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Parka (Singapore)
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Beginner's Guide to Creating Manga Art: Learn to Draw, Color and Design Characters
Beginner's Guide to Creating Manga Art: Learn to Draw, Color and Design Characters
by Steven Cummings
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 25.45
36 used & new from CDN$ 22.81

5.0 out of 5 stars A tips and techniques book, Oct. 16 2014
Beginner's Guide to Creating Manga Art is a more of a tips and techniques book rather than a structured course on drawing manga from start to end. The book covers only characters.

It starts with lessons on features, expressions, anatomy, poses, clothing and character designs. The lessons are brief and are covered under 30 pages. For example, for drawing of heads, the front and sides are taught. But for heads at other angles, while there are illustrated examples with guidelines, there aren't enough in depth explanation to go with it. This section is just an introduction on figure drawing.

The second part of the book features tutorials from various artists on designing characters. There are many useful tips on drawing, what type of materials to use and things to look out for. Many artists are using traditional medium but there are a few tutorials on Photoshop.

The third part is on colouring the characters that were drawn in the previous chapter. The tutorials cover a variety of tools that are used, such as coloured pencils, markers, watercolour and Photoshop. Again, there are good tips on handling the specific mediums.

The last few pages feature a manga art gallery from various artists.

Overall, this book is more on understanding the style of manga art, and the tutorials that show you how to create them.

For beginners, I would also recommend getting dedicated books such as Drawing the Head and Hands and Figure Drawing for All It's Worth. With basic figure drawing skills, stylizing characters for manga will be much easier.

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

The Art of Turbo
The Art of Turbo
by Robert Abele
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 45.71
27 used & new from CDN$ 17.08

5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good, Oct. 16 2014
This review is from: The Art of Turbo (Hardcover)
Length:: 1:24 Mins

I wasn't expecting much from an art book based on a movie whose main character is a snail. Surprisingly, the art book is quite good. Dreamworks is the company putting out the film Turbo after all.

The snails' character designs are cute. The artists have removed the slime and drawn them in different colours and shapes. They have lots of interesting shells too. The best and funny ones are from the racing snails who have racing engine shells. Glossy shells with exhaust pipes that discharge flames. Another one carries around a dead bumble bee. Nice. There are a few simple human character designs as well. Character designers are Shannon Tindle, Sylvian Deboissy, Takao Noguchi among others.

The scene paintings are beautiful. The composition and the colours are really nice. Some of them are painted by Dominique R. Louis and Mike Hernandez. They are great with light and colours.

The storyboards from Macros Mateu-Mestre look fantastic. Just simple grayscale but effective storyboards with good composition that you can blow them up to any size and they will still look great.

I love the Tacos shop designs also. While heavily stylised, they still look so believable like customers have been eating there for a long time. Then there are the designs for the race track and some of the F1-like racing cars.

There's plenty of commentary from the staff, and a funny foreword by Ryan Renolds who presented himself as an animation noob in front of Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Like I said, surprisingly good art book with a snail on the cover.

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

The Venice Chronicles
The Venice Chronicles
by Enrico Casarosa
Edition: Hardcover
13 used & new from CDN$ 56.86

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful travelogue sketchbook with a love story, Oct. 16 2014
This review is from: The Venice Chronicles (Hardcover)
Length:: 1:25 Mins

If you love sketchbooks or watercolors or travelogues, you'll love The Venice Chronicles. It's a sketchbook, travelogue, and a comic thrown into a sturdy hardcover book with a sweet love story.

Enrico Casarosa is a story artist at Pixar, so storytelling is his forte.

The story centres around his travel with his girlfriend in Venice. Included is a section on how they met, and how he used his drawings to attract her attention, of course! There are lots of great interaction and funny dialogue to draw smiles. His whole adventure during the time at Venice is wonderfully captured.

The sketches and watercolour are really beautiful and suited for the story he told. The characters are appealing and real. There aren't a lot of watercolour comics around. Venice Chronicles is a nice one.

Highly recommended.

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

The Art of Monsters University
The Art of Monsters University
by Karen Paik
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 43.29
36 used & new from CDN$ 22.43

5.0 out of 5 stars Good to be back to school, Oct. 16 2014
Length:: 1:24 Mins

I like the first Monsters Inc artbook and this one is great as well.

There are more character designs. Mike and Sully are still the main characters but you'll also some a few familiar faces in their younger self in college. The monsters come in different shapes, sizes and colours. They are in sports, partying, playing pranks and coming up with all sorts of mischief.

Since the film is about college life, you'll see more art of the Monsters University campus. When I think of monsters, I don't usually associate them with bright and cheery hilly campus, but that's what you get with a Pixar film. You have Mike and Sully jogging in the stadium at dawn with sun casting a beautiful warm glow. It seems there's always a colourful party going on somewhere. The campus has several buildings and the main one is the School of Scaring. You'll also see the dorm rooms, fraternity houses and areas of Monsters Inc that are not shown in the first film.

The interviews with the artists and staff provide some insight into the design of the film. They talk about the differences and similarities between the two films, such as the old school scaring technology that you'll see.

It's a great book with lots of beautiful concept art.

Be sure to check out the first Monsters Inc artbook as well, which was sold out and reprinted.

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

Dragon Age: The World of Thedas Volume 1
Dragon Age: The World of Thedas Volume 1
by Various
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 38.23
38 used & new from CDN$ 33.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book, Oct. 16 2014
Length:: 1:21 Mins

Here's the companion book for the Dragon Age video games. The book's 184 pages, hardcover.

While you can actually get most of the information on the Dragon Age wikia page, the book format is more convenient as a package.

I'm not familiar with the game so I can't comment much except say that other reviewers on Amazon have pointed out several errors and inconsistency with the content. The contents include Legend, Map of Thedas, Races, Nations, Magic, Religion, The Fade, The Blight and Bestiary.

The art featured in the book is wonderful. There are beautiful illustrations of the environment, scenes, characters and creatures. The environments are painted in concept art style - they are not considered really finished but they feel finished and the mood is captured well. The artworks are printed quite big and they are almost on every page. There are several paintings filling two pages.

The layout of the book is also nice.

It's worth it just to buy for the art alone.

And this book reminds me very much of The World of Might and Magic: The Ashan Compendium, which is also a book to get if you're into fantasy art.

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

Marvel's Iron Man 3: The Art of the Movie Slipcase
Marvel's Iron Man 3: The Art of the Movie Slipcase
by Marvel Comics
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 35.10
29 used & new from CDN$ 35.10

5.0 out of 5 stars XLII suits and counting, Oct. 16 2014
Length:: 1:25 Mins

Iron Man as a franchise certainly is at its peak with the third movie.

Since the first Iron Man movie, Tony Stark has created six Iron Man suits. Mark VII appeared in The Avengers. In Iron Man 3, there are 42 models.

All 42 Iron Man armor suits are featured in the book. They are lined up side by side on a gatefold page from Mark 1 to Mark 42. The Iron Legion, they are called. This is probably the only place you can see all the suits.

The suits that appear more prominently in the movie are given more pages accordingly. They are namely, War Machine, Iron Patriot, Mark 15 Sneaky, Mark 16 Nightclub, Mark 17 Heartbreaker, Mark 25 Thumper, Mark 33 Silver Centurion, Mark 35 Snapper, Mark 37 Hammerhead, Mark 38 Igor, Mark 39 Gemini, Mark 41 Bones and of course Mark XLII (that's 42). Those that are briefly or not shown in the book are just on that gatefold page.

Overall, there are more suits than in artbook one and two. Besides the suits, there are also concept art for the characters, scenes, locations (not much), and storyboards.

The characters are the Mandarin, Aldrich Killian and his Extremis gang. You won't get to see Pepper Potts in the way as shown in the movie and that's a shame. Locations include Tony's Malibu mansion and workshop, Rosehill town, Mandarin's Miami mansion and the seaport. There are quite a few storyboard sequences, about 20 over pages.

The art is fantastic, right from the start of the slipcase cover to the end of the 280-page hardcover. Fans who geek out over the film can continue to geek out with this artbook.

Highly recommended.

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

Star Wars Storyboards: The Prequel Trilogy
Star Wars Storyboards: The Prequel Trilogy
by Lucasfilm Ltd
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 28.35
32 used & new from CDN$ 26.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Storyboard Galore, Oct. 16 2014
The title of the book says it all. Star Wars storyboards for the prequel trilogy.

The book's a 352 page hardcover. The paper quality is surprisingly quite thick.

Storyboards are printed quite big whenever possible. They are of selected sequences so you won't get the full story. The amount of storyboards featured for each film varies quite a bit. Episode I got over 180 pages, II with over 90 pages and III with over 70 pages.

The art and action sequences are great. You get to see work from storyboard artists such as Iain McCaig, Ed Natividad, Jay Shuster, Rodolfo Damaggio and even Terryl Whitlatch, and more! They are amazing.

The storyboards are sometimes drawn quite detailed and precise. Someone can ink over them, add speech bubbles and you'll have a comic book. I'm pretty surprised that many artists actually hatch lines instead of just flat shading because hatching takes much more time. Natividad even hatch lines for some of the motion arrows. It's nice to see a variety of styles from the pencils, ink and markers.

Commentary from the artists are sparse but always insightful. Wished there were more.

Recommended to Star Wars fans and if you like storyboards.

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

Angry Birds: Hatching a Universe
Angry Birds: Hatching a Universe
by Danny Graydon
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 67.50
38 used & new from CDN$ 23.75

5.0 out of 5 stars The birds are still angry, and cute!, Oct. 16 2014
Who would have knew that after so many years, those birds are still angry, and cute. And well-loved.

Angry Birds: Hatching a Universe is the book on the art and making of the game.

This is a beautiful 162-page hardcover published by Insight Edition. There are a few removable goodies included, such as posters, postcards, stickers, a bookmark, do-not-disturb door knob holder and perforated cardboards of the birds that you can fold into.

The art includes character designs, environment art, concepts, stage designs, promotional materials, comic panels and sketches. These are for the original, Angry Birds Rio, Angry Birds Space and Angry Birds Star Wars. There are many special editions for the games so not all are included. Of the holiday-themed episodes, there's Ham'o'ween,

The book's just filled with art, no screenshots of games are included. There's art from the animated shorts as well. One chapter features the realistic paintings by Sam Spratt. There aren't any photographs except for the gatefold of Angry Birds merchandise. Even the employee profiles of Rovio are drawn.

The text covers the making of the game with the staff interviews and interesting stories. They talk about the characters, bringing the birds to comics and animation, creating sequels, localising content for foreign markets, and working with other partners, such as Hollywood for Rio, NASA for Space and Lucasfilm for Star Wars.

This is a wonderful artbook. It's a great read and the art is beautiful.

Highly recommended to fans.

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

The Art of Epic
The Art of Epic
by Tara Bennett
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 39.91
35 used & new from CDN$ 18.63

4.0 out of 5 stars A look into the magical forest, Oct. 15 2014
This review is from: The Art of Epic (Hardcover)
Length:: 1:15 Mins

Here's the artbook for Epic, the film from Blue Sky Studios. It's 144 pages, hardcover, from Titan Books, whose earlier artbook was The Art of the Croods.

It's a nice artbook with character designs and concept art. The costume designs for the soldiers are quite stylish. There are a lot of interesting forest characters such as those inspired from bugs, plants, flowers and other insects, but unfortunately they aren't dedicated more space.

The illustrations are wonderful. I really like the colors of the sunlight in the forest. The environment art are pretty realistic in style as compared to the characters.

The writeup is an enjoyable read that covers the design process, talking about the characters and how they evolved and a bit on the research for their designs. There are some typos though.

Nice book overall, but the book would be more enjoyable if you have watched the movie.

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

The Art of Greg Spalenka
The Art of Greg Spalenka
by Greg Spalenka
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 39.95
24 used & new from CDN$ 18.15

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting meld of ideas and style, Oct. 14 2014
Length:: 1:38 Mins

Greg Spalenka's started his art career in the 80s and we're now finally being treated to a selection of his artworks.

Spalenka is a multi-disciplinary artist who loves to work with different mediums. He uses paint, charcoal, coloured pencils, pastels, collage, photography and digital software. Many mixed media creations are included. He even embraces digital by having QR codes on the index pages where you can be linked to webpages showing his inspiration, film reel and other resources.

The book collects his personal works as well as commissioned pieces. There are his early works, paintings, polaroid photos, sketches, portraits of contemporary artists living in New York, illustrations for magazines, ads book cover, visualisations he created for movies and more. It seems Mike Tyson is one of his inspiration and there are a few pages of art on him and his quotes. The spectrum of work he has created over three decades is interesting.

Greg Spalenka's style is difficult to describe. What's clear is the images he creates often have some sort of spiritual subtext or in some dream-like state. Visually, other than the portraits, the other works are like a meld of ideas and style. The paintings have a very textural feel, while the collages feel more spiritual with the blend of different medium and subject matter. Just look at the cover art for example. There's a nude figure with the face replaced by a butterfly, the background is very textural and there's some sort of graphic design motif blending the whole image together. Other artworks in the book evoke the same feeling.

There aren't much text other than the introduction for each chapter. I wished there were stories included behind each artwork because it would give more context to the work.

Those who follow Greg Spalenka's work or like more spiritual art can check out this book.

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

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