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Parka (Singapore)

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Sketching from the Imagination: Fantasy
Sketching from the Imagination: Fantasy
by 3dtotal Publishing
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 30.37
34 used & new from CDN$ 27.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Another inspiring volume, July 4 2015
Length:: 2:12 Mins

Sketching from the Imagination: Fantasy is a delightful sequel to the earlier book which is also from 3dtotal Publishing, namely Sketching from the Imagination: An Insight into Creative Drawing.

For those who love sketchbooks, you'll be treated to another 320-page volume of beautiful sketches from top artists around the world. I really enjoyed the earlier book and I'm thrilled to have another thick compilation of sketches.

The layout is nice. There's a very sketchbook feel with textured line borders, handwritten headings, the many sketches wonderfully reproduced, many printed to the edge.

The artists featured appear alphabetically. They talk about their love for sketching, inspiration and ideas, the materials they use, and their sketching techniques. Every sketch also comes with a short caption. This is an insightful and inspiring book, one that you will want to leave close to you on the table or shelf.

This volume focuses on fantasy. There are many character designs, mostly human based, but occasionally there are those walkers like orcs, skeletons or anthropomorphic characters. There are only a few fantasy environment sketches.

The art is fantastic. Sketching tools are usually pen and pencils, and you'll get to see how these artists use theirs to draw such beautiful drawings. Some are so refined, especially the pencil drawings, that I would consider them as finished art rather than just a sketch. Overall, it's really great to see the imaginative and creative product of these artists.

I really wish 3dtotal Publishing would come up with more of these sketchbook volumes, perhaps for creature design, environment, sci-fi, comics. It would be a blast if that happens!

Definitely highly recommended. Fantastic value for money.

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

JOYRIDE/FLATOUT: Hot Rods and Dream Machines
JOYRIDE/FLATOUT: Hot Rods and Dream Machines
by Dan Quarnstrom
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 42.00
27 used & new from CDN$ 35.96

5.0 out of 5 stars Hot designs from Dan Quarnstrom, July 4 2015
Length:: 1:54 Mins

Dan Quarnstrom has a passion for drawing and designing cars that developed from his first visit to a hot rod show in 1963. This book is a culmination of more than 50 years of passion. Other than cars, Dan Quarnstrom has created editorial illustrations for Rolling Stone before moving on to advertising illustration and visual development for films and video games.

The book's 144-page hardcover with a nice maroon red cover. It's almost A4 size.

This book features the customised car designs and sketches. Most look to me like traditionally drawn with pencil and ink, and the colours from coloured pencils probably and some with digital flat colours.

The cars in this book looks like automobiles from the 60s except they are caricatured and further customised. There are cars with menacing huge engines that stick out from the front, boxy yet classy bodies, small front with huge back, big wheels, fire coming out of exhaust and many other interesting stuff. I like the one that jumps up like a horse standing on two legs. I can only imagine stepping on the accelerators of one of these cars. Nice.

What you won't see are no sci-fi cars like those from Alien Race or The Timeless Racer or the more cartoony ones from Pixar's Cars. Quarnstrom has his own personal style when it comes to drawing cars.

In addition to the artworks there is also a selection of photos collected from visits to car shows that showcases customised cars. I thought such cars only exists on paper but apparently there are actually people out there who builds them, such as Ed "Big Daddy" Roth who's mentioned as inspiration, and Dean Jeffries. Other legends includes Von Dutch the originator of modern pinstriping.

Throughout the book, there's commentary on the hot rod culture as Dan Quarnstrom has experienced over the years, and probably still experiencing. Even from the writeup, you can feel the sense of enthusiasm. In the last few pages, Quarnstrom picked three designs and talked about his process to drawing them.

It's a wonderful book for those into automobile art.

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

Big Bad World of Concept Art for Video Games: An Insider's Guide for Students
Big Bad World of Concept Art for Video Games: An Insider's Guide for Students
by Eliott J. Lilly
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 32.61
22 used & new from CDN$ 29.37

5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful insider's guide for concept artists, July 4 2015
Length:: 1:26 Mins

For many years, concept artist Eliott Johnson Lilly has been receiving questions regarding the concept art industry and how aspiring artists can get a job. Lilly is a concept artist with ten years of experience and this book is the response to those questions.

The coverage is quite comprehensive. Even though I'm not an aspiring concept artist, I still found the information to be very illuminating. This book is based on Lilly's experience rather than all on facts.

The content covers things like what it takes to be a concept artist and what they actually do. Lilly provides an insider guide and shows you around the industry and how work actually gets done, and how the whole place functions. Its like following him like around the studio as he explains the job. He also talks about the daily life of a concept artist and gives an example of one of his good days and bad days.

You'll also get tips on education, how to choose a school and what to study. There are self help tips on how to develop yourself artistically and technically, and how to create and present your portfolio.

What I like about the book are the many examples and insider "secrets", like how you can get fired for leaking images, or posting work without permission, which is why it's so difficult to find game related art even on concept artists' websites. There are other miscellaneous things like how eating junk food will make you overweight, how people keep quiet when a video game flops, managing gossips and rumors, whether you're wasting your time and your parents money, talent vs hard work, internship. Everything is written in a no-nonsense and engaging manner and is brutally honest.

Finally there are interviews with other selected well known concept artists such as Nicolas "Sparth" Bouvier, David Levy, Stephan Martiniere, Ben Mauro and Farzad Varahramyan. These guest artists will tell you their version of what it's like to be concept artists, and also provide useful tips and warnings. It's great to read about the different experiences.

This is a highly insightful book. It's a 144-page paperback published by Design Studio Press.

Recommended to all aspiring concept artists and students.

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

A Sky Longing for Memories: The Art of Makoto Shinkai
A Sky Longing for Memories: The Art of Makoto Shinkai
by Makoto Shinkai
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 29.23
35 used & new from CDN$ 26.06

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptionally beautiful, July 3 2015
Length:: 1:55 Mins

This is one of the most beautiful animation background artbooks I've seen. I've actually reviewed the original Japanese edition 新海誠美術作品集 空の記憶 ~ The sky of the longing for memories ~ which was published in 2008. Publisher Vertical Comics has provided a huge fan service by translating the book into English. It's certainly worth translating and more people should get to see this book.

The only difference I noticed is the lack of dust jacket. Even the paper used is the low gloss type. Colours are reproduced wonderfully.

A Sky Longing for Memories: The Art of Makoto Shinkai is the artbook that collects the background art for 5 Centimeters Per Second, The Place Promised in Our Early Days and Voices from a Distant Star.

I've watched those three anime films many years ago and can't really remember what the stories were about. But one thing that I cannot forget is the beautiful background art in those films.

The commentary provides talks about the design aspect of each scene and it's really insightful. Now that all the text has been translated to English, I can now understand the amount of work that goes behind each painting.

Attention to details is amazing. You'll find out that all the background art are well researched and tediously put together. Some scenes are the results of several photo references used together, while some others are painted over photos while taking into account the colour scheme. There's research done on design of trains, vending machines, LED lights on signboards, routes of the trains so that they can be accurately portrayed in drawing. To draw Akari's homemade lunch, the staff actually cooked and packed the meal, then photographed it for use as reference. All those tiny words on fare charts, open pages of books are actually all hand drawn in. Environment scenes painted with photo reference take into account the seasons and colour of the air.

There's something about Japanese anime art that makes them look so fine. The level of detail in the background really makes a huge difference to the visual aesthetics. Every piece of art in this book is perfectly composed, and colour scheme carefully chosen. It's just awe-inspiring to see how many pieces of art there are to come out from the films. It's not all from Makoto Shinkai as there are other artists involved as well, many are interviewed at the back of the book. There's also a section that talks about how the scenes are created for animation.

I highly recommend this book for its stunning art.

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

Sharpie Art Workshop: Techniques and Ideas for Transforming Your World
Sharpie Art Workshop: Techniques and Ideas for Transforming Your World
by Timothy Goodman
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 22.23
40 used & new from CDN$ 15.84

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun book on Sharpie marker art, June 25 2015
Length:: 1:01 Mins

This seems like a book that markets Sharpie markers but it goes a bit deeper than that.

Timothy Goodman is an illustrator, design and AD from New York and he loves using those Sharpie markers.

This book is about what you can draw on with Sharpies and features the artworks of other artists who use these markers. The book's written in a conversational tone with big fonts that are accompanied by fun art.

After a few pages showing you what are the types of Sharpie markers available in the market, it goes into the history, and then the different types of creative work created with them. There are artists who use the markers to draw, doodle, write, decorate gifts, create murals, draw on skateboards, on plates and other objects that can be drawn on.

There are themes that you can explore, such as creating patterns, or drawing on objects that are discarded or neglected around the house. Then it features artists who have created works with that particular theme.

The main thing to note is this is more of an inspirational type of book rather than instructional. The instructions come in the form of one page with brief few paragraphs describing the themes or styles you can use with the Sharpies, followed by examples.

Overall, it's an interesting book that doodlers, sketchers or marker users might like.

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

The Art of World of Warcraft
The Art of World of Warcraft
by Blizzard Entertainment
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 46.45
12 used & new from CDN$ 46.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful huge artbook, June 25 2015
Length:: 2:29 Mins

Here's another wonderful artbook put out by Blizzard Entertainment and publisher Insight Editions.

The Art of World of Warcraft is a huge 224-page hardcover. The cover has a smooth almost velvet treatment with glossy prints of the title and cover art. The binding is great.

The first thing I want to point out is there is actually another book with the same title that was published in 2005 by BradyGames. I'll not be comparing this book against the previous one because I don't have that book.

This new artbook is a collection of illustrations and concept art for the game.

The games included are World of Warcraft (2004), The Burning Crusade (2007), Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm (2010), Mist of Pandaria (2012) and Warlords of Draenor (2014).

So we have six games featured in this 224-page hardcover. I do feel that they could have included more pages, especially so when The Art of Blizzard Entertainment has 376 pages. And there have been game specific artbooks such as The Cinematic Art of World of Warcraft: The Wrath of the Lich King (154 pages) and the one that came in the collector's edition for Mists of Pandaria (208 pages).

And because there has been other artbooks that feature WOW art before, some of those artworks are duplicated in this book. It's not a big issue because there are a lot of new artworks included too.

What I like about the book is it's huge. The artworks look wonderful printed in high resolution on the huge pages. Some of the artworks spread across two pages. Others take a whole page by themselves. It's satisfying to look at the huge reproduction of detailed coloured illustrations. The colours came out really well.

The artworks themselves are beautiful to begin with. The WOW style of art is very recognisable. Most artworks are fully coloured with the occasional sketches. There's a good mixture of character and environment art. The captions are printed in classy gold fonts against black. The commentary are from Bill Petras, Samwise Didier and Chris Robinson and they are interesting to read. However, not all artworks have captions and the last 20 over pages are devoid of any captions.

This is a fantastic video game art companion.

Highly recommended to all fans of WOW.

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

Cp Treasures, Volume III: Colored Pencil Masterworks from Around the Globe
Cp Treasures, Volume III: Colored Pencil Masterworks from Around the Globe
by Ann Kullberg
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 33.16
11 used & new from CDN$ 27.86

4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring colored pencil art, June 21 2015
Length:: 1:06 Mins

CP Treasures is an annual artbook the collects the best of coloured pencil works from artists around the work. This is the third volume, the first one from the series that I have. Volume 1 was published in 2012 and Volume 2 in 2013.

Ann Kullberg, a coloured pencil artist and the editor of this book, had mailed me this book for a review. Currently, I'm into learning (slowly) coloured pencils and this is an inspiring book to check out.

There are over 90 beautiful detailed coloured pencil works featured in this 98-page paperback. The book is printed by CreateSpace, one of those on-demand printers. The paper stock is slightly thinner and the colours at least came out quite alright. The sharpness is good enough but could be better if printed on better paper or having a better printer. Minor quibble though.

The artworks look wonderful. It's pretty incredible what some of the artists can create with the medium. There are almost photo-realistic depictions when seen from afar but when looked closely it's obvious they are created from traditional medium that's evidenced by the pigment of the coloured pencils and grain of the paper.

Every piece of work is listed with the brand of coloured pencils used, and the paper. There's also a description about the piece, and a brief section tips and techniques used by the artist.

The artworks are inspiring and shows the full potential of the medium. It's a great book for aspiring coloured pencil artists and those who love the medium.

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

Subconscious Meanderings: Surreal, Visionary, and Semi-Strange Drawings and Mixed Media Paintings
Subconscious Meanderings: Surreal, Visionary, and Semi-Strange Drawings and Mixed Media Paintings
by Joe a. Macgown
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 24.81
10 used & new from CDN$ 18.46

5.0 out of 5 stars Surreal, intricate ink art, June 20 2015
Length:: 0:49 Mins

Joe MacGown is an artist from Mississippi. His style of art is, as he described himself, of neogothic surrealism or subconscious meandering. "Subconscious meandering" is his way of allowing ideas to flow from his mind to the canvas.

This 96-page paperback is a self published artbook that features the pen, ink and mixed media illustrations he has created over more than 20 years.

The illustrations are intricate, with every piece filled to the brim with little details and imagined alien-like organisms. MacGown has worked as scientific illustrator before with the opportunity to study nature up close under a microscope, and you can tell that many of the artworks are inspired by microscopic detail he sees through the lens.

Many of the ink drawings are drawn on quite huge canvases, but they had to be scaled down for printing to fit inside this almost A4-size book.

The subject matter is quite random but they are seem to be inspired by nature, such as a six-legged turtle with carvings of many other animals on its shell, several mandala-like designs that looks like they are constructed with bones or thorns, many surreal environments with detailed renderings. Half the book features ink drawings while the other half has the coloured mixed media works.

You can check out more of his art on his website or support the artist by getting this book.

And if you like this type of intricate ink drawings, check out The Art of Ian Miller too.

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

The Essential Evangelion Chronicle: Side A
The Essential Evangelion Chronicle: Side A
by We've Inc
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 40.13
35 used & new from CDN$ 28.68

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful detailed companion to the animated TV series, June 19 2015
Even though the original Evangelion series is more than 2 decades old this year, the anime's popularity just does not die down. I guess a bit has to do with the reboot series Rebuild of Evangelion. I enjoy them all, the TV series, films, everything. I'm a fan, and this book is made for fans of the original TV series.

This book covers the first 13 episodes of the TV anime series.

The Essential Evangelion Chronicle: Side A is a large 128-page paperback published by Udon Entertainment. This is an in-depth companion that features character profiles, episode breakdowns and beautiful art.

The character profiles includes the analysis of each character's personalities, motivation and history. For those who followed, the series, it's a good refresher and also elaborates of the relationships between the characters. This includes the 3 Eva pilots Shinji, Rei and Asuka, the staff in the control room, Shinji's classmate, and even Misato's pet Pen Pen, etc.

The episode breakdown has the summary, explanation of what happened, sequential screen stills and even information such as the tanks, trucks and weapons that appear in the anime. There's caption for everything, from the pods that go into the EVAs to what kind of breathable liquid that's inside.

This book is no different from an encyclopedia essentially. It's informative and insightful.

One thing that surprised me is how well the art from the anime is reproduced. The anime is more than 20 years ago and it seems that this book has used the higher resolution screen stills. Everything appears sharp and nice.

This is a wonderful companion. Highly recommended to Evangelion fans.

Beginner's Guide to Character Creation in Maya
Beginner's Guide to Character Creation in Maya
by Jahirul Amin
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 43.23
32 used & new from CDN$ 41.40

5.0 out of 5 stars Indepth guide to 3D character modelling in Maya, June 17 2015
Length:: 2:23 Mins

Beginner's Guide to Character Creation in Maya is one of the more detailed and in depth book that covers 3D character modelling with Maya.

The first thing you need to know is the book not only covers Maya, but also uses Mudbox for some of the modelling. The software used are Maya 2015 (Service Pack 2), Mudbox 2015, Photoshop CS6 and Nuke. You can probably still use software that are one or two versions older but the book does mention new features that are only available in the new software.

Second thing to note is there are more than 30 hours of video files that accompany the lessons. The video files are huge, like 59GB. Unlike other books, 3Dtotal has opted to use Bittorrent for distributing the files this time and the download speed is rather slow. If there are no seeders, then technically speaking you can't even download the file. I would have imagined that there would be at least one seeder, like you know, from 3Dtotal themselves. They should have just split up the files to go with the chapters or even page numbers. Then readers would not have to download such big files at one go, or go through the wait for seeders to appear.

Alright, about the book...

The chapters are namely

1. Pipeline and interface
2. Anatomy, modeling and sculpting
3. Texturing and shading in Maya and Mudbox
4. Rigging and deformation in Maya
5. Locomotion and animation in Maya
6. Lighting and rendering in Maya

The book covers not only modelling but also helps you to understand the pipeline workflow. That's so that you can share your assets for others to work on while you continue to touch up your model.

The book is written for beginners and covers only the tools you'll use for modelling. The tools would be those commonly used for polygon modelling. You can come in with absolutely no knowledge on Maya although it would definitely be less intimidating if you have already worked on Maya before. The Maya interface is covered in the first chapter.

This book really goes into the details. There's a rather lengthy coverage on the muscles and bones in the anatomy chapter. Generally speaking, the book not only covers the technical aspects, but also wants you to understand the rationale behind. Like why do you model something this way? How do you mimic the way the human body moves in a believable manner. And before you can start to animate your walk cycle, animation concepts are presented.

For texturing, there's a section that talks about the skin and how you can prepare reference images for use as texture files, e.g. how you should set up your photoshoot to capture accurately coloured photo reference.

The last chapter talks about lighting and rendering.

The author and instructor is Jahirul Amin is a 3D trainer at Double Negative, a visual effects/CGI company in London. That guy is a pro and you can tell by the content written and this thick 296-page book. The instructions are clear and easy to follow. There are numerous screenshots provided to show you what they are talking about.

Overall, this is a rather comprehensive course, and a great book for beginners to 3D character modelling in Maya. There's so much content you'll probably have to spend a week or two to really complete all the lessons. And then there are those 30 hours of video files to sweeten the deal (provided you have no problems downloading them).

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

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