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Parka (Singapore)
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Voyage au Japon - Tome 1 : Tokyo
Voyage au Japon - Tome 1 : Tokyo
by Rémi Maynègre
Edition: Hardcover
6 used & new from CDN$ 55.10

5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely art travelogue, April 9 2012
Length:: 1:20 Mins

I love travel sketchbooks because I like seeing reading and seeing new places. It's probably the next best thing to traveling itself.

Voyage au Japon: Tome 1: Tokyo is a 160-page hardcover published by CFSL Ink. It's a lovely book authored by Sandrine Garcia and Rémi Maynègre with content inspired by their 2008 trip to Tokyo.

The huge drawings in the wide format book just wonderful to look at. It makes you feel like you're really standing there on the streets. They really capture the vibrancy and life of the places they went to. There are illustrations of parks, traditional Japanese houses, shopping streets, the people and tourist areas.

All drawings are accompanied by interesting writeup of their adventure. I like that every story starts with a sketch of their heads with amusing expressions. The text is in Japanese and French though. However, you don't have know the language to enjoy the book.

I hope one day I can go to Japan and draw up a sketchbook like this. So inspiring.

Highly recommended to sketchbook and travel lovers. This would be one of my favourite books for 2012.

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

The Art of The Secret World of Arrietty
The Art of The Secret World of Arrietty
by Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 25.07
35 used & new from CDN$ 18.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, April 2 2012
Length:: 1:21 Mins

I actually have the Japanese edition of this book so I borrowed the English one for review.

What's different here is the cover art, and also the dust jacket is smooth instead of textured. It's translated by VIZ Media who does a good job, as usual. The book has 248 pages but only 208 pages are on the art with the rest being the script. The film's directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, a new director.

The book's loaded with colourful concept art. There are character designs, storyboards, background paintings and film stills. Much of the concept art is in pencil and watercolour as usual. I see some drawn by Hayao Miyazaki but the rest seems to be drawn by others -- I could be wrong. The drawings are captioned but not credited.

The art is beautiful, of course. Characters designs are wonderful, cute, and pastel colours are nice. One thing with the character design is, they seem to look very similar to previous films from the studio. Looking through the book, I kept thinking that the characters here are the same "actors" as previous films but set in a different script. Arrietty's the main character and she's a tiny person. So it's interesting to see how household items are incorporated and used as gadgets.

The storyboards are great, really telling the story without any words. Just by looking at them, you know the story or idea works. Afterall, this is concept art.

The background paintings are of lush green countrysides, which you could really mistake them for coming from Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke. And there are paintings of Arrietty's home and the different locations. The art direction is unmistakable, uniquely Studio Ghibli.

It's a beautiful book for fans of Studio Ghibli.

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

New York, Line by Line: From Broadway to the Battery
New York, Line by Line: From Broadway to the Battery
by Robinson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 15.64
42 used & new from CDN$ 9.94

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive and astonishing work, March 20 2012
Length:: 0:37 Mins

This is an art book done in line art by German illustrator Robinson (1910-1994). On the book jacket, it says he has created hundreds of thousands of drawings, not just for New York. That sounds incredible but not hard to believe when you go through the pages.

It was first published in 1967 and this is a very welcome reprint. Looking at the illustrations is like traveling back in time to 60s New York, Manhattan precisely. The impressive skyscrapers were already up, and the 60s cars are all still crowding the streets.

The aerial drawings of Manhattan are breathtaking in astonishing detail. There are many in the book. New York Line By Line only has 64 pages, but the format is huge, great for showing off the line art.

I've been to Manhattan on holiday before and these drawings gives me fond memories of the place. Many are from the exact spot where I stood. There are drawings from the top of Empire State Building, at Park Avenue, Chinatown, Grand Central Station, NY Public Library, Bryant Park, Radio City Music Hall, St. Patrick's Cathedral,Rockefeller Center, Time Square, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park, Kennedy Airport and more.

Through the drawings, you can see how New York has changed with its people and landscape. Buildings at Time Square were just a few floors tall back then. Today, their top can't even be captured in photographs.

I like the last section where they compare numbers from the 60s New York with present day. There were 3000 shoe stores back then and now only 620. It's interesting to see how businesses have evolved through those numbers, many which changed drastically.

This is an impressive and astonishing book.

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

The Art of Big City
The Art of Big City
by Ragnar
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 26.33
29 used & new from CDN$ 18.52

5.0 out of 5 stars Unique and fascinating art book, March 3 2012
This review is from: The Art of Big City (Hardcover)
Length:: 1:22 Mins

The Art of Big City is a book with some really sleek art of robots, spaceships and girls.

The illustrations are all drawn in vector style. The designs are very detailed, yet clean. The character designs for the robots are wonderful. They have a very solid feel to them that part of me wish to see them being animated.

The spaceship designs are unlike anything I've seen before. They are organic and in many instances just look like insects, very sophisticated and intricate insect bodies. Very unique.

The last few pages feature illustrations of girls in different crew costumes, running, jumping, shooting, posing. Some of them come with cool automobiles.

It's a fascinating art book from Ragnar. Wonderful, just wonderful.

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

Illustration Now! Portraits
Illustration Now! Portraits
by Julius Wiedemann
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 26.30
31 used & new from CDN$ 26.30

5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning collection, Feb. 28 2012
Length:: 1:25 Mins

Illustration Now! Portraits is a stunning collection of portraits. The book's a thick 416-page paperback.

87 illustrators are featured. That's a lot of different styles to check out, much more than I imagined. The selection is really diverse and the quality high. It's quite an impressive feat collecting them into this handsome volume.

The portraits are created in all sorts of medium, including sculptures. There are watercolour, oil, vectors, digital paintings, etc.

This should be a particularly useful reference for illustrators who draw portraits regularly, especially for editorial publications.

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

Structura 2
Structura 2
by Sparth
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 31.47
25 used & new from CDN$ 31.47

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic second volume, Feb. 27 2012
This review is from: Structura 2 (Hardcover)
Length:: 1:24 Mins

This is a nice sequel to the first Structura art book. It's slightly thicker with more content.

This book focuses on concept art for sci-fi and environment. There are spaceships flying off from the many sleek locations conceived by Sparth. The environment paintings are mainly of desolate but exotic landscapes.

I notice he likes to use a lot of dark colours and black to make other colours stand out. Even for the cover, it's mostly black with blue tint as colour.

Some illustrations use a different but refreshing style. There are some experimental sketches done using Alchemy drawing software which look very much like manga style because of the outlines. Those look great. There are also some beautiful paintings created using just squares and rectangles.

The last chapter features 4 insightful examples complete with steps showing his process.

This is another delightful art book. Recommended to those who like of sci-fi and environment art.

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

The Art of The Mass Effect Universe
The Art of The Mass Effect Universe
by Casey Husdon
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 27.58
51 used & new from CDN$ 20.43

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a colourful and busy universe, Feb. 22 2012
Length:: 1:20 Mins

The first Mass Effect art book, The Art of Mass Effect, was quite good. The Art of Mass Effect Universe is even better.

This handsome 184-page hardcover art book covers art for Mass Effect 1, 2 and 3. Yes, you'll be able to get a sneak peek at the upcoming Mass Effect 3, that's if you don't mind a little spoiler.

The book is packed with concept art for characters, creatures, environments, props, weapons and vehicles. There are a few sketches but most are just gorgeous fully coloured designs. The art is top notch, the environment paintings are spectacular.

There's some overlap of content with the first art book that features the first game. Here, there are additional content which makes you wonder why they weren't in the earlier book. Anyway, the first art book is already out of print so it makes more sense to get just this one.

As all the designs come with insightful commentary, there will be a bit of a spoiler when you're reading the last chapter on Mass Effect 3. If you're just looking at pictures, then it should be alright and it'll give you a nice idea of what to expect visually in the next game.

Unfortunately for a book this good, the artists aren't credited, not even with a page on the list of names like they did in the first art book. In many instances, I wanted to find out who these artists are and their websites. This is a silly exclusion, a downer.

Overall. this is a great art book for fans of the game and sci-fi art. It should be one of the top art books for 2012.

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

Google Sketchup for Game Design: Beginner's Guide
Google Sketchup for Game Design: Beginner's Guide
by Robin De Jongh
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 48.86
18 used & new from CDN$ 47.77

5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful guide on game design and possibilities with Sketchup, Feb. 13 2012
Packt Publishing has offered this an interesting book to me for review. It's about using Sketchup for game design. I like using Sketchup but I didn't know that it is good enough to be used for game design. This book shows that it can, and how you can do it.

This is a beginner's guide that's made up of step-by-step tutorials that build on one another. The goal is to construct a small town on uneven terrain at the outskirts of a city. It's the setting for a first person shooter game, and it's going to be used as demo where you can walk around the town.

To get up to speed, you need basic Sketchup knowledge like modeling and moving things around. The tutorials only cover the essential steps which focuses on finding textures, creating them, and mapping them onto the models.

Specifically for game design, it covers how textures are to be manipulated to get them looking good and still not be a drain on computing resources. The guided exercises are all easy to follow along.

In addition to Sketchup, the book introduces many free software that are to be downloaded and used for the tutorials. They are Meshlab, GIMP and Unity 3D. Unity 3D is a huge file so you'll want to download it first while reading the first few chapters.

The tutorials use GIMP, the Photoshop alternative, to edit pictures. You can still use Photoshop but you'll have to be proficient enough to understand how you can workaround, for example on how you can create seamless textures, because all the steps are written for GIMP.

There are many things new to me in this book. One of them is on creating undulating terrain inside Sketchup. I didn't know that was possible, and it's not difficult. There's also a chapter on modeling a car. The result is semi-realistic because the lesson involves building the general shape and mapping the car texture.

There are a lot of useful tips and tricks in this book. I learned a lot especially on texturing. It's a great book on prototype game design with Sketchup. Fun to read and easy to follow.

The Art & Making of Arthur Christmas: An Inside Look at Behind-the-Scenes Artwork with Filmmaker Commentary
The Art & Making of Arthur Christmas: An Inside Look at Behind-the-Scenes Artwork with Filmmaker Commentary
by Aardman and Sony Pictures Animation
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 28.22
32 used & new from CDN$ 2.75

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Art Book, Jan. 31 2012
Length:: 1:17 Mins

This is a nice art book for a delightful movie. The animated film was produced by Aardman Animations and Sony Pictures Animation. This is the first 3-D feature film for Aardman, who are better known for their stop-motion productions.

The book's a 160-page hardcover. I like the cover, in the picture there are so many little things that fill the room.

Inside, it's a mixture of film stills and concept art in the form of character designs sketches, storyboards, lighting studies, background art and others. The character designs are from Peter de Seve. Alexei Nechytaylo create the art for the props such as the badges and ranks of the elves, including the textures for costumes worn by the characters. The storyboards from Adam Cootes are beautiful and very expressive that I wish more were included. The book is filled with wonderful visuals.

There's plenty of writeup as well talking about the characters, design and certain scenes from the film. It's informative and interesting to read.

This is a beautiful art book, recommended to animation and art fans.

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

The Art of Urban Sketching: Drawing On Location Around The World
The Art of Urban Sketching: Drawing On Location Around The World
by Gabriel Campanario
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.80
56 used & new from CDN$ 13.19

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Showcases the love for sketching, Jan. 26 2012
Length:: 1:25 Mins

Urban sketchers is a community of sketchers who share their sketches online. There are groups in various countries. I'm a follower of the main blog. I find it very interesting to be reading about places around the world, getting to know the streets through the eyes of people living or traveling there.

This book is 320 pages thick. For the price, it's a terrific bargain. There are over 500 sketches featured from artists all around the globe. The styles are incredibly varied, ranging from pencil sketches to watercolour paintings. Each artist has a personal style, and each sketch has a story to tell. Some of the artists are so good they should publish their own books. Gerard Michel is one of them.

There are three sections in the book. The first is the introduction on urban sketching. The second section showcases the different places drawn. That's the bulk of the book. And the third provides inspiration on where and what you can draw.

The location drawings are accompanied by artist profiles and drawing tips. I like the short stories on the sketches. Florian Afflerbach and his friends were drawing in Venice when the flood came and soak their feet. Nina Johansson documented the demolition of a public bath house, and the protest against the demolition.

Artist Joao Catarino has a sentiment that I share: Drawing everywhere is like traveling all the time. Sketching is one way to get the holiday mood all the time. I can look back at my sketches and remember vividly the places visited. I cannot say the same for travel photos I've taken. The experience is richer when you're not looking but studying a place. I wish I had started sketching earlier.

This is a fantastic book.

Highly recommended.

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

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