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Parka (Singapore)
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Frank Frazetta: Art and Remembrances
Frank Frazetta: Art and Remembrances
by Frank Frazetta Jr
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 39.19
16 used & new from CDN$ 39.19

3.0 out of 5 stars Story is not quite complete, Jan. 2 2015
Length:: 1:49 Mins

Frank Frazetta: Art and Remembrances is a book of remembrance, written in first account by Frank Frazetta Jr. It's a book that recounts his relationship with his father, and also gives a look at Frazetta Sr's early life.

I did not expect this to be an artbook since there are already other books dedicated to that, such as Icon, Legacy and Testament just to name a few. The art and photos included here are great, even though you may have seen some in other books.

It's certainly interesting to read about about Frazetta Sr's life from the perspective of an insider. There are stories of his childhood, how he was an amazing baseball story, about the hardship of starting out, and other cool stories.

I've several issues with the book though. The main issue is that it's not detailed enough to provided a complete story of Frazetta Sr's life.

It is mentioned in the book that Frazetta Sr's wife Ellie handled the business affairs but there wasn't much to read from her point of view. Frazetta Sr had other children and somehow their input are not included and it's not mentioned that how Frazetta Sr treated them, which I think is relevant because it's a book about his life. There aren't any photos of Frazetta Jr's siblings in the book. Alright, this book isn't a biography so I guess I can look through them.

Then there's the issue with the museum and family feuding. It's mentioned in passing, but not elaborated, no doubt it was left out intentionally. The twist is so intriguing. The drama's not in this book. What a cliffhanger.

Other issues I have are regarding the editing. Oftentimes, names of specific artworks are mentioned but they are not shown as examples. There are sections of the story that repeat. It's like they were copied and pasted to the back, but the editor forgot that they were already included in the front. Pictures are sometimes placed a few pages later rather than next to when they are first mentioned. The narrative doesn't flow quite well also, even though they are told in chronological order. There are also several errors caught by other book reviewers.

When Frazetta Jr said he has a long complex relationship with his father, it truly shows. This book feels weird. There are things left out. The objectivity is slightly questionable.

So to me, the book is rather disappointing considering the subject is fantasy art master Frank Frazetta. While it's not a biography, I still expected something more, complete.

Fans of Frank Frazetta will be left wanting more after reading the last page.

Hopefully, the family, after sorting out whatever that's wrong, would commission an accomplished writer to write a proper biography that Frank Frazetta truly deserves.

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

Marvel's Thor: The Dark World - The Art of the Movie (Slipcase)
Marvel's Thor: The Dark World - The Art of the Movie (Slipcase)
by Marvel Comics
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 40.42
34 used & new from CDN$ 40.42

4.0 out of 5 stars Great concepts but some artworks are printed too dark, Jan. 2 2015
Length:: 3:00 Mins

I'm impressed but also left with some mixed feelings after going through the book.

Let's start with the good.

This book comes with a slipcase as well, just like the first Thor movie artbook, but the book is even thicker at 272 pages. It feels good just looking at how thick the book is.

Since the first book has already covered the character designs for the main characters, coverage for them is smaller here and focuses instead on the subtle design changes. The bulk of the character designs are for the Vanir, Marauders, Malekith, Algrim, Kurse and Dark Elves. The enemies have more pages. But overall, there are lots of great designs and variations to look at, as well as some props. There are the head prosthetics and final film stills to look at.

Concepts for the locations are amazing, especially for Asgard which is really beautiful. However, the art can sometimes be a bit rough and have a very CGI look. Many of the environment art are printed huge, sometimes across two pages, but some don't seem to have the resolution to go that big and result in less than sharp images. At least they captured the mood and atmosphere well.

Storyboards for selected sequences are included, some are animatic storyboards.

Now for the bad part.

Some of the designs are too dark. I know the movie is called Thor: The Dark World, but still... The details fading into darkness thing can be a bit overkill in this book. I have a difficult time making sense of the interior of the Dark Elves' Ark. Much is shrouded in darkness. Many of the character designs also have their details lost into the black. If I'm reading a comic book, that's pretty stylish use of black, but this is a concept art book so I should at least be able to see stuff clearly.

The concepts are good but the quality is marred by the images being less sharp and too dark at times.

Overall, it's still worth a buy because it's a decent artbook with plenty of stuff to see.

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

The DC Comics Guide to Creating Comics: Inside the Art of Visual Storytelling
The DC Comics Guide to Creating Comics: Inside the Art of Visual Storytelling
by Carl Potts
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.52
34 used & new from CDN$ 17.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Advanced introduction to drawing comics, Jan. 2 2015
Length:: 1:22 Mins

The DC Comics Guide to Creating Comics is like an advanced introduction to drawing comics. It provides a good coverage of techniques that are required for creating successful comics, and also introduces the different aspects of the creation itself. Main thing to note is the coverage is mostly theory, the actual hands-on are covered by other DC Comics Guides.

The book is authored by comics veteran and authority Carl Potts who while working at Marvel, also mentored Jim Lee. The text is written in a concise and easy to follow manner. The techniques discussed are supplemented by clear examples. It's insightful and after studying them will be you not just read but also understand how other comic artists layout their pages.

There are four parts to the book.

The first part introduces the concept of sequential visual storytelling, what it's all about and things to look out for.

Second part covers paneling. Things like how they are laid out, establishing shots, the flow, and how they affect storytelling.

Third part covers comics writing using the classic arc as main example. Here it also covers artistic style and approach to drawing, giving examples of realistic rendition or the more stylistic approach such as the use of black by Mike Mignola.

The last part is a walkthrough of the process of creating comics from having a script. Three professionals are given the same script and we are shown how they interpret the script and lay out the pages. There are explanations from the artists as well as analysis from Carl Potts.

At 192 pages, the book has quite a lot of useful information packed in. Overall, it's a good guide for beginner comic artists, maybe it has a few useful tips for intermediate artists also.

To learn more about specific topics on creating comics, or get more hands-on, you can also check out other books from the DC Comics Guide series, such as:

The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics
The DC Comics Guide to Pencilling Comics
DC Comics Guide to Coloring and Lettering Comics
The DC Comics Guide to Inking Comics
The DC Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics

Other books worth checking out:

+ Bryan Hitch's Ultimate Comics Studio
This is also a book of comic tips and theory, but the organisation is less structured, and focuses only on certain aspects.

+ Wizards How to Draw guides
There are three, namely Storytelling, Getting Started and Advanced Techniques. These books are more in depth (well because there are 3 books total) and also cover a bit more on techniques. The books are out of print and can be difficult to find.

+ Stan Lee's How to Draw Comics
This is more of a beginner's guide and an introduction to drawing comics. The topics are more elementary.

+ The Insider's Guide To Creating Comics And Graphic Novels
The basic topics on creating comics are covered but could do with more depth.

In order of preference, I would recommend the Wizard How to Draw guides, followed by The DC Comics Guide to Creating Comics and Bryan Hitch's Ultimate Comics Studio.

(I've also reviewed some of the books mentioned above. There are more pictures on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)

Terminator Vault: The Complete Story Behind the Making of The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Terminator Vault: The Complete Story Behind the Making of The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day
by Ian Nathan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 27.72
32 used & new from CDN$ 24.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly in-depth behind-the-scenes look at the movie production, Jan. 2 2015
Length:: 1:38 Mins

Finally, the movie companion for Terminator is out. That took a while, since the movie was released in 1984. It's a pretty timeless movie though, T1 and T2.

Well, Terminator Vault is an excellent movie companion. It's a 176-page hardcover presented in a slipcase. Presentation style is similar to Alien Vault: The Definitive Story of the Making of the Film. Author of both the books are Ian Nathan.

This is an incredibly in-depth behind-the-scenes look at the movie production. Besides stories of the actual movie production, it also weaves in the events that happened to director James Cameron before he came up with the Terminator idea, things that were happening around Hollywood, and events that happen during the time of filming.

There are interviews with James Cameron where he talks about all the troubles that came about from filming. You'll read about the politics behind film-making, staging the set, creating special effects of the morphing Terminators and more. The write-up is very detailed and intriguing. The book only covers T1 and T2 with brief mention to T3 and Terminator: Salvation.

The included pictures are film stills, behind-the-scenes production photos, storyboards, some artworks and miscellaneous stuff like movie posters. There are a few pockets between the pages holding removable items, such as a Czech movie poster, or the Polaroid that John Connor gave to Kyle Reese to identify Sarah Connor.

Highly recommended to fans of the movie. It's packed with lots of interesting stuff to read.

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

Geek-Art: An Anthology: Art, Design, Illustration & Pop Culture
Geek-Art: An Anthology: Art, Design, Illustration & Pop Culture
by Thomas Olivri
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 34.48
32 used & new from CDN$ 31.25

5.0 out of 5 stars Fun collection of pop culture fan art, Jan. 2 2015
Length:: 2:21 Mins

Geek-Art is essentially a book of fan art on pop culture of movies, video games and comics.

The selection of art is curated by Thomas Olivri who runs the Geek-Art website where he features an interesting artworks created by fans around the world.

This book was originally published in French as Geek-art, une anthologie in 2013. That book has gone out of print and publisher Chronicle Books the one who released this English translated edition.

The book's a 416-page paperback. And they used nice thick paper for the printing.

The artworks featured are wonderful, creative and varied. I've actually seen some of them before online because they were so popular and were shared on other websites as well. There are Avanaut's LEGO figures in snowy atmosphere, BoneFace's beaten-in-the-face superhero portraits, Franco Barmbilla's "Invading the Vintage" series, Andy Fairhurst's silhouette of kids pretending to be superheroes, and many more.

The quality of art featured is high. It's not just digital art for there are also some handmade toys and posed photography. There are pieces which are stylised, cute, intricate, detailed and contemporary. Often times, the ideas from the artists are quite humorous.

There's a good mix of source materials. Of course you have Star Wars, the DC and Marvel superheroes, but there are also other well known characters from video games and movies.

It's a great book for those who like pop culture art.

Push Start: The Art of Video Games
Push Start: The Art of Video Games
by Stephan Guenzel
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 48.87
18 used & new from CDN$ 48.29

3.0 out of 5 stars Has more on early games and pixel art, Jan. 1 2015
Length:: 2:26 Mins

Push Start: The Art of Video Games is a much larger and thicker book than I had expected. There are actually 380 pages rather than 220 pages as listed at some places.

The cover is nicely embossed with lots of squares to form a huge black square. A Space Invaders alien is formed like pixel art using white squares.

The content is arranged in chapters by the technological advances in the graphics, moving from early games to arcade, then 8-bit, 16-bit, 3D and finally to HD. Within those chapters, the games are arranged in chronologically. Each chapter has a paragraph or two talking about the evolution of technology.

The games featured come mostly with one screenshot each, either of an in-game scene or a closeup to the main characters. Some of the graphics are spread over two pages. Most of the included games are from the days before XBox and Playstation, so there are a lot of pixel art.

I felt that the book is somewhat lacking in depth. Other than the creator credits, there aren't any additional information talking about each game. The only substantial writeup appears at the back of the book in the form of an intellectual essay that tries to answer the question on whether video game is art. It involves tech talk on technology, the design of the gameplay, and what the developers are trying to achieve.

I bought the book without much expectation. After going through the book, I'm left without much impression and I felt like I didn't learn anything much about the art in or the art of video games.

Over the years, several books were released on video game art, such as The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effect, The Art of the Video Game, Neoludica Art and Videogames 1966-2011 and the somewhat related An Illustrated History of 151 Video Games. Most are mixed bags.

Video games are very personal. You will like different games than me. The list of games included in this book works more like an index, a glorified index with huge splash pages of pixel art. Even for the screenshots included, I felt that some aren't truly representative of the games. But it's difficult to have one image represent the games well.

If you want to learn more about the art used in video games, I suggest checking out The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effect instead, which is slightly better.

Lastly, this book includes a 10-inch vinyl and a download code to the songs included. There are eight remixed versions of the classic tunes from Super Mario, Castlevania, Mega Man, Ninja Gaiden, Street Fighter, Puzzle Bobble, Space Harrier and Tetris. You can visit the publisher earBOOKS Youtube channel to search for "Big Twice Remix" to sample to the songs.

This is quite a pricey book so I definitely recommend flipping through before buying.

Beginner's Guide to Digital Painting in Photoshop Elements
Beginner's Guide to Digital Painting in Photoshop Elements
by David Smit
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 29.78
26 used & new from CDN$ 29.22

5.0 out of 5 stars Very helpful beginner's guide for beginners, Dec 16 2014
Length:: 2:45 Mins

Here's another beginner's guide from publisher 3DTotal. I've reviewed the earlier one Beginner's Guide to Digital Painting in Photoshop also and the presentation format is similar with this book. The plastic slipcase cover is gone and the book's also less expensive. Nice.

The content's split into four parts.

In the first section, there's Rich Tilbury introducing the interface and painting tools available for Photoshop Elements. It's for the beginners so it assumes no prior knowledge with the software. If you're new, you'll get up to speed quickly. The software version used in the book is Photoshop Elements 12 and at the time of this writing, version 13 is already out (and cheaper). Anyway, the interface should look more or less the same.

The next section there's Christopher Peters who talks about the basic techniques in art theory. He covers light and colour, composition, perspective and depth and other subjects. It's a very informative section that has steps that you can follow along. Again, the content is written in a simple and easy to gasp manner for beginners with no art knowledge.

The third section has several full length tutorials from contributing artists. The tutorials look at various art styles, such as landscapes, stylised illustration, speed-painting, working with traditional sketches or photos, cartoons, etc. You can easily follow along to learn the techniques and get yourself familiar with the painting tools used. It's helpful in the sense that you'll know what's the correct tool to use when you think of certain effects you want to create.

The next section has quick tips and steps to create common textures, such as clouds, water, rock, dirt, trees, rain, fire, smoke, hair, skin, and many more. It's very useful for beginners to get them started at creating their own textures. Takes a bit of guess work out but I like the quick tips.

Last section has step by step screenshots of artworks by several artists. No captions provided here though.

Great book overall. Recommended to beginners who wants to learn digital painting using Photoshop Elements.

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

Oil Painting with the Masters: Essential Techniques from Today's Top Artists
Oil Painting with the Masters: Essential Techniques from Today's Top Artists
by Cindy Salaski
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 24.54
34 used & new from CDN$ 18.04

5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding book that beginners and advanced oil painting artists, Dec 16 2014
Length:: 1:31 Mins

This is an outstanding book that beginners and advanced oil painting artists can enjoy.

The paintings featured in the book are really beautiful. I wish I could see them in their actual size. Author and artist Cindy Salaski has done a terrific job at finding the artists featured and curating the artworks. The artists included are Kevin Macpherson, Laurie Kersey, Richard McKinley, Camille Przewodek, Phil Starke, George Gallo, Marc Hanson, Susan Lyon, Jeffrey Watts and Robert Johnson.

There are 11 chapters in the book. The first 10 chapters each has an artist profile followed by text on a particular technique and a detailed step-by-step demonstration. The topics deal with the handling of mood & atmosphere, light & form, composition, lost & found edges, brushwork and many other useful fundamental techniques.

The writeup is incredibly insightful as the artists share in depth their techniques and tips, and even the specific colours used for each step in their demonstrations. The artists would explain what they are doing and why it's done that way. It's an illuminating look at the painting process from the start to finish.

Beginners should be able to learn what those master artists look out for when painting, and advanced paintings will get the insight from observing the painting process from various artists.

The last chapter has a gallery that showcases artworks from a few more artists. You can also check out more of their art from the websites provided.

Oil Painting with the Masters works well as an instructional book and is a great reference book to refer back to often. It's really an inspiring book. Highly recommended to oil painting artists.

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

The Art of Destiny
The Art of Destiny
by Bungie
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 38.21
24 used & new from CDN$ 38.21

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Destiny, Dec 16 2014
This review is from: The Art of Destiny (Hardcover)
Length:: 2:06 Mins

The Art of Destiny is a nice companion art book for the game. It's quite a large 216-page hardcover with a non-glossy smooth surface dust jacket. The paper and printing quality are fantastic. Note that there are two publishers for this book, Insight Editions and Titan Books, selling at different regions and prices.

There's a generous amount of sci-fi environment art in the book from the Bungie artists. So if you like the sci-fi environment art from the recent Halo artbooks, you'll enjoy this book.

The landscapes from other planets are breathtaking to look at. It's quite cool to see how artists imagine civilization on other planets, in this case collapsed civilization, abandoned cities, space metropolis and other exotic locales. Some of the places do feel grandiose, epic.

The environment art are mostly printed gorgeously big but there are also many terrific pieces printed smaller. They are quite detailed and able to hold up to scrutiny even when they are printed across two pages.

Other artworks included are designs for the characters, ships, props like the weapons, crests, capes and finally some storyboards.

There's a good amount of character designs which includes the costume designs, turnarounds and there are also animation sequences for some attack moves. Spaceships look pretty refined, clean.

Finally, there are 14 pages of credits at the back so that just leaves the book with around 200 pages of artworks which is still quite a lot.

Overall, the art looks and feels very polished. Recommended for the fans and sci-fi & concept art lovers.

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

Collage: Contemporary Artists Hunt and Gather, Cut and Paste, Mash Up and Transform
Collage: Contemporary Artists Hunt and Gather, Cut and Paste, Mash Up and Transform
by Danielle Krysa
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 23.79
32 used & new from CDN$ 17.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than just cut and paste, Dec 10 2014
Length:: 1:01 Mins

Collage is authored by Danielle Krysa, the writer at popular art and design website The Jealous Curator. Krysa has also released another book earlier this year called Creative Block which I've also reviewed. Writing two books in a year is very productive.

This book features thirty contemporary artists together with a short profile of each and their collage artworks. There's a good diversity of work that are quite fun to look at. It's interesting to see what type of artwork people can come up with by cutting and pasting different photographs collected and mix them into some form of aesthetics using the interplay of shapes, negative space, textures and ideas.

Some of the works are very detailed, some amusing, and others capable of raising eyebrows. One artist Maria Aparicio Puentes used sewing threads for her work. Another artist Kathryn MacNaughton likes to use vintage porn magazines as source materials so there's some nudity in this book.

In addition to just featuring the artists, there was also a task assigned to each. The artists have to come up with a collage using a photograph of two mustache-clad cowboys where one's playing an accordion. The resulting collage is often unexpected and surprising.

It's a great book for those like collages as an art form. I certainly was entertained looking through all the works even though some left me scratching my head.

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

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