Posted on

Another Honour for Brick!

Over the weekend of November 11 & 12, The Australian Capital Territory Scale Modelers’ Society (ACTSMS) held the ScaleACT model show and competition. By all accounts, it was a great show, but one particular incident had special significance for KLP Publishing.

The subject of our first title (Building Brick’s Sabre in 1/32 Scale), Kevin Bricknell, was again awarded the honour of a tribute build of an aircraft he flew during his career. This time, it was his PC-9, and the modeller was Andrew Doppel.

Congratulations to Brick for another well-deserved tribute, and also to Andrew Doppel for creating such a fine model. Thanks also to Andrew for permission to use his photos.

Posted on

Announcing “Building Race #80 Spitfire Mk XIVe in 1/18 Scale”!

We’re pleased to announce that the next title in our Build Special Series will be Building Race #80 Spitfire Mk XIVe in 1/18 Scale, and will feature Peter Castle‘s amazing conversion of the HpH 1/18 scale Seafire FR 47 to Spitfire Mk XIVe configuration.

Peter’s model represents the Spitfire Mk XIVe (ex TZ138) being raced in Tinnerman Air Races at Cleveland, Ohio, and piloted by James McArthur to 3rd place on September 4th, 1949.

Peter scratch-built a great many parts for his model (much of it in brass), and covered it in aluminium litho plate. It truly is one of the most spectacular models you’re ever likely to see!

You’ll be able to witness this model in person at Scale ModelWorld in Telford this coming weekend, November 11 & 12, where it will be in competition. We wish Peter luck in the competition, though we suspect he doesn’t need it! We will report back on the results after the event.

In the meantime, work has commenced on document Peter’s amazing build in eBook format, which is a tour de force of model making techniques. We’ll bring you more news of the book’s progress as it comes to hand.

Posted on

Wingnut Wings AEG G.IV late Build Guide is Now Available!

I’m pleased to announce that our latest title, Building the Wingnut Wings AEG G.IV Late in 1/32 Scale, is now available!

Written by expert modeller Karim Bibi, this 167-page digital book takes you through building the impressive Wingnut Wings 1/32 scale AEG G.IV Late kit. Karim shows you the building, painting, decalling, and weathering techniques he used to produce his stunning model, including how to produce paint masks to replicate the iconic nose markings.

The book also includes a 29-page tutorial on painting wood-grain effects on propellors, and a handy 12-page tutorial on the rigging techniques that Karim used on this model. In addition, there’s a 12-page walkaround of the Mercedes D.IVa engine used on the AEG G.IV, and a bonus chapter featuring some period documentation on the engine.

The book is available to purchase in PDF format for $15 (Australian) at the “Buy now” button below:

Building the Wingnut Wings AEG G.IV Late in 1/32 Scale

Posted on

Why Digital?

I’m often asked about why we don’t offer print versions of our books, so I thought I’d take some time to answer this question, and to fully explain our decision to focus on digital books.

Having owned, reviewed, or otherwise been exposed to a great many modelling guides over the years, I began to notice that many of them shared the same set of unavoidable shortcomings. These were largely due to the limitations of the print format, and not necessarily any fault of the good people involved in their production.

The print process for books and magazines is complex and expensive, and necessarily entails a high level of risk—no publisher or author wants to get lumbered with a warehouse full of unsold books and a substantial financial loss. In print, pages cost money, and none more so than the glossy, heavily illustrated variety. Therefore, one of the overarching constraints of the print medium is the need to keep the page count to a financially-viable minimum, and this often manifests itself in text and images that are too small, and cramped layouts that can be difficult to follow at times.

It seemed to me that the best way to solve these issues would be to avoid print altogether.

Our Manifesto

The decision to go with a digital format opens up a range of possibilities and options not readily available in print, and collectively they drive our content first ethos. Rather than treat digital publishing as a poor cousin of print publishing, we decided to exploit the inherent advantages of the medium to the benefit of the reader.

To that end, our primary guiding principle is let the content determine the page count. Our books are as long (or as short) as they need to be to convey the relevant content appropriately, and if additional content surfaces, we can add that in too, without fear of breaking some arbitrary page count limit. In effect, there is no page limit.

The freedom to design books of any page length allows us to use larger font sizes, and to display images at the maximum size allowable. This approach requires more pages for a given amount of content, but we’ve already seen that this is not a problem.

Build photos are not tiny thumbnails, and a single image may in fact occupy up to half the available space on a page:

Walkaround images, where included, are displayed as large as possible, and a single photograph may even occupy an entire page:

Finished gallery images are not cluttered with competing text and graphics:

Our most recent title, Building Mac’s Birddog in 1/32 Scale, features a 53-page walkaround of the O-1 Birddog, while our upcoming title on the Wingnut Wings AEG will have a 27-page tutorial on painting wood-grain effects on propellors. Neither of these sections would have been viable in a printed book, and would have needed to be substantially reduced.

But, I Like Physical Books!

Yeah, we understand that, and we do too! We’re not proposing that printed books are redundant, or that you have to pledge your allegiance to one camp or the other. We simply feel that the nature of the content we plan to publish is better served in a digital format, and conversely, is not viable in the print medium. Some of our planned titles will cover specialised or niche modelling topics, and would be completely untenable as printed books. We wish that there were a workable compromise for this impasse, and if we find one, we will certainly explore it!

In the meantime, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic, either here in the comments, or on our Facebook page.

Cheers!

Posted on

Duplicate Page Spotted in Birddog Book!

It has come to my attention that the Birddog book contained a duplicate page, with page 96 being the same as page 95 with a different layout. My humble apologies for this error!

I’ve removed the duplicate page and updated the book on the website, so if you’ve already purchased and downloaded the book, the download link you have in your email inbox should be valid to re-download it. If this doesn’t work, please contact me directly and I’ll organise to get an updated copy to you.

Mea culpa!

Building Mac’s Birddog in 1/32 Scale

Posted on

“Building Mac’s Birddog in 1/32 Scale” is Now Available!

I’m pleased to announce that our second title, Building Mac’s Birddog in 1/32 Scale: A Scale Tribute to Macaulay “Mac” Cottrell, is now available!

Written by master modeller Eric Galliers, this 132-page digital book shows you how he built his award-winning 1/32 scale model of Macaulay “Mac the FAC” Cottrell’s Cessna O-1 Birddog. Using the Roden 1/32 scale kit as a basis, Eric modifies it to represent Mac’s Birddog as he flew it in Vietnam in 1968.

The book also includes Mac’s recollections of his 47 years in the RAAF, along with his citations for the Silver Star and DFC for an action in Vietnam. We’ve also included an exclusive 53-page walkaround, featuring a whopping 95 photos by Rob Fox of Rob Fox Photography.

The book is available to purchase in PDF format for $15 (Australian) at the “Buy now” button below:

Building Mac’s Birddog in 1/32 Scale

Sample Pages

Posted on

Mini Portable Lightbox Review

Photographing our scale models can feel like a black art at times, and it can be a frustrating process for those of us who post images of our work for public consumption, whether that be online, or in books and magazines. Often, our photos simply don’t do justice to our lovingly-crafted creations.

I experience this very struggle myself, and am constantly on the lookout for ways to improve my results. One of the secrets to quality miniature photography (or any photography, really) is lighting, and I recently stumbled across a portable lightbox that seemed ideally suited to photographing small assemblies and parts:

Being a mere AU$12 on eBay, I figured I had nothing to lose by trying one out—especially after seeing Matt McDougall’s post about a similar unit he had purchased. The thing that really appealed to me about this bit of kit, however, was that it comes with built-in USB-powered LED strip lighting! A USB cable with integral switch is supplied:

It has a standard USB plug (USB-A) at one end, while the end that plugs into the lighting strip features a micro-USB plug (micro-B). Here’s what the LED strip lighting looks like:

Now, I already have a large photo table with studio lights on each side, but I wanted something that would allow me to take quick in-progress photos of small sub-assemblies, such as engines and cockpits, where the light source is closer to the object.

The unit comes as a folded flat-pack, tucked inside a carry sleeve of sorts. I found it awkward to release the unit from its folded state (confession: I had to get my wife to do it!), but once extended, the sides come together in three layers, and are clipped together with a press-stud arrangement.

The unit appears to be made from some kind of PVC plastic, and while durable enough, it’s a little flimsy once assembled, and the sides on mine curve inwards, rather than being stiffly upright. I may try to affix something stiff to the external sides to keep them perpendicular.

The lightbox itself has a small footprint, being 23.5cm high and 22cm front-to-back. Width is also 22cm. So, it’s not really suitable for taking photos of completed aircraft models, or particularly large assemblies. It would comfortably handle figures and small-scale armour, however.

You also get five coloured inserts to use as backdrops for your photos—red, blue, green, black, and white:

These inserts only cover the floor and rear of the lightbox, so whichever colour you use, the sides will still be white. I like to photograph against as light a background colour as possible, generally, so I put the white insert into my unit for these test photos. The other colours are too strident for my liking.

On Test

As I’ve already noted, the LED strip lighting is USB-powered, so something like a phone charger is an ideal power source—provided you can set up near a power outlet! Luckily, I had something better: a portable USB power brick:

It’s basically just an external battery that is charged, and provides charge, via USB. Very handy!

Here’s what the unit looks like powered on:

Unfortunately the combined weight of the USB cable and switch has conspired to pull the right corner down a little bit, but this did not interfere with testing. You can see in the photo above just how severe the sidewalls curve in, and this is definitely blocking a small amount of light from reaching the work surface.

For testing, I used Quickboost’s 1/32 F4U-1D resin engine (QB 32 036). Here’s the initial photo, uncropped and unedited in any way, other than to reduce its dimensions:

It’s relatively dark, and has a mild blue/green cast. This is as much a function of the deficiencies of my camera than anything else. There’s also an odd pattern of overlapping lines in the foreground, which I suspect are caused by shadows from the curved sides. You can also see that the the lower rear corners have gaps through to the outside world, which limits the width of any object you can capture cleanly, without having to resort to editing out the background.

As I always shoot in RAW these days, it becomes a simple task to correct the while balance and exposure levels on images like the one above, so the image below shows the result of this editing, along with cropping out the unwanted corners:

Much better, and more than acceptable! I think there’s still a slight green cast in the part itself (along with some JPEG artefacts), but I don’t see this as an issue.

Sadly, I don’t think it’ll replace my larger set up for small parts any time soon:

Conclusion

So, what do I think? Well, it’s a very cheap solution, and it shows in places. Even while preparing this review, the double-sided tape holding the LED strip lighting in place started to let go (thanks to me leaving the USB cable dangling from it). The bending in of the sides is also annoying, but I will seek to address that somehow, and will re-test the unit if I do. A couple of my backdrops arrived with dents in them, too.

But for AU$12, I really can’t complain. While no substitute for my full photo rig, this unit will certainly allow me to take in-progress photos away from it, such as at the workbench itself, or even at a fellow modeller’s house.

The real value of a unit like this, however, lies in the utility it offers modellers who wish to improve their in-progress photography without having to invest in a large and potentially expensive studio set up. Sure, you’ll outgrow it quite quickly during the progress of any large build, but it’s a handy little unit all the same. If I’m able to fix the issue with the collapsing sides, I’ll test it again a publish the results.

Posted on

Announcing Our First Build Guide!

We’re pleased to announce that the first title in our Build Guide Series is well under way! Written by Karim Bibi, it will cover the Wingnut Wings 1/32 AEG G.IV ‘late’ kit. Not only does it feature a detailed step-by-step guide to how Karim produced his fabulous model, but also dedicated tutorials on biplane rigging, and painting wooden propellors. Also included will be a set of walkaround photos featuring the Mercedes D.IVa engine located at the Royal Museum of the Army, in Brussels, Belgium.

Below are a couple of teaser images of the build to whet your appetite!

Keep an eye out on the website, or our Facebook page, for more information about Building the Wingnut Wings AEG G.IV Late in 1/32 Scale. We’ll bring you updates as soon as we have them to hand.