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Parka (Singapore)

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Fantastical: The Art of Matt Gaser
Fantastical: The Art of Matt Gaser
by Matt Gaser
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 40.79
24 used & new from CDN$ 31.86

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, Nov. 30 2015
Length:: 1:38 Mins

I know nothing about Matt Gaser prior to getting the book and I'm pleasantly surprised by the beautiful artworks collected within.

This is a 112-page hardcover featuring the personal artworks of Matt Gaser, an illustrator and concept artist from Northern California.

The book features lots of sketches and detailed coloured paintings. The subject matter is a mix of sci-fi and fantasy. Matt is good at both and is able to create really believable worlds and characters.

The character and creature designs are wonderful. There the more cartoon-like ones and also the more realistic pieces. Most of all, I like the settings where the characters are based. Even if it's just a glimpse of the background, it adds depth to the main character art.

The colour paintings are also gorgeous. The lighting and colour schemes are lovely. They are coloured in a stylised manner as oppose to total realism and that is the Matt Gaser's style to fantasy and sci-fi. You should also check out more artworks on his website. Many artworks appear more vibrant on his website compared to the printed version in this book.

This is a fantastic artbook. Highly recommended.

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

Color - The Professional's Guide: Understanding, Appreciating and Mastering Color in Art and Design
Color - The Professional's Guide: Understanding, Appreciating and Mastering Color in Art and Design
by Karen Triedman
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 42.06
17 used & new from CDN$ 35.56

5.0 out of 5 stars Very detailed guide to color, Nov. 23 2015
Color - The Professional's Guide is a 256-page paperback authored by Karen Triedman. It seems pretty comprehensive in terms of coverage and should serve as a good reference to graphic designers and those who want to learn more about colour.

The content is split into six chapters. The first talks about the science of colours and how they work, light, colour schemes and for application, the pigments and how they are created.

Second chapter is on the psychological and cultural context. It looks at what colours mean to different people from different places and eras.

Third chapter looks at how colours are used in paintings, photography and how colour is associated with different emotions and evoke them.

The fourth and fifth chapter deals with graphic design and also how colours are used in real life, such as for store displays, setting up furniture, interior design and more.

Last chapter looks at how colours are used in films, both life action and animation.

The book is very informative with lots of photos, interviews with experts and of course detailed writeup into the specific topics in each chapters and sub-chapters. It serves as an excellent primer to colour usage in art and design. I find the explanation simple and the use of illustrated examples helps enforce the concepts.

100 Years Of Color: Beautiful Images & Inspirational Palettes from a Century of Innovative Art, Illustration, & Design
100 Years Of Color: Beautiful Images & Inspirational Palettes from a Century of Innovative Art, Illustration, & Design
by Katie Greenwood
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 29.22
28 used & new from CDN$ 24.81

4.0 out of 5 stars A colour swatch book, Nov. 21 2015
100 Years Of Color is a colour swatch book that looks at colour usage from 1900s to 1990s.

For each decade, there's a one page essay on the significant events that happen, e.g. war, and how they affect the use of colours. Then for each year, there is an artwork selected by author Katie Greenwood and the colour palette is derived from the painting. The palette of colours are then reproduced 5 times, each with varying proportions so that you can see the effect of different colours have on one another. All the CMYK formulas are included at the back of the book. st

Katie has mentioned in the book that choosing which painting to represent the year is a challenge in itself. I'm not sure exactly what selection criteria she used though. Anyway, it's difficult to see the evolution of colours or a pattern from the sequential display of paintings and their swatches. They could have been any painting from any time and the book would have turned out to be something like Color in Art which I think is more insightful. The idea of picking an artwork that best represents the year doesn't work for me.

So in essence, this is a book for ideas on what colours you can use with an example of how they look when used together.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

The Art of the Good Dinosaur
The Art of the Good Dinosaur
by John Lasseter
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 32.81
40 used & new from CDN$ 13.35

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but..., Nov. 20 2015
Length:: 2:33 Mins

I just feel that Pixar artbooks are getting less fun to read. Maybe perhaps it's because there isn't anything in this book to read except for foreword by John Lasseter and director Peter Sohn.

First up, I've to say that I enjoy the artworks, the sketches, character designs, lighting studies, scene paintings and environment art. Enjoyed them more than I did for the Inside Out artbook. Sharon Calahan's lighting studies are terrific and eye catching, definitely the highlight for me in this book. The approach to the character design I feel, at least for Arlo and Spot, is quite close to comic characters you see in newspaper comic strips. Other dinosaurs have more detail.

My lack of enthusiasm for this book has got to do with the new way of presenting the artworks without any commentary, use of more than necessary white space and have simple sketches blown up huge. It started with The Art of Inside Out and now with The Art of Good Dinosaur.

Commentary provides more depth to the artworks, and not including them makes the book feel slightly hollow. When the drawings are interesting and you want understand the context behind them, there is nothing to read. The use of unnecessary white space does not help. They could have used better page layout to add significantly more artworks, at least to make up for the lack of commentary. While it's a pleasure to look at artworks that are printed huge, of which many in the book satisfyingly so, it would be better to enlarge detailed paintings rather than artworks without much detail. That would have given more impact to pieces that deserves more attention.

I like the artworks but this new presentation style is just not working for me and I'm a Pixar fan. I don't like the hollow feeling I get after going through the book.

It's a difficult book to rate. Maybe 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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

Digital Painting Techniques: Volume 7
Digital Painting Techniques: Volume 7
by 3dtotal Publishing
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 51.20
26 used & new from CDN$ 37.04

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great compilation of digital painting techniques, Nov. 16 2015
Length:: 2:28 Mins

Digital Painting Techniques returns for the seventh volume!

It's still a thick 288-page book packed with detailed tutorials. The book is for intermediate to advanced artists so if you're just starting out, it might be slightly difficult to follow especially if you're not familiar at the fundamentals of digital painting.

For this volume, the first half of the book focuses on three main subject matter, namely vehicles, stylized female characters and pin-up girls. The second half looks at concepts and techniques on speed painting, matte painting and creating environments. About the section on the vehicles, I can definitely see the Mad Max influence or where they get their ideas from.

Below's the complete list of contents

- Design a dynamic desert vehicle
- Craft a post-apocalyptic car
- Create a dune car
- Create a hovering spaceship
- Craft a colossal floating vehicle
- Develop a vehicle for land and water
- Illustrate a powerful deforestation vehicle

Stylized Female Characters
- Research and develop to a unique brief
- Create a stunning ballerina
- Craft a period drama female
- Paint Helen of Troy

Pin-up Girls
- Paint a racing-car driver
- Craft an army girl
- Render a steampunk character
- Illustrate a vintage-style girl
- Render a WW2 girl
- Paint a stylized scientist

Speed Painting Techniques
- Establish effective atmospheres
- Create a narrative illustration
- Improve your creativity
- Mythological Creatures
- Paint a Slavic spirit
- Create a Filipino witch
- Master the Greek Charybdis
- Craft a Chinese monster

Matte Painting Techniques
- Create a simple set extension
- Integrate a 3D element
- Alter the atmosphere

- Create a tsunami scene
- Create a post-earthquake city
- Craft a swampy settlement
- Paint a fantasy forest

It's another great book for honing your digital painting skills, just like all the earlier volumes.

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

Sketching Guantanamo: Court Sketches of the Military Tribunals, 2006-201
Sketching Guantanamo: Court Sketches of the Military Tribunals, 2006-201
by Janet Hamlin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 38.50
31 used & new from CDN$ 4.93

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent sketchbook account of Guantanamo, Nov. 16 2015
Length:: 1:44 Mins

For a period over a few years, sketch artist Janet Hamlin traveled to Guantanamo Bay to sketch in an American court tasked to give trial to suspected terrorists of September 11.

Sketching Guantanamo is a raw account of what happened as captured in sketches at the Defense Department's Military Commissions, the tribunal chambers at Guantanamo Bay.

It's an incredibly detailed account and documentation of what happened in the court. The overall impression I get was the mood is very oppressive and serious. There was lots of censorship. Officers often have to get Janet to erase or smudge details so that people could not be identified. She can't draw the jury even using outlines or silhouettes. It's really difficult to work in such an environment where people are always looking over your shoulders and have the power to censor your work.

As for the people under trial, there's the 15-year-old young Canadian who turned grew into manhood while being held for years. There's Khalid Sheik Mohammed who said he orchestrated the 9/11 attacks, and who was waterboarded 183 times in CIA's dark sites.

Janet also tells us what her stay at Guantanamo Bay was like. She had to share a big make shift tent with other journalists. After her sketches are cleared for publication, she has to go to this huge hanger that acts as an office space for media outlets to send her work digitally back to her office. Knowing how much effort and the situation she has to work under really gives me a strong sense of appreciation to what she did. She also goes into detail talking about how she creates those drawing, using what materials and the time she has to work with.

Overall, it's an excellent sketchbook account of one of the most infamous and heavily censored trials in U.S. history.

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

Zen Pencils-Volume Two: Dream the Impossible Dream
Zen Pencils-Volume Two: Dream the Impossible Dream
by Gavin Aung Than
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.15
47 used & new from CDN$ 7.86

5.0 out of 5 stars Another wonderful volume of inspiration, Nov. 16 2015
Length:: 1:38 Mins

The popular Zen Pencils is back with a second volume. Gavin Aung Than is doing great work with his online comics and it's pleasure to support someone has hardworking as him.

This second volume features 20 stories. 19 are originally from his website, some reformatted for the book, and there's one new story called The Monster Named Fear that runs for 16 pages.

If you don't already know about Zen Pencils. Well, it's a web comic that's inspired by the lives of famous and inspiring people. Gavin picks selected quotes or stories from these inspiring people and turn them into a comic story. The stories are inspiring, and sometimes touch on the concept of life and how we live our own lives.

Of course you can read most of the comics for free on his website, but getting the book is a good way to support the artist and his work.

Highly recommended!

But I Really Wanted to Be an Anthropologist
But I Really Wanted to Be an Anthropologist
by Margaux Motin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 27.95
19 used & new from CDN$ 11.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and feels authentic, Nov. 16 2015
I saw this book at the bookstore and was immediately attracted by the lively illustration style. There's this sequence of panels that shows Margaux Motin dancing, swaying to the beat. It's a nice moment. It felt sincere.

Margaux Motin is the author and artist for this book. She's a freelance illustrator and blogger living in Paris. She's also a young mother, someone who loves fashion and in a relationship with a cool guy.

This book collects short stories, snap shots of Margaux's life. Each story is usually fit into one page, sometimes over a few pages. They are humorous because they feel very real and I can definitely imagine one of my friends living such a life.

Sometimes there can be nothing much going on, or she can be whining about things that you normally won't whine about, or basically things guys won't whine about, such as you can't find an offline friend to whine about things because you're not working in a co-working environment. Or it can be her trying to piss off her guy who likes to watch soccer.

The stories can are irreverent, inconsequential or even appear shallow. However, overall, I do feel that there's authenticity, because there are definitely people are like that. I've a friend who behaves quite similarly, and she's a good friend. So I can imagine that all the things in this book actually happened. And they are humorous because they are true to a certain extent.

I enjoy the authenticity and the book very much. But I suspect that there will be some who will be put off by the behaviour.

Out on the Wire: The Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio
Out on the Wire: The Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio
by Jessica Abel
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.37
32 used & new from CDN$ 14.32

5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful look at how radio shows are made, Nov. 16 2015
I saw this book got mentioned on some website and the first thing that caught my eye was that Jessica Abel is the comic artist author.

This is a comic book on storytelling techniques of radio shows. Or what makes successful radio shows successful. Some of the shows mentioned in the book are This American Life, The Moth, Radiolab, Planet Money, Snap Judgment, Serial, Invisibilia and other lesser known ones.

I bought this book because I'm a fan of the Planet Money show put out by NPR. I wanted to find out how they actually create such interesting and engaging shows.

If you like radio or storytelling, then this is the book to get. If you know nothing about radio, maybe you might want to get this book to learn more and hopefully learn something from the insight provided by veteran hosts and producers, such as Ira Glass from This American Life. Ira Glass appears as a comic character in this book together with Jessica Abel to walk you through the inner workings of making the shows.

Jessica Abe interviews all the journalists working at those radio shows and comes up with this book that talks about storytelling, the structure and how to go about getting people to talk, and to package or angle the story in a way that people will find engaging to listen to. Each producer or journalist will have a different take on what makes for an interesting story, and it's enlightening to see how they apply those techniques into actual stories that have been broadcasted.

Putting out a radio show is extremely hard work and you'll learn all about that in this book, and in the process develop a new sense of appreciation for the people working behind.

I like books that goes behind the scenes to find out how something or someone works.

Most highly recommended.

Do not get the Kindle version because the text is too small to read.

Creative Sketching Workshop: 21 Sketch Crawl Ideas and Exercises
Creative Sketching Workshop: 21 Sketch Crawl Ideas and Exercises
by Pete Scully
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 24.90
28 used & new from CDN$ 15.80

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Packed with lots of fun sketching ideas, Nov. 5 2015
Length:: 1:40 Mins

Pete Scully is an artist from London but now lives in California. He is an avid sketcher that I know of through his sketch blog.

Creative Sketching Workshop features a collection of ideas, grouped into workshops, to help you brainstorm on what or where to draw. There are tips on drawing indoors, such as at cafes, bars, workplaces, or outdoors at parks, towns or even on the road on a car.

The subjects could be buildings, people, or even animals. There are also ideas on themes you can explore. For example Pete Scully has a series where he would draw all the fire hydrants he sees. There are other guest contributors as well, such as Kumi Matsukawa who documented the building process of the Tokyo Skytree, or Samantha Zaza who likes to sketch portraits of people she meets overseas. People make for interesting subjects and there are several workshops that cover sketching people, either as a portrait or handling them as a crowd or to provide context to a place or event.

The workshops have simple instructions to follow, and there are lesson points, tips and and a bit of techniques provided. But overall, you'll get the best out of the book if you already have some basic sketching skills.

There are a total of 12 contributors and they are

James Hobbs
Virginia Hein
Nina Johansson
Ilga Leimanis
Kumi Matsukawa
Shiho Nakaza
Melaine Reim
Rita Sabler
Liz Steel
Paul Wang
Samantha Zaza
Pete Scully

In addition to these contributors, there are also many other guest artists whose beautiful artworks are included. This 176-page paperback is packed with inspiration and insights. And you can check out the website of the contributors for even more artworks.

I recommend this book to those who love sketchbooks, sketching, or who have a creative block on what to sketch next.

(There are two additional publishers for this book, namely Apple Press and North Light Books. Apple Press is selling in UK and Europe if I'm not wrong. And North Light Books is for the USA market. Depending on where and who you buy the book from, the price is going to vary. Other differences would be slight changes to the title and the cover art.)

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

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