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Encyclopaedia of Aircraft Modelling Techniques

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Encyclopaedia of Aircraft Modelling Techniques
Mig Ammo

There have been many books on the subject of modelling techniques over the years, and it's very easy to dismiss new ones as old-hat or just for novices. I think you know what I'm going to say, but I'll say it anyway. This series of five books, of which we currently have only the first two published are very different in that respect. Here's why. They take you through the process of building a model that will eventually look superb, and right up there with the best. It doesn't hold back on techniques, and guides you helpfully through the process stage by stage, which I found very refreshing. I hesitate to call myself an experienced modeller, but I've been back to the hobby now for around eight or more years, so I've seen a fair bit of the press on the subject, and this left me enthusiastic and eager to read some more.

As already mentioned, we have the first four instalments, and I'll update the review with the last one as and when it's published. It's a difficult line to tread when doing a review to intrigue the reader without giving too much of the content away, so I'll include some photos and a chapter listing to do that, and sum up my overall feelings to the end.

All books are printed in the same style both physically and in terms of layout, print style and format, with a stiff softback cover that has half-width fold-out sections on the inside. After a chapter listing it's straight on with the task at hand, which is education and entertainment. The tutorials are pictorially rich, with step numbers and captions on just about every page, going into extraordinary detail on how the techniques are achieved, even down to the best masking techniques and tools used.



Volume 1 - Cockpits


You can guess the focus of this volume, but it also covers much more in the way of tooling up for the rest of the build. The Chapter listing is as follows:

1.0. Tools and Preparation of Parts




1.1. Materials, tools & paints
1.2. Separating parts from the sprue and cleaning mould lines
1.3. Removing ejection marks

2.0. Cockpits



2.1. Simple cockpits


2.1.1. Cockpit interiors
2.1.2. Simple seats

1. Seat padding
2. Seat belts

2.1.4. Painting upgrades
2.1.5. Closed cockpits & simple canopies

1. Closed cockpits
2. How to solve fit problems
3. Open canopies

2.2. Advanced cockpits

2.2.1. Resin cockpits
2.2.2. Scratch built detailed cockpits
2.2.3. Advanced cockpit painting

1. WWII cockpits
2. Pencil chipping
3. Jet cockpits

2.2.4. Advanced control panels

1. Photo-etched control panel
2. Resin control panel
3. Control panel with scratch built details

2.2.5 Advanced seats

1. Non-ejector seats
2. Ejector seats
3. Scratch-built seat details
4. Making masking tape seatbelts
5. Making seatbelts with tin sheet and wire

2.2.6. HUD
2.2.7. Advanced canopies

1. How to simulate weather strips

2.2.8. Pilot

2.3. Wooden cockpits

2.3.1 Simulating wood with enamels
2.3.2 Simulating wood with decals
2.3.3 Simulating wood with acrylics
2.3.4 Simulating wood with pencils


A few pages of the 123 are adorned with shots of some finished models for good measure.









Volume 2 Interiors and Assembly


Another descriptive title, but which covers so much more than it suggests.

3.0 Interiors



3.1. Landing gear


3.1.1. Wheel wells and doors

1. Painting process
2. Resin wells
3. Doors
4. Scratch-built details

3.1.2. Landing gear struts

1. Scratch-built details
2. Stretched sprue wiring
3. Resin and metal struts

3.1.3. Wheels and tyres

1. Wheel assembly
2. Wheel and tyre painting
3. Simple weathering
4. Advanced weathering

3.2. Scratch built interior details
3.3. Piston engines

3.3.1. Radial and rotary engines

1. Radial engines
2. Rotary engines

3.3.2. V-engines

1. Building and painting of a fuel tank

3.4. Jet engines

3.4.1. Air intakes and nozzles

1. Air intakes
2. Basic nozzle painting
3. Advanced nozzle painting
4. Using metallic pigments

3.4.2 Jet engines

1. Painting a jet engine
2. Detailing a jet engine
3. Scratch-building a jet engine

4.0 Exterior assembly


4.1. Fuselage assembly


4.1.1. Gluing parts
4.1.2. Filling gaps with putty
4.1.3. Sanding and polishing

1. Filing and sanding
2. Smoothing
3. Polishing

4.1.4 Refining and correcting parts

1. Correcting parts
2. Thinning down parts

4.1.5. Scribing panel lines

1. Scribing lines
2. Scribing panels and access covers

4.1.6. Riveting

1. Hole shaped rivets
2. Round rivets

4.1.7. Stressed skin effect
4.1.8. Navigation lights

1. Painting navigation lights
2. Building navigation lights

4.2. Wings assembly

4.2.1. How to assemble wings

1. Basic assembly
2. Wing root and dihedral

4.2.2. How to move flight control surfaces

4.3. Detailing

4.3.1. Photo-etched, resin and metal parts

1. Photo-etched, resin and metal parts
2. Resin parts

4.3.2. Detailing scratch-built parts

1. Resin copies

4.4. Masking


The last double-spread of the 159 are adorned with shots of a finished P-40 to inspire you.










Painting - Volume 3


If you haven't guessed the thrust of this one, you might need to seek professional help! This edition covers many different techniques of painting your model after assembly, with the emphasis on showing you the extremes of weather, which you can either follow by rote, or use in moderation depending on the use and abuse of the subject in hand.

5.0 Exterior Painting




5.1. Preparation & priming


5.2. Pre-shading

5.2.1. Pre-shading panel lines

5.2.2. Colour pre-shading

5.2.3. Overhead light pre-shading

5.2.4. Raking light pre-shading

5.2.5. Modulated pre-shading

5.2.6. Other pre-shading effects

5.3. Base coat and monotone camouflage patterns

5.3.1. Applying the base coat

1. Overhead light effects in the base coat

5.3.2. Glossy finishes

5.3.3. Metal finishes

5.4. Multi-tone camouflage schemes

5.4.1. Soft edge camouflage

5.4.2. Semi-hard edges

1. Paper soft masks

2. Soft masks with blue tack

3. Overhead light effect in multi-colour patterns

5.4.3. Hard edges

5.4.4. mottled camouflage

5.4.5. Snake lines

5.5. Chipped camouflages

5.5.1. Chipping fluids

5.5.2. Metallic chipping

1. Overall chipping effects

2. Wing root chipping

3. Heavy chipping effects

5.5.3. Chipped winter camouflages

1. Sandpaper weathering

2. Sponge chipping

3. Chipping with chipping fluids

4. Other examples

5.6. Airbrush highlights and fading

5.6.1. Lightening and darkening of panels

1. Lightening panels

2. Lightening and darkening the base colour

5.6.2. Modulation

5.6.3. Patched paint

5.7. Wood

5.7.1. Painting wood

1. Propellers and wooden parts

2. Plywood strip skin

5.7.2. Imitating wood with decals

5.8. Insignia, numerals and stencils

5.8.1. Decals

1. Large decals

2. Small decals

3. Most common problems & solutions

5.8.2. Dry transfers

5.8.3. Masking and other methods

1. Aftermarket masks

2. Homemade masks

3. Other techniques

5.9. Shading with inks

5.9.1. Outlining surface details with inks

5.9.2. Panel line shading

5.9.3. Reproducing dirt and stains with shading

5.9.4. Modulated shading

The final few of the 199 pages show some finished models with descriptions of the techniques used.










Weathering Volume 4


After the paint comes the weathering, and again this shows the technique that are available, but it's up to you to decide which techniques suit your subject, and gauge the appropriate level of wear and tear for your model.

6.0. Weathering




6.1. Preparation


6.2. Chipping

6.2.1. Chipping products

6.2.2. Brush painted chipping

6.2.3. Sponge chipping

Pencil chipping

Pitting and scuff marks

6.3. Filters

6.4. Dirt, grimes and worn paint

6.4.1. Splashes

1. Splashes to represent general dirt and wear

2. Splashes to represent actual splatter marks

6.4.2. Mottled spots effect

1. Mottled spots to represent worn and weathered paint

2. Mottled spots to imitate dirt and stains

6.4.3. Enamel fading

1. Oil dot fading

2. Fading using enamel weathering products

6.4.4. highlights and shadows

1. Access hatches and panels

2. Rivets and structural lines

3. Angles and corners

6.5. Panel line and surface detail washes

6.5.1. Panel and rivet line washes

1. How to apply a panel line wash

2. Panel line washes over dark camouflage colours

3. Panel line washes in different colours

6.5.2. Outlining other surface details

6.6. General washes

6.7. Streaking effects

6.7.1. Streaking grime

6.7.2. Rain marks

6.8. Spill stains

6.8.1. Basic spills

6.8.2. Complex spill marks

6.9. Exhaust stains

6.9.1. Exhaust pipes

6.9.2. Exhaust stains

1. Exhaust stains with airbrush

2. Exhaust stains with pigments

3. Oil streaks

6.10. Graphite effects

6.11. Weathering effects with pigments

6.12. Effects with colour pencils

6.13. Extreme weathering and fading

The last few pages of the 159 are given over to a few examples of the finished models, in keeping with the other volumes in this series.








Final Steps – Volume 5




This last volume in the series (ignore volume 6 for now) takes the modeller through to the completion of the model, bringing all the stages detailed in the previous books together and doing what many of us (self included at times) seem to have lost the art of.  Finishing a model.  The book is broken down as follows:


7.0. Weapons and external load


7.1. Hardpoints and pylons

7.2. Drop tanks

7.2.1. Assembly and detailing

7.2.2. Weathering

7.2.3 Weathering effects with watercolour pencils

7.3. Missiles

7.3.1. Styrene missiles

7.3.2. Resin missiles

7.3.3. Painting missiles

7.3.4. Weathering missiles

7.3.5. Other weapons and equipment

7.4. Bombs

7.4.1. Painting and weathering bombs

7.4.2. Weathering with watercolour pencils

7.5. Automatic cannons and machine guns

7.5.1. Painting automatic cannons and machine guns

7.5.2. Detailing machine guns

7.5.3. Replacing styrene gun barrels

7.5.4. Covered gun muzzles


8.0. Final Steps


8.1. Final painting steps

8.1.1. Paint touch-ups

8.1.2. Final varnish coat and sheen contrast

8.1.3. Painting final details

8.2. Painting propellers

8.2.1. Painting and weathering process

8.2.2. Other examples

8.3. Navigation lights

8.3.1. Molded on navigation lights

8.3.2. Navigation lights with coloured covers

8.3.3. Navigation lights with clear covers and coloured bulbs

8.3.4. Scratch building navigation lights

8.4. Attaching parts painted separately

8.4.1. Attaching landing gear parts

8.4.2. Attaching other parts

8.5. Canopies

8.5.1. Common problems with masking

8.5.2. Outlining clear parts

8.5.3. Attaching clear parts

8.5.4. Final weathering effects

8.6. Probes, antennas, and other small parts

8.6.1. How to handle and paint very small parts

8.6.2. Improving pitot probes and other small parts

8.7. Antenna wires and rigging

8.7.1 Antenna wires

8.7.2. Rigging

8.8. Oil, grease, and fuel stains

8.8.1. Fresh stains

8.8.2. Old stains

8.9. Dust, earth, and mud stains

8.9.1. Mud stains and splashes

8.9.2. Dust


The final 29 pages are given over to a gallery of the various aircraft that have been seen in progress during this series, which is a fitting conclusion to this immense and enlightening series.









When you have all five on your shelves, you will have access to a huge library of information that you can dip into at any time in order to refresh your memory and up your game with new techniques. You'd be crazy to try to implement all of the useful techniques at once, but if you add them one by one to your arsenal of skills, you will gain in confidence as time goes by. If you're like me and sometimes forget techniques that you once knew, these books on-hand would be a life-saver!  Sometimes you see comments about how "over-weathered" these examples are, but when you are showing off a technique it is best shown at its most extreme and most obvious, so that the modeller can then choose to repeat it at whatever level of intensity that they see fit, from a totally neglected aircraft to one just off the factory floor.

Of course a lot of the products you will see in shot are from the Mig AMMO stable, and who can blame them. We're all bright enough to know that if you have existing products that do the same job, you can use them instead at least until they run out.

Extremely highly recommended.



Volume 1




Volume 2

Volume 3

Volume 4


Volume 5




Review sample courtesy of


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  • 2 weeks later...

I rushed out and bought the first Volume and can't wait to get my hands on the rest of the set (and that was before I found out my modelling guru was a contributor).

Thanks for the review Mike.

Duncan B

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Nae worries - it's one of the few modelling how-to books that I've actually been excited about :) Looking forward to the next volume with baited breath :Tasty:

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Stroll on,that Mig's skin actually looks like old distressed skin.The pipework,wiring etc. in the gear/equipment bays is flawless. Now using that Paasche Turbo airbrush is a book on its own.When they work brilliant but they go out of tune in next to no time. Those books look so good though. I wonder how many pages a WIP would be on that Starfighter . I keep looking at those pictures,can't take my eyes of them. I'll have to get at least one!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just tried to order both. Received a transaction error :weep:

That's no fun - have you tried contacting them? Might have been a transient error with either their site or their transaction processing site. You never know with this new-fangled internet thingy :S

Are these the collection where each book is around £35?

If you'd clicked the BIN button you would see they're 25EUR, so around £20ish per volume? There's a pre-order to buy them all in one transaction that saves a few shekels too (economy of scale), but that's entirely up to you :)

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Thanks Mike,

Yea, tried contacting them but no reply, but managed to get an order in for the first volume at emodels. Can't wait to get my hands on it. Diego Quijano's builds have been inspirational so getting the chance to try out the techniques first hand will be great.

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  • 2 months later...

Just got volumes 1 to 3 for Christmas, and I have to say they are superb. I can't wait for volumes 4 and 5. These books will change the way I build.



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I got Vol 2 for Christmas, after picking up Vol 1 at Telford. Strongly recommended. I tried using some of the techniques on my recent F-106.

Whether you like all the end results in every respect or not, overall the books are superb. Even if I dislike some of the detailing (Some of the clutter and colours do not look close enough to real aircraft systems for my taste) just going through the examples has made be think hard about how I want to portray certain effects. I then realised that one of the models was 1/72 when I had through 1/32... I think these are game changers for me.



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  • 1 month later...

UK shipping is just under 60 Euros for the full subscription of these which stings a bit, still averages out to about what UK stores are selling them for ultimately however and you get a bonus sixth mag. Do those of you that have these recommend them for the money they command? I have both FAQ books they have put out.

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UK shipping is just under 60 Euros for the full subscription of these which stings a bit, still averages out to about what UK stores are selling them for ultimately however and you get a bonus sixth mag. Do those of you that have these recommend them for the money they command? I have both FAQ books they have put out.

I have looked at Uk prices and some exceed the MIG price and you still have shipping in the uk so I see this offer as good value,plus the mystery book.

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  • 4 months later...

I'm lucky enough to have been allowed to borrow a copy of the first two volumes. Can't put the damned things down and will certainly be getting a set of my own

Every modeller should have a set in their library.


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YMMV, clearly, but if the example spreads above are representative, than I feel no need to invest in the painting and weathering volumes. Beautifully executed, they may be, but I find the style utterly unrealistic and unconvincing...



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I'm lucky enough to have been allowed to borrow a copy of the first two volumes. Can't put the damned things down and will certainly be getting a set of my own

Every modeller should have a set in their library.


The content in the first two (which I was lucky enough to get for Christmas) is worth every penny. Still picking up new ideas from them...

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The content in the first two (which I was lucky enough to get for Christmas) is worth every penny. Still picking up new ideas from them...

There is certainly something new to be learned for most of us John, especially me.

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There is certainly something new to be learned for most of us John, especially me.

Join the club! I've been hammering bits of plastic together for nearly fifty years on and off, and I still can't get all of it right :).

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