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Parka (Singapore)
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Ender's Game: Inside the World of an Epic Adventure
Ender's Game: Inside the World of an Epic Adventure
by Jed Alger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 35.43
41 used & new from CDN$ 28.19

4.0 out of 5 stars Good movie companion but photos lack the excitement, Dec 3 2014
Length:: 1:41 Mins

This is the making of movie companion for Ender's Game and it covers the movie production with plenty of photos, artworks and interviews with the crew.

The text is actually focused on the filming process with reference to the story. You'll read about the chemistry between the actors, how they create the zero gravity scenes, analysis into the characters, and things that are different or similar to the book. All images are captioned with interesting stuff to read.

There are lots of high resolution photos, mainly behind-the-scenes shots at the studio, and in front of the green screen, and a handful of fi. Many of the set design actually reminds me of Star Trek. In all seriousness, I won't be able to differentiate the space station interior here from those featured in Star Trek.

There are more photos than artworks though, but the the concept art that are included are quite nice, especially those that are more towards sci-fi, e.g. space stations, futuristic landscapes. However, the space station interiors I felt were a bit too clean and sterile, as if everything is brand new and just unwrapped from bubble wrap. It's a huge contrast from the photos of Ender's home where things are just thrown around. While there are many photos, the people look kind of static because they usually are not in any action poses - people are usually in upright standing poses - and can get uninspiring and dull.

Also included in the book are some stickers for the teams, so called Armies, the ID card for Ender Wiggin, and two slightly smaller than A3 sized propaganda posters.

So overall, the book could have been improved with better selection of photos, unless it really is a movie of people standing around. I've not watched the movie yet.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

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

CG Galaxy II: Top Chinese CG Artists and Their Works
CG Galaxy II: Top Chinese CG Artists and Their Works
by Huo Shen CG Workshop
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 39.96
32 used & new from CDN$ 28.17

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic artbook featuring Chinese artists, Dec 3 2014
Length:: 1:34 Mins

Seems like there are two publishers for this book. One's Gingko Press and the other's Basheer Graphic Books. Mine's the review copy provided by Basheer.

CG Galaxy II is similar in presentation style to the Fantasy+ series of artbooks that I've reviewed. The artbook is a big 192-page paperback. Inside, the artworks are all reproduced nicely in large high resolution prints.

This is an artist focused book, specifically on Chinese artists, featuring concept art. It's great to see a gallery of amazing artworks from the Chinese artists included. In many of the artworks, you can see the Chinese influence to design and characters.

The standard and quality of work featured is high. There are lots of cool character art and background paintings. Most are fantasy art, with only some sci-fi pieces. There are personal projects as well as those designed for games. The level of detail is great, and also the sense of colours and composition. Many pieces are printed to the edge of the page and those look really great at such huge sizes, and deserve closer and longer look.

There are 34 artists, and each has a short profile description and a two-question interview. They are too brief really. The artworks are titled but there are no additional commentary. The lack of text is not really much an issue as the artworks speak for themselves.

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

Aphorismyth: A Collection of Art and Design
Aphorismyth: A Collection of Art and Design
by Ragnar
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.75
24 used & new from CDN$ 15.75

5.0 out of 5 stars Another wonderful collection of art from Ragnar, Dec 3 2014
Aphorismyth is the artbook Ragnar put out in 2013. It's 80 pages, paperback. He has put out some of these collections before. The more official book is The Art of Big City which is a 180-page hardcover.

This artbook collects his recent illustrations and some photos. There are some paintings, contemporary art, poster designs for Designer Con 2012, character designs, insects, pin-up girl art, and more. It's a mixture of painted stuff and the clean vector style.

The art is beautiful. For the posters, you can sense a strong graphic design principles at work. I also love how he uses colours. One of the highlights of his artworks is definitely the colour palette and usage. Sometimes the colours are pure and strong, other times they are dulled down by saturation. The colours are either in harmony or playful clash.

It's yet another wonderful collection of art from Ragnar.

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

Sketching from the Imagination: An Insight into Creative Drawing
Sketching from the Imagination: An Insight into Creative Drawing
by 3dtotal Publishing
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 23.51
40 used & new from CDN$ 22.92

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thick volume of wonderful sketches, Dec 3 2014
Length:: 2:21 Mins

Sketching from the Imagination is a wonderful 320-page paperback collection of sketches from 50 artists. It's always a delight to look through other people sketches, especially the good ones, and there are plenty to see in this thick volume.

The sketches compiled are all drawn from imagination. There are scenes of fantasy, character and creature designs, some location art, sometimes whimsical drawings, loose sketches, detailed sketches, and other amazing line drawings. Majority I would say are still character and creature art. Most of the stuff in the book are good enough as concept art, actually in a sense they all are.

I like checking out the different styles and techniques. There are the cartoony stuff, superhero comics style, amazing pencil and pen hatching, shading, use of black, drawing on toned paper and more. Some you can see are done quickly and loose. Some are very elaborate with detailed designs and shading.

The artists are featured alphabetically. Each has around 6 pages of coverage with a brief commentary on why they sketch and their inspiration. It's not really an instructional book, more for sparks of inspiration. All the sketches also come with brief captions.

I collect a lot of sketchbooks, and I really enjoyed looking through this one.

It's an inspiring book for those who like art, and of course sketchbooks, and probably will get you inspired to start sketching.

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

Barry Herniman's Travelling Sketchbook.
Barry Herniman's Travelling Sketchbook.
by Barry Herniman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 90.13
12 used & new from CDN$ 37.25

5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely travelogue sketchbook from a seasoned traveller, Dec 3 2014
Length:: 1:26 Mins

I love travelogue sketchbooks and can't get enough of them. I managed to spot this sketchbook from Barry Herniman by chance. I've such good luck. It's a wonderful book.

This guy Barry Herniman is not just an artist but also a musician and an adventurer. He has been on Drakensberg range of mountains, Okavango Swamps, Rhodesia, South America, and a lot of other places with names so exotic that it's the first time I'm hearing about them. It was fun reading through his tales on the road. He's born in England.

This travelogue sketchbook is a collection of sketches that he made in British Isle, Ireland, other countries in Europe, those that are near the Mediterranean. Again, he's been to many places and recorded what he saw in ink and watercolours. Much are of the towns, houses, boats by the river, shorelines, mountain ranges, gardens, a few ruins, and some of the people he met.

I love the watercolour sketches in the book. The colours are lovely and the lines are loose and relaxed. Sometimes the lines would also retrace, i.e. going back the same route, to give the extra sketchy mood. The colours are sometimes saturated, and sometimes they have a nice pastel tone going. I like those with the softer, muted pastel tone, and they seems to give a more idyllic vibe. He has a nice way of splattering colours to give the sketches more textures.

Other than the sketches, there are also some watercolour paintings. The style feels different because of the lack of lines. The quality of work does vary a bit throughout the book. But hey, it's a sketchbook, not an artbook of studio paintings. I enjoy looking every piece, imagining what it would have been like to be at the same place.

All the artworks featured are label with short captions.

It's a 144-page hardcover.

I bought my book from Book Depository because it seems to be the cheapest at the time of purchase, and the price includes shipping.

Highly recommended to all those who like sketchbooks and travelogues.

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

Just Draw It!: The Dynamic Drawing Course for Anyone with a Pencil and Paper
Just Draw It!: The Dynamic Drawing Course for Anyone with a Pencil and Paper
by Sam Piyasena
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 15.87
26 used & new from CDN$ 15.87

5.0 out of 5 stars Has lots of interesting drawing exercises, Dec 3 2014
Length:: 1:18 Mins

Just Draw It! is a book of fun drawing exercises and ideas to get you to draw, express yourself with art.

To get the most out of the book, you should at least know some form of representational drawing. In the second lesson which is about line drawing, it suggest that you draw what you see outdoors, so you definitely require some basic observation and representation drawing skills. The third lesson asks you do draw the view you see while riding in a car or bus, and the illustrated example is a sketchy panoramic view of a car interior. These two lessons for starters can be quite overwhelming for beginners.

There are lots of interesting exercises to try out, such as drawing in the sand, on a steamy window, use needle and thread to draw, draw under a minute, poke holes, draw from a low point, high point, visually record the decomposition of some food item, doodle on photos from magazines and newspapers, draw in the dark, still life, draw tone squares, cutting up your drawing and rearranging them, and many more.

Throughout the book are suggestions on things you can draw.

The authors Sam Piyasena and Beverly Philp have written a book that's informal, casual and easy to follow.

The overall goal is really to have some fun, build up some freedom and creativity to your drawings and what you can draw.

It's a good book to get you back into drawing, or to start drawing differently.

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

The Noble Approach: Maurice Noble and the Zen of Animation Design
The Noble Approach: Maurice Noble and the Zen of Animation Design
by Tod Polson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 31.35
35 used & new from CDN$ 30.57

5.0 out of 5 stars Good book for those into animation and design, Dec 3 2014
The Noble Approach is a book that's part biography and part animation design tips featuring the late great Maurice Noble.

As a kid, I would watch the Warner Bros cartoons and never think about things like art and design. They are good which is why people watch them.

Well, in this book, you'll go behind the scenes and look at the person who has a hand at creating some of these animated productions, and understand his design philosophies.

Author Tod Polson who has apprenticed under Noble has done a good job with the biography detailing the designer's life and career right from the start. It's an inspiring tale of someone who has gone through a tumultuous period, with the need to support his family while still young, going through various career changes, having the ups and downs with co-workers, while still maintaining the passion to put out good design for animation and screen.

The biography is about a third of the book. The rest are his philosophies on design. It's on how he handles story beats, story elements, using reference, contrast, simplifying elements, colour theory, perspective, layout, and more. The text and the illustrated examples are insightful. It's a collection of design principles he has learned and compiled over the 60 years he spent in the industry.

It's a good book for those into animation and design, or into traditional animation design.

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

Creative Essence: Creatures
Creative Essence: Creatures
by Ballistic
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 54.24
23 used & new from CDN$ 50.82

5.0 out of 5 stars The ZBrush Creature Design Process Book, Dec 3 2014
Length:: 1:58 Mins

Creative Essence: Creatures is a book on sculpting creatures and creature design. The software focused here is Zbrush.

This is a 250-page paperback that comes in a slipcase. There's only one standard edition, unlike some of the other artbooks from Ballistic Publishing.

8 leading creature design artists and 3D modelers from the CG industry are featured in the book, namely Andrew Baker, James Van Der Bogart, Jacob Earl, Josh Herman, Ian Joyner, Aris Kolokontis, Ben Mauro, Martin Rezard, Simon Webber and Bryan Wynia. They have worked for a long list of big budget films and video games, such as God of War: Ascension, Uncharted series, The Hobbit trilogy and many more.

At heart, this book talks about conceptualisation and the creative thought process of creature design. Interviews with the artists are in Q&A style with them commenting on their inspiration, challenges, the creature they have designed, the story behind and how they live, eat and move. Much is on how to make sense of the design, such as creating a mouth that the creature can actually use to get food. So it's more function with form, rather than form over function.

This is not a book that teaches you how to use the Zbrush software, or Photoshop for that matter. You should be at least Zbrush proficient because sometimes the artists do mention technical terms. Overall, just to emphasise again, it's on the creature process of designing.

All the creature designs featured are created specifically for the book. They are 28 of them. two-legged, four-legged, monsters, flyers, those with tentacles, insect inspired, dinosaur inspired. There are lots of amazing work to see. All the Zbrush modeled examples are printed in high resolution, with details down to the pores and goosebumps. One artist, Aris Kolokontes has his creatures physically created with clay actually talks about creating goosebumps, and how to make molds.

In additional to the Zbrush models, there are also some concept sketches. So you get to see the start and ending product. The actual hard work of pushing and pulling surfaces are not covered, but you do get to see selected step-by-step pictures of creatures being added with details like textures and more precise anatomy forms.

Creative Essence: Creatures is an insightful book into creature design process with wonderful Zbrush sculpted examples.

Recommended to intermediate to advanced Zbrush creature designers looking for inspiration.

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

Stencil Republic
Stencil Republic
by Ollystudio Ltd
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 23.16
31 used & new from CDN$ 20.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Good collection of stencil designs, Dec 3 2014
This review is from: Stencil Republic (Paperback)
Length:: 0:28 Mins

This book is much like The Street Art Stencil Book that Laurence King Publishers released in 2010.

It's a collection of 20 stencils printed on perforated card stock that you can cut out and use. The card stock seems a bit thin so the stencils probably can only withstand limited use. It's quite worth the book price for 20 stencils. The book's almost 10 by 10 inches.

The designs look great. Some of them are really detailed, and the cutting is very precise. As an art form, it's really quite interesting to see how the featured artists connect the blacks together.

The collection is curated by Olly Studio. Featured artists are

A1ONE (Iran)
A*C ALTO CONTRASTE (Brazil)
ARTISTE OUVRIER (France)
BS.AS.STNCIL (Argentina)
CHRIS STAIN (US)
DAN INNES (UK)
DR. D (UK)
E.L.K. (Australia)
EZBAI (Spain)
FAKE (Netherlands)
ORTICANOODLES (Italy)
OZI (Brazil)
PISA73 (Germany)
RENE GAGNON (US)
RUN DON'T WALK (Argentina)
SR. X (Spain)
STEN LEX (Italy)
STENCIL KING (Netherlands)
STF (France)
VHILS (Portugal)

Interesting names that some of them have.

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

Biomech Art: Surrealism, Cyborgs and Alien Universes
Biomech Art: Surrealism, Cyborgs and Alien Universes
by Martin de Diego Sadaba
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 31.31
26 used & new from CDN$ 31.31

5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of disturbingly good and good disturbing stuff to see, Dec 3 2014
Length:: 1:44 Mins

Biomech Art is an impressive collection of artworks whose theme is a mixture of surrealism, cyberpunk, alien landscapes and dystopia worlds.

It's quite a thick hardcover book at 256 pages. Author Martin de Diego Sadaba has curated the works of 28 artists from USA, Europe and Japan for the book.

Just look at the cover and you can see that wires are going into the eyes of the character, and her arm actually morphs into wires below the elbow. That's just a teaser for what's inside the book.

Some other examples include the Pascal Blanche' 3D art with psychedelic colours, Christopher Conte's steampunk creations, many paintings involving alien-like warped beings, Peter Gric has some wonderful pieces of human-like characters fused into the environment, a few H. R. Giger inspired pieces, scenes from the underworld, transhuman creations, oh and a floating head fused with teddy bears by the skin, and more. Many pieces are quite difficult to describe even.

Great book for those into the dark arts. There are lots of disturbingly good and good disturbing stuff to see.

The artists featured are

Albino-Z
Pascal Blanche
Riyahd Cassiem
Christophe Conte
Jase Daniels
Martin de Diego
Bernard Dumaine
Alexander Fedosov
David Frantz
Peter Gric
Naoto Hattori
Tomasz Alen Kopera
Simon Lejeune
Fabio Listriani
Ramon Llansola
Paul McCarrol
Dusan Markovic
Shingo Matsunuma
Kamal Mishmish
Daniel Arnold Mist
Kazuhiko Nakamura
Noistromo
Piotr Ruszkowski
Ken Sarafin
Seeming (Seeming Watcher)
Tomasz Strzalkowski
Sugar Flesh (Liran Szeiman and Martin de Diego)
Yang Xueguo

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

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