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Book Review
H2Whoa! Water Under Modelling
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by: Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]

Originally published on:


Xtreme Modelling are perhaps better known for publishing the excellent and innovative magazine of the same name. This is the first in a series of monographs dealing with various elements of diorama building.

The subject says it all really. Most books on diorama techniques DO cover various aspects of water-effects but rarely (if ever) do we find an entire book dedicated to the subject. Usually when they're covered, they focus on the addition of water in a diorama but rarely, is the water the center of the diorama. It is also usual for the various manuals to have a single author, with the ability of the authors who write this kind of book it is beyond criticism, but with this book a 'multiple' approach has been used with no less than EIGHT writers each contributing one specific project. The area of water effects is divided into three separate areas - Seas, Swamps and Puddles...

In Brief - the book

H2Whoa! Water Under Modelling has been released by the Spanish publisher Xtreme Modelling and consists of a soft-cover, A4 book which contains 96 pages. The book is the first in a series of books which will cover various aspects of diorama work under the series title 'Elements in Combat'. As I mentioned in the introduction, there are 8 modelers involved in the book who are: Rhodes Williams, Domingo Ruiz, Josť A. Azorin, Javier Soler, Ignacio del Corral, Javier Redondo, Volker Bembennek and Chema Cabrero.

In More detail - the projects

The book, to illustrate examples of various water effects, present the work of the authors through eight very different projects. As it would be impractical to comment on all of these individually, i'll consider one in the next section of this review. Meanwhile, here are the chapter headings:


Herr Hauptmanís Champagne - Rhodes Williams
Ducks on the water - Domingo Ruiz


The Swamp Thing - Josť A. AzorŪn
Making water with transparent resin - Javier Soler
Calm waters - Ignacio del Corral


Panther G Spšte - Javier Redondo
K.O. Wirbelwind - Volker Bembennek


Tupolev G5 - Chema Cabrero

Overview - One of the projects

For sheer imaginative content and a superb execution, I chose the first project - Herr Hauptmanís Champagne by Rhodes Williams. Following the 'rule' of all good dioramas, this tells a story - a German LWS above a sunken fishing boat which had been used to transport equipment (and even a Kubelwagen lashed to it's deck). The entire diorama is housed inside a plexiglass case (giving the viewer the impression of looking inside a small aquarium). To give some added 'drama' to the scene, one of the crew has been diving onto the boat to recover a case of champagne when a shark appears....

Williams, in this diorama, manages to do something few of us would ever attempt - a genuinely 3-D diorama with several different elements - the surface of the sea, the seabed, the two vessels (the LWS and the sunken fishing boat) as well as the debris from the sinking scattered about the seabed. If that wasn't enough, the addition of the Kubelwagen, the animation of the crew of the LWS adds a myriad of interesting elements to what was already an interesting idea...

However, like all the projects in the book, it's not simply a showcase of the work of a group of modelers. The author explains in considerable detail the execution of the scene and the construction and (vitally important) establishing a connection between the various elements. However, it also follows that if the elements aren't well constructed, the intention will fall flat on its face. In this case, everything seems to work very well - the figures are nicely animated, the SWS is well done (considering the shortcomings of the donor kit, no mean achievement) and a lot of work has gone into the fishing boat and its cargo.

Like the other chapters in the book, the intention is not simply to present a completed diorama. The objective is to present a series of practical techniques which can be used on many different projects. This, taking 'Herr Hauptmanís Champagne' as an example becomes fairly obvious. It's a VERY practical book - for the workbench not for the coffee table..


Recently, when I reviewed a more general book on terrain modeling, there was (in certain circles) a criticism that the author had used an inordinate amount of a specific manufacturer's products and it appeared (IMO, unjustifiably) to be little more than a sophisticated advert. The same criticism may well be levelled at this book as many (though by no means all) of the water-effect products used, are produced by Vallejo. Let me counter this by saying that the company produce considerably more than just acrylic paint and do have a huge catalogue of items for terrain modeling. Also, as most of the modelers featured are Spanish, in Spain, we DON'T have exactly a vast amount of comparable products to choose from. Logically, you'll use the product which is most readily available and since Vallejo's products cover most eventualities...

The book is very logically edited and the idea of seperating it into three categories was, in my opinion, absolutely correct. Whether you're planning to recreate a section of Overlord a muddy field in the Ukraine or an oasis outside of Tobruk, you'll find something in the book to get you thinking.

The diversity of techniques and materials is also impressive. An enormous amount of materials are used to good effect - including the use of weathering powders, the pre-cut leaves from PlusModel or MK35's 'footprints'. There is a very good 'how-to' section on making a fir tree, some basic groundwork techniques and even three pages of color profiles of various Panthers.

The quality of photos is very good, with excellent, well-captioned images showing the various processes covered. Some of the images are full-page with the technique photos being of a good size.

It's strange that any one book covers the three principal areas of diorama work - Armor, Naval and Aviation are all there - the latter in the form of a P38H Lightning being transported (somewhat precariously) between two DUKWs - this is also the only 1/72nd scale diorama featured.

An excellent book which represents great value for money - there is an extraordinary amount of information in its 96 pages. This should definitely bode well for future books in what should become a very interesting series.

VERY Highly Recommended
We're getting some excellent books on various aspects of diorama building. However, when a book combines a common theme of water effects with some superb projects executed by top-flight modelers, it looks as if we're onto a real winner.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: Elements in Combat # 1
  Suggested Retail: 21,95Ä
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Jan 22, 2008

Our Thanks to Xtreme Modelling!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Jim Rae (jimbrae)

Self-employed English teacher living in NW Spain. Been modelling off and on since the sixties. Came back into the hobby around ten years ago. First love is Soviet Armor with German subjects running a close second. Currently exploring ways of getting cloned to allow time for modelling, working and wr...

Copyright ©2021 text by Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


Hello everyone Here you send a photo in which I basis for the diorama. Indeed, a very primitive and unsafe, but it really was used on some occasions Greetings Domi
JAN 25, 2008 - 11:32 PM
Very interesting looking book, Jim...I'm always on the lookout for new and different technique publications, and this one is destined for my shelf, for sure...great coverage, mate!
JAN 26, 2008 - 12:18 AM
I like the looks of this book. Where can I get a copy of this?
JAN 26, 2008 - 12:40 AM
Domi, thanks for posting that - just a pity no-one does a P38 in 1/35th scale. I have to admit that when I first saw your dio, I honestly thought it WAS 35th...
JAN 26, 2008 - 12:42 AM

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