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Parka (Singapore)

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Masters of FX: Behind the Scenes with Geniuses of Visual and Special Effects
Masters of FX: Behind the Scenes with Geniuses of Visual and Special Effects
by Ian Failes
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 46.02
14 used & new from CDN$ 43.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful book on the magic and masters of FX, Sept. 23 2015
Length:: 1:48 Mins

This book should have been part of the FilmCraft series of books that were published by Focal Press and ILEX. The presentation style is similar and that series is just lacking a book on visual effects.

Masters of FX is a book on that goes behind the scenes to show you how visual and special effects are made. This is done through interviews with 16 top VFX practitioners in the film industry.

The contributors include

John Bruno
Chris Corbould
Richard Edlund
Scott Farrar
Paul Franklin
Karen Goulekas
Ian Hunter
John Knoll
Robert Legato
Joe Letteri
Dennis Muren
John Rosengrant
Phil Tippett
Douglas Trumbull
Bill Westenhofer
Edson Williams

I've not heard of all these people but the movies they have helped made are films like Ghostbusters, Star Wars, Inception, Minority Report, Lord of the Rings, Life of Pi, Planet of the Apes reboots, Jurassic Park, Captain America and other classics and big budget blockbusters.

It's fascinating and interesting to read about how visual effects were created for the old movies like Ghostbusters, Terminator and the recent ones such as Interstellar or Avatar. Each of the VFX supervisors would talk about selected sequences that are from the films, e.g. the folding Paris blocks in Inception, and explain the technology involved. Even after reading the explanation, it's still quite awe-inspiring to learn about how those effects are actually created. Those people working in the VFX department are amazing.

Many of the supervisors have worked on the same films so there are sections where the films are mentioned a couple of times throughout the book.

This is an illuminating book that provides insight into how VFX are created and used in films. It's like magicians explaining their magic tricks.

(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 Four: Balance
The Legend of Korra: The Art of the Animated Series - Book Four: Balance
by Michael Dante DiMartino
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 28.20
38 used & new from CDN$ 28.20

5.0 out of 5 stars Packed with great art just like the earlier artbooks, Sept. 17 2015
Length:: 2:08 Mins

Just like the earlier artbooks for the series, this is another a wonderful companion. Going through the book brings back nice memories of watching the animation. Korra's story arc may have its ups and downs but this book presents an overview from the production point of view.

The large hardcover is similar in format to the other Korra artbooks. It has 184 pages. Some places have listed it incorrectly as having only 120 pages. This book is much thicker than that.

Publisher Dark Horse has once again done a fantastic job at filling the book with plenty of concept and production art.

The artworks are sorted by the episodes of the show. There are character designs, background art, concept sketches, storyboards and miscellaneous art from guest arts. Many characters have taken new roles and evolved with a change of look. And it's great to see Toph again (who contributed the funniest moments in the show). The painted background art often come with pencil sketches as well.

There's insightful commentary by Bryan Konietzko, Michael Dante DiMartino and Joaquim Dos Santos. They talk about the design, story and character development. For that, you get a deeper understanding and appreciation for how the animation was made.

All the good things from earlier artbooks apply to this book as well. Needless to say, this is a fantastic book that all fans should get.

Highly recommended.

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

The Art of Hotel Transylvania 2
The Art of Hotel Transylvania 2
by Brett Rector
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 38.84
19 used & new from CDN$ 38.84

5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and beautiful artbook, Sept. 17 2015
Length:: 2:12 Mins

This is a delightful artbook for the sequel to Hotel Transylvania. The first artbook is also great.

There are actually two publishers for this book. One is Cameron + Company and the other is Titan Books. They are selling in USA and UK, Europe respectively. Prices differ slightly.

The book I have is published by Cameron + Company. It's a 160-page hardcover without any dust jacket. The cover has some texture, like those watercolour coldpress paper texture, which is very nice.

Since most of the concept art for the characters have already appeared in the first artbook, the character designs focus on changes to selected characters, and of course the new characters such as Denisovich aka Dennis, Vlad and Johnny's family, and a handful of other new monsters. The designs look fantastic. Characters are funny looking, cute at the same time even though they may be monsters. Overall, I like the shape designs of the monsters. Ideas for the monsters are sometimes really quite funny, such as Bluetooth which is really a monster that look like a blue-coloured tooth.

Rest of the artworks are of story scenes, environment art and storyboards. Layout of the book really plays up the pictures at big sizes. The environment artworks are wonderful. I like the designs of the castles and the different rooms. Lighting and mood are well captured. The storyboards included are funny gag sequences in the movie.

There are lots to read about the production process and character and story development. You'll find out how they create Dennis' head full of curly hair, how they handle family dynamics between humans and monsters, many visual and funny ideas that went into the movie.

The book's really packed and the art is great. Fantastic artbook!

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

Culture+Typography: How Culture Affects Typography
Culture+Typography: How Culture Affects Typography
by Nikki Villagomez
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 29.57
34 used & new from CDN$ 24.87

5.0 out of 5 stars Good resource for designers, Sept. 12 2015
Length:: 2:14 Mins

Culture+Typography is a visual resource of pictures on how typography is used out on the streets, in the real world.

Author and designer Nikki Villagomez has collected hundreds of examples and organized them into chapters, namely

Ghost Signs
Manhole Covers
Neon Signs
Focus of the book is on how culture has influence the use of typography in cities and states. Each chapter has commentary on the cultural and historical context. Selected examples are given additional descriptions. All the examples are from states in the USA. There's a nice variety and it's interesting to see the similarities and differences in the use of typography.

The chapter on neon signs unfortunately shows pictures of most signs in daylight and not at night.

After going through the book, you may never look at street signs the same again, or may start to wonder about how the typography came about.

This book's a nice resource for designers.

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

Japanese Design: Art, Aesthetics & Culture
Japanese Design: Art, Aesthetics & Culture
by Patricia J. Graham
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 27.95
44 used & new from CDN$ 16.79

5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful look at Japanese design, Sept. 11 2015
Length:: 2:10 Mins

This book is for those who admire the sense and sensibilities of Japanese design.

Author Patricia J. Graham, a former professor and museum curator specialising in Japanese, has compiled this volume to help people understand more about Japanese design. It's quite an enlightening read.

There are actually different classification of Japanese design, such as Katsura that represents refined rusticity, Shibui for subtle elegance, Wabi and Sabi for the rustic and withered elegance, and many more. The classifications for different sense of aesthetics is subtle at times, but that's also what's intriguing about Japanese design in the first place.

The book covers Japanese design as used in architecture, interior design, clothing, furniture and other crafts and artworks. There are many pictures of beautiful gardens, houses and interior design. What I really like is how the Japanese can blend their architecture with nature so well. Of course, this refers to their traditional houses and not the modern cityscapes you see in Tokyo.

The last chapter features prominent figures who have played a role in promoting Japanese design, such as artists, art professors, industrial designers, architects, journalists and even scientists, physicians and philosophers.

There's historic context throughout and it's clear that a lot of research has been done.

It's a great book for those who appreciates Japanese design.

Berlin Sketchbook
Berlin Sketchbook
by Boris Von Brauchtisch
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 32.04
28 used & new from CDN$ 26.12

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, as expected from Fabrice Moireau, Sept. 6 2015
This review is from: Berlin Sketchbook (Hardcover)
Length:: 1:31 Mins

I'm a big fan of Fabrice Moireau's watercolour sketches and paintings, so it's delightful to see that he has a new book out. It has been a long wait since his previous two books that were released in 2011, namely Rooftops of Paris and Rome Sketchbook.

Format of this book is same as most of his other sketchbooks. It's a large hardcover with 96 pages. The paper used is matte with some texture to simulate that feel of watercolour paper. The cover is a lovely painting of Brandenburg Gate at night.

Germany and Berlin certainly has made history in the world, good and bad, and that is written in the introduction in a matter of fact manner by Boris Von Brauchtisch. It's a nice introduction that provides a clearer picture to the city than what the watercolour paintings would suggest.

The pencil and watercolour paintings in the books are absolutely amazing. Fabrice Moireau just gets better and better. There are probably more than a hundred pieces of artworks featured, including a handful of sketches. It's an astonishing amount considering that most are fully painted. It certainly feels like it took years to complete all these.

I love the confident look and use of colours. Many of them are reproduced huge and a pleasure to look at. I can only imagine how big those paintings were, given that many are so detailed. Captions accompany all the artworks.

This is a beautiful and inspiring book. It's definitely one of my favourite artbooks of 2015.

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

Sketching for Architecture + Interior Design
Sketching for Architecture + Interior Design
by Stephanie Travis
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 24.45
24 used & new from CDN$ 18.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Taught in a simple and easy to understand manner, Sept. 6 2015
Length:: 1:05 Mins

This is a great book for architecture students, sketchers and those who want to develop the skill of sketching. It's a 128-page paperback written by Stephanie Travis who teaches interior architecture and design.

The book collects lots of useful tips on sketching. You'll need observational drawing skills to get the most out of the book. Many of the examples require you to draw what you see. There's not so much of constructing objects from imagination. The main drawing tools used are markers and the fine, medium and thick stroke pens.

Earlier chapters focuses on the basic fundamentals and simple techniques that are used in the later chapters. There are techniques to help you present your drawings more clearly, lessons on perspective, exercises on positive and negative style of drawing, how to render textures and many more. The exercises are short and easy to follow.

The underlying concept is the process is more important than the end result itself. Through drawing, you'll learn more about the subject that you have drawn.

Overall, it's quite an insightful book with plenty of useful techniques. It's a good book for beginners.

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

WOOSH: Spaceship Sketches from the Couch
WOOSH: Spaceship Sketches from the Couch
by Lorin Wood
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.87
27 used & new from CDN$ 7.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful spaceship sketches, Sept. 6 2015
Length:: 1:06 Mins

Lorin Wood likes drawing on the couch after a day's of work and now even has an artbook of spaceships to show for it. I find it quite humorous that there's even a graphic showing the comfortable position he has discovered on the couch.

Unlike other books from Design Studio Press, this paperback volume is stapled bind. The paper quality is matte and thick enough. The book's sold at an affordable price. No complaints from me.

This 80-page artbook features spaceship sketches, so maybe it's more like a sketchbook. The wonderful spaceship designs are drawn mostly on toned paper in grayscale and highlights with occasional colours thrown in. There are simple 15-minute sketches and the detailed 60-minute ones. They are drawn in a rather technical style with different accents to the lines, and copic marker renderings for the shadows.

The designs look terrific. I love the detail, form and composition. They look very physical. The latter half of the book has spaceship designs inspired by Star Wars so you'll get to see quite a few spaceships with those Star Wars-ish wings.

There's also a short two-page interview with Lorin Wood. By the way, he's also the founder of Nuthin But Mech which has two artbooks out already.

If you like spaceship designs, check out BLAST: spaceship sketches and renderings as well.

Devil May Cry: A Divine Comedy
Devil May Cry: A Divine Comedy
by Mehdi El Kanafi
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 66.50
10 used & new from CDN$ 65.48

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful DMC companion, Sept. 1 2015
Length:: 1:51 Mins

Devil May Cry: A Divine Comedy is like a making-of book for the Devil May Cry games. The book was released by Capcom and Pix'n Love Publishing in 2014 to celebrate the successful of DmC: Devil May Cry (2013).

It covers the first game that was released in 2001 to the current reboot.

The book provides the background to the stories and analysis to the main characters. This serves only as a recap as much of these you would already know if you have played through the game.

Highlight of the book would be the commentary on the creation process of the game. It talks about details like inspiration, e.g. like the gothic influence, where The Divine Comedy by Italian poet Dante Alighieri comes in, the art direction from developer Ninja Theory, influence of each game director, namely Hideki Kamiya, Tsuyoshi Tanaka, Hideaki Itsumo, Hiroyuki Kobayashi.

The book covers a lot of topics such as reception of each games, the tie-in products such as mobile games, film, artbooks, comics, how the gameplay is designed, themes, how licenses are handled, etc. It doesn't always talk about the good parts but also problems, such as with the stories and other controversies. There's also a chapter on Capcom and how their like to milk their franchise, how they recycle assets like environments and even moves.

The visuals included are screenshots of the game, illustrations and pieces of concept art. There are some cool pieces of artworks but that's not the main selling point of the book. You'll find more art in Devil May Cry: 3142 Graphic Arts and DmC Devil May Cry: Visual Art.

The book ends with the tablet of contents right at the back.

If you have been a fan of Devil May Cry, this is a wonderful companion to go with the games to find out more about the production process.

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

Every Person in New York
Every Person in New York
by Jason Polan
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 29.81
41 used & new from CDN$ 19.02

4.0 out of 5 stars Fun sketchbook, Aug. 29 2015
Length:: 2:06 Mins

In 2008, Jason Polan gave himself a challenge to draw every person in New York. His earlier projects were The Every Piece Of Art in The Museum Of Modern Art Book, An Entire Bag of Popcorn, and Every Person in the Phone Book. The words obsessive and patient come to my mind.

Every Person in New York is a 408-page paperback book that features the sketches of all the people he has drawn so far. There are over 30,000 thousand people in this book. That's why this book is so thick. And I'm quite amazed he actually kept count.

Polan is an artist who lives in New York. Over the last 7 years, he has been sketching New Yorkers whenever and wherever he can. He has drawn at cafes, outside the New York Public Library, the many museums, Apple stores, on the train, at tennis matches, markets, parks, etc. You get the idea.

It's interesting to see the diversity of the people captured in the sketches. There are people sleeping on the trains, marathon runners, dog walkers, lots of pedestrians and even celebrities. Every page is filled with line art ink sketches of people. Some are just simple silhouettes while others have their facial features more fleshed out. The line art is loose and many are like contour drawings. Sometimes, even the bump while the train is moving is recorded in the sketch.

Generally speaking, the style is that of simplicity and because of that this may not be the book for those who are looking for detailed drawings. Because of that, this is a book you can flip through quickly.

This is a fun sketchbook.

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

Other sketchbooks you might want to check out:
Denys Wortman's New York: Portrait of the City in the 30s and 40s
Meanwhile in San Francisco: The City in its Own Words
All the Buildings in New York: That I've Drawn So Far
New York Drawings
New York Sketchbook

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