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Parka (Singapore)
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Star Wars Complete Vehicles
Star Wars Complete Vehicles
by Dorling Kindersley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 22.57
30 used & new from CDN$ 19.46

5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing cross-sections, but a rehash with added material, Oct. 25 2014
Length:: 1:24 Mins

There have been quite a few books released on Star Wars vehicles already, namely:

Incredible Cross-sections of Star Wars Episode I
Incredible Cross-sections of Star Wars Episode II
Incredible Cross-sections of Star Wars Episode III
Incredible Cross-sections of Star Wars Episode IV, V & VI
Star Wars Complete Cross-Sections: The Spacecraft and Vehicles of the Entire Star Wars Saga

Now, we have another new book, with most of the content rehashed though.

Compared to the previous compilation the Star Wars Complete Cross-sections which is 152 pages, also from DK, this hardcover is 208 pages. The extra pages come in the form of related film stills and commentary. Some film stills and additional commentary are also added to the cross-section pages.

The expanded edition comes with 4 new cross sections: Luke Skywalker's Landspeeder, the Medical Frigate, Home One and the Scout Speeder Bike.

The book itself is smaller in size to the first few books. It's not much an issue because the details can still be seen but you lose the effect of viewing those amazing artworks at even larger sizes.

The illustrations from Hans Jenssen and Richard Chasemore are amazingly detailed. It's quite a feat to imagine all those engines and wires running beneath the spaceships and whatever vehicles or walkers. When I look at Star Wars vehicles, part of me think of them as movie props, but these guys really make everything look so believable.

Even if you already have the Complete Cross-Sections, I think as a fanatic Star Wars fan, you would probably want to get this book just because of those four new cross-sections. I know that I-can't-help-myself-I-have-to-have-everything feeling when it comes to collecting.

5 stars if you're seeing the content for the first time.
3 stars if you already have the previous compilation book.

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

The Art Of Film Magic: 20 Years Of Weta
The Art Of Film Magic: 20 Years Of Weta
by Weta
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 76.49
16 used & new from CDN$ 76.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing collection from an amazing company, Oct. 23 2014
Length:: 5:56 Mins

I was thrilled when this collection arrived. It looks and feels amazing. It is amazing.

This is a huge two-volume slipcased set. It's quite heavy so if you're buying from Amazon, there might be an additional weight surcharge depending on the shipping location and speed. For overseas buyers, I recommend checking out the book at Book Depository because their prices are inclusive of shipping and the overall price may be slightly cheaper.

The slipcase is gorgeous and stunning. It holds two hardcovers within, namely Weta Workshop: Celebrating 20 Years of Creativity and Weta Digital: 20 Years of Imagination on Screen, for a total of 464 pages. Weta today is made up of Weta Workshop and Weta Digital, and hence the books are split as such.

The books detail the history of Weta and all the work they have done for over two decades in chronological order. It's filled with insightful writeup that's bound to delight movie fans, especially those who like reading behind-the-scenes materials.

There are many little bits of interesting information, like where their name Weta came from, the puppets they made for theatre, props for advertising, the sleep-deprived nights spent traveling from sets to sets. Those were the early days for Weta Workshop. They were already quite good and then came the big break that is The Lord of The Rings that made them even more prominent as a special effects company.

Other then films, they have also created a lot of non-film related projects, such as TV programs like Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess, shows for children, high-end collectibles, published artbooks and even put up public sculptures. All those are in the books, complete with commentary talking about their other ventures and challenges.

The pictures included comprise behind-the-scenes photos, graphics on how they create digital effects, film stills and more. You'll see photos of armour, weapons, miniatures, creatures and prosthetic make up. There are also pictures looking at how they do motion capture, editing, blending live backgrounds with computer graphics, rotoscoping, compositing and many more. It's an insightful look at film production from the perspective of Weta.

You'll read about stuff like how they manage battle scenes in LOTR, create skin textures for the Na'vis in Avatar, use digi-doubles in films such as the digital Captain America that jumped out of the jet in Avengers, and many more. All the films that they have worked on are given a decent amount of writeup. It's very satisfying to read through all the information.

Authors Luke Hawker and Clare Burgess have both worked at Weta Workshop and Digital respectively for more than a decade. They have done a terrific job with the books.

The Art of Film Magic: 20 Years of Weta is an wonderful collection of stories and images from a very well respected high calibre company in the movie industry.

This is one of my favourite books from 2014.

Highly recommended to movie fans, digital artists and those who love movie companion books.

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

Digital Painting Techniques: Volume 6
Digital Painting Techniques: Volume 6
by Carlos Cabrera
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 38.21
26 used & new from CDN$ 35.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great resource on digital painting, Oct. 22 2014
Length:: 2:59 Mins

The Digital Painting Techniques series has been a tremendously helpful resource ever since it was released in 2009.

With the sixth volume, I felt there's an increased emphasis on the fundamental of art, especially for the first four chapters. That's great because the fundamentals and thinking help to strengthen ideas instead of just relying on technical prowess.

As usual, the book is filled with tutorials from top and experienced artists around the world. In the first chapter on concept art, Visual FX artist Alp Allen Altiner gives you the perspective of what it's like working in the digital art industry, and concept artist Markus Lovadina shows and explains how he creates concept art using thumbnails, creating character style sheets and speed painting.

The second chapter deals with the creation of custom brushes. Third chapter is on speed painting, again the focus is on using basic art fundamentals like lighting, silhouette together with digital painting to come up with a successful concept. The next chapter looks at lighting and atmosphere at different time of the day under different conditions.

The rest of the chapters are more subject matter-based covering characters, fantasy scenes and environments, sci-fi characters and landscapes. The last instructional chapters has three artists, namely Donglu Yu, Geoffrey Ernault and Markus Lovadina who walk you through the whole process of creating a particular piece of concept art from start to finish.

It's always interesting to see someone else's process. There are lots to learn in terms of techniques and the thinking behind, to see how and understand the approach different artists take to tackle their projects.

This is yet another insightful and inspiring addition to the Digital Painting Techniques series. Highly recommended for digital artists.

Here are the list of chapters and tutorials in the book:

Introduction to Concept Art
- The digital art industry
- Building thumbnails
- Working up style sheets
- Speed painting

Creating Custom Brushes
- Water effects
- Skin, hair and fabric
- Industrial elements

Speed Painting Techniques
- Use silhouettes to build composition
- Effective lighting and atmosphere
- Reaching a rendered concept

Lighting and Atmosphere
- Midday sun
- Dusk/dawn
- Night time with natural light
- Night time with artificial light

Characters - Mood
- Paint a portrait with attitude
- Depict a dark, arrogant queen
- Create a visual narrative

Characters - Stylized
- Craft a distorted portrait
- Illustrate exaggerated features
- Master the art of caricature creation

Fantasy - Battles
- Learn to paint a beastly encounter
- Portray a heavy-duty battle scene
- Illustrate an epic fantasy scene

Fantasy - Enviroments
- Tips for creating a fantasy settlement
- Render concept art with photo textures
- Paint atmospheric lighting schemes

Build a Sci-fi World
- Character
- Age character
- Creature
- Rural landscape
- Old architecture
- Organic architecture

Master Projects
- Throne room - a cinematic mood painting
- Depict a sci-fi battle aftermath
- Design new world concepts

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

Digital Mayhem 3D Landscape Techniques: Where Inspiration, Techniques and Digital Art Meet
Digital Mayhem 3D Landscape Techniques: Where Inspiration, Techniques and Digital Art Meet
by Duncan Evans
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 35.77
25 used & new from CDN$ 35.77

3.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag, Oct. 22 2014
Length:: 2:02 Mins

Digital Mayhem 3D Landscape Techniques is a book for digital artists interested in creating 3d landscapes and environment. It's a mixed bag as far as I'm concerned.

The book's divided into three sections.

The first section talks about the previz considerations, basically stuff like composition, camera lens, lighting, art direction etc.

The second section forms the bulk of the book. There are 13 chapters each dedicated to a specific type of environment, e.g. mountains, seascapes, industrial, etc. The chapters would showcase several artworks from artists with included quotes and information like what software was used, rendering time, etc. The chapters then end with a step-by-step tutorial that looks at the process of creating a particular environment.

Just in case you're interested to find out the 3D software used in the tutorials for the chapters, they are:

Mountains - Vue 10 Infinite
Seascapes - 3ds Max, Zbrush
Rivers and Lakes - Vue 10.5 Infinite
Water features - Vue 11 Complete, Daz Studio 4.5
Desert Scenes - Maya
Woodlands - Vue 11 Infinite
Architecture Visualisation - 3ds Max
Characters in landscape - 3ds Max
Urban Landscapes - Maya
Weather and seasons - 3ds Max
Post-industrial - Lightwave3D
Sci-fi - 3ds Max, Vue
Fantasy - Studio Max, Lightwave, Zbrush
As for the quality of work showcased, there are some good works that look really natural as well as those that feel very CG. The tutorials are quite insightful though with helpful tips, but that would apply more if you're also using the same software.

The last section is on post production. You'll learn stuff like adding things in post, using filters and other effects. The more essential information are already handled in the tutorials.

Books that feature too many software always run the risk of alienating those using other softwares, and I think that's the case here. I use Maya and don't particularly care about the tutorials using Vue, and as you can see from the list above there are only two tutorials for Maya.

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

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Oil Painting Techniques
Sci-Fi & Fantasy Oil Painting Techniques
by Patrick J. Jones
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.77
26 used & new from CDN$ 18.77

5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly informative and a terrific resource, Oct. 22 2014
Length:: 1:36 Mins

This book is the next best thing if you can't be inside Patrick J. Jones' studio to watch him paint.

Collected within are 13 step-by-step tutorials that look at Patrick's painting process from start to finish. The book focuses on fantasy characters. Anyway, the techniques taught are applicable as long as you're drawing figurative forms.

The importance of foundation knowledge of figure drawing is laid out in the first few chapters. After which the detailed tutorials follow.

Each tutorial features one amazing painting where there are several photos of the painting in progress, and each step is accompanied by the materials and techniques he used. Patrick would zoom in on specific areas of the paintings and talk about them in greater detail regarding the painting process and the ideas behind.

The painting he used as examples are from commissioned jobs as well as his personal works. Some of them are huge. It would have been great to see them at the actual size. The reproduction shown in the book is quite detailed but I felt that overall, many are slightly darker, but perhaps they are really like that in real life just that I haven't the opportunity to see them.

The last section of the book has a few pages of art gallery, tips on photographing models and artwork. He also shows us his palette and let us peek at his studio.

This book's incredibly informative and a terrific resource for any sci-fi & fantasy oil painter to learn from. There are lots of useful tips shared, not just from himself but from artists he has learned from. It's also very inspiring to read about his career, inspiration and how he got into painting. Considering the affordability of the book, this is definitely value for money.

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

Cool Japan Design
Cool Japan Design
by PIE Books
Edition: Tankobon Softcover
20 used & new from CDN$ 33.66

5.0 out of 5 stars Nice reference on Japanese pop culture, Oct. 22 2014
Length:: 1:12 Mins

Cool Japan Design features the graphic design of merchandise of Japanese manga, animation and movies. It's a book that should be interesting to graphic designers and those into Japanese pop culture.

It's a 224 page paperback published by PIE BOOKS. Text is in both Japanese and English.

The type of merchandise included are discs, books and other promotional materials such as toys, display stands, posters, etc.

The amount of work showcased is incredible, and this is definitely just a small subset of what's available in the market. I hope they released more volumes in the future.

I really enjoyed going through the diverse variety of style. They are all distinctly Japanese style, but each title has their own unique style as well. There's a good mixture of examples from the current and past. You'll see vocaloid Hatsune Miku, Gurren Lagann, Evangelion, Akira (1988), Inoue Takehiko's Vagabond and a whole lot of stuff. I've mentioned only the more popular titles but the rest, the bulk, are dedicated to lesser known ones. All titles featured have a short profile written.

If you're a graphic designer in the comics or animation industry, the pages of example are on how to package and present your product, and on using illustrative art for promotion.

It's a great book for reference and inspiration.

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

The Sky: The Art of Final Fantasy Slipcased Edition
The Sky: The Art of Final Fantasy Slipcased Edition
by Yoshitaka Amano
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 62.06
24 used & new from CDN$ 62.06

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great collection but might not be what you're expecting, Oct. 22 2014
Length:: 1:51 Mins

In 2012, Dark Horse released the first edition of The Sky limited to 1000 copies. Many who pre-ordered were left sorely disappointed when their books did not ship when the shipping date went by. 1000 limited copies for fans of Final Fantasy, a game series that has over millions of fans. Now that's truly limited.

Well, it's all good now. Dark Horse has released, this time, a non-limited edition of The Sky that is more easily available. Although there are no additional goodies with this release.

This is a slipcase set with three hardcover books. The cardboard slipcase is covered with some silky fabric with a beautiful print across and to the back. It's very sturdy cardboard and even has a cover for the opening. The presentation is very nice.

Inside the book there are the three large format artbooks. Volume 1 collects works for FF I-III, Volume 2 for FF IV-VI and 3 for FF VII-X. This is a collection of artworks from 1987 to 2001. Altogether, there are 576 pages.

This box set might not be what you're expecting depending on the type of FF fan you are.

I suspect there might be a group of fans or designers looking for art that is closer to the games. You know, like those art-of books typically released alongside games? The Sky is not like those artbooks. There's no full list of characters or enemies, environment art (I'm still looking for these), weapons, vehicles or promotional art.

The focus in on character designer Yoshitaka Amano and his character designs. There are over hundreds of drawings of characters and enemies in the unique Amano style of art.

It really interesting to see, for the first few games, how those dot matrix game sprites are translated into or from the concept art. If you've not played the games, these designs will appear foreign. Even if you've played the games, they might still appear foreign because they can be wildly different from their video game form. Therein lies the brilliance of Amano, who can create such a huge cast of characters for the FF world.

The amount of content for each game varies. Book 2 is the thickest so you get a bulk of work from FF IV to VI. Book 3 is quite thin with only ten pages for FFVII. Much is of Cloud and Aeris, with occasional appearance of Sephiroth and RedXIII.

Not all characters or enemies drawn are labeled. It's a challenge to identify them sometimes.

Depending on where you buy it from, there might be additional weight surcharge. This box set is heavy. It ships with its own custom sized cardboard shipping box designed to prevent damage. That's the way to do it for an exquisite set.

You might know that there was an earlier book called Dawn: The Worlds of Final Fantasy. Much of that book's content is duplicated here so there's no reason to get that book anymore.

Ultimately, this boxset represents great value for money. Grab it fast if you like the art.

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

The Legend of Korra: The Art of the Animated Series Book One - Air
The Legend of Korra: The Art of the Animated Series Book One - Air
by Michael Dante DiMartino
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 24.44
36 used & new from CDN$ 20.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic art book. As good as the first one., Oct. 22 2014
Length:: 1:20 Mins

I love the Airbender animation series. I can still remember the strong nostalgia I had while watching the first episode of The Legend of Korra: Book 1 Air, recalling all the characters from the previous series, and watch how time has passed and given us a new generation to look upon.

The Legend of Korra: Book 1 - Air, The Art of the Animated Series is a nice addition to that experience. It's as good as the first art book Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Art of the Animated Series.

The cover art is different from the original product image. It has Korra looking rather too serious.

The book features development art from all the 12 episodes in Book One: Air. There are designs for the main characters, followed by the Republic City and its inhabitants and then we have art from each episode in order.

Character designs form the bulk of the book. There's Korra in different outfits, including those from Pro-bending gear, and also the cute four-year-old Korra. There are lots of line art and also coloured versions for the characters. Other characters are Tenzin and his family, Lin Beifong, Amon, Katara, and about most of the characters that appear in the episodes.

The environment art are beautiful. The buildings and sets have a mix of oriental, industrial and European style. The world has changed since Aang was the Avatar. You'll see some connection to the past, for example, with Avatar Aang Memorial Island. Overall, the world feels very different because it has evolved. My favourite piece is the aerial painting of Air Temple Island that appears towards the end.

The last few pages have some pretty cool miscellaneous art, such as the classic Avatar characters in their adult form, and also other characters drawn in non-animation style.

Throughout the book, commentary is provided by creators Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko and director Joaquin Dos Santos. They give illuminating insight to the designs and stories.

Highly recommended to fans of the series, and those who like animation or character art.

It's one of my 2013 favourite artbooks.

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

MM25: Mega Man & Mega Man X Official Complete Works
MM25: Mega Man & Mega Man X Official Complete Works
by Capcom
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 39.46
14 used & new from CDN$ 39.46

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book for all Mega Man fans, Oct. 22 2014
Length:: 1:26 Mins

MM25 is the English translated edition of the Japanese artbook R20+5, the updated edition for R20.

For R20, Udon released two translated books in the form of Mega Man: Official Complete Works and Mega Man X: Official Complete Works.

This time, for the 25th anniversary mega man artbook, Udon has retained the single book format of the Japanese edition. In addition to the standard paper edition, there's the limited edition featuring a gorgeous blue laser foil hardcover. As with Udon's limited editions, they are only available on Udon's online store.

The books debuted at San Diego Comic Con 2013 and sold out promptly. Retail copies will be available in August 2013.

This new edition has 432 pages, of which 96 pages of new content. The binding looks strong enough for a book this thick, but I will still be careful not to damage the spine though, for the paperback edition.

Majority of the content remains the same, and there are minimal layout changes. Much of the new content comes from Mega Man 9 & 10, miscellaneous art from gaming cards, and interviews with the illustrators Tatsuya Yoshikawa, Haruki Suetsugu, Hideki Ishikawa, Ryuji Higurashi, Keisuke Mizuno, Kenta Saito and Yuri Kataiwa.

I've reviewed the earlier editions before so I'll not repeat much. This is an awesome book packed with an astonishing amount of art for the characters and merchandise. You'll flash back to your childhood days when Mega Man first came out in 1987. Since then, there have been so many sequels and the expansion into the X series and other spinoffs. There are forty over titles and art for all are inside the book. That should give you an idea of the scope of the book.

This is a book all Mega Man fans should have. Highly recommended.

Should you get the book if you have the two earlier books? It depends on whether you want the Mega Man 9 and 10 art.

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

World of Warcraft Tribute
World of Warcraft Tribute
by Blizzard Entertainment
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 29.78
20 used & new from CDN$ 29.78

5.0 out of 5 stars Great collection of Warcraft fan art, Oct. 22 2014
Length:: 1:15 Mins

Great collection of Warcraft fan art

World of Warcraft Tribute joins the Tribute series of art books from Udon. It's a fan art book with artworks collected from fans over the world during Udon's call for submission.

The book comes in two edition, a limited hardcover and a standard paperback. Both are 224 pages. The hardcover has a dust jacket that features art from Arnold Tsang while the standard edition cover art is from Samwise Didier, art director of Blizzard Entertainment.

The limited hardcover edition debuted at San Diego Comic Con 2013. The only other place to get it would be at Udon Store online but they haven't listed it yet. I will update again when they do.

The standard edition will be released in September 2013. The binding looks good enough for a book this thick.

Over hundreds of artists are featured. Each has their artwork given the full page treatment. Official Warcraft art have their own art style and direction so it's refreshing to see the fan's take on the characters with their own styles and interpretation.

The art is great, of course. Even though they are fan art, the quality is high. In addition to the mainly fantasy art style, there are also comic, anime, cartoony and other illustrative style. There's even a Mucha style piece with the decorative background, not the type of setting you would associate with Warcraft that's for sure. There's also a brief gallery from Udon artists.

It's a wonderful fan art compilation. Recommended to all who like Warcraft, fantasy, concept and video game art.

Definitely also check out other Tribute art books and The Art of Blizzard Entertainment.

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

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