We are sure that you must have already seen how Javier González ‘Arsies‘ has been preparing for weeks the crowdfunding campaign (in Kickstarter) of his book ‘Arsies’s Painting Toolbox’ (from now on, I will refer to it as ‘Arsies book’). The campaign finally started on October 15th and it is working very well so far. Truly there are very few books in figure modelling as complete as Arsies book, which is nearly a painting course by itself. We had access to a proof sample of Arsies book, and we are going to tell you in detail what it is you will find when you receive it at home.
ARSIES BOOK REVIEW
The book is called Arsies’s Painting Toolbox and it wants to be precisely that, a toolbox about modelling techniques, tips and points of view that Javier uses daily in his miniature painting job. As you may know already, he is a full time miniature painter that works both for collectors and companies. Since he started as a professional, he has maintained a consideraible production of miniatures of all styles.
The book we have received is a proof version in Spanish. This means that it is not the final version that will be delivered at the end of the crowdfunding campaign, especially considering that there will be a version in English too. It is version meant to be validated and corrected by a series of reviewers that Javier has personally chosen, and he picked us to help him with this task. It is a great honour and a privilege that makes us very proud, and it is great proof of Arsies’ commitment with the refinement and final result of the book. He aims to offer a great quality product despite the evident difficulties of self-publishing.
First thing we want to look into is the content covered by Arsies book. The index gives us a very good idea of what it is we will find:
- PROLOGUE: Introduction, about me, how to use this book
- BASIC CONCEPTS: Types of paints, paintbrushes, other tools, airbrushing, airbrush cleaning
- MINIATURE PREPARATION
- LIGHTING AND COLOUR THEORY: Introduction to colour theory, lighting models, colour dimensions, temperature, volume, contrast, harmony
- PAINTING TECHNIQUES: Gradients, outlining, glazes, light spots, nuances, skin painting, textures
- STEP BY STEP TECHNIQUES: Basecoating, drybrushing, semi-drybrushing, layering, sketching, stippling, glazing, outlining, skin painting, texturing, wet blending, metallics and non metallics, freehands, airbrushing
- TERRAINS: Introduction to terrains, composition, construction, texture application, effects (snow, mud, water…)
- CONVERSIONS: Ideas, materials, cut&pasting, full scratch
As you can see, this is a book that covers a very wide range of topics, we could even say this is the classic content of a very complete kind of miniature painting course. In the first part, the author talks about himself, his work, his experience and also about how he came with the idea of creating the book. After the introduction, the content of Arsies book can be divided in two big blocks, one about theory and another about painting techniques.
The section about theory is probably the most boring, as anyone would expect. In this part we will find all the concepts we consider necessary before we dive into miniature painting. It is a very extense section, with some quite dense explanations and, even though it is quite long, it doesn’t go excessively deep into complex and debatable concepts of colour theory, lighting or volume interpretation.
These are explanations that come out of Javi’s own experience, as well as from his investigation and data compiling work from other sources. All the explanations come illustrated with lots of pictures and diagrams that ease the comprehension of these rather dry concepts.
The great potential of this book is in the section about painting techniques. Here the author explains in full detail how to properly execute all the techniques he uses daily in his work. As you can see it is a long section and he does not forget about anything. Everything is very well explained and illustrated with photographs and diagrams that make it really easy to replicate the techniques covered. It is not easy to explain in a text how to glaze properly, or how to wet blend for example, and we believe that Arsies explains this in the book very successfully.
In this more technical part there is also space for the airbrush, a tool that Arsies uses very frequently. There are very clear instructions that cover in detail how to use it and take the most out of it.
At the last part of the book we find first a section with an essay about composition and conversions. This is one of the parts of the book we liked the most because they are not usually covered in other publications.
Finally Arsies includes some final pages as a personal gallery where we can see some of his most important works in full page photographs.
The book is probably weakest when we talk about the publishing aspect. It is very clear to us that the book is done with great care and very personally by the author, who is certainly a miniature painter but not a graphic designer working in publishing. The general layout of the book content is one of the things we disliked the most, as well as the quality of some of the pictures used: some are blurry or do not have enough quality for printing. In any case, the quality of the print is good, and the extension, as well as the great choices in the topics covered, greatly compensate these weaker points.
THE CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN
It started on October 15 and it is progressing very well. It was funded in a few hours, and the ‘stretch goals’ are currently being unlocked. The more money is raised, more exclusive extras will be added exclusively for backers, and these complement really well what we get with just the book.
Regarding prices and delivery expenses, the details are very clear. Shipping for a book of these characteristics may seem higher than what our mind would think at first, but based on previous experiences, these are very well calculated numbers. The fact that deliveries are made from Spain will make shipping out of the country quite expensive, but again this is one of the limitations of self-publishing.
Finally, the book will be published in English also, which is essential for most of the readers worldwide. The translation will be done by professionals, to ensure that nobody stumbles into the already classic ‘epic fails’ we are used to from other Spanish modelling publications. We have manifested to the author the importance of this point, and we are sure he will do everything in his power to ensure the quality of the English translation.
Generally speaking, this is a very recommended purchase. It’s a very complete book, created with much love and care, where Javier González “Arsies” tells us everything he knows, everything he has learned in his already long career in miniature painting.
- Extension and content of the text, covers in depth all the basics you need to know to start painting miniatures professionally.
- Clarity of the explanations, with clear and concise indications.
- The fact that it’s a book completely edited by its author means that this purchase directly helps and estimulates the work of a miniature painting professional, something we need to care about and cherish.
- The quality of the photographs, blurry in many cases, or not entirely suitable for publishing.
- The layout and some decisions taken about the style of the book. We are not at all convinced about them.
Here you have the link to the Kickstarter campaign of Arsies book ‘Arsies’s Toolbox’, as well as a link to the author’s website, Javier González Arsies, and to the Arsies Studio facebook page.