by: Mario Matijasic [ ]
The first volume in TankArt book series appeared in late 2012. Based almost exclusively on finishing techniques, this modeling manual took the weathering theme far beyond any other hobby publication. The following TankArt volumes continued the trend, receiving nothing but stellar reviews from the modeling community and rounding up the first TankArt trilogy which laid a solid foundation of explaining weathering techniques and principles Michael Rinaldi uses for finishing his scale model masterpieces. With the recent release of TankArt 4, the saga continues…
The book arrived packed in a hard cardboard box, additionally secured inside a bubble-wrap. Here are the basic facts:
Title: TANKART 4 German Armor
Publisher: Rinaldi Studio Press, LLC
Format: paperbound (22x24 cm)
Color: full color
Retail Price: $35
Flipping the pages I confirmed the TankArt 4 follows the structure and visual appeal of the previous TankArt volumes. Mike has a background in design and his expertise definitely shows to full extent in these publications. It's not just about large and clear images the pages are full of, but also about a well laid out text, image captions and eye-catching orange text boxes. The general organization of TankArt 4 matches that of the entire book series: a short introduction, two sections on weathering principles and techniques, and last but not least, model project chapters. However, I have to admit I raised an eyebrow to the title of the first section... technique proficiency? I'm not a native English speaker, and this term was an enigma for me. I really did not know what to expect from this chapter, so I started with it right away.
Although delivered on just 18 pages, this chapter stands out from the rest of the TankArt portfolio. It briefly explains the rationale behind the technique proficiency... refining, practicing and developing skills to improve the game and create better projects over the course of time. Although we are surrounded with an array of weathering products, it is "not the label on the bottle that creates the final result, it is you, the model's author". Well said, Mike!
This chapter is full of short descriptions of various finishing techniques, most of them already shown in previous TankArt volumes. These pages, however, go a step further in explaining the correct and incorrect technique application, showing the process in step-by-step images, and adding tips and tricks leading to a successful end result. The techniques covered are: pinwash, blending, HS chipping, whitewash chipping, mapping, pigment application and speckling. Also, this chapter goes even further in establishing the techniques in short SBS sections, painting and finishing test samples. The SBS covered are: disc camo SBS, whitewash SBS, and three different panzer gray SBSs. Why three different panzer gray SBSs? Mike uses these to challenge the reader to examine alternate approaches, utilize flexible nature of weathering steps instead of a rigid protocol applied to all models in the same fashion, and still produce a realistic finish.
As the title suggests, this chapter deals with recreating realistic winter camouflage, one of the most challenging weathering effects to achieve on a model. The goal of winter whitewash chapter is to take several different options and discuss the specifics of their application across three main armor scales: 1/72, 1/48 and 1/35. First, Mike gives the HS technique a test in the small scale, tackling early-war Barbarossa campaign winterwash on Panzer IV Ausf. F1. The early-war whitewashes were much more even in coverage, very different from hastily applied late-war schemes. 6 page SBS with captions perfectly explain how to add multiple whitewash layers to obtain an extremely realistic effect in scale. Moving up to quarter scale, a late-war Hetzer is finished as a vehicle with multiple colors under a hastily applied and worn whitewash. Again, 6 page SBS shows a different finish, with a lot of wear and tear on the whitewash, building whitewash layers using various weathering techniques. Two models are displayed in large scale, the first being a white Elefant, a zimmerit-coated beast showing very involved combination of whitewash and mapping, pushing the techniques to the maximum in order to create a realistic finish. The 6 page SBS shows the power of layered HS technique. The chapter closes with StuG III Ausf. B, a model based on war-time photos of a particular vehicle seen during the Russian winter of 1942-43, replicating with as much authenticity as possible the shapes, forms, chips and scratches of the heavily worn whitewash. This is a 6 page SBS of pure wow!
This weathering chapter is different from those found in the previous TankArt volumes, as it doesn't cover a specific technique, but shows an effect and several different ways to depict it realistically. As discussed, the techniques employed are not scale-dependant, all of them applicable to any modeling scale.
This book follows the same concept as the earlier TankArt volumes, with the author showing previously described weathering principles “in action” on 5 different model projects. All the models in this book are WWII German armor models in 1/35 scale, but each unique in terms of color, camouflage pattern, weathering principle and finish.
The first model presented is Tiger II Ausf. B, the most imposing tank of WW2. This project was actually a collaboration effort, with Daryl Dancik providing the constructed model ready for painting. Mike then shows his struggle to find as much historical accuracy as possible in painting the 3-tone factory camouflage, and layers the techniques to deliver subtle tonal changes, fine chips and scratches, as well as streaks, grime and winter elements, to produce an extremely realistic finish for this zimmerit-coated beast from Battle of the Bulge campaign. The next chapter describes Nashorn PanzerJaeger, an open-top vehicle project which doubles the workload due to the vastly increased assembly elements and painting requirements. After dealing with the fighting compartment, Mike paints the complex 3-tone disc camouflage pattern using paint masks, and employs various weathering techniques (even some old-school dry-brushing) to show minimal level of paint wear. This section provides an elaborate step-by-step on oil paint rendering, fully explained as a game changer finishing technique. The following chapter deals with Grille Ausf. M, another open-top vehicle forcing Mike to work from the inside out. After super-detailing, painting and weathering the interior and the fighting compartment, the vehicle exterior receives a 3-tone hard edge camouflage. The weathering is done using oil paint rendering only: filters, pinwashes, dirt and dust, faded paint, stains, rust, chips and scratches, leaking wheel bearings, you name it... Mike is definitely showcasing the technique to its full potential. Next up is the Sturm 33B, a demanding kitbash project and an effort to reproduce a very unique and specific machine. This Eastern Front combat veteran is painted in Panzer Gray, but then receives a myriad of painting and weathering techniques to increase interest in the monotone paint finish: subtle panel color shifts, layered paint chips, winterwash, pinwashes, pigments and oil paint rendering. The last model project presented in this book is Char B1 Bis in captured Beutepanzer form, done by the guest author Mario Eens. Working in his unique style, the author paints a Panzer Gray vehicle, adding several rounds of dry-brushing and pinwashes followed by filters, highlighting and modulation, to give some visual depth to the base color. Also, Mario's version of oil paint rendering for replicating paint chipping, rust streaks, dust and grime is explained.
These chapters are 30-40 pages long each, so a really big chunk of space is given to describing the model projects in detail. Every chapter starts with the short introduction giving Mike’s personal view of the subject, briefly shows the construction phase and painting, and then digs heavily into the weathering process with large images displaying the process perfectly. The wealth of information included in the text is unbelievable and reading through the pages is very inspirational. Mike definitely has a way with words and although there are three visually distinct parallel narratives to separate the “how” (explanation of the technique) from the “why” (rationale behind the use of the technique), it is never a boring read. The tips and tricks on almost every segment of the weathering process are included, as well as paint callouts for each project and a quick reference SBS image sequence shown at the end of each chapter.
Finally, TankArt 4 was envisioned as a step-up from the previous TankArt volumes. The book follows the same structure and layout thus creating a homogeneous book series, however, this volume does provide aspects which were not discussed before. Here is my take on how the TankArt series evolved with this particular volume:
• Technique proficiency. A big part of this book is dedicated to discussion on these two words. A fundamental part of becoming a better modeler is gaining confidence in skills and direct the techniques to the desired outcome. Practice leads to experience, experience leads to control, and control leads to efficiency. It is about getting the skills ready, to advance and get more successful results with each model.
• The weathering chapter doesn't cover a specific technique, but focuses on the effect and several different ways to depict that particular effect realistically in scale. This is possible only because the previous TankArt volumes laid a solid foundation on the weathering techniques.
• The focus of this TankArt volume is on the more subtle details which ultimately lead to a full realization of the techniques, going deeper into the thought process behind the "how" and the "why" of various steps in order to replicate a realistic armor finish and tell a story of a particular vehicle.
• Model projects included in this book are much more complex than the ones in earlier TankArt volumes. This is especially evident with the two open-top models, both being completely new body of work created for TankArt 4.
It might not seem much at first, but once you start reading the book it becomes evident the previous TankArt volumes were just a basis for going all-in with TankArt 4.
TankArt 4 is another winner from Rinaldi Studio Press. It is a continuation of TankArt modeling book series with a very attractive layout, detailed description of weathering process paired with superb step-by-step photos, and extremely inspirational model projects. However, TankArt 4 is much more than just a continuation of the concept... this volume goes way beyond the previous volumes by explaining model finishing principles in more depth, but also by delivering new messages to the modeling community - the most important being Technique Proficiency.
A big thanks to Mike Rinaldi for this review sample.