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Parka (Singapore)

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Drawn: The Art of Ascent
Drawn: The Art of Ascent
by Jeremy Collins
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 29.78
20 used & new from CDN$ 23.28

5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing read, Jan. 28 2016
Length:: 1:55 Mins

I spotted this book accidentally on Amazon and knew I had to get it. This book wasn't on my radar and appeared out of nowhere.

Drawn: The Art of Ascent is actually a travelogue journal of climbing expeditions by Jeremy Collins. Collected within are wonderful stories, beautiful hand drawn art and photo collages.

The book focuses on four main climbs in different continents. Collins is an adventurer at heart and one who really loves climbing mountains. I can sense his enthusiasm through the pages, words and the art. He also loves his family and he calls the situation he's in as living in a love paradox. He mentions that he misses his family at night while he's outside sleeping under the open sky. I found that to be touching.

When his friend died during an avalanche in China, he brought along his friend's ashes to scatter at the summits he scaled.

The storytelling is fantastic. He describes his adventures in detail with beautiful imagery, either drawn or in words, the people he meets, his climbing buddies and the mountains he climbs.

There's also tension in the book. You won't know until the next page whether he had made a slip or his gear came loose to send him tossing down the side of the mountain. It happened a few times and that really made for some tense reading. I finished the book in one sitting as I wasn't able to put down the book.

I can only imagine how awe-inspiring it is to be standing at the foot of mountains, and how amazing it is to be able to scale one.

Highly recommended

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

The Art of XCOM 2
The Art of XCOM 2
by 2K Games
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 37.71
19 used & new from CDN$ 30.71

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Playing it safe, Jan. 27 2016
This review is from: The Art of XCOM 2 (Hardcover)
Length:: 2:01 Mins

Fans of the game should appreciate this artbook although I feel that the designs did not really push the boundaries when it comes to sci-fi concept art.

The 192-page hardcover is split into several chapters and covers the previsualization, environments, aliens, ADVENT and XCOM.

In a world controlled by aliens, the new cities are now being designed with a rather sterile, clinical look, much to the vision of the aliens no doubt. Too much order, too clean. Luckily, there are still the shanty and small town environments to make things visually more interesting. It's quite a contrast when you compare the cities with abandoned towns with signs of life that have lived there. Design of the alien facilities look different too, and quite unexpectedly have more curves versus the blocky city style.

Character designs of the aliens and enemies are nice, detailed and come with sketches too. The Advent also look cool, stylish and futuristic. There are also vehicle designs, spacecrafts, troop transport, cars, and other props, e.g. weapons and interior designs.

Overall, the quality of the art is definitely top notch. However when it comes to the concepts, the ideas behind, I feel that the game studio is playing it too safe. The art feels so familiar, like I've seen them before. The art feels like they could come from Mass Effect. Yes, there are differences such as the ADVENT troopers and mechs being more sleek looking, but to me, the art direction quite similar to Mass Effect. That's just what I felt.

So yeah, it's still a good artbook but it could have been better if the game studios are more daring which unfortunately is not the case as nowadays it's all about making safe games that can make money.

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

Graphic Ink: The DC Comics Art of Ivan Reis
Graphic Ink: The DC Comics Art of Ivan Reis
by Ivan Reis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 42.68
14 used & new from CDN$ 39.37

5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning work from Ivan Reis over the years, Jan. 25 2016
Length:: 2:37 Mins

The Graphic Ink series that DC has published recently are turning out to be wonderful tributes to the amazing comic artists that are working in the industry today. This latest book that focuses on Ivan Reis is another great addition to the series.

Note that the book has 426 pages instead of whatever incorrect page numbers some websites have listed. It's a huge and thick hardcover. The print and production quality is high and it's really worth the money.

This book features selected comic stories and splash art pages and covers. The artworks are fantastic, as expected from Ivan Reis. Each page is incredibly detailed and stunning to look at. When you look at the volume of work in this book, it becomes awe inspiring. The work is really top notch, including the inks and colours by other artists.

Highly recommended.

The included stories are:

Einstein's Monsters from The Invisibles #18 (1998)
Recruits from Superman/Batman Secret Files (2003)
Another Day at the Office from Action Comics #814 (2004)
The Ravager from Teen Titans #1/2 (2004)
Superboy and the Legion, Part Two from Teen Titans/Legion Special (2004)
Countdown to Infinite Crisis Chapter Four from DC Countdown to Infinite Crisis #1 (2005)
The Origin of Green Lantern from 52 #22 (2006)
The Origins of the Justice League of America from 52 #51 (2007)
The Origin of Parallax from Countdown #35 (2007)
The Origin of Cyborg Superman from Countdown #13 (2008)
Revenge of the Green Lanterns, Part Two from Green Lantern #11 (2006)
The Man in Red from DCU Holiday Special #1 (2009)
Into The Fire from Wildcats #9/Authority #9 (2009)
Death Becomes Us from Blackest Night #0 (2009)
The Trench, Part One from Aquaman #1 (2011)
Throne of Atlantis, Part One from Justice League #15 (2013)
House of Heroes from Multiversity #1 (2014)
Cyborg: Sneak Peek (2015)

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

The Art of Ballpoint: Experimentation, Exploration, and Techniques in Ink
The Art of Ballpoint: Experimentation, Exploration, and Techniques in Ink
by Matt Rota
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 26.66
32 used & new from CDN$ 14.33

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring book on ballpoint art, Jan. 17 2016
Length:: 1:40 Mins

This book features stunning artworks by artists who push the boundaries when it comes to using ballpoint pens for drawing. I'm in awe at what some of them have created. It's like these artists have turned the ballpoint pen into some sort of fine art tool. The chapters cover classical drawing, modern abstraction, graphic illustration, contemporary realism and sketchbook styles.

There are some artworks that made me do a double take. Like is that created by coloured pencil or ballpoint pen? The techniques of the artists are fantastic. Portrait drawings or landscape sketches are drawn as if with pencils until you read the caption to see that everything's with ballpoint ink. I'm surprised that there are so many colours available for the pens.

Matt Rota's the author of this book and he's also a skilful artist himself. He has included the history of ballpoint pens, profiles and analysis of contributing artists and their work, and also wrote several tutorials in this book. The book's not just inspiring, it also teaches.

This is a fantastic book. It will show you the possibilities of the humble ballpoint pen.

Highly recommended.

The artists that are featured are
Jean-Pierre Arboleda
Carine Brancowitz
Jonathan Brechignac
Dina Brodsky
Hannah Chalew
Joo Chung
Dawn Clements
Joanne Greenbaum
Joo Lee Kang
Melissa Ling
Shane McAdams
Mu Pan
Guno Park
Joey Parlett
Chris Pugliese
Jim Rugg
Joan Salo
Chamo San
Nicolas V. Sanchez
Dominique Vangilbergen

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

Anatomy for 3D Artists: The Essential Guide for CG Professionals
Anatomy for 3D Artists: The Essential Guide for CG Professionals
by Chris Legaspi
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 52.08
25 used & new from CDN$ 35.79

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly detailed guide to anatomy for 3D artists, Jan. 15 2016
Length:: 2:30 Mins

This is a surprisingly detailed resource on sculpting 3D human figures.

The book's for intermediate and advanced 3D artists. You'll definitely need to know your 3D software quite well because the book assumes you already know the basics of modelling and also posing. For example, when a figure is posed, the book talks about the muscles that are affected rather than instructions on how the figure was posed.

There are three parts to the book. The first part focuses on drawing the human figure. This section talks about the skeletons, muscles and proportion, and ends with many pages of graphite figure drawings with commentary.

Part two covers 3D sculpting. There are 4 lessons each for modelling the male and female figures. First one's on creating the basic form, followed by sculpting the muscle, touching up the skin (veins, pores, etc) and finally more detailed instructions on the head, arms and shoulders.

Third part of the book has three detailed tutorials for creating models for a male bodybuilder, curvy woman and slim woman.

The tutorials are actually more like step-by-step breakdown of how each artist goes about with the workflow from start to finish. The book provides insight rather than those click-this-and-that-software-specific instructions. The techniques taught can be applied regardless of the 3D software you're using, although the book uses mainly ZBrush with occasional 3ds Max and Maya tips.

There's also a chapter dedicated to topology to help you create the best figure that can be used for animation. You'll learn things like edge flows, joints, polygon density, quads vs triangles, and many more tips to create a clean topology.

Lastly, the book has a reference gallery of some sculpted figures with all the muscles clearly labeled. The male model that's included has front to side views so you can use that for reference when going through the tutorials.

This is a very detailed anatomy resource written specifically for 3D artists. It's incredibly insightful but you will need to know your basic 3D sculpting skills well to get the most out of the book.

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

LogoLounge 9: 2,000 International Identities by Leading Designers
LogoLounge 9: 2,000 International Identities by Leading Designers
by Bill Gardner
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 45.00
14 used & new from CDN$ 36.75

5.0 out of 5 stars Another great logo resource, Jan. 15 2016
Logolounge's new book is a nice addition to the series with yet another 2,000 professional looking logos added. It's a good resource for graphic designers to get a quick visual spark.

The logos are grouped into different categories which makes them easier to find. While you can find free logo designs on Pinterest, there's no way to sort them by subject matter, theme or design elements.

In addition to the logos, there are a few case studies on the design process for several companies.

Just like the earlier books, LogoLounge continues to be a very useful reference for graphic designers.

The Art of the Japanese Sword: The Craft of Swordmaking and its Appreciation
The Art of the Japanese Sword: The Craft of Swordmaking and its Appreciation
by Yoshindo Yoshihara
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 46.18
31 used & new from CDN$ 38.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing insight into the making and appreciation of Japanese swords, Jan. 15 2016
This book's probably the ultimate resource when it comes to the appreciation of Japanese swords.

Before reading the book, I only have a vague idea of how swords are made. After going through the book, I've discovered that there are so many aspects to sword making and appreciation. No wonder this book is 256-pages thick.

The authors Leon and Hiroko Kapp worked with 3rd generation swordsmith Yoshindo closely for the book.

It covers in five chapters the appreciation, history and making of Japanese swords. There are details like how to one should examine the sword, the customs such as bowing to the sword before removing it from its bag, and a lot of other practices that are probably unknown to most.

The book covers the history of Japanese swords, the different types, from the shape, size, patterns on the blade and more. There's a detail breakdown of each part of the sword, down to the design of the hilt wrapping, sword guard and other parts.

The later chapters goes through the whole process of making a sword from start to end with Yoshindo complete with plenty of photos. Throughout the book, there are also information on how sword making as evolved, and also how swords are made today. Yoshindo is the expert and can hear when the metal is hot enough to be welded. Such is the level of expertise required when making a sword.

Throughout the book, from what I can observed about those involved in making the sword, they really respect their craft and that level of detail is also replicated in the information shared within the book.

This is the definitive book on Japanese swords. Highly recommended to those interested in this subject.

Shodo: The Quiet Art of Japanese Zen Calligraphy; Learn the Wisdom of Zen Through Traditional Brush Painting
Shodo: The Quiet Art of Japanese Zen Calligraphy; Learn the Wisdom of Zen Through Traditional Brush Painting
by Shozo Sato
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 37.17
38 used & new from CDN$ 37.16

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful guide for zen calligraphy, Jan. 15 2016
Shodo is a wonderful guide and practice book on Japanese calligraphy. It's written by Shozu Sato, a renowned master of traditional Zen arts.

This book covers the shodo, which is the traditional Japanese art of brush calligraphy. It talks about the art of writing Kanji, the characters shared by Chinese and Japanese. There are techniques on how to how the brush and even details like how you should breath as the brush moves. There are a lot of subtleness when it comes to writing and many of which I'm not even aware of.

The later chapters are where you can practice your calligraphy skills. Presenting in various chapters are ideograms ranging from 1 to 8 characters. Each comes with with an explanation of the meaning behind the words and they are all zen sayings, e.g. "Everyday is a good day", "Wherever, become your own master" and many more. These practice chapters have the characters written in two styles, the Kaisho and Gyosho styles, complete with directions of the brush strokes so that you can follow along.

The last chapter takes a look at the work of several calligraphy students and you can see that each individual will have their own style, even when they are all taught the same way to write. There's certainly personality within each character and also the brush itself.

Learn the Wisdom of Zen Through Traditional Brush Painting. That's what this book is about.

Alternative Movie Posters II: More Film Art from the Underground
Alternative Movie Posters II: More Film Art from the Underground
by Matthew Chojnacki
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 45.93
23 used & new from CDN$ 39.24

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful reimagined movie poster collection, Jan. 6 2016
Length:: 1:51 Mins

All the good things I've said about the first volume of Alternative Movie Posters continue to apply here.

It's another wonderful collection of art in this 208-page hardcover. Close to 100 artists are featured and the variety of style is fantastic. I like those that shows off hand drawn illustrations and there are plenty of those in this volume. The quality of art is top notch. I really enjoy how the artists come up with their concepts and different interpretation of the same films. Each poster comes with a short profile on the artist.

As for the films that are featured, they are mostly the cult hits and Hollywood blockbusters from decades ago. Things like the classics, Jaws, Back to the Future, Godfather, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction I guess are still very popular. There aren't too many recent films, and the ones that are included are for films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America, Planet of the Apes reboot, Hobbit and a few others.

I wish in the future they would have a volume dedicated to films released in the last 10 years, or have volumes that are restricted to a specific decade. That would be fun.

Overall, it's a great artbook. Highly recommended.

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

The Art of Kung Fu Panda 3
The Art of Kung Fu Panda 3
by Tracey Miller-Zarneke
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 44.55
17 used & new from CDN$ 44.55

5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Art Volume 3, Dec 31 2015
Length:: 2:42 Mins

Oh, wow, they actually released the book before the film opens. It goes without saying that if you want to avoid spoilers, you should go through the book only after the film. And don't even order it first because it will tempt you to look at the awesome art. It's that good. Actually, as good as the first and second artbooks.

It's such a delight to see Po, Master Shifu and The Furious Five again. I love the mix of mundane and awesomeness in the series. In many of the concept paintings, we see Po in heroic poses and in many other, it's him in all sorts of funny gags. It's not just him, there's the serious Tigress who has to handle her warm and fuzzy students - imagine the juxtaposition. LOL.

As for character designs, you'll see some updated changes to the original cast, mainly costume changes. In addition, there are a lot more panda characters now, there's Po's father Li, Mei Mei, Bao, Lei Lei, Grandma Panda and a whole village of pandas. Master Dogway is back. Of course there are baddies too, like Kai and his many animal warriors.

The book has many highlights for me. First of course is Nicolas Marlet's wonderful character sketches. Second would be the beautiful scenes and environment paintings. I just love the stylised look and choice of colours. Third, the book has lots of interesting information to read and it's authored by Tracey Miller-Zarneke who has done a good job with earlier books. Fourth, I like the Chinese influence when it comes to designing the set, such as the Chinese temples, noodle shop with all the posters, training hall, scroll room and all the beautiful scrolls. Fifth, well, the book is packed with lots of wonderful artworks such as storyboards, colour scripts, character and environment designs.

By the way, the book's published by two publishers, Insight Editions and Titan Books. Both are hardcover with 168 pages. Content should be the same.

Most highly recommended. One of the best for 2015.

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

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