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Scale Modeling how to books, worth the read?

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  • Member since
    January 2013
Scale Modeling how to books, worth the read?
Posted by Souda99 on Sunday, April 26, 2015 10:53 AM
My question is have you ever used any of the books that are published out there on the How-to for scale modeling? If so were you able to learn a lot of new tips and tricks or not?
  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England
Posted by Bish on Sunday, April 26, 2015 10:55 AM

Ye, I have used mine quite a bit and find them very useful. I imagine like anything there are good and bad, but I tend to stick to the Osprey books mostly and have learned quite a bit.

I am a Norfolk man and i glory in being so


On the bench: Airfix 1/72nd Harrier GR.3/Fujimi 1/72nd Ju 87D-3

  • Member since
    September 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Sunday, April 26, 2015 11:10 AM

This site far and away has been the most helpful.

 Modeling is an excuse to buy books.


  • Member since
    December 2011
Posted by Chrisk-k on Sunday, April 26, 2015 2:29 PM

I bought about $100 worth of modeling how-to books when I came back to this hobby a few years ago.  They are fun to read, but this site & FSM have been THE MOST helpful.

Go to your local library and borrow old issues of FSM.

Iwata HP-CS | Iwata HP-CR | Iwata HP-M2 | H&S Evolution | Iwata Smart Jet + Sparmax Tank

  • Member since
    December 2013
Posted by jetmaker on Monday, April 27, 2015 12:01 AM

FSM is VERY good. Ample amount of pictures, and very easy to understand explanations. It's an excellent magazine, and this website and forum are top notch also. This is my go to source for the real scoop on modeling info. The regulars here are extremely talented, extremely knowledgeable, and extremely helpful

  • Member since
    March 2010
  • From: MN
Posted by Nathan T on Monday, April 27, 2015 11:34 AM

Waste of money. Way more info for free online/youtube/facebook etc...



  • Member since
    November 2014
Posted by BLACKSMITHN on Monday, April 27, 2015 3:53 PM

There are some that contain useful or novel information and techniques. The Tank Art series is one example. But eventually you come to realize that there's really no one good way to learn the craft except by doing it. And by realizing that, as the saying goes, the sooner you make your first 5000 mistakes, the sooner you can correct them.

  • Member since
    February 2015
  • From: Charlotte, NC
Posted by panzer948 on Monday, September 14, 2015 6:34 PM

Was about to post my own thread on this subject when I saw this one.  I too am coming back to the hobby after more than a 30 year hiatus.  Back in the 80s, I read 3 of Shepard Paine's model, diorama, and photograph how too books. Sadly, I just learned that he past away this year.  Those were some great references, espeically in the days before the internet.  I still have them to this day and was going thru them.  Lots of stuff in there is still very useful.  However, after reading lots of stuff on this forum and resubscribing to FSM, it seems there are a lot of new techniques (and products) to assist with our builds. Especially when it comes to painting and weathering.  So.... can anyone recommend some modern versions of Shep Paine's great how to books?  I just want something that can get me up to speed on new techniques all in one source.  I saw a comment about Osprey books. 



On the bench: Revell 1/32nd Junkers JU-88 A1

  • Member since
    February 2007
Posted by mitsdude on Wednesday, September 16, 2015 1:23 AM
My scale modeling library of books, magazines, pdf''s, and videos probably cost me something in the $2,500 to $3,000 range. More than a few were an absolute total waste of money, others worth 10x what I paid for them. Its difficult to go by reviews or recommendations, even when done by people you trust. I've bought books that many insisted were must have's that fall into that waste of money category. Other books I've bought had a big thumbs down. Some of these have turned out to be my favorites. It just pretty much depends on where you skills and interests are at. I continue to learn from my library as my interests change over time. I will never be able to recoup the money I've spent but this is a hobby, not a business adventure. In general I've found the Paine books to be the best value. I also find myself liking many of the publications from the UK and Europe. i.e. Mig Jimenez and Mr Black. I like the step by step way of this is how you do it. Many of the books from the states show you the supplies you need and then show you the final product with just very vague, contradictory information about how to get from A to B.
  • Member since
    August 2015
Posted by PlasticFanatic on Friday, September 18, 2015 9:15 PM

Hi, everyone-

I recently completed a Revell 1/72 PT-109 kit, and found the Squadron PT boat books to be very helpful. The reference photos alone were useful in helping me pick up a lot of details that make my model stand out, such as hanging additional life jackets and flak helmets on the sides of the dayroom roof,re-working a horrible Carley float that comes with the kit, and realistically drybrushing a uniform weathering and aging of the boat's finish. All these little details come from the photos and drawings. I also recently purchased the book "Building and Detailing Realistic Sherman Tanks" and it's a great read. James Wechsler's collection, along with his spot-on depictions in scale of nearly 60 years of Sherman tanks is nothing short of incredible.  I guess it depends on the medium you're modleing, and the time you're willing to invest, but so far, at least for me, it's a mix of the best, in books and Internet resources, including this forum.

  • Member since
    November 2008
  • From: Far Northern CA
Posted by mrmike on Saturday, September 19, 2015 2:01 AM

I'll say at the outset that I'm a reader and for a long time that meant books & magazines were my only sources; not now. There is so much info online that we dismiss print as obsolete because it either is limited in content or scope, or maybe we just enjoy watching a demonstration of a technique as opposed to reading about it. Either way, until we actually try it for ourself, the net result is the same.

I have learned a great deal from the FSM forums and from many other forums and blogs since returning to our hobby, and I've also enjoyed the info in publications like Squadron's In Action & Walkaround series and others, especially the Osprey Master Modeling books. Shep Paine's diorama book is a special favorite because it is a challenge to my skills and aspirations.

So my take is to enjoy the online info - it's a great resource. But there's also a lot of how-to and reference that you can hold in your hand, like the models you're building, and I think it's interesting to view varied sources. Unlike the internet where everything is NOW, the print media gives one a context; one can go back in time a bit to see how vintage kits will build or get an in-depth look at an obscure subject that's not currently popular.

I should also mention that despite the popularity of the internet, our forum host publishes a magazine which I look forward to every month!

Happy modeling!


  • Member since
    February 2007
Posted by mitsdude on Saturday, September 19, 2015 3:10 AM
The majority of my physical reference materials are "how to's" The Internet is my major source of photo or descriptive type materials. For example pictures of the real airplane from different angles and an explanation of the colors, textures, materials that it is made of. From that I figure out how to best paint, weather, add detail, etc.
  • Member since
    October 2008
  • From: England
Posted by P mitch on Monday, September 21, 2015 7:29 AM

I use the how to books for birthday and Christmas lists as no one can complain I'm getting another kit! After that I use them for insparation and general reading material


"If anybody ever tells you anything about an aeroplane which is so bloody complicated you can't understand it, take it from me: it's all balls." R J Mitchell

  • Member since
    April 2007
  • From: Canada
Posted by JTRACING on Wednesday, September 23, 2015 7:08 AM
It's always nice to have some "hard copy" reading material for when you have no internet access!
  • Member since
    February 2007
Posted by mitsdude on Thursday, September 24, 2015 12:27 AM

It's always nice to have some "hard copy" reading material for when you have no internet access!

This brings up another question. Hard copy vs digital?

I much prefer a physical copy, nothing like the feel and smell of paper/ink. But, it sure takes up lots of room and easy to lose or damage. Once they are gone they are gone unless you shell out the $ for another copy.

Digital on the other hand is very portable. Your entire library could be in yoiur pocket, viewable on a multitude of devices. Make as many copies as you like (ignoring the legal issue for this discussion). Many publishes allow you free future downloads of their publication should you ever need it.

This seems to be a generational thing with older folks (like me) preferring phyical copies and younger folks being very comfortable with digital.

When I go on a trip I do take a DVD or thumb drive full of possible reading material. I rarely read it but its there if I want it. Not as easy to do with your hard copies.

The above applies not just to our hobby related publications.

  • Member since
    April 2008
  • From: Fox Lake, Il., USA
Posted by spiralcity on Saturday, February 6, 2016 4:23 AM

The books can be very good. Building the P40 Warhawk came in handy, especially when they broke down the short commings of the available model kits, then gave tips on how to easliy rectify the problems. I personally enjoy having books at my fingertips over the internet. The internet is a great source and this site can be very good, but you have to siphon out the junk to find what you need, and on forums you have to deal with so many attitudes that it can get unpleasant at times, even a simple thread such as this can turn ugly quick, and my days are stressful enough as is. I do not like staring at my screen for hours on end, I need to give my eyes a break, and I find reading a book a bit more soothing for the long haul. A book never goes away unless I make it do so, and I dont ever recall a book giving me an attitude when searching for information. I never found a book to be a waste of money, I generally research what I need before making a purchase and this has served me well over the years. Plus, I'm a huge bibliophile!

Finescale offers books on how-to also, I own 2 and find them useful on ocassion.



  • Member since
    May 2011
  • From: Honolulu, Hawaii
Posted by Real G on Saturday, February 6, 2016 12:57 PM

Back in the pre-internet days, my favorite was FSM's spacecraft of fact & fiction modeling book.  I really wore that thing out studying the Star Wars photos!  It was a case of the right resource at the right time (beginner modeler looking for scarce reference photos).  I also really studied Shep Paine's diorama sheets in the Monogram kits.

Today, I like looking at the European model mags with the how-tos on painting and weathering.  I need to actually attempt the current model finishing fashion trends like filtering and the "Spanish style".

Tony Greenland's Panzer Modeling Masterclass and the old school masters' "Scratchbuilt!" are two of my current bookshelf favs, but more for academic study rather than serving as delusional inspiration for model building.

And as others have already mentioned, modeling forums are a huge go-to place for me to get nearly instant information on extremely esoteric subjects.

“Ya ya ya, unicorn papoi!”

  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England
Posted by Bish on Saturday, February 6, 2016 4:02 PM

G, that Tony Greenland book is still an old favorite of mine. For years i used his ideas as my main source for weathering, there was an article in a copy of FSM from i think 86 or 89. Even though i have tried to move to a more realistic finish, there is still some nice builds in that book and some nice ideas.

I am a Norfolk man and i glory in being so


On the bench: Airfix 1/72nd Harrier GR.3/Fujimi 1/72nd Ju 87D-3

  • Member since
    January 2016
  • From: A Galaxy Far, Far Away
Posted by Hunter on Sunday, February 7, 2016 8:58 PM

Being totally new to modelling I have read one "Modelling How To" and in the middle of my second. I believe I have received what I was looking for by reading these books. You get back what you put in. I plan on reading more of these books plus absorbing as much as I can from all the FSM forum members.



  • Member since
    February 2003
  • From: Cameron, Texas
Posted by Texgunner on Sunday, February 7, 2016 9:17 PM

These should give you lot's of great ideas, and not just applicable to dioramas but useful for all sorts of scale modeling.  I bought two other "How To" books from Kalmbach back in the late '80s, and while they were helpful then, I suspect the info is way out of date here in the 21st century.Wink


"All you mugs need to get busy building, and post pics!"


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