|WINDROW & GREENE PUBLISHING|
by: Scott Lodder [ ]
Originally published on:
As diorama builders our skill sets span a wider range than a static model builder. Not only must we build the primary subject of the project, we must provide the viewer with “context”. The “context” of a diorama is a place, a point in time, a story or scene. At one point you will want that context to include some type of building. It is at that point your research mode kicks in and you look for the best resources to build your building.
It’s at this point that this book shows its value. It is a ‘soup-to-nuts’ resource on making buildings. It covers all aspects; from research to assembly and everything in between.
There are some books that target a narrow subject, be it a particular AFV or a particular technique, or particular kit, this is not one of them. The word “MasterClass” is in the title because this book tries to represent one “Overall” or “Master” class vs. being written for a “Master” builder.
The author gives equal time to all aspects of creating buildings:
Each aspect of this book is covered in such a way that beginners can understand and advanced builders will gain a new understanding or see a new perspective. This book can be for every level of diorama modeler.
The author, Roy Porter, shares ideas and concepts not only about building models but about the research you will need to plan your project. There is an entire section about gathering reference material, from how to view a building today and glean potential ‘period’ information to how to view period art work and gather research data on your project.
A large part of the books is dedicated to the tools of the trade. The beauty of this section is the diversity of tools and the explanations of them. You will learn alternatives to what you may have now, new tools you never thought you’d need, and ways to make your own custom tools. After you read the book and learn about the tools of the trade you should realize that the book itself is a tool. Not only will you find yourself referring back to it for techniques and step-by-steps, you will also realize that there are charts and reference materials you will always need: scale charts, reference diagrams, and a terms dictionary.
step by steps
The heart of every building reference is a step-by-step. This book differs from many technical books I have read. This one takes a major technique and marries it to a build project. The given chapter then walks through the build giving each major step of the project. Usually these are fairly sterile very technical process driven scripts. Mr. Porter takes a story telling approach. Interlaced among the technical jargon and processes there are ‘hows’ and ‘whys’. He explains why things are in more of a story form vs. the cold rigidness of technical specifications. There are sample photos of key points so you won’t be left without reference.
In subject specific books you could purchase the kits and perform the steps in the book and (theoretically) end up with the same build. In the diorama world it is very difficult to do because there is a large quantity of scratch building. Some of this is scratched based on an artist’s perspective. You won’t be able to pick this book up and follow the instructions and have a built diorama. You will have to read, digest, understand and then implement the techniques discussed in this book. The beauty of this book is that includes plenty of inspirational idea generating completed projects.
This book is a ‘full read’. I found that I wanted to read this book cover to cover because it is more novel than encyclopedia. I keep it close to my workbench because there is so much to refer to. It was an easy enjoyable read with a huge quantity of information.
The style of books you like is a very personal thing. The type of reading that you do for this type of 'work' is also quite personal. I’m sure some people will not enjoy the style of this book. If you want a raw technical manual, this is not quite the book for you. If you want to walk through the though process in a 'discussion' format then this is more your book.
If you are new to the diorama world this book is great. If you’re an experience diorama builder you too will find valuable information between the covers of this book. Choc full picture references and drawings you will gain inspiration as well as technical expertise.
I got mine on an auction site for about $20-$25. Check auction sites or reseller sites and shop around to get the best deal.