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Book Review
Modelling Diorama Scenery
Modelling Railway Scenery Cuttings, Hills, Mountains, Streams and Lakes
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by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

Introduction

This book is written by Anthony Reeves who is the brains behind Treemendus Scenics and I suspect best known for his range of diorama scenery products. This is his first I believe foray into the written word, and while this has the word ‘railway’ in the title don’t believe that it makes this title of no interest to the armour and armoured fighting vehicle model fan. This is the first of a number of publications from Crowood Press Ltd judging by the ‘Volume 1’ on the books cover.

Contents

This book is a paperback book consisting of 160 pages which break down as follows;
  • Introduction – Setting the Scene
  • Chapter One – Stone Lined Cuttings
  • Chapter Two – Natural Rock Cuttings
  • Chapter Three – Grassy Hillsides
  • Chapter Four – Rocky Hillsides
  • Chapter Five – Steep Cliff Faces
  • Chapter Six – Snowy Mountain Tops
  • Chapter Seven – Waterfalls
  • Chapter Eight – Slow Flowing Streams
  • Chapter Nine – Natural Lakes
  • Chapter Ten – Maintained Lakesides
  • Useful Suppliers
  • Index

Review

Anthony Reeves made his name by making and supplying incredibly detailed scale trees which have a place in a number of large railway layouts, he also has the ability to make some incredibly detailed diorama bases; a link to an example of his skill can be found at the end of this review. This book has a good quality glossy card cover to protect the pages within. The text in the book is in a clear font and a good size for ease of reading even by my aged eyes. The pages are in a satin/silk finish which also aids reading as it means the pages do not reflect too much glare from lights depending on your light source.

The introduction to the book is well worth taking the time to read as it gives you an insight into how Anthony thinks about a project and how he approaches it. There is also a look at some of the materials and tools used to reproduce the scenes in the following chapters. One aspect that I like about this book a lot is that despite Anthony owning Treemendus Scenics he has not tried to do everything with his own products, and offers advice on use of the product type rather than his specific offerings; This for me makes this a great book for everyone regardless of where in the world they are and the products that are available to them. While on that subject a quick jump to the end of the book provides information on contacting a number of European product suppliers which may be of interest to you.

I have selected a couple of the chapters as a guide to allow you to assess the contents of this book; in order to achieve that I have selected a couple of chapters to look at in detail. The chapters I have chosen are Chapter Three – Grassy Hillsides which show a fairly flat area with varying degrees of rise which are ideal for displaying an armoured fighting vehicle, and Chapter Seven – Waterfalls which I think would make a dramatic back drop to some figures.

Chapter Three – Grassy Hillsides

This chapter starts by listing the materials and tools used on this project; that might sound an obvious starting point but it is not always thought about as it is so obvious. The chapter is broken down into subsections which are;
Planning
This really provides a guide to the use of this feature within a railway setting; however this could be used for producing a feature such as a slight rise in the ground to a burial mound which are very common in the UK and I believe the whole of Europe and that includes Russia.
Beginning Construction
This section looks at laying out your design and creating the rise and fall you desire. It is worth mentioning that rather than providing just one plan of attack the book looks at using chicken wire, polystyrene or papier-mâché for this purpose.
Creating Grass
This section looks at using fur fabric for the grass over your prepared base and is broken down into further sections which are;
  • Cutting and trimming
  • Colouring
  • Applying the grass
  • Detailing

These sections are really good at explaining how to achieve a realistic finish to your diorama. This is done via the use of clear and precise pictures and very well written text, which basically takes you through every step using terminology that should be understandable by all. There are items which don’t come under the grass term and which are also covered in detail.
Completed Diorama
The section quickly covers the addition of ground coverage.
Summary
This simply put just adds a few words on how easy it can be to have your own realistic grass covered diorama.

Chapter Seven – Waterfalls

There are two reasons I have chosen this particular section of the book; one is purely due to the height used as opposed to the lower ground depicted in the previous section and the other is that it also covers the addition of water which can be tricky to get right. This section also begins by providing a list of tools and materials for the project and then is again explained in subsections which are;
Introduction
The introduction in this chapter briefly looks at how these features occur and provides a good example ‘Kinder Scout downfall in the peak district’, there are a large number of images of this feature online which are well worth taking a look at.
Planning and Preparation
This section looks at the waterfall as being part of a much larger scene and which will not I suspect usually be the case with most dioramas in our segment of the hobby, however if someone is making a very large diorama it may be useful information.
Construction
This section looks at the creation of the main structure using ‘Kingspan’ which is a form of sheet foam insulation. Also covered here is the use of PVA glue mixed with cement to seal any small gaps that if not filled will cause your water mixture to sink into them creating more work and possibly a mess. The physical layout of the waterfall is entered into as regards the why’s and where fore’s of water and its flow down rocky faced waterfalls, and something that I like to see is that it also mentions the need for reference material.
Painting, Weathering and detailing
This section obviously starts with the painting of the waterfall, with the aspect I like seeing covered here being ratio paint mixes in order to obtain a natural looking result. Also covered in this section is the use of detritus that accumulates on and around this sort of structure and where to apply it so that it looks natural. As with the book in general all of the steps are richly supported with clear photographs.
Go with the Flow
Surprise this section looks at adding the water to your falls, and is explained in a very easy to follow methodology. All of the products used in this stage are from Deluxe Material, however you could use your preferred products and Deluxe Materials products are available in the US should you wish to seek them out. The procedure for adding the water to this fall is again very well explained using a step by step approach written in an easy to follow style.
Detailing the Groundwork
This section of the chapter takes up a fair section of the text explaining in detail clearly and precisely how to add those small touches that make a setting stunning rather than average, and Anthony Reeves has done a fantastic job of guiding you through this minefield.
The chapter finishes with a small amount of text for the completed diorama and a summary.

Conclusion

In these days of digital media the written word has taken a bit of a knocking, but if you are looking for clear and precise instruction on diorama modelling this book is well worth picking up. I know some of you will be put off by the model railway title, but please do not let that stop you taking a look at this title as the rules apply equally to diorama for our aspect of the hobby. Anthony Reeves has done a great job with his first title that I know of to clearly explain how to build a good variety of diorama settings, and as you become more adept with this book you should be able to build some dome diorama that are not only very natural and realistic but also stunning in appearance. I very highly recommend you pick up this very competitively priced book and I look forward to the second volume.

A Walk in the Woods Live links

This book is available from Treemendus Scenics as well as Crowood Press.
Treemendus Scenics Live links
SUMMARY
Highs: Very clearly explained steps and procedures make this book for me.
Lows: None came to mind while reading this book.
Verdict: Very highly recommended.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: isbn 978-1-84797-619-2
  Suggested Retail: £18.99
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Jan 27, 2014
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.04%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 91.60%

Our Thanks to Crowood Press!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Darren Baker (CMOT)
FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH WEST, UNITED KINGDOM

I have been building model kits since the early 70’s starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70’s, I have had lots of opportunitie...

Copyright ©2019 text by Darren Baker [ CMOT ]. All rights reserved.



Comments

Scenery is scenery regardless of whether one creates it for a diorama of an AFV, a 1/35 BR52, or a huge electric train layout. This book looks like an excellent tome of inspiration and knowledge for military modelers as well as railroaders. Good presentation, Darren.
JAN 30, 2014 - 05:53 AM
Correct! To try and emulate the real world has nothing to do with scale or topic! And the book is certainly worth having, as every bit of info proves valuable one other day!! Cheers Romain
JAN 30, 2014 - 05:56 AM
Thank you gents. It was my intention to do my best to make sure that those interested in AFV dioramas were not possibly but off by the mention of railways, and thus missing out on a very good book when it comes to dioramas.
JAN 30, 2014 - 07:53 AM
Agreed. Many thanks for the time and effort you put into this review Darren. Cheers
FEB 17, 2014 - 05:16 AM
   

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