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Parka (Singapore)
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Persona 4 Arena: Official Design Works
Persona 4 Arena: Official Design Works
by Udon Entertainment
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 26.30
27 used & new from CDN$ 26.30

5.0 out of 5 stars For fans of the game or Shigenori Soejima character art, Nov. 5 2014
Length:: 1:26 Mins

Here's a look at the video game artbook for Persona 4 Arena, the English translated edition from Udon.

The original Japanese edition ペルソナ4 ジ・アルティメット イン マヨナカアリーナ 公式設定資料集 was released in September 2012.

This is a 176-page paperback. It's the usual large size artbooks that Udon have been putting out. Paper and binding looks good.

The presentation style is similar to the Personal 3 and Persona 4 artbooks.

It starts off with gorgeous full-page splash art, followed by character profiles plus design and sketches, background art and stage designs, game quotes, staff interviews, and lastly some anime storyboards.

Character designs from Shigenori Soejima look even better than in the earlier artbooks, especially from P3. They are more refined, animation-like, expressive and stylish.

The character artworks features the high-res in-game screenshots of their poses, front side back profiles, line art sketches of battle poses and animation for both the characters and their personas. There are plenty to look at, and drawings also come with creator comments. The character designs form the bulk of the book.

Next we have the beautiful background art and stage designs. The lighting and atmosphere are spot on, beautiful. Unfortunately, there are only 7 pages and the locations are printed quite small, sometimes squeezing as much as 10 onto a page. That's the part of the book where you don't get full satisfaction.

Creators interviews are with the developers Kazuhisa Wada and Yuichiro Tanaka from Index Corporation, and Takumi Iguchiya from Arc System Works. They talk about the production of the game, the characters and story.

For fans of the game or perhaps Shigenori Soejima character art, this is a great book to get. While it has slightly less pages that P4's artbook, I feel that they packed in more art here.

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

Making Color Sing, 25th Anniversary Edition: Practical Lessons in Color and Design
Making Color Sing, 25th Anniversary Edition: Practical Lessons in Color and Design
by Jeanne Dobie
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.67
38 used & new from CDN$ 15.64

5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful book on (water)colour, Nov. 5 2014
Length:: 1:13 Mins

Making Color Sing is one of the better books that talks about colours.

The main medium used in the book is watercolour, although it's strangely not mentioned in the title or the book description.

The 31 lessons in the book are quite comprehensive with practical tips on usage, and also explains the thought process behind using colours.

They cover picking and mixing colours, controlling greens, understanding warm and cool, using colour for shape composition, values, creating transitions, and much more. There's a sizeable amount of content devoted to glazing, and the differences compared to mixing. There are occasionally exercises.

There's quite a bit of text to go through, but it's a really insightful read. The author Jeanne Dobie is clearly very knowledgable about pigments and can explain effortlessly on how and why mixed colours appear as they do, and the underlying pigments that control colour shifts. One of the highlights of the book is about using colour as a design element, such as picking out shapes and using them as composition elements.

Overall, it's a great watercolour instructional book that can be read again and again because there are lots of useful information. It will give you the knowledge and all you have to do is go paint and experiment.

Recommended to beginners to advanced watercolour artists.

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

Watercolor Sketching
Watercolor Sketching
by Paul Laseau
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.62
26 used & new from CDN$ 13.53

4.0 out of 5 stars Good beginner's guide to watercolour sketching, Nov. 5 2014
This review is from: Watercolor Sketching (Paperback)
Length:: 0:46 Mins

Watercolor Sketching: An Introduction is a book for beginners looking to use watercolours for their sketches. The emphasis is on observational drawing, drawing on location and recording what you see. As such, you should at least be able to sketch to get the most out of the book.

There are many brief but helpful exercises that are easy to follow along, with step by step pictures. The examples are beautiful and the instructions are casual.

It is more of a watercolour instructional book than a sketching book. Techniques taught here are more brief though. Sometimes you do feel like you want to find out more, such as more details on mixing colours, using shapes for composition.

It's a beginners book and a good one at getting you started. You'll probably outgrow what you learn from the book and seek out more advanced books soon, which is a good thing.

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

Visual Funk: Jim Mahfood Art
Visual Funk: Jim Mahfood Art
by Jim Mahfood
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 32.92
23 used & new from CDN$ 32.92

5.0 out of 5 stars Visually delightful. Stupendous., Nov. 5 2014
Length:: 1:26 Mins

Visual Funk: Jim Mahfood Art is a amazing collection of art. Stupendous.

Featured in this 256-page hardcover are some of the best works from his 16-year career. There are illustrations, collages and photographs. The reproduction is wonderful. Illustrations are printed huge often filling a page, or even two. This is a big artbook and it's a joy looking at those artworks large and up close.

I really like what I see, from cover to cover. Jim Mahfood has his own distinct style, one that's bold, confident, graphic, wild, cohesive, expressive, playful, loose, free, creative and fun.

His line art are very lively, with varying thickness. There's a generous use of halftone pattern that you don't usually see in comics nowadays. Oh yes, he has a very strong comic style that you can see just by the page composition and how he poses his characters. Colours are everywhere, chaotic, but still work together as a whole to give a very graphic look. Each page is like a nice surprise.

The photographs included are behind-the-scene shots, body paint models (some nudity involved but painted over) and some of his other creations that cannot be scanned, like wall paintings.

Visual Funk is visually delightful.

Most highly recommended if you like the sketchy but definite comic style.

This is one of my favourite artbooks for 2013.

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

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Artobiography
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Artobiography
by Kevin Eastman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 32.92
28 used & new from CDN$ 32.92

5.0 out of 5 stars The TMNT Origins Book, Nov. 5 2014
Length:: 1:29 Mins

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Artobiography is the origins book at heart. It's quite exciting to read about how it all started. Two guys working on comics not knowing what will happen and next thing they know their work was well received. Kevin Eastman went from cooking lobsters to drawing turtles. Then it evolved into cartoon shows, movies, video games, a life action TV series, and had over 3000 licenses.

This book collects the selected thumbnail sketches and panels from the comic books that were launched since 1984. The main bulk of content is from book one to eleven, and then it jumped quite far into the book fifty. Also included are special issues dedicated to each turtle's story, guest artists covers, more sketches, add-on stories for the comics, character designs, and also concept sketches for the first movie. The concept sketches for the movies are interestingly in comic form rather than the storyboard format that we commonly see today.

Commentary is provided from start to the end and is a good read into how they actually created the comic. The book is all about the comics so there aren't anything from rest of the franchise.

TMNT Artobiography is a wonderful retrospective, a good flashback to the origins.

Highly recommended to fans.

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

The Drawing Mind: Silence Your Inner Critic and Release Your Creative Spirit
The Drawing Mind: Silence Your Inner Critic and Release Your Creative Spirit
by Deborah Putnoi
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.80
32 used & new from CDN$ 11.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Drawing creative outlet, Nov. 5 2014
Length:: 1:11 Mins

The Drawing Mind is a light-hearted book on drawing anything. As such, it provides a lot of drawing ideas and things you can draw. It can be drawing lines, thick or thin or dotted, faces, drawing fast or slow. Sometimes you'll be told to draw what you hear, music, other times to draw what you feel with your hands and feet, something you taste, or draw something associated with certain adjectives. There are several blank pages that invite you to draw according the notes on it.

When it comes to ideas, anything goes with this book. It's fun in a way that you can flip open any page and try something new. There are lots of things to try out. It's a book on drawing freely rather than focusing on drawing fundamentals such as observation drawing techniques, light and shadows, composition and values and all the more technical stuff.

The book's aimed at the casual art maker, doodlers, and those who might want to explore drawing as a creative outlet.

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

Drawing Comics Lab: 52 Exercises on Characters, Panels, Storytelling, Publishing & Professional Practices
Drawing Comics Lab: 52 Exercises on Characters, Panels, Storytelling, Publishing & Professional Practices
by Robyn Chapman
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.55
34 used & new from CDN$ 7.69

4.0 out of 5 stars Elementary introduction to drawing comics, Nov. 5 2014
Length:: 0:59 Mins

Robyn Chapman's Drawing Comics Lab is a primer or introduction to drawing comics. The book talks about the different aspects of drawing comics besides just drawing. Those would be stuff like creating characters, understanding panels and pacing, choosing drawing materials, etc.

Many of the lessons revolve around thinking, design and writing, rather than the actual technical part of putting pen on paper. Many have basically brain-storming exercises suggested by guest artists. Those artists' tips are quite useful at kick-starting your brain into coming up with ideas.

The book is really elementary and the 52 labs (lessons) can be brief at times. Even the author also suggested other books that you should check out if you're into those all-in-one books on drawing comics, namely, Making Comics by Scott McCloud, Drawing Words and Writing Pictures by Jessica Abel (this would get my recommendation).

Other books of note would be Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice by Ivan Brunetti, Will Eisner's Comics and Sequential Art and Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud.

Do check out the preview pages on Amazon. That would give you a good idea if this book is for you.

I would recommend this book to beginner artists, those who are learning to draw and would like to turn their drawings into stories with sequential flow.

The Art of Craig Elliott
The Art of Craig Elliott
by Craig Elliott
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 27.04
24 used & new from CDN$ 22.51

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful work will leave you wanting more, Nov. 5 2014
Length:: 0:43 Mins

The Art of Craig Elliot is a beautiful collection of paintings focused on the female form by the artist. While Craig Elliot works as a layout and visual development artist for the entertainment industry, the works featured in this books are his personal ones.

The female subjects are evocative, sexy and beautiful. There's a trace of fantasy element to them. One painting is of a dead dragon collapsed in beautiful orange bed of leaves with the ladies around. Others are figure drawings of playful girls in nature. Those are toned sketches. The book's a mixture of painted works and sketches.

There's commentary throughout, including an introduction by Iain McCaig and a essay of Craig Elliot's career by John Fleskes.

The artworks are great, well reproduced in the book with wonderful detail. There are only 68 pages so that certainly will leave you wanting more.

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

Chinese Landscape Painting Techniques for Watercolor
Chinese Landscape Painting Techniques for Watercolor
by Lian Quan Zhen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 21.31
28 used & new from CDN$ 20.31

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting premise to mix the east and west painting techniques, Nov. 5 2014
Length:: 1:05 Mins

This book from artist and teacher Lian Quan Zhen is a guide on combining traditional Chinese painting and modern watercolour techniques. An interesting premise.

The book includes 12 demonstrations and 17 step-by-step tutorials. Those examples are quite detailed and you can clearly see what's going on. Quite amazing to see how he turns mundane looking reference photos into beautiful works.

With Chinese painting, rules are more relaxed. For instance, there's no so called perspective points, or even vanishing lines. Modern watercolour techniques are more of representational drawings, and focus on getting the proportions right. Of course, within each style, there are many other details like the tools you use, how to handle brushes. All those are mentioned in the book.

It's refreshing to see how a scene is interpreted with Chinese painting methodology, and using that mindset to draw from observation. For example while Chinese painters would pour black into to make masses, watercolours can also be mixed and poured. What the author says about spontaneous style is true. It's important to break out of the comfort zone and try new methods. With representational drawing, it can be sometimes difficult because you want to capture what you see, at least with the right proportion.

The downside of the book is sometimes the examples are not so clear cut as to the combination of techniques. Well, the Chinese paintings fused with watercolours are alright. As for the some of the modern watercolour paintings examples, it's difficult to see that they are Chinese influenced or made with Chinese painting techniques. At times, it's hard to feel the spontaneity of the Chinese style. I'm saying this because I've seen that kind of spontaneity in an artist friend who mixes the East and West style brilliantly, combining colours with bold blacks (watercolour artist seldom use black), using flat washes or dry brush effortlessly in the same painting. You actually have to see it to realise that this kind of combination techniques are actually possible.

Also, Chinese paintings are sometimes quite minimalistic, but most of the examples are the fill-the-page type. I wish there were more coverage on using white space.

Overall, it's still an interesting book to get if you want to learn and practice some Chinese paintings techniques for your watercolours. I recommended it to artists who are more adventurous and don't mind some experimental fun.

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

Soul Eater Soul Art
Soul Eater Soul Art
by Atsushi Ohkubo
Edition: Hardcover
8 used & new from CDN$ 84.05

5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended for Soul Eater fans, Nov. 5 2014
This review is from: Soul Eater Soul Art (Hardcover)
Length:: 1:05 Mins

Soul Eater Soul Art is the artbook for the Soul Eater manga series that debuted in 2004. Since then, the manga has spun-off into an anime series and video games.

This book is actually the English translated edition of the original Japanese one 大久保篤 画集 SOUL EATER SOUL ART released in 2009.

It's a beautiful wide 112-page hardcover book that comes with a nice plastic slipcase. The overall package looks classy. The paper is thick low gloss and the binding is good.

Inside, it features the illustration art of creator Atsushi Ohkubo (大久保篤). The content is a split between full page artworks and character profile art.

The art is beautiful and I really love the graphic style, and there are a few styles. There are the comic-like colour illustrations, those that you can tell are created with traditional media. There are also the more graphic illustration style that features flat colours, much like anime-style colouring, but you know those pieces aren't drawn for animation. Then there are a few loose pieces with more fuzzy line art.

The characters are great, the poses, as well as the background settings and composition. The wide landscape canvas really displays the art as large as possible and they look great at big sizes. There are also some character designs for the game Soul Eater: Monotone Princess.

The back of the book contains the index which has short commentary for some of the pieces.

Highly recommended for Soul Eater fans, or if you like manga art.

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

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