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Parka (Singapore)

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Beginner's Guide to Character Creation in Maya
Beginner's Guide to Character Creation in Maya
by Jahirul Amin
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 43.20
28 used & new from CDN$ 36.70

5.0 out of 5 stars Indepth guide to 3D character modelling in Maya, June 17 2015
Length:: 2:23 Mins

Beginner's Guide to Character Creation in Maya is one of the more detailed and in depth book that covers 3D character modelling with Maya.

The first thing you need to know is the book not only covers Maya, but also uses Mudbox for some of the modelling. The software used are Maya 2015 (Service Pack 2), Mudbox 2015, Photoshop CS6 and Nuke. You can probably still use software that are one or two versions older but the book does mention new features that are only available in the new software.

Second thing to note is there are more than 30 hours of video files that accompany the lessons. The video files are huge, like 59GB. Unlike other books, 3Dtotal has opted to use Bittorrent for distributing the files this time and the download speed is rather slow. If there are no seeders, then technically speaking you can't even download the file. I would have imagined that there would be at least one seeder, like you know, from 3Dtotal themselves. They should have just split up the files to go with the chapters or even page numbers. Then readers would not have to download such big files at one go, or go through the wait for seeders to appear.

Alright, about the book...

The chapters are namely

1. Pipeline and interface
2. Anatomy, modeling and sculpting
3. Texturing and shading in Maya and Mudbox
4. Rigging and deformation in Maya
5. Locomotion and animation in Maya
6. Lighting and rendering in Maya

The book covers not only modelling but also helps you to understand the pipeline workflow. That's so that you can share your assets for others to work on while you continue to touch up your model.

The book is written for beginners and covers only the tools you'll use for modelling. The tools would be those commonly used for polygon modelling. You can come in with absolutely no knowledge on Maya although it would definitely be less intimidating if you have already worked on Maya before. The Maya interface is covered in the first chapter.

This book really goes into the details. There's a rather lengthy coverage on the muscles and bones in the anatomy chapter. Generally speaking, the book not only covers the technical aspects, but also wants you to understand the rationale behind. Like why do you model something this way? How do you mimic the way the human body moves in a believable manner. And before you can start to animate your walk cycle, animation concepts are presented.

For texturing, there's a section that talks about the skin and how you can prepare reference images for use as texture files, e.g. how you should set up your photoshoot to capture accurately coloured photo reference.

The last chapter talks about lighting and rendering.

The author and instructor is Jahirul Amin is a 3D trainer at Double Negative, a visual effects/CGI company in London. That guy is a pro and you can tell by the content written and this thick 296-page book. The instructions are clear and easy to follow. There are numerous screenshots provided to show you what they are talking about.

Overall, this is a rather comprehensive course, and a great book for beginners to 3D character modelling in Maya. There's so much content you'll probably have to spend a week or two to really complete all the lessons. And then there are those 30 hours of video files to sweeten the deal (provided you have no problems downloading them).

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

Realms: The Roleplaying Art of Tony DiTerlizzi
Realms: The Roleplaying Art of Tony DiTerlizzi
by Tony DiTerlizzi
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 32.64
25 used & new from CDN$ 31.89

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic artbook, June 16 2015
Length:: 2:14 Mins

Tony DiTerlizzi is a man of many talents. Besides being an artist, he's also the co-author of Spiderwick Chronicles, something I didn't know before I bought this book. That's impressive.

Realms: The Roleplaying Art of Tony DiTerlizzi is a 224-page hardcover that features more than 2 decades of art. You'll see the beautiful illustrations he created for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, Planescape, Magic: The Gathering as well as personal unpublished art.

The artworks are fantasy themed, and most are character art. There are fully coloured illustrations as well as line art. DiTerlizzi has been compared to Arthur Rackham (who's also listed as an inspiration) a few times in this book and there are indeed similarities in their style. However, DiTerlizzi's work easily stands on their own with the imaginative characters and colouring. I like the earthy warm style present in the paintings and even the sketches, whether pen or pencil. There's also a pleasing caricature feel to the characters. The creature designs or the fantasy characters all look wonderful.

All the artworks come with commentary from DiTerlizzi and those really provide the additional depth for the book. There are also text by other artists and colleagues such as Brom, Guillermo del Toro, Neil Gaiman, Iain McCaig, Donato Giancola and many more.

This book is also available in Kindle format. But I recommend getting the hardcover because the hardcover so much bigger and you get to appreciate the artworks better. It definitely more satisfying with a hardcover copy.

Highly recommended to fans and those who love fantasy art.

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

Sketch City: Tips and Inspiration for Drawing on Location
Sketch City: Tips and Inspiration for Drawing on Location
by Dopress Books
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 35.53
24 used & new from CDN$ 30.98

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, June 15 2015
Length:: 1:46 Mins

Sketch City is yet another book related to urban sketching or location sketching. They have been quite a lot of these within the last few years. Print quality for this is good as they used thick semi-gloss paper. The book is big and the artworks printed within are satisfying big as well.

Collected within this 224-page paperback are the sketches and drawing tips from 25 artists over the world. I've a lot of such books and this is an welcome addition to my collection because I only know 2 out of the 25 artists included. That by itself makes this a really worthwhile purchase for me.

After a 8-page introduction to location sketching and the tools, it features the galleries of 25 artists.

Each artist has several pieces of their sketches featured together with description and a short drawing tip. The tools and materials they used are also listed.

It's wonderful to see the beautiful sketches from all the different places in the world. Each artist has a lovely style and some of them are really good. This book will serve as a nice source of inspiration.

There are a few publishers for this book, namely CYPI Press, Gingko Press and Basheer Graphic Books. CYPI and Gingko should be distributing for USA and Europe. Basheer is distributing for Asia. The price of the book is going to different depending on where and who you buy it from.

If you like this book, check out all the other urban sketching books I've featured in the past. The book that's most similar to this is The Art of Urban Sketching.

Highly recommended to those who love sketching.

The list of artists included are

Corrado Parrini
Febvre Georges
Angelo Rodrigues
Isa Fischer
Wim Van De Wege
Simon Holzman
Yves Damin
Fabio Barilari
Guy Moll
Natalija Nikolceva
Arno Hartmann
Moo Hyun Chung
Hisham Salmin
Sigrid Albert
Dai Owen
Jacek Krenz
Tony Belobrajdic
Josiah Hanchett
Trevor Dickinson
Sofia Pereira
Benedetta Dossi
Francine Bidal-St-Aubin
Roger De Muth
Mieke van der Merwe
Choo Meng Foo

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

Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World
Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World
by Julia Rothman
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.35
45 used & new from CDN$ 8.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and educational, June 11 2015
Length:: 1:40 Mins

Nature Anatomy is Julia Rothman's new book for 2015. This is sort of a follow-up to her earlier book Farm Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of Country Life that was published in 2015.

After completing Farm Anatomy, she got inspired to continue with what she was doing. So now she has expanded into the larger world of nature.

This 224-page paperback is not designed to be comprehensive like those humongous DK knowledge books. Nature Anatomy is more fun and simple. It covers the selected flora, fauna, insects, animals and geological formations such as mountains, the oceans.

I find it fascinating to read about all the interesting information, like the life cycle of a salmon, the types of edible plants you can find in a forest, parts of a bird, snowflakes, different types of flowers, trees, moths, mushrooms, the atmosphere and many more. The writing is accessible and I finished the book in one sitting and found myself occasionally going to Wikipedia to read up more about those things that fascinated me.

All the bits of information are presented alongside Julia Rothman's simple but beautifully coloured illustrations. I like the ink line styles with filled colours.

Overall, it's a fun and educational book. Recommended to all knowledge seekers.

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

The Art of Inside Out
The Art of Inside Out
by Amy Poehler
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 35.76
44 used & new from CDN$ 27.69

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed bag of emotions, June 11 2015
This review is from: The Art of Inside Out (Hardcover)
Length:: 1:56 Mins

Unlike other Pixar films, Inside Out deals with something rather abstract like emotions. So how do you use art to represent that. Well, you get to see just that in this artbook.

The book collects the concept art for the film. There are sketches and coloured illustrations of the characters, places and fantasy landscapes. The artworks are beautiful and nice, but can also be abstract at times, such as for the imaginary landscapes, so I really prefer those with more details fleshed out. The main artists whose work you'll see a lot are from Ronnie Del Carmen, Ralph Eggleston and Don Shank.

The downside of the book is the presentation style. I feel that it's unnecessary to blow up simple sketches to full page sizes. Sometimes it works, sometimes, it doesn't. And when it doesn't, it feels like it's trying to fill space. I found myself flipping through several pages with just a single sketch on it rather quickly because they just don't have enough details to hold attention. Whereas I would pause and admire the more detailed pieces.

There's quite a lot of white space in the book that could have been filled by commentary. Or the simple sketches could have been scaled down to allow more artworks to be included. There's no commentary other than the foreword by Amy Poehler and introduction by Pete Docter. Some text talking about the design would have added so much more depth to the book. There are some captions that describe the art, but more often than not there are none. I find it very confusing that they don't label who some of the characters are.

The Art of Inside Out feels lacking. I was looking back at the last four Pixar artbooks for Monsters University, Brave, Cars 2 and Toy Story 3 and they were all more substantial, with much more artworks and interesting commentary from the artists and staff.

Another downside is the lack of order. I wasn't able to perceive any type of categorisation. Usually, artbooks would group designs for characters, environments, props, effects separately. Some books would choose to present the art chronologically as they appear in the film. The artworks in this book feels jumbled up in no particular order. And it doesn't help that the captions are sometimes missing. All the artworks are credited to specific artists though.

It's probably not surprising that there's not even an author listed. I guess nobody wants to take credit for this book.

So overall, this book is a mixed bag to me. I would have expected something better coming from Pixar. If you have owned other Pixar artbooks, you'll be able to see clearly that the other books are better.

3 out of 5 stars.

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

Sketchbook: Composition Studies for Film
Sketchbook: Composition Studies for Film
by Hans P. Bacher
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 33.18
27 used & new from CDN$ 14.88

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Would be better with more instruction, June 8 2015
Length:: 1:46 Mins

I'm a big fan of Hans Bacher's earlier book called Dream Worlds: Production Design for Animation, an instructional book on production design and composition for film. Hans Bacher has worked in the animation industry for years, including for companies such as Disney when they were still big on their traditional animation.

This new book Sketchbook: Composition Studies for Film is actually more of a sketchbook rather than an instructional book. There are a couple of tips on composition but do not get this book for the instructions because they are few and far in between.

The sketches featured are seemingly random but they may look familiar because they are composition and framing techniques used for films, not for any specific films though. They look like they were drawn from traditional media. They are, as the book title suggest, studies on composition. Many just use black, grey and white to block out shapes and characters. Even though the art may look very simple in execution with just a few lines and areas of colours, the composition are very well thought out and looks effective. You don't have to go into the details to make good art, as one of the tips in the book says.

It's a beautiful artbook but I wished they had been more instructions. This book works well as a reference where you can flip to any page to just get some visual ideas.

Anyway, you should definitely get his earlier book Dream Worlds if you haven't. And if you want to learn more about composition, I highly recommend Framed Ink: Drawing and Composition for Visual Storytellers by Marcos Mateu-Mestre, another expert in this field.

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

The Art and Making of Hannibal: The Television Series
The Art and Making of Hannibal: The Television Series
by Jesse McLean
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 25.16
39 used & new from CDN$ 15.43

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended to fans who are hungry for more, May 25 2015
Length:: 1:39 Mins

Fans who want to know more and go behind the scenes of Hannibal television series will be delighted with this book.

The Art and Making of Hannibal looks at the production of the series from conceptualisation to the detailed analysis of the characters and stories.

The artworks are mainly concepts of the murders, 3D visualisations of rooms (e.g. Hannibal's office), sketches of dishes by Hannibal and that's about all. Really not too much.

There are lots of behind-the-scenes photographs that show how the props are made, or scenes are staged. Some photos are pretty gruesome even though you know that they are prosthetics and effects.

The insightful writeup goes further to explain the characters and stories, and that's easily the highlight of this book. You'll get a glimpse into the minds of the characters and also producers and writers of the show. The book covers up to season 2.

Highly recommended for the fans.

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

The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road
The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road
by Abbie Bernstein
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 41.19
31 used & new from CDN$ 25.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic art and movie companion, May 21 2015
Length:: 2:17 Mins

I've received a few request for the review of this artbook and now it's finally here.

The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road is a huge 176-page hardcover artbook that measures 16 inches diagonally across.

This book features the art and making of the film. In terms of break down, I would say it's 50-50 art and photography. The art consists of storyboards, story scene paintings, character and vehicle design. The photography are of film stills, behind the scenes shots and those to highlight certain aspect, such as close ups on the different vehicles. The photos are fantastic also because they are really high res where you can see lots of details and well composed like film art.

The artworks are beautiful with a nice textural feel to them. I'm not sure how they are created but majority is definitely not digital painting, more like pencils, pastels, and those grainy medium, and some paintings also. Some drawings actually reminded me of Moebius' art because of the level of detail rendered.

So what's featured exactly?

Furiosa and the wives, Immortan Joe, Coma the Doof Warrior, Miss Giddy, Nux and the many other characters. Vehicles are the highlight also and we have the War Rig, Gigahorse, Big Foot and various other pursuit vehicles. The vehicle designs are really amazing. Overall, there's this really gritty steampunk look to everything and everything seems to work well together visually.

The commentary included talks about the filming process, the characters, story plot at time, vehicles, building stuff, the staging and even some nostalgia from the first few Mad Max films. It's an insightful read.

This is a seriously good art book.

Highly recommended.

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

The Road to Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron: The Art of the Marvel Cinematic Universe
The Road to Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron: The Art of the Marvel Cinematic Universe
by Marvel Comics
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 43.26
25 used & new from CDN$ 43.26

4.0 out of 5 stars Not the artbook for the Ultron movie but still good, May 19 2015
Length:: 2:41 Mins

This is not the artbook for the second Avengers movie featuring Ultron. There's another one specifically for Ultron.

The Road to Marvel's Avengers is just a rehash of all the materials and art from the earlier artbooks for the other Marvel movies, namely Iron Man 1, 2 and 3, Captain America 1 and 2, Thor 1 & 2 and even The Art of Avengers.

If you have been collecting all the other artbooks all along, then there's absolutely no reason for this book. There's nothing new in this book, except some layout changes, e.g. some artworks are printed bigger or shifted around.

This 240-page slipcase hardcover collects only the character design art. You'll get to see a lot of Iron Man suits as that seems to be the most popular. The rest of the characters are given good coverage too. The book focuses on the Avengers and has none of the villains and there's also no Ultron.

The art overall is awesome. But you already know that if you have the earlier artbooks. I had a strong sense of deja vu going through this book and I'm not a big fan of books that rehash material.

I guess if you're only interested in the Avengers movies and not the other character-specific ones, then getting this book makes more sense. Or if you don't want to collect so many artbooks, then this book will be great for you because it has a good selection of art from the other books.

So is this a case of Marvel milking the franchise? I would think so. I bought this book at the bookstore where there wasn't any book description. Imagine someone buying this thinking that it's a book for the second Avenger film.

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

The Sketchbook Project World Tour
The Sketchbook Project World Tour
by Sara Elands Peterman
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 34.18
30 used & new from CDN$ 19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars For those who like sketchbooks and journaling art, May 16 2015
Length:: 1:36 Mins

The Sketchbook Project is a crowd-sourced library of sketchbooks from artists around the world. The project started in 2006 online. The public would sign up and for a fee they would receive a sketchbook and after filling it with sketches send it back to add to the collection. The physical sketchbooks are on display at the Brooklyn Art Library, and digital scans are also available on their website. At the time of this writing, the artist community has grown to 70,000. Wow!

The Sketchbook Project World Tour is a 256-page paperback book that features a selection of sketchbook pages from the project.

The artworks are grouped according to different continents. There are lots of styles to check out and in some ways this book feels like a journal. There are artists who draw things that happen in their daily life, some draw from imagination, others from observations, there are some doodles, realistic drawings, line sketches and many more. It's nice to see the creativity on display. There are also several artists who are featured with short interviews.

The book could be useful as a source of inspiration and motivation.

If you like journaling art, this is the book for you. And also check out all the other sketchbooks I've reviewed so far.

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

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