Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Book Review: Painting Wargaming Figures - Early Imperial Romans by Andy Singleton

I have always had a hankering to put together an Early Imperial Roman army, let's face it when someone says Romans these guys are what most people think of, and I still have fond memories of playing with my old Airfix 1/72 plastic Romans and Ancient Britons back in the 1970s.




So when Pen and Sword Books offered me a review copy of Painting Wargaming Figures - Early Imperial Romans by Andy Singleton I could hardly refuse, could I...

The book is an excellent primer for anyone wishing to start an Early Imperial Roman collection, although probably better suited to for the beginner than the more experienced painter.


With chapters covering basic preparation and painting techniques and then moving on to separate guides on painting weapons and armour, shields, clothing, skin tones, horses and then basing, it does cover all the essentials. However, an experienced painter will probably find that they end up skipping large sections as there is quite a lot of repetition. The guidance on colours to use is fine, although, personally I would have prefered to have seen some illustrations such as those found in the Osprey Publishing Men at Arms and Elites series.



Personally, I think most readers following a painting guide get more from the photos and illustrations than they do from the actual text. This is where this book is somewhat of a letdown. There certainly are plenty of photos throughout the book, however, the photos are quite small and most feature the clamp holding the figure taking up even more page space than the actual figure (see above). This means that on many of the pages it is almost impossible to tell what has changed between one photo and the next, especially when it comes to some of the subtler painting techniques.



I feel that the photos could have been improved a lot by "zooming in" on the actual part of the figure being painted. To illustrate this I have mocked up a couple of pages from the book below. On the left, we have the actual page and on the right, we have my mock-up with better-scaled photos. As I simply took smartphone photos of the pages the improvement is not really visible, but I think you should get the point. Larger photos (or more "zoomed-in" photos) would show more detail and illustrate the painting process far better than the photos in this book.

   
As you can see from these two photos just removing the clamp from the photos is enough to increase the size of the figure to allow a better view.
However, personally, I think that it would be even clearer if the photo was focused on the part of the figure that was actually being painted, as in this mockup.

This should not detract from the book too much, there is a wealth of information in there for the novice painter and some nice inspiration for the more experienced as well. I have just made these observations in the hope that Pen and Sword will up there game a little in forthcoming volumes...

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