Review: Imperial Armour Model Masterclass Volume 2

Posted: May 3, 2012 in Reviews
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Model Masterclass

Way back in 2008 Forge World released Imperial Armour: Model Masterclass Volume 1, a guide to painting Forge World’s own range of models. Shortly after the book was published I picked up a copy from a GW store and I can honestly say that it changed the way in which I paint models. Before then I often followed the guides published in White Dwarf and painted exclusively in a style similar to the ‘Eavy Metal team (a style I still return to). However, upon reading the first installment of Model Masterclass I was inspired to try out new things and approach painting with the kind of gritty realism seen in the book. Since buying the book it has been a constant source of reference and I even applied the techniques from the book to army painting with my Death Guard army.

Perhaps what most changed my approach to painting was the fact that the book inspired me to buy an airbrush (no small investment) as most of the techniques in the book either required one or would be greatly improved by having one. It also inspired my to try out alternative materials to acrylic paints (which I’d been using almost exclusively in my miniature painting since I got into the hobby) such as oil paints, thinners and weathering powders. Here is a chimera I painted using techniques from the Model Masterclass book:

Volume Two

One of the things about Model Masterclass was the tantalizing ‘volume one’ in the title and since then I have been eagerly awaiting the second installment. However, now my wait is over as Forge World have just released Imperial Armour Model Masterclass Vol 2. Here are my thoughts:

The first thing to note is that, like all of Forge World’s publications, this is an extremely well produced book. It is a large hardback with thick glossy pages and is a thing of beauty in itself. The book follows the same format as its predecessor and contains a number of detailed step-by-step guides to painting individual models along with showcases of finished models with shorter explanations of how key areas were painted. There are also some great modelling and terrain building guides for constructing battlefields and dioramas. The guides are very clearly written and should prove easy to follow. There is also a handy guide to using weathering powders in the back which elaborates on some of the techniques used in the rest of the book. Personally I was very pleased with this as I have had a bit of trouble using weathering powders in the past and so hopefully this will prove useful.

Once again it is the forces of the Imperium that are in the spotlight (as you may have guessed from the title) but their alien adversaries also receive plenty of attention throughout the book. There are a couple of the shorter guides on painting Eldar vehicles and a section on an ork diorama which showcase very different techniques to those employed on imperial vehicles. It’s just a shame that there isn’t a slightly more detailed guide to painting Eldar vehicles but then the basic techniques seem to be similar to the Brass Scorpion of Khorne which does get the step-by-step treatment.

One interesting thing about the Eldar guides is the way in which the models are airbrushed using light greys and flesh colours (in the case of Saim Hann) or using black and white (Mymeara) in order to establish the basic patterns and highlights. The models are then given several translucent coats of paint in order to tint the basecoat and build up the colour of the vehicle.  This is a very different way of painting to anything I’ve tried before and I’m looking forward to giving it a go.

One surprising thing about the book is the fact that all of the guides refer to the old paint range. While this shouldn’t be a great problem given that the conversion chart from White Dwarf should make it simple to choose similar colours, it seems odd that after the much-hyped launch of the new paint range they should release a book based on the old paints. Then again, the book also makes use of a lot of non-GW paints which I found interesting. I think it is good that the writers are using whatever paints they feel will get the best results rather than simply pushing the Citadel range. This gives the advice in the book a much greater sense of objectivity.

A couple of other things I feel I should point out for people who may be considering buying the book are the skill levels involved and the equipment required. As with the previous volume, a lot of the material in the book assumes certain level of painting expertise. This book certainly isn’t for beginners (something like the new How to Paint Citadel Miniatures might be more helpful if you are just starting out). Also, if you don’t have an airbrush it may be of limited use to you (although there are some techniques which do not require one). However, as I mentioned above, this really is a beautiful volume filled with gorgeous photos of amazingly painted models (Phil Stutinskas’s Red Scorpions and the ‘Encounter at the Balmaeus Ice Mines’ really stand out in this respect) and, at £26, it might be worth having just for the pictures.

I’m certainly looking forward to trying out some of the guides. I’ll keep you posted when I do.

All the best,


  1. elektrycznaowca says:

    Thanks for the review, it’s quite helpful. I have only one question though: does the second installment show anything really new compared to the first one? I have the latter and it has also changed my approach to painting models, but I’m wondering if part two will be as revolutionary or is it just more of the same?

  2. Andrew King says:

    Thanks, I’m glad you found the review helpful.

    Volume 2 expands and develops on the techniques established in volume 1 and so, in answer to your question, you will probably find it less groundbreaking that the first book. This isn’t a criticism of the book, it’s just that as a second installment it isn’t as original as the first. Conversely, because the book builds on the previous one, anyone who buys volume 2 without having first read volume 1 may not get the most out of the second volume.

    Having said this, there are a number of brand new techniques such as painting a marbling effect on armour as I mentioned above. Obviously how useful you find this depends upon what models you wish to paint (the examples in the book are Eldar and Chaos). The book also contains useful guides for painting really BIG stuff like titans including a great tutorial on painting large areas of realistic-looking metal. This goes beyond anything in the first book but again, how useful you find it will depend on whether or not you intend to paint any titans.

    If you are interested in any of the specific models painted or the techniques used then you will find this a very useful purchase. If not then you might want to give it a miss.

  3. Carl Woodrow says:

    Great Review Andy. Have been considering whether or not to pick Volume 2 up, so was really useful to hear your opinion on the scope of the contents.
    Keep up the great work, especially on the Epic front.


  4. Andrew King says:

    Thanks, Carl. I’m glad you found the review helpful. I don’t think you will be disappointed with the book.

    Don’t worry, there’s plenty of Epic stuff yet to come.


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