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Parka (Singapore)
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Chappie: The Art of the Movie
Chappie: The Art of the Movie
by Peter Aperlo
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 25.55
35 used & new from CDN$ 22.51

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice artbook companion for Chappie, March 26 2015
Length:: 2:08 Mins

This is my third artbook from a Neill Blomkamp movie. I love Neill Blomkamp's movies for the blend of sci-fi and grittiness.

Chappie: The Art of the Movie is a large oversized hardcover artbook written by Peter E. Aperlo, and published by Titan Books. Some places list the book as only 144 pages but there are actually 160 pages.

The content is the filled with behind-the-scenes photographs, film stills, concept art and comes with a generous amount of production stories. The writeup is insightful and covers how the film is made and analysis for the characters and their motivation.

The concept artworks included are great. You'll get to see the many designs of Chappie and Moose. Some of the orange colour that they use in the art reminds me of District 9's mecha designs. I love the detail work, things like bullet holes, graffiti and battle damage surfaces. There are also 3D renders of the robots. The best artworks are the robot art, the rest such as for weapons, vehicles are just alright.

Many of the so called scene paintings look like photographs with some sort of digital painterly filter effect applied over them. I don't like that look and that's the only thing I don't like about this book.

I felt that Chappie: The Art of the Movie is not as good as the earlier two for District 9 and Elysium. That's because the earlier two books are packed with mostly art while this Chappie book is a mixed of photographs and art.

But overall, it's still a pretty good artbook companion for the film.

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

ZBrush Characters and Creatures
ZBrush Characters and Creatures
by Kurt Papstein
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 42.32
34 used & new from CDN$ 39.48

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic value for money, March 24 2015
Length:: 2:17 Mins

I've featured this book before on the blog but only showed a few preview pages.

Finally having this book in hand, I can see that it's even more detailed than I expected.

This is a large 280-page paperback, not like what some websites have listed as 240 pages. The artists featured are all industry experts and you can tell by the quality of work in the book. The sculpts look amazing in terms of detail and design.

The six main sections in the book are Speed sculpting, Quadrupeds, Creatures, Aliens, Creating fantasy figures and Sculpting a sci-fi character. In each section, there are five to six chapters of tutorials by the guest artists. You'll learn to sculpt a huge variety of subjects.

Each tutorial is a step-by-step look at the workflow of the artist from blocking out the general shape all the way to the final stage of adding little details like textures and finally rendering. There are extensive captions for the many screenshots included, explanation for the rational behind each move, tips and techniques for sculpting, such as how you can create subtools. The tutorials are suitable for beginners to experts because the instructions are clear and easy to follow along.

For the price of one book, you get several industry-level Zbrush experts with 30 tutorials in all, it's really worth the money.

The full list of artists featured are

Ali Zafati
Borislav Kechashki
Bruno Jimenez
Bryan Wynia
Caio Cesar
Daniel Bystedt
Glauco Longhi
Justin 'Goby' Fields
Kurt Papstein
Maarten Verhoeven
Mariano Steiner
Mathieu Aerni
Pavel Terekhov
Piotr Rusnarczyk
Tanoo Choorat
Tudor Fat
Zsolt Vida

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

Joe Dowden's Complete Guide to Painting Water in Watercolour
Joe Dowden's Complete Guide to Painting Water in Watercolour
by Joe Francis Dowden
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 30.26
27 used & new from CDN$ 25.16

5.0 out of 5 stars Detailed and insightful, March 23 2015
Length:: 1:47 Mins

Joe Dowden's Complete Guide to Painting Water in Watercolour is a whole book dedicated to painting water.

If you want to learn how to paint the different water effects, this is the book to get. There's quite a good variety of tutorials included because you'll learn things like painting ponds, lakes, rivers, wet surfaces, waterfalls, beaches and the ocean.

Before each tutorial, all the materials, name of the pigments, are listed. The explanation for each step is also quite detailed. And the example paintings all look really beautiful.

There are also some tips on picking your materials, taking photos for reference, understanding composition, colour theory and other little bits on art fundamentals when it comes to painting watercolours.

One thing to note is Dowden uses masking fluid, so you'll need that as well to paint in a less frustrating manner.

Overall, it's an excellent book when it comes to painting water with watercolours. Highly recommended.

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

Exploring Calvin and Hobbes: An Exhibition Catalogue
Exploring Calvin and Hobbes: An Exhibition Catalogue
by Bill Watterson
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.93
45 used & new from CDN$ 14.84

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read. Insightful., March 17 2015
Length:: 1:17 Mins

I don't usually order exhibition catalogues because some can be quite boring. But anything with Calvin and Hobbes is something you should examine more closely.

Exploring Calvin and Hobbes is the catalogue for the exhibition that ran at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum from 22 March to 3 August 2014. The exhibition was curated by Jenny E. Robb. That's the only second exhibition devoted to Calvin and Hobbes since the comic strip ended in 1995.

I remember the good old days of reading the comic strips on newspaper. Some newspapers nowadays still reprint them which I think is great because the magic is still there.

The highlight of the book is the 35-page lengthy interview with Bill Watterson. Watterson if you don't already know doesn't like giving interviews or deal with media so it's quite amazing to have him open up.

The Q&A style interview covers his career before Calvin and Hobbes, his influences, his process, thoughts about the comic strips, the characters, stories, newspaper syndication, why he doesn't like to talk with media and his views on licensing. For those who want to learn more about this amazing cartoonist, this book is highly recommended.

In addition to the interviews, the book also separates the comics into different themes to look at, such as storytelling devices, the format of Sunday cartoons, characters, the parents of Calvin, the environment and home setting. That follows the presentation of the exhibition. There are selected comic strips and accompanying descriptions. It certainly gives me a new way to look at the cartoons. You'll want to get The Complete Calvin and Hobbes to enjoy every comic strip that was published.

Overall, this is a nice exhibition catalogue. It's 160-pages, large format and not too expensive. So it's a good deal for the money.

This book is also available in Kindle format. I would probably recommend the Kindle format if you're interested mostly in the interview.

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

The Art of 5TH Cell
The Art of 5TH Cell
by Edison Yan
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 31.31
26 used & new from CDN$ 31.31

4.0 out of 5 stars For 5th Cell fans, March 17 2015
This review is from: The Art of 5TH Cell (Paperback)
Length:: 1:36 Mins

This is the artbook for the video game developer 5th Cell that was founded in 2003. The company is probably known more for their Scribblenauts series that came out in 2009.

While the company has been around for a long time and has developed many game titles, not all of them have featured artworks in this book.

The game titles with art featured, in the order as they appear in the book, are

Scribblenauts (2009)
Scribblenauts Unlimited (2012)
Scribblenauts Remix (2011)
Lock's Quest (2008)
Drawn to Life (2007)
Hybrid (2007)
Run Roo Run (2012)

The highlight for me would be the cartoon comic-like Scribblenauts art. I like the stylized designs of the characters and environment, drawn in a simple manner but well designed and looks great. The cute designs boil down to really simple forms, and character designs with little dots on their joints for animation. They are lovely looking. There are also several full coloured splash art pages with their line art versions.

The book then moves on, or jumps back in time, to the more serious looking Lock's Quest with the character designs, background art and several pages of promotional comic.

Then it's Drawn to Life with the even cuter character designs, props, storyboards, the game areas and beautiful maps.

That is followed by the dead serious looking sci-fi shooter game Hybrid. After the bright and cheery colours from the earlier games, this section definitely feels a bit cold with the darker colours, paladin, weapons and sci-fi environment art. While the armoured suits look awesome, I feel that the simpler cartoon artworks of Scribblenauts are much more memorable.

Next is the iOS game Run Roo Run. It's cool that 5th Cell is the company that do create both cute as well as serious looking games.

The last few pages are sketches from artist Edison Yan, followed by the list of all 5th Cell original games from 2004 onwards, again strangely not arranged chronological order.

Overall, it's a wonderful retrospective video game artbook for the fans. However, it's a bit confusing with the cute-serious-cute-serious-cute arrangement of the titles.

China Days: A Visual Journal from China's Wild West
China Days: A Visual Journal from China's Wild West
by Henrik Drescher
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 33.95
26 used & new from CDN$ 9.32

4.0 out of 5 stars Usual style visual journal, March 17 2015
Length:: 1:30 Mins

China Days is the visual journal of an artist Henrik Drescher who has spend more than ten years living in Dali, Yunnan. That's China's southwestern province that borders the countries Burma, Laos and Vietnam.

I find it interesting that the author is living in China although there wasn't any reasons given.

This book is made up of selected sketchbook pages from Drescher's years of journaling. It's a mixture of drawings, photographs and collages. The written text are observations of what he sees and how life is like in one of the less busy provinces of China. There's actually not much to read as each observation is quite short.

The style of the artworks are quite difficult to describe. It's more like scrapbook kind of art rather than observational drawings. There are illustrative symbols, cutout photos on drawings, or drawings on photos, line drawings with multiple coloured pens, pigments.

The book's a mashup of many different visual and text elements. I guess that's the personal expression of Drescher.

I would recommend checking out the pages before getting the book.

The 176 hardcover book is also available in Kindle format at a cheaper price.

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

Art of Army of Darkness HC
Art of Army of Darkness HC
by Various
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 31.31
33 used & new from CDN$ 31.31

5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific compilation, March 17 2015
Length:: 1:59 Mins

The Art of Army of Darkness is a book that's sure to delight fans of the film and comics.

Dynamite Entertainment has released several artbooks over the years and this is yet another gem.

The book's a large format hardcover with a beautiful cover of Ash with his cheeky grin and chainsaw. That cover is also the theatrical release poster for the film.

By the way, some places have listed the book with the wrong number of pages. There are 256 pages. It's quite a thick book.

Collected within are the wonderful cover artwork and full page illustrations drawn by numerous comic artists, namely J. Scott Campbell, Arthur Suydam, Nick Bradshaw, John Bolton, Ben Templesmith, Tim Seeley, George Perez and many more.

It's really cool to see these artists bring their own drawing style to reinterpret the comics. The artworks are amazing and the huge reproduction, stretching to the edge of the pages, really shows off the details.

Not all volumes from the series are included. But for series that are featured, there are several pages of art for each volume. The covers are from

- Movie Adaptation
- Ashes 2 Ashes
- Shop Till You Drop Dead
- Army of Darkness vs Re-animator
- Old School
- Ash vs The Monsters
- Death of Ash
- From the Ashes
- The Long Road Home
- Home Sweet Hell
- Hellbillies and Deadnecks
- League of Light Assemble!
- Xena vs Army of Darkness: Why Not?
- Xena vs Army of Darkness: What... Again?!
- Ash Saves Obama
- Hail to the Queen, Baby!
- The King is Dead, Long Live the Queen
- Danger Girl and the Army of Darkness
- Army of Darkness vs Hack/Slash
- Ash and the Army of Darkness

This is a terrific compilation. Highly recommended to the fans.

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

Structura 3: The Art of Sparth
Structura 3: The Art of Sparth
by Sparth
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 34.50
28 used & new from CDN$ 33.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful art in larger format now, March 17 2015
Length:: 1:50 Mins

So this artbook got postponed a few times but it's finally out.

This is Sparth's third artbook. It's still has 160 pages but the size has increased to slightly larger than A4 size. His first and second books are smaller.

Majority of the artworks are in portrait mode and the new presentation allows them to be printed huge. Size does make an impact when viewing the art and it's awesome to see those beautiful paintings so big. Several horizontal pieces are printed across two pages so that's even bigger. Reproduction quality from publisher Design Studio Press is high as usual.

It's always a delight to see new works from Sparth. I love the style of his sci-fi art, the play on shapes, textures, composition, lighting, details and colours. The designs look great. Featured in the book are work created for book covers, video games (Halo 4) and his personal pieces, some of which are created in 30 minutes but definitely do not look so.

Other than the art, there are 24 pages of tutorial that looks at the design and thought process of Sparth. He talks about the brushes and his digital techniques that he uses.

This book is available in paperback and hardcover.

Highly recommended to those who like sci-fi and environment art.

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

A Bowl of Olives: On Food and Memory
A Bowl of Olives: On Food and Memory
by Sara Midda
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 16.43
41 used & new from CDN$ 5.93

3.0 out of 5 stars Nice art, interesting text but all printed too small, March 1 2015
Length:: 1:19 Mins

A Bowl of Olives is a delightful book on food and cooking, and all things related.

The book features mainly watercolour illustrations by Sara Midda with occasional photographs. The artworks are lovely. They can be the different leaves used in salads, picnic baskets, utensils and crockery, colour swatches created from basket of fruits, food wrappers, flowers in vases used to decorate dinner tables and more.

The informative text talks about how food is prepared, different ingredients, food culture and markets in different countries, other interesting stories and personal experiences from Midda herself.

It's a beautiful artist sketchbook.

Unfortunately the major downside is the book is too small, about palm size only, slighly less than A5 size. That's exactly the same complaint I have with her earlier book Sara Midda's South of France: A Sketchbook. It's tiring to read because the fonts are too small, and the beautiful detailed watercolour artworks are wasted when most are also printed quite small.

So overall, while the book has good art and interesting text, it is frustrating to read because everything is so small.

3 out of 5 stars. 2 deducted for the small size of the book.

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

Art Before Breakfast: A Zillion Ways to be More Creative No Matter How Busy You Are
Art Before Breakfast: A Zillion Ways to be More Creative No Matter How Busy You Are
by Danny Gregory
Edition: Flexibound
Price: CDN$ 17.70
35 used & new from CDN$ 10.80

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gets your pens and pencils moving, Feb. 23 2015
Length:: 1:34 Mins

I like Danny Gregory's books on sketching. They are always lively and inspiring. I've every single one of them since his first book on drawing, The Creative License. In some ways, Art Before Breakfast feels like a sequel to that.

Art Before Breakfast is a book on drawing with lots of ideas on what you can draw, a few techniques you can try out and suggestions on where you can find time to sneak in a drawing or two on your sketchbook. The tone is enthusiastic and motivating. The example drawings are accessible and fun. Nothing too daunting and the challenge is to move your pen.

This is also a book on the virtues of drawing and Danny Gregory has included many of his personal thoughts on drawing that are bound to inspire.

This book works great as one you can pick up from time to time, flip to a random page to read and recharge your creative cells, and to find something to draw. I like the tips on random techniques, such as mixing media, and there are different ways on how you can approach your drawings, using reference, creating themes, silencing your inner critic and more.

Those who already know the basics of drawing, observational drawing, will get most out of the book. There are some introductory drawing lessons though, such as contour drawing, spotting negative space and using measurements. I feel that if you're a beginner who knows nothing about drawing, those introductory lessons may or may not be enough for you because they are rather brief. So if you're looking for a book to learn how to draw, this is not the appropriate book. This is a what-to-draw book.

Just like other books by Danny Gregory, I enjoy this book and would like to recommend it to anyone looking for inspiration and motivation to draw.

By the way, there's no such thing as having enough books on inspiration. Check out the following books too:

Playing with Sketches
Freehand: Sketching Tips and Tricks Drawn from Art
Just Draw It!
Keys to Drawing with Imagination
Sketch!: The Non-Artist's Guide to Inspiration, Technique, and Drawing Daily Life

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

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