Monday, 27 July 2015

Sons of Ultramar, Ultramarines Painting Guide Review.

I picked this book up on my first visit to my new home GW store in Taunton as I was grabbing the White Dwarf Weekly, and was feeling impulsive. I don't particularly need to know how to paint Ultramarines, it's something that I've been doing for quite a few years now, but was really hoping for some insignia guides, notes on heraldry, things along those lines. I'd picked up the How to paint Space Marines painting guide many years ago, and that was a font of hobby knowledge, and probably something I'll take a look at in another review.

The guide opens with a few pages of fluff regarding the Ultramarines 3rd company, and their captain Mikael Fabian. There's some basic colour plates of marines and vehicles, showing the general positioning of some insignia, such as company colour, and squad type.
It then goes on to show the whole third company on a double page spread, but with one glaring error, unless there's been a dramatic change in company compositions since I last checked. They only list six Rhinos, one for each Tactical squad, and none for the Devastator squads. Either someone has slipped up there, or they've altered the formation for no apparent reason.

Next up is a section entitled Strike Force Hammerfall, where we look at Antaro Chronus and the war for Quintarn, where the Armoury of Ultramar battled against Chaos. There are plenty of shots of painted vehicles, and some Sternguard Veterans, but still no painting guides and we're up to page 37 at this point.

Lo and behold, on the next page the headline act appears. It breaks the painting down into different miniatures, each highlighting either a new technique, or repeating a previous one from a few pages earlier.
First up are the basics for any Ultramarines painter, blue armour, and gold details. One thing that I did find useful was how they tackled white. I'd always shaded it with Nuln Oil, but here they use a Celestra Grey basecoat, and leave that showing in the recesses as they highlight up to white, it definitely looks more natural than my efforts. The six stages to paint leather on tabards was also good, and I'll be trying it out on my Cataphractii shoulder guards, and possibly on Guilliman himself.
There's a really nice nine stage guide to painting skin, which is something that I've struggled with in the past, so will be going this a go too. The guides for painting gems and lenses are something I'm going to try and follow as well.

Having made my way through almost eighty pages of step by step guides I feel rather cheated. There was a very apparent amount of repetition to the guides, with 14 examples showing the exact same way to paint blue armour. As I have noted above, some of the guides are useful, but a lot of space could've been dedicated to other aspects of painting an Ultramarines army. There is no mention of the other eight companies, or how to paint their trim. The only skin painting guide is white, where are the variations in skintone?
They could've included a masterclass section towards the rear of the book for people wanting to take their painting to the next level, and included a gallery of Ultramarines that had been entered into the Golden Demon completion over the years.
Another obvious idea would be to cover basing, even just a brief look at techniques, from sand, to textured paint, to using sprues for rubble would've added weight to the guide.

My final suggestion is perhaps the most obvious. In White Dwarf Weekly and Warhammer Visions they occasionally include two articles, Sprues and Glue, and Kit Bash. These could've been included, from a basic look at each sprue for the marine kits, to variations of poses and combinations. They could've suggested using the new Devastator Marine legs in your Tactical squads for the heavy weapon toting marine. They could've mentioned the new Ultramarines upgrade sprue. Both of these would've pushed sales and added a lot more to a very flimsy book.

So overall, would I recommend this book? Definitely not. It feels rushed, lacklustre, and incomplete. During the course of writing this I've decided I will be following it up very quickly with my review of the old Space Marine painting guide to show the difference and how lacking in effort this book is.
What do you think of it if you bought it or have had the chance to flick through? I'd be very eager to hear your opinion.

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