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Parka (Singapore)
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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
23 used & new from CDN$ 2.88

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$ 17.38
34 used & new from CDN$ 14.33

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
24 used & new from CDN$ 24.47

2 of 2 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.)

Harry Potter: The Character Vault
Harry Potter: The Character Vault
by Jody Revenson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 33.06
28 used & new from CDN$ 33.06

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another wonderful Harry Potter film companion, Oct. 31 2015
Length:: 2:27 Mins

I did not get the Collector's Edition of Harry Potter Page to Screen so I'm glad that those bundled books are now sold separately, and I also saved some money in the process.

The book's a 208-page hardcover with a cover that's designed with the same style as the other Harry Potter film companion books, such as Harry Potter: Page to Screen, Harry Potter: The Creature Vault and Harry Potter: Magical Places. There are nice graphic elements and embossed gold text. Very classy.

From what I can see, this seems like the updated book to the character book from the collector's edition. I saw some pages of the book from the collector's edition and the layout looks different but content is the same. Also, there isn't much duplicated content from Harry Potter: Page to Screen.

This book focuses on the characters and their costumes, and each is given good coverage in terms of the space devoted, photographs, artworks and writeup. This book covers the human characters so you won't see any creatures of Dobby. There are also students from other schools, the teaching staff and of course Lord Voldemort and his evil gang of Death Eaters. There are also sections talking about the wands, and how they apply makeup, such as to make Harry disfigured when hit by the Stinging Jinx.

There are lots of information and I enjoyed reading about how they come up with the design and look for the characters.

It's an insightful book that all Harry Potter fans must have. Highly recommended.

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

The Art of Assassin's Creed Syndicate
The Art of Assassin's Creed Syndicate
by Paul Davies
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 42.95
30 used & new from CDN$ 36.12

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yet another wonderful companion artbook, Oct. 31 2015
Length:: 2:42 Mins

This is yet another wonderful companion artbook for the Assassin's Creed Series.

This time you get to look at Victorian London during the Industrial Revolution. Famous places and buildings are re-imagined, such as the Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Tower of London, Westminster, The Thames, Southwark, Whitechapel and more. Gamers who live in London should be thrilled to see those familiar sights as interpreted by artists.

I love the environment art of Assassin's Creed and the art direction is fantastic. It's definitely bleak, but it's also so hauntingly beautiful as well.

In addition to the environment art, there are also lots of character designs of the new assassins, supporting characters and the everyday men and women on the streets. It's pretty cool as usual to see the character and costume designs.

Generally speaking, most of the illustrations are really detailed. The photo-bashing style is done extremely well. Photos are used for their textures to overlay onto the digitally drawn art and it works really well. At times I don't even get the feeling of the photo and digital art collage. I love the way they are painted in nitty-gritty style too.

There are also commentary that talk about the design.

It's a great artbook. Highly recommended.

Do check out other Assassin's Creed artbooks if you haven't.

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

The Art and Making of The Peanuts Movie
The Art and Making of The Peanuts Movie
by Jerry Schmitz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 32.80
31 used & new from CDN$ 18.58

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good, Oct. 31 2015
Length:: 2:32 Mins

When I first heard that Peanuts is going to be made into a film, I was extremely skeptical. How is it possible to even translate a classic and beloved comic strip into a 3D-animated film? Why would they want to do that? All that are answered in this book.

I'm pleasantly surprised at how good the Peanuts characters look in their 3D version. Blue Sky Studios could not have done any better. It's important to get it right to do justice to the fans and for me, I think the characters are wonderfully re-interpreted and they look terrific.

This book covers the art and production process in great detail. The interviews with the director and staff give lots of information on how the characters are redesigned and coloured for the film, the animation process, storytelling, how the characters should react in a full length film and in general the approach to keep the film close to the soul of the original comic strip. Every page has lengthy writeup with beautiful artworks from the film and graphics such as the 3D wireframe and grayscale character models, sketches, comparison between the comic strips characters and their film version.

There aren't a lot of environment art. And whenever they appear, they are cropped rather closely. This look and approach is similar to the comic strips where you always see the characters huge in the comic panels and little of the background. Looking at the coloured scene paintings is almost looking like a new and updated 20th century version of the comic. It feels strangely familiar.

I'm really loving the new look of Peanuts.

Fantastic artbook. It's really worth the money.

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

Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Visual History
Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Visual History
by Daniel Wallace
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 34.65
23 used & new from CDN$ 34.65

5.0 out of 5 stars Going through this book brings back the sense of wonder and good memories of the first time I watched the films, Oct. 29 2015
Length:: 2:59 Mins

Although I can't remember when was the first time I watched Ghostbusters as I was only three when the film came out. I must have caught one of those reruns. But I still remember that I was so fascinated by the film, the visuals and concept. I was also hooked on playing the Ghostbusters games when it came out on the SEGA system. The idea of ghosts running around and there are actually people who would go around catching these ghosts just seems wildly imaginative for me.

Going through this book brings back the sense of wonder and good memories of the first time I watched the films.

This 224-page hardcover is published by Insight Editions. The publisher has designed the book like a scrapbook with several removable items, such as the Ghostbuster name card, a questionnaire for those who watch the preview, booklet of storyboards, schematics of props, a transparent sheet with labels overlayed onto the slime blower tank prop, and other notes.

The removable items are a nice touch but they could have just been printed on the actual pages. They are sticked onto the pages and to read the content beneath you have to remove or push them away. Nice but not really necessary.

The book's divided into three parts, the first two parts cover the two films and the last part looks at the expanded universe.

There's a wealth of content in the form of lots of wonderful set photography, artworks and a detailed writeup into the making of the two films. It's a very satisfying read, especially when it comes to understanding how they actually create the ghosts, props and visual effects to make everything look believable. My favourite bits are for Slimer and Stay Puff marshmallow man who are my favourite characters. LOL. There are also lots of other ghosts featured, and the actors who have to wear the ghost suits.

The famous and iconic Ghostbusters car is also featured, of course. There's the original from the first film and the modified version in the second.

The last part for the expanded universe talks about the video games, toys, comics, animation and other merchandise. I don't follow Ghostbusters except for their films and that particular one game I played, so this section has a lot of things I'm seeing for the first time.

This really is a fantastic book for the fans.

Highly recommended.

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

The Art of Halo 5: Guardians
The Art of Halo 5: Guardians
by Sparth
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 46.95
27 used & new from CDN$ 46.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loaded with wonderful art, Oct. 27 2015
Length:: 2:27 Mins

The Art of Halo 5 is an awesome sci-fi game artbook. It's as good as, if not slightly better than, Awakening: The Art of Halo 4 which is the artbook for the previous game.

Nicolas Bouvier, aka Sparth, is the art director for Halo 5. No wonder the art direction and style looks so familiar. If you've seen Sparth's artbooks, you'll recognise the strong use of black as composition elements to frame scenes, and the subtle but colourful gradations in environment art.

Highlight of the book to me are the amazing environment art, mostly by Sparth, Shae Shatz, John Liberto and Darren Bacon. The designed locations look breathtaking. The vastness, space, sci-fi-ness (if there's such a word) are well captured. To top it up, many of those pieces are printed across the spread which gives it an immersive feeling. I can imagine these as huge paintings that can be framed and mounted onto walls. They look real good.

Rest of the book comprise of designs for the characters and weapons. Character designs are more of an evolution because we have already see Master Chief countless time. It's just an update. There are the enemies, which aren't a lot, relatively speaking in terms of coverage in this book.

Another thing to look out for would be the designers' commentary which are insightful and explains the rationale behind each design. As I'm writing this review, the game is not out yet, so I've to warn you that there are lots of spoilers within as the book covers a lot of ground.

It's a fantastic video game artbook. It's hardcover with 208 pages.

Highly recommended to Halo fans and those who love sci-fi art and environments.

Art of Pan
Art of Pan
by Chris Grove
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 37.02
30 used & new from CDN$ 34.96

4.0 out of 5 stars The Art and Making of Pan, Oct. 27 2015
This review is from: Art of Pan (Hardcover)
Length:: 2:03 Mins

While I had planned to watch the movie Pan, I decided against it when most reviews quite unfavourable. If you have not watched the movie, this book doesn't give away much in terms of storyline, except the part where they tell you that Hook's going to be the badass pirate Blackbeard in the future.

The Art of Pan is the film's visual companion with a mixture of art and production stories. It actually has quite a lot to read on the filming process, written in a style you normally associate with film magazines.

The book features a good amount of artworks and behind-the-scenes photography. However, the artworks are a mixed bag for me. The scene paintings are a hit and miss. Some are good but most are photo-based artworks with art thrown on top to take advantage of the textures or background provided by the photo. Photo-bashing can be fantastic if done right, such as those you see in The Art of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. In this book, sometimes the scenes don't feel right because of the inconsistent lighting. There are some nice pieces, sure, especially the pencil character sketches (too few anyway).

Set designs are nice, especially for the tribes and their huts. So are the wonderful costume designs. I like the section on the village as the designs there look much better.

Overall, as I've said, it's a mixed bag but slightly more towards the positive side. It's not a must-buy but it's worth checking out or flipping through if you can do so.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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

The Art of Illustrated Maps: A Complete Guide to Creative Mapmaking's History, Process and Inspiration
The Art of Illustrated Maps: A Complete Guide to Creative Mapmaking's History, Process and Inspiration
by John Roman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 34.79
25 used & new from CDN$ 26.04

5.0 out of 5 stars A detail resource on illustrated mapmaking, Oct. 27 2015
Length:: 2:18 Mins

The Art of Illustrated Maps provides a very detailed look into the history of illustrated mapmaking from almost 2,000 years ago to present day. It talks about the significance maps have over the years, the importance, especially during the war, and the evolution afterwards.

The book also talks about prominent geographers and cartographers from the past, and how maps were actually created back then, the process and the challenges of making them accurate. Many of the olden days maps which you will see in the book are focused more on the aesthetic side while the modern illustrated maps are still focused on that but with an emphasis on accuracy. Author and map designer John Roman has provided an extensive writeup into mapmaking that even includes talking about the design elements, such as using the golden mean, symbols and colours.

Roman has also included a section that talks about his own process to illustrating maps. The section has many examples of his own maps commissioned by others, sketches, and captions.

The last section of the book features contemporary map illustrations from other artists. In this section you get to see artists using their own interpretation and style to create maps their own way. There are lots of fun maps to look at.

Overall, it's a great book for those who want to learn about the history and process of illustrated map making.

Another related book that I would recommend is A Map of the World: The World According to Illustrators and Storyteller.

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

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