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Parka (Singapore)
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The Noble Approach: Maurice Noble and the Zen of Animation Design
The Noble Approach: Maurice Noble and the Zen of Animation Design
by Tod Polson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 35.18
34 used & new from CDN$ 34.65

5.0 out of 5 stars Good book for those into animation and design, Dec 3 2014
The Noble Approach is a book that's part biography and part animation design tips featuring the late great Maurice Noble.

As a kid, I would watch the Warner Bros cartoons and never think about things like art and design. They are good which is why people watch them.

Well, in this book, you'll go behind the scenes and look at the person who has a hand at creating some of these animated productions, and understand his design philosophies.

Author Tod Polson who has apprenticed under Noble has done a good job with the biography detailing the designer's life and career right from the start. It's an inspiring tale of someone who has gone through a tumultuous period, with the need to support his family while still young, going through various career changes, having the ups and downs with co-workers, while still maintaining the passion to put out good design for animation and screen.

The biography is about a third of the book. The rest are his philosophies on design. It's on how he handles story beats, story elements, using reference, contrast, simplifying elements, colour theory, perspective, layout, and more. The text and the illustrated examples are insightful. It's a collection of design principles he has learned and compiled over the 60 years he spent in the industry.

It's a good book for those into animation and design, or into traditional animation design.

(There are more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)

Creative Essence: Creatures
Creative Essence: Creatures
by Ballistic
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 60.02
31 used & new from CDN$ 60.02

5.0 out of 5 stars The ZBrush Creature Design Process Book, Dec 3 2014
Length:: 1:58 Mins

Creative Essence: Creatures is a book on sculpting creatures and creature design. The software focused here is Zbrush.

This is a 250-page paperback that comes in a slipcase. There's only one standard edition, unlike some of the other artbooks from Ballistic Publishing.

8 leading creature design artists and 3D modelers from the CG industry are featured in the book, namely Andrew Baker, James Van Der Bogart, Jacob Earl, Josh Herman, Ian Joyner, Aris Kolokontis, Ben Mauro, Martin Rezard, Simon Webber and Bryan Wynia. They have worked for a long list of big budget films and video games, such as God of War: Ascension, Uncharted series, The Hobbit trilogy and many more.

At heart, this book talks about conceptualisation and the creative thought process of creature design. Interviews with the artists are in Q&A style with them commenting on their inspiration, challenges, the creature they have designed, the story behind and how they live, eat and move. Much is on how to make sense of the design, such as creating a mouth that the creature can actually use to get food. So it's more function with form, rather than form over function.

This is not a book that teaches you how to use the Zbrush software, or Photoshop for that matter. You should be at least Zbrush proficient because sometimes the artists do mention technical terms. Overall, just to emphasise again, it's on the creature process of designing.

All the creature designs featured are created specifically for the book. They are 28 of them. two-legged, four-legged, monsters, flyers, those with tentacles, insect inspired, dinosaur inspired. There are lots of amazing work to see. All the Zbrush modeled examples are printed in high resolution, with details down to the pores and goosebumps. One artist, Aris Kolokontes has his creatures physically created with clay actually talks about creating goosebumps, and how to make molds.

In additional to the Zbrush models, there are also some concept sketches. So you get to see the start and ending product. The actual hard work of pushing and pulling surfaces are not covered, but you do get to see selected step-by-step pictures of creatures being added with details like textures and more precise anatomy forms.

Creative Essence: Creatures is an insightful book into creature design process with wonderful Zbrush sculpted examples.

Recommended to intermediate to advanced Zbrush creature designers looking for inspiration.

(There are more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)

Stencil Republic
Stencil Republic
by Ollystudio Ltd
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 26.18
36 used & new from CDN$ 21.21

4.0 out of 5 stars Good collection of stencil designs, Dec 3 2014
This review is from: Stencil Republic (Paperback)
Length:: 0:28 Mins

This book is much like The Street Art Stencil Book that Laurence King Publishers released in 2010.

It's a collection of 20 stencils printed on perforated card stock that you can cut out and use. The card stock seems a bit thin so the stencils probably can only withstand limited use. It's quite worth the book price for 20 stencils. The book's almost 10 by 10 inches.

The designs look great. Some of them are really detailed, and the cutting is very precise. As an art form, it's really quite interesting to see how the featured artists connect the blacks together.

The collection is curated by Olly Studio. Featured artists are

A1ONE (Iran)
A*C ALTO CONTRASTE (Brazil)
ARTISTE OUVRIER (France)
BS.AS.STNCIL (Argentina)
CHRIS STAIN (US)
DAN INNES (UK)
DR. D (UK)
E.L.K. (Australia)
EZBAI (Spain)
FAKE (Netherlands)
ORTICANOODLES (Italy)
OZI (Brazil)
PISA73 (Germany)
RENE GAGNON (US)
RUN DON'T WALK (Argentina)
SR. X (Spain)
STEN LEX (Italy)
STENCIL KING (Netherlands)
STF (France)
VHILS (Portugal)

Interesting names that some of them have.

(See more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)

Biomech Art: Surrealism, Cyborgs and Alien Universes
Biomech Art: Surrealism, Cyborgs and Alien Universes
by Martin de Diego Sadaba
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 49.95
25 used & new from CDN$ 45.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of disturbingly good and good disturbing stuff to see, Dec 3 2014
Length:: 1:44 Mins

Biomech Art is an impressive collection of artworks whose theme is a mixture of surrealism, cyberpunk, alien landscapes and dystopia worlds.

It's quite a thick hardcover book at 256 pages. Author Martin de Diego Sadaba has curated the works of 28 artists from USA, Europe and Japan for the book.

Just look at the cover and you can see that wires are going into the eyes of the character, and her arm actually morphs into wires below the elbow. That's just a teaser for what's inside the book.

Some other examples include the Pascal Blanche' 3D art with psychedelic colours, Christopher Conte's steampunk creations, many paintings involving alien-like warped beings, Peter Gric has some wonderful pieces of human-like characters fused into the environment, a few H. R. Giger inspired pieces, scenes from the underworld, transhuman creations, oh and a floating head fused with teddy bears by the skin, and more. Many pieces are quite difficult to describe even.

Great book for those into the dark arts. There are lots of disturbingly good and good disturbing stuff to see.

The artists featured are

Albino-Z
Pascal Blanche
Riyahd Cassiem
Christophe Conte
Jase Daniels
Martin de Diego
Bernard Dumaine
Alexander Fedosov
David Frantz
Peter Gric
Naoto Hattori
Tomasz Alen Kopera
Simon Lejeune
Fabio Listriani
Ramon Llansola
Paul McCarrol
Dusan Markovic
Shingo Matsunuma
Kamal Mishmish
Daniel Arnold Mist
Kazuhiko Nakamura
Noistromo
Piotr Ruszkowski
Ken Sarafin
Seeming (Seeming Watcher)
Tomasz Strzalkowski
Sugar Flesh (Liran Szeiman and Martin de Diego)
Yang Xueguo

(There are more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)

Voyage au Japon 02 : Koyasan
Voyage au Japon 02 : Koyasan
by Sandrine Garcia
Edition: Album
Price: CDN$ 45.95
17 used & new from CDN$ 36.32

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful travelogue sketchbook, Dec 3 2014
Length:: 1:35 Mins

Voyage au Japon - Tome 2: Koyasan the sequel to one of my favourite travelogue sketchbooks, Voyage au Japon, Tome 1: Tokyo.

This time Sandrine Garcia and Rémi Maynègre travel to Koya-San (高野山) or Mount Koya, the mountains in the Wakayama Prefecture to the south of Osaka, to visit the countryside, temples and the largest graveyard in Japan. They recorded their journey from the start with a train from Tokyo to Koyasan, ending just before they leave for Kyoto.

There are paintings of various places they saw while on the train, the scenic countryside with traditional Japanese houses, temples, torii (traditional Japanese gate) along mountain paths, lots of tombs, and on the culture and way of life there.

The book's a large landscape 160-page hardcover. The beautiful watercolour paintings are huge. You get a sense that you're standing at the place there, just like the first book, and it evokes the holiday mood, the urge to book a plane ticket.

The bulk of the paintings are on the temples and tombs. I love the architectural details of the old houses, temples and other buildings. For the tombs and cemetery, you can see many different types, how they are worn from weather, stone guardians, the decorations and offerings put alongside, and the surroundings.

This book looks at the more spiritual side of Japan. It's written in French and Japanese. The tone is rather light-hearted going by some of the humorous depiction of the couple's adventures and short comics. There's one particular double page spread of the cemetery drawn with spirits hiding behind tombstones from the view of the people.

It's a wonderful artbook. Highly recommended to sketchbook and travel lovers. This would be one of my favourite books for 2013.

(There are more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)

Infected by Art Volume Two
Infected by Art Volume Two
by Chris Achilleos
Edition: Hardcover
2 used & new from CDN$ 999.11

5.0 out of 5 stars Nice art compilation, Dec 2 2014
Length:: 2:24 Mins

I only found out about Infected by Art after seeing this book on Amazon. The artworks featured are from their IBA website. IBA is a huge online platform where artists can submit their works, and through voting and judging, the artworks are selected for inclusion in the book. Volume three is already in the pipeline.

The works are mostly fantasy art with just a handful of sci-fi art. The book kinda reminds me of the Spectrum series of artbooks, however the Spectrum artbooks have more variety in terms of subjects as for IBA it's mostly about characters and some creatures.

Having said that, the art in this book are beautiful. What's interesting for me is to see some familiar names who are also displaying their artworks there, such as Peter Mohrbacher, Joe Jusko, Patrick Jones, Donato Giancola and many other artists. Over 300 pieces of artworks are included in this 304-page hardcover.

The artworks are grouped by the type of media used, namely oil, acrylic, watercolour, digital, pen, ink, pencil and mixed media (sculptures actually).

I guess the only downside is the paper used seems thin. The printing quality is decent enough.

Overall, it's a good art compilation to check out. And definitely visit Infected by Art website for more artworks.

(See more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)

Dishonored: The Dunwall Archives
Dishonored: The Dunwall Archives
by Bethesda Games
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 31.76
34 used & new from CDN$ 28.56

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revisit Dunwall again, Nov. 30 2014
Length:: 1:43 Mins

Dishonored: The Dunwall Archives is a nice companion book that adds to the story of Dishonored through excerpts gathered from individuals from Dunwall and other sources.

The book's a hardcover somewhere between A4 and A5 size. The 212 pages are filled with a mixture of artworks and text.

The excerpts could be stuff like lyrics to the songs sang by sailors, dialogue from a theatre plays, observations from travelers' journals, Overseer's findings, etc. All these provide pieces of information that adds to the world created by the game. You'll be able to learn more about certain people, government officials, the Empress, Rat Plague, whaling or even how to operate a butcher's saw. Basically, you get a different perspective of how things are, the other side of the story as told from various sources.

The artworks are wonderful. Unfortunately, there isn't a dedicated artbook for the game, so you'll have to make do with the selected pieces of artworks included in this book, which are mostly full coloured concept art.

It's an interesting book of art and fiction of Dunwall by Arkane Studios and Bethesda Softworks. Recommended to Dishonored fans.

(See more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)

Graphic L.A.
Graphic L.A.
by Roph Ruppel
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 32.30
27 used & new from CDN$ 20.45

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Graphic L.A., Nov. 27 2014
This review is from: Graphic L.A. (Paperback)
Length:: 1:29 Mins

I started following Robh Ruppel's art ever since I learned that he was behind the art direction of Uncharted 2. Back then, I was mesmerised by the staging and composition of the game's environment art from The Art of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves artbook. Robh Ruppel has a way of framing scenes such that they always look so inviting. So it's great to see this new book from him.

Many of the artworks in Graphic L.A. have appeared previously on his blog The Broadview Blog. There are additional art as well as many sketches included. The drawn subjects are mostly urban scenes from Los Angeles, hence the title of the book.

In Graphic L.A., Robh Ruppel adopts a more graphical approach to creating his illustrations. The emphasis is on breaking down scenes into geometric shapes and symbols, focus on getting the correct tonal values, and then working with that in mind to create a graphic representation of a scene. It's sort of similar to how some watercolour artists think about shapes for their paintings.

The artworks are stylised and beautiful. There's even a vector quality to his artworks that is characterised by sharp edges. The colour scheme is very tastefully done. The paintings remind me of photographs that are treated with some colour filters, or those from old school film cameras. This more vector-like style with strong symbolism is a departure from his other painterly style, which you can see in his earlier artbook Aspect Ratio and older works from his blog's archive.

There are quite a few sketches included and they are experimentation and exploration of values, shapes and silhouette. They remind me of another book Framed Ink which also touts the importance of having good value design.

Where the book falls short would be in the area of instructions and insight. The use of white space is usually plastered by tips in large typefaces. There are good tips as well as vague tips that could do with more elaboration. Some of the insightful information that I read on his blog are not in the book. I wished there could be more shared on techniques, and especially on how he thinks about colour schemes.

It's a beautiful artbook. I enjoy looking at how other artists use composition to frame their drawings, in this case Robh Ruppel is a master at doing so.

(See more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)

Stick Sketch School: Mastering the Art of the Stick Figure
Stick Sketch School: Mastering the Art of the Stick Figure
by Billy Attinger
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 19.01
22 used & new from CDN$ 12.27

4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly fun, Nov. 27 2014
Length:: 0:54 Mins

I was quite skeptical initially with the book just by looking at the cover. I mean, do you really need any skill to draw stick figures?

The thing is, this book has more depth that I expected. It focuses on giving stories and personality to stick figures rather than teaching the technical aspects of how to draw circles and lines. In other words, this book teaches you to create stick figures in such a way that people will know what your stick figures are thinking or doing when they look at them.

If you look around online sometimes you may notice that there are stick figure comic strips that are doing quite well. After reading this book, you might understand why that is so. Stick figures can be made more dynamic when you know how to make them so. Author Billy Attinger even created a company based on his stick figures.

There are several chapters in the book covering subjects such as body language, personality, emotions, creating action, aging, and the latter chapters challenges you to expand and draw animals, pop culture icons, musicians and soldiers. Each lesson is quite short with only two pages. The left page explains the rationale with illustrated examples and the right page contains instructions and is left blank for you to fill with your drawings.

It's a nice fun book on stick figure drawing and should appeal to those who like doodling.

(See more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)

Adventure Kartel
Adventure Kartel
by Ashley Wood
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 60.08
22 used & new from CDN$ 54.90

5.0 out of 5 stars The Adventure Kartel art and mini-comics book., Nov. 27 2014
This review is from: Adventure Kartel (Hardcover)
Length:: 1:50 Mins

Adventure Kartel is an intellectual property created by Ashley Wood and TP Louise that consists collectible figures and artworks. In the universe, Adventure Kartel is the name of a team of misfits and oddball characters lead by Tommy Mission and Fighting JC who have to fight against Zomb MD.

Adventure Kartel the book collects the mini-comics and oil paintings created by Ashley Wood for the characters. It's a huge hardcover, almost A3 size. The gigantic size is looks impressive.

The book starts off with a ten-page comic that introduces the premise, and then it's followed by the characters being revealed one by one. There's not much of a coherent narrative as you just get bits of the story with each character. And the language is full of slangs and curse words. "Wanna go on some sh't hot adventure? Well, do ya?"

The highlight of the book is Ashley Wood's style of art. There are his characteristic rough strokes, the halftones and in this particular book the use of very toned down desaturated primary colours of yellow, red and blue. With the large page sizes, those mini comics and posters can actually fit onto one page and you can still read whatever words that are on it. The overall feel is somewhat casual, loud and spontaneous, just like artworks you may have seen in other Ashley Wood artbooks.

A few Adventure Kartel characters have been released as collectible figures under the company ThreeA. And some of the artworks in this book are seen in the posters that come with the figures.

The characters included in the book are:

Boiler Zomb
Acolyte Zomb
Dead Astronaut Gangsta
King Thumb of Nefarious 10 Finger Robot Gang
Little Shadow
Tommy Mission
Fighting JC
Ankou
Ankou EX
Zombkin
黑夜熊猫 (Soot Wu or S8t Wu)
Hot Foot
The Golden Dolphin
Ka-Numb
Peppermint Groove
Zomb MB's Dead Easy Corp
A lot of other characters are not featured so I suppose there might be another book in the future.

This book is going to appeal specifically to fans of Ashley Wood's art and Adventure Kartel. Because it's quite a pricy, I recommend at least flipping through before purchase.

I'm not sure how many stars to rate this. If you're not an Ashley Wood fan, then the rating won't mean anything to you.

(See more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)

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