Thursday, June 25, 2009

Review of MiniWarGaming’s Guide to Painting Miniatures came out with a new e-book on Miniature Painting. I love the hobby side of the game as much as the game itself, and I could still use a lot to learn when it comes to painting. When I read that MWG had a nice new e-book on the subject, I figured I’d give it a shot and see what it was all about.

At under $20, it was cheap compared to other miniature painting books. Sure, it was only a PDF, but you also get two $15 gift certificates and one month free membership to the site included, it pays for itself. Couple that a money back guarantee, and you have a damn good deal. So I decided to give it a shot.

Layout and Design

Let me start with a big gripe I have with the layout. The font chosen for the header is horrible. Yes, it’s a fun font, it looks cool, but for reading the book on the computer, it makes it difficult to scan. I find that I can quickly scan the headers of the different sections. It was the first glaring problem I had, and I noticed it rather quickly.

The other thing to consider is the layout for a PDF. Wizards of the Coast is superb with their PDF offerings of Dragon and Dungeon magazines. Rather than a normal portrait style layout, the magazines are formatted for a landscape layout. The benefit is for reading on computer screens. I imagine I’m not alone in how I will use the e-book. I open the e-book on my computer to the appropriate section I want to reference. My monitor is positioned on the same desk I paint on. This means I can read and review while painting. From here, I can both paint and reference at the same time. In a landscape format, I can see the entire page on my widescreen monitor. As it is now, I can’t do that.

On the plus side, the page numbering of the PDF matches the page numbering used in the table of contents!

The e-book is filled with lots of pictures. Not so many that they use it as filler. Rather, every picture makes itself an important part of the e-book. The pictures are high quality, and really do a good job at helping to get a certain point across.

Disregarding the orientation of the layout, the layout and font choice for normal text is appropriate for the subject matter. It’s easy to follow along.


This is the real strong suit of the e-book. This e-book is packed full with so many topics it’s kind of mind boggling. They managed to fit so much into a book only 59 pages long. Each topic is covered fairly well. It would be easy to write a lot more on many topics, but frankly, they’ve found a good balance between providing you with what you need to know, and providing you with lots of fluff. For me, that was important. This guide isn’t going to turn you into an ‘Eavy Metal painter over night. No guide can. What this guide does do well, though, is give you a lot of practical advice as well as direction.

How does it do this? It covers topics such as setting up a painting area, basic color theory, what to do when you make mistakes, dealing with shaky hands, paint brushes (and going beyond the miniature company brushes), and advice with paints. It talks about dry brushing, washing, highlighting, green stuff, and working with metal miniatures (with a non-pinning method discussed for assembly).

As you can see, even before we get into the painting part, there are lots of articles that discuss things that many of us might have wished someone would have told us when we began (or even after we began).

This book doesn’t get into the basics too much, though. Most of the coverage is on applying specific techniques to specific areas, but does a good enough job of showing how this could be applied to other areas as well. For example, the layers section focuses on painting a cloak, but the details are good for how to apply that technique anywhere and aren’t too specific on just using it on cloaks. I like this method best, as it demonstrates the technique in a specific application rather than an abstract one.

The e-book also has a good section on air brushing. I found this to be pretty awesome. Not only does it cover painting with an air brush, but also gives advice along the way in dealing with air brushing. The section covers several techniques, as well as covers how to apply camouflage to armor that looks good and seems easy to apply.

Another part I enjoyed was on weather vehicles. It covers more than just weathering; this section also covers wear and tear on a vehicle.

The book covers special effects as well. Armorcast puts out Cinematic Effects like smoke coming out a barrel, a rocket flying out, and other cool effects that can be attached to models and painted. The book covers not only how to apply them and paint them, but also how that muzzle flash will affect the lighting on the model itself (called Object Source Lighting).

Finally, the book covers painting a gnoll with a lot of fur and a space marine. Because, you know, what would a mini painting book be without a space marine?

I should note that all the articles are written in an easy to read manner. The book takes you through with the understanding that you aren’t a complete dolt, but doesn’t assume you are a master painter already. I found it to be enjoyable to read, and enjoyed the overall tone.


The e-book was well worth it, especially when considering all the bonuses you get along with it. If you enjoy the hobby and want to learn more painting techniques, this book is one you should consider. The book doesn’t cover advanced techniques like non-metal metal or blending or numerous other techniques, but it doesn’t need to. It covers how to paint models to a good standard so you can play war games with those models. Yeah, I know. That doesn’t sound so impressive. But the reality is, it really does a good job at showing you how easy it is to move beyond the “base coasted chaos black with a mix of grey plastic” army to the “hey, it actually looks nice” army.

The MiniWarGaming’s Guide to Painting Miniatures, volume 1, does an excellent job of getting your unfinished models painted up to a high table standard. The book provides easy to employ techniques that allow you to say good bye to the plastic color scheme you are using now. Now you can field your army without shame.

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