Vallejo Airbrushing and Weathering Techniques: Buy it Again?

Let’s face it, the question when deciding to purchase a “how to” book is not about the book at all but rather: Is the book worth buying despite the wealth of “how to” instructions already available on the web? Because Vallejo’s Airbrushing and Weathering Techniques offers a feature and photo rich format that curates everything beautifully into one place it’s well worth considering for your own collection. Here are four compelling reasons to buy this book.

It’s beautiful. As soon as I picked it up at my local game shop I knew it was going to follow me home. Front to back cover is filled with thick glossy pages festooned with clear and carefully chosen colour images that illustrate what the concise captions are teaching. It’s how a “how to” book should look. Well bound and hefty it’s a joy to both page through leisurely or read more carefully for content. I’ve yet to have a gamer friend not pick it up and have a look if it’s laying around.

It’s Comprehensive. From the opening chapter on paint, airbrushes, compressors, and model surface prep to the finished project photos, FAQ, and eight pages of colour paint charts, it covers everything you could want to know about applying Vallejo paint products to models. All materials and paints are clearly noted. You will never have to guess how the author is achieving a result or what he’s using to do it because the concise written content is well reinforced in the accompanying pictures.

It’ll Raise Your Game No Matter Your Skill Level. Without talking down to us the author, Rob Ferreira, starts right at the beginning by explaining what acrylic paint is and advice on how to choose an airbrush. Each chapter and subsection thereafter builds slowly on main concepts with a step-by-step guide. You can dip in and out of the relevant chapter to try a technique and then return later to see what you could learn to improve your work next time. It delivers content like a really good textbook without being at all pedantic. From kindergarten through to your PhD., this book offers a full course of study.

Acrylic Paints are Airbrush, Hobbyist, and Family Friendly and Clean Up with Water. If nothing else, this book demonstrates you can get contest winning models while eliminating solvent based products and cleanup, along with their smell and negative health effects. For me personally, I prime with a Tamiya spray can and use oil paints with odorless turpentine for some final weathering but everything else I do now is Vallejo acrylics. They don’t smell and clean up with water. Even Tamiya’s water-clean-up alcohol based paints smell bad by comparison. If you haven’t already, it’s time to switch away from solvent based products. This book will make that transition as painless as possible.

There are, however, some steep prerequisites to getting the most out the book.

You’ll need a double action airbrush and air source. At least half the result obtained in the book require a double-action airbrush. The author also assumes you have an air source and a place to spray. While acrylics are safe to spray anywhere you can make a big mess in a hurry if you’re spraying in the kitchen sink! There’s still much to be learned about using a brush to create about half of the demonstrated effects but an airbrush is required if you want to get the most out of the book.

BSG Viper from Moebius Models. Weathered using techniques from Vallejo’s Airbrushing and Weathering Techniques book.

You’ll need to have strong model building skills. The author takes for granted that you’re able to assemble an armour model to a high standard to provide a mould line and blemish free “blank canvas” to paint on. The book assumes the ability to assemble models in stages leaving off tracks, wheels, and other details to be assembled after painting. Not a deal breaker but be aware this book does not teach the basics of assembling a model.

You’ll need to have a decent hobby budget and access to Vallejo products. In addition to the price of the book itself you’ll need an initial investment in Vallejo or existing collection of Vallejo products. Just about every range Vallejo makes is used eventually: Model Color, Model Air, Metal Color, Model Wash, Panzer Aces, Surface Primers, Pigments, Texture Paints, and all the Weathering Effects line as well. The author uses over a hundred different Vallejo items across ten product lines.

This is not as off-putting as it sounds. You probably already have some Vallejo or equivalent products around. In my case, this book has taught me how to use things I had purchased but in hindsight after reading was not using properly or to best advantage. In addition to improving your use of previous purchases the book allows for gradual and guided purchases of new products, one or two at a time. The author teaches skills that will take years of practice and experimentation to master. Your collection of the necessary products can be spread over an equally long period as you work toward that PhD.

You’ll need a keen interest in modelling armour and vehicles. This book focuses almost exclusively on model armour and will serve treadheads best; however, the airbrushing, weathering, and diorama techniques are easily transferable to every type of modelling and scenery creation. You’ll still find yourself looking at finished models in the Gallery chapter and wishing there was a weather-beaten Stuka or mud-covered Rally Car with which to compare notes but with a touch of imagination it’s easy to apply the techniques to all your interest areas.

Rubicon’s desert Tiger. A light touch of several of Vallejo’s Airbrush and Weathering Techniques.

Finally, you’ll need to forego or tone down some of the techniques in the book when building wargames models. The ultimate focus of the book is creating display or contest models. Many of the finishes are beautiful but fragile and leave a lot of flat paint, dusty pigment, and carefully created fuel stains to the mercy of how carefully you pick the model up. The models we do tank battles with, however, need to have a rock-hard finish and be immune to dirty fingers and a bit of rough handling. This is no problem, you’ll just have to forego a few final steps and have your final finish “tamped down” by a decent coat of a durable varnish like Testor’s Dull Cote or a double dose of the suggested Vallejo Matt Varnish.

This is a must have for the model enthusiast who wants insights into using all Vallejo products effectively to create beautiful models. To have all this content curated into one beautiful book easily beats a long list of bookmarks on your web browser, even if you could find instructions and companion images of the same quality. I bought it and am consistently glad that I made the investment.

2 Comments on “Vallejo Airbrushing and Weathering Techniques: Buy it Again?

  1. I think this is a great book. The first dozen pages or so really helped improve my airbrushing life. (To be honest the rest of the book is just for looking at the pictures and wishing I could ever do anything like that but it is very good for that too!)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah, lots of good tips (with pictures, even better!) in there to learn from. I agree, a lot is just eye candy as I can’t do what he does but fun to look at nonetheless!


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