JM. Villalba Workshop | USF: Detailing, Painting and Weathering United States WWII Fighters

Reviewed by Kevin Futter

JM. Villalba Workshop is the eponymous company of renowned Spanish modeller JM Villalba. Early in 2015 he released his first instructional DVD, entitled RLM: Painting and Weathering Luftwaffe WWII Aircrafts [sic], and has now released its eagerly-awaited follow-up, USF: Detailing, Painting and Weathering United States WWII Fighters. During the course of this new DVD, JM builds, details and paints Tamiya's 1/48 P-51D, but the focus of the content is on painting and detailing techniques. Almost no attention is given to the actual assembly of the model.

The DVD itself ships in a slimline case, and is professionally authored and replicated, rather than duplicated (burnt) on a home computer using blank DVD discs. The disc is available in either NTSC or PAL, and is also region-free. I certainly had no problems with playback on my system. Running time is 85 minutes.

After a brief opening sequence, you're presented with a screen containing six language buttons: English, Spanish, German, Czech, Italian and French.

The reason for this makes itself clear once the main content starts, and if you're not familiar with the previous DVD, it comes as a little bit of a surprise. Basically, there is no audio content other than some background music on a permanent loop. The story is told solely through the use of video, complemented with onscreen captions in your chosen language.

DVDs of this nature usually feature someone talking to camera, inter-cut with close-ups of the presenter demonstrating the technique. With this one, there's no one talking to camera, and no voice-over narration. Instead, the camera focusses on JM's hands in close-up throughout, as he demonstrates the various elements of the build. This approach seems a little unusual at first, but it's actually quite effective.

The content itself is broken down into eight main sections:

  1. Detailing the cockpit
  2. Painting the cockpit
  3. Painting the cockpit II
  4. Preparing for painting
  5. Painting
  6. Weathering
  7. Decals
  8. Gallery

One very minor criticism I had of the first DVD is that, as each section gives way to the next, there was no title slide to indicate that the focus has changed, and that you're viewing a new section. Happily, this has been addressed with this new title, and each new section is introduced by a title screen. It's great to see a company listening to feedback and addressing even minor issues like this one.

The video content is extremely well done, being clean, clear and very well framed and lit. Some of the action is filmed against a standard green cutting mat, such as below:

...while elsewhere most of the scenes are very nicely filmed in a blacked-out environment for clarity:

Note the concise but unobtrusive subtitles. Other sections feature an onscreen graphic showing the air pressure used for that particular airbrushing session. It's a thoughtful touch, especially the use of both bar and PSI measurements.

Another common element I particularly liked was that each product used is not only described in the subtitles as it is used, but also shown very clearly in show-and-tell style in the video itself:

I've included below a random selection of screenshots from the DVD to illustrate the range of material covered, including rivetting the model, mixing paint colours, cutting your own paint masks, and creating weathering effects:

Everything is covered with a refreshing clarity, and being able to see the modeller actually performing the techniques in close-up really helps the viewer to understand what is going on. The painting and weathering techniques outlined are not comprehensive, however, and more complex or advanced techniques are not explored. Being a Spanish modeller, JM is naturally an exponent of the so-called Spanish School of model finishing, and this is the basic approach used in the DVD. JM's execution lies at the subtle end of the spectrum, and the intent is clearly to show the modeller how to achieve a dynamic finish with simple techniques, while retaining some semblance of authentic subtlety. A screenshot of the completed model bears this out:

The video below shows the company's trailer for the DVD, which gives a sense of the content and style of the production:


This is an excellent instructional DVD. The information presented is clear and concise, and the video quality is excellent. The slightly unusual approach to delivery obviates any issues with accents and pronunciation, which makes the material even more widely accessible. It also means there's less focus on the modeller himself, and more on the presentation of the instructional material. For beginning and intermediate modellers looking to improve their detailing, painting and weathering techniques, this DVD is highly recommended.

Thanks to JM. Villalba for the review sample.

More information is available at the JM. Villalba Workshop website, Facebook page and YouTube channel.

© Kevin Futter 2017

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This review was published on Saturday, January 07 2017; Last modified on Saturday, January 07 2017