Bill Horan's Military Modelling Masterclass

By Bill Horan

Published by Windrow & Greene

Review by Mike O'Hare


An award winning master modeller, Bill Horan is well known in the world of figure modelling for his gorgeous works. His book, Bill Horan's Military Modelling Masterclas is equally at home on the workbench and the coffee table. Its 128 pages are chock a block with amazing photos of award winning figures from modellers around the world, as well as in-progress shots of Horan's own works, which illustrate the instructional portions of the book.


Each chapter begins with an instructional how-to, which is followed by a wide array of finished subjects illustrating that chapter's lessons. Beginning, as one might expect, at the beginning, Horan walks the reader through the process of painting a basic figure, step by step. This is among the best figure painting primers out there and gives both beginners and experienced modellers alike many great tips. Painting realistic flesh tones, metallics, properly shading and highlighting reds, as well as dealing with the minute details of painting tartans. Chapter 2 involves more complex techniques: converting and scratchbuilding figures. Again, the reader is walked through the fundamentals, this time off scratchbuilding a figure on a wire armature. Though the subject is more complex, it is all clearly explained. For beginners, again, the instructional is followed by a gallery of scratchbuilt figures, many of which are shown in "before and after" shots. The pictures aren't just eye candy though; their captions include event more tips and suggestions, while the photos themselves serve as visual guides on how to deal with specific features, be it painting ribbons, funs, capes and flags or sculpting eyes, noses, facial hair and more.

The third chapter concentrates on vignettes - small scenes with a handful of figures. This builds on the previous chapter, as the vignette featured includes heavily modified figures, but also gives the reader an appreciation for the basics of layout, movement and focus, as well as how to tell a story with a simple scene. Again, a gallery of award winning by famous figure modellers vignettes follows. Next comes the chapter on dioramas, incorporating more figures and more complex groundwork, merging several vignettes into a larger work. A chapter dealing with mounted figures rounds out the book: how to paint, convert, and detail horses and riding gear, and how to merge horse and rider. In the gallery portion, this is extended to camels and sci-fi beasts as well.

As mentioned, however, the book can also stand on its own for the lushly illustrated works of art in the galleries. Each figure is a masterpiece and is beautifully photographed to show the work off in all its splendour, and even non-modellers can appreciate their amazing fidelity. It is truly inspirational; rather than being put off by the high calibre of the award winning figures, thumbing through the book actually makes you want to start painting. Moreover, though many of the topics are rather advanced, Horan's guidance gives even the most inexperienced figure modeller the confidence to get started.


Figure modelling is often viewed as a genre unto its own, and one that most armour, aircraft and automotive modellers are leery to venture in to. Pilots and tank crews are either tossed into the spares box or hastily painted leaving the modeller unsatisfied with the results. This book is will both inspire you to start painting figures, and give you the know-how to do so successfully, opening up new subjects for modelling and adding more life and interest to your vehicles. Whether you're and accomplished figure modeller who wants to polish up their skills or an inexperienced one but want to include the odd figure in model displays, or simply want a beautiful book full of award winning figures and dioramas, Bill Horan's Military Modelling Masterclas is an absolute must have.