly bland and boring!
Finally you get 4 pages of random photos of dusty areas from around Afghanistan. By the way, your brunette model in this issue is Akatsiya. She's pretty and not wearing a whole heck of a lot. Not sure this adds much in the way of content to the issue but she's quite attractive and I'm not quite ancient enough to complain if people want to put pictures of beautiful women in front of me. . .
One thing I actively like about this magazine is that the articles differ in techniques and approaches so that even though it's all 'Spanish School" it's not repetitive. Also, look above for the sheer amount of content here! That's tough to beat and, at the size of a usual modeling soft-cover manual, the fact that you get so many different artist's viewpoints is a huge selling point. I also think the theme approach is very smart, both because it makes it easier to find a reference article but also because you can select an issue based on the weathering area you're interested in.
One missed opportunity to knock this out of the park is a discussion of how dust accumulates. To the novice (and probably a lot of us, actually) a written discussion of how dust accumulates generally as well as how different soils accumulate differently would be so welcome. What is a high traffic area? How does dust accumulate on horizontal versus vertical surfaces? Does the front of the tank get dirty in the same manner as the rear? These are questions that a lot of modelers could use guidance with.
I'll make a second suggestion for either a routine inclusion or a full issue though; fixing mistakes and how to avoid common beginner errors. I'm as guilty as anyone of screwing up a better painters technique and dumping it because I don't have the experience to trouble-shoot. For new modelers, especially, these techniques can be very daunting. I think it would add a lot of value to have coverage of "I-screwed-up-my-model-and-it-looks-awful-and-I'm-throwing-it-away" situations.
Overall though this is a great magazine and very useful reference. My only minor warning is that if you've been collecting references for awhile, you may want to flip through it first for "new to you" content.
Highs: Lots of varied yet focused content.
Clear and extensive photographs.
Very reasonably priced.Lows: Somewhat limited to the "Spanish School" of weathering. Verdict: An excellent buy for the money and gives the guidance needed on how to mimic the techniques.