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Parka (Singapore)
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Digital Painting Techniques: Volume 4
Digital Painting Techniques: Volume 4
by Ian McQue
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 39.19
30 used & new from CDN$ 34.65

5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent addition to the series, Oct. 26 2014
Length:: 1:27 Mins

This is another excellent addition to the Digital Painting Techniques series.

It's a 288-page book with tutorials from top artists, covering the conceptualisation, as well as the actual techniques used to create the piece of art.

The chapters are split into Subjects, Styles, Techniques, Project overview and lastly a gallery.

For Subjects, they have tribal warriors, droids, vehicles and environments. Different artists will present their own creative process. Styles have pin-ups, comic art and manga. Techniques look at illustrating fairy tales, creating custom brushes and painting different materials. Project overview looks at the high level conceptualisation of ideas and presentation.

It's an insightful and informative book for digital painters.

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

The Art of Howard Chaykin HC
The Art of Howard Chaykin HC
by Robert Greenberger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 19.75
10 used & new from CDN$ 19.75

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book for the fans, Oct. 25 2014
Length:: 1:26 Mins

The book is a 256-page hardcover published by Dynamite Entertainment. For the price it's selling at, and the amount of content it has, it's great value for the money. Some places incorrectly listed it to have only 200 pages.

Howard Chaykin's story and career is told in a chronologically from the 1950s. It's a biography sort of, mixed with essays from such as Joe Jusko, Dave Johnson, and even Joe Quesada. There's a lot of text but the most interesting are the back stories of each title he works on, those are famous such as American Flagg!, Black Kiss, and those not that successful. That would things like things like story conceptualization, drawing of the pages and art, competing with other titles, etc. Howard Chaykin has plenty of war stories in the comic industry that makes this book an insightful read.

Accompanying the text are many illustrations and comic panels reproduced in high quality.

Also included is a checklist of all the titles he has worked on. And a gallery follows that with uninterrupted full page illustrations, sketches and selected comic pages.

It's a great book for any fans who has followed his work.

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

Haruhi-ism: Noizi Ito Artworks
Haruhi-ism: Noizi Ito Artworks
by Noizi Ito
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 26.30
32 used & new from CDN$ 26.30

5.0 out of 5 stars For fans of Haruhi Suzumiya and Noizi Ito art, Oct. 25 2014
Length:: 1:02 Mins

Haruhi Suzumiya is a series of novels written by Nagaru Tanigawa and illustrated by Noizi Ito. It was released in Japan in 2003 and has since have adaptions into manga, animation series, film and even video games.

The book's 120-page hardcover.

Artworks from Noizi Ito are from 2003 to 2007. Most illustrations are in pin-up style and comes from book/DVD covers, magazines and other promotional materials. There are also illustrations created exclusively for the book.

Haruhi first appeared in The Sneaker, a seinen novel magazine, and you'll see many of the splash page illustrations being featured. DVD jacket illustrations are for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.

The characters are drawn in very typical Japanese style. There's Haruhi alone, as well as, with her SOS Brigade members, and also other characters pairings for posters. There's some sort of a seasonal theme going on from Spring to Winter, but actually most times they are in school uniforms.

Right at the back of the book is an illustration index with commentary plus an interview with Noizi Ito.

This book is clearly for fans of Haruhi Suzumiya and Noizi Ito art.

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

Devil Survivor: Official Material Collection
Devil Survivor: Official Material Collection
by Atlus
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 26.30
24 used & new from CDN$ 26.30

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice visual companion but could be better, Oct. 25 2014
Length:: 1:10 Mins

This is the concept artbook and video game visual companion to Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor.

The original is the Japanese edition that was published in 2009. Udon translated this English edition. The book's a large 176-page paperback.

The first part looks at the characters, the art as they appear in the game, and also the concept sketches and profile. There are bits of interesting information on the dynamics between characters that make for an interesting but brief read. Mail data from selected characters are included.

The second part is the demon compendium. This section has the demons' description and the quotes when they are recruited from the Devil Auction, or when fusing. Unfortunately, there's no art in this section. The demons are just game screenshots printed rather small. It's a waste because their designs are more interesting than the human characters.

The next section has the environment art which are game screenshots. It shows several icon places in Japan as adapted for the game. Included is a small photo reference from real life, followed by the game art, and of the places in different phases of contamination. The text talks about the different events that happen there. Since it's game screenshots, the resolution isn't that great which is why they aren't printed that big.

The last part has more miscellaneous art such as storyboards, cutscenes. It ends with an interview with the creators, namely director Shinjiro Takada, scenario writer Yoh Haduki, art director Akiko Kotoh and character designer Suzuhito Yasuda.

As a game companion, it provides insight especially to the design of the game and characters. It could have been a better book with demon concept art added, and source graphic files for the environment.

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

Sonicomi Artbook: Super Sonico Picture Album
Sonicomi Artbook: Super Sonico Picture Album
by M. Kirie Hayashi
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 26.30
29 used & new from CDN$ 26.30

5.0 out of 5 stars For fans of Super Sonico, Oct. 25 2014
Length:: 1:03 Mins

Sonicomi Artbook: Super Sonico Picture Album is a book that should appeal to a select group of fans, basically those who already know Sonico and those who like Japanese-style busty character pin-ups.

This 160-page paperback artbook is filled with full page and double page illustrations of the headphone-wearing Super Sonico. These illustrations are from all sort of publications, games, and merchandise. They are huge and well done.

Since the video game is about photo shoots, Sonico is always in various costumes and attire. Cosplay is a theme so you get to see Sonico donning some famous outfits such as those from Master Chief, Black Rock Shooter, vocaloid Hasune Miku and many more.

There are a few risqué images. Those that show cleavage (plenty) are considered mild by comparison.

This book was originally released in Japanese edition as ソニコミ アートブック ~すーぱーそに子写真集~. Udon translated it to English. There's not much text except a description for the game, and about her wardrobe and costumes.

If you like what you see on the cover, then you would probably like this book.

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

The Lone Ranger: Behind the Mask
The Lone Ranger: Behind the Mask
by Michael Singer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 35.60
31 used & new from CDN$ 22.86

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent film companion, Oct. 25 2014
Length:: 1:20 Mins

The Lone Ranger: Behind the Mask is a very well done film companion book.

The book's a 168-page hardcover. The page layout is wonderful. Photos are beautiful, shot in high resolution and used huge throughout.

Included are lots of photos. You get to see the set, behind the scene, props, costumes, make up and of course the characters. There's also plenty to read on the film production, casting, staging scenes, set decoration, production design, making up, training horses, and shooting in the wilderness of New Mexico.

Highly recommended if you're a fan of the film.

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

Star Wars Complete Vehicles
Star Wars Complete Vehicles
by Dorling Kindersley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 21.94
31 used & new from CDN$ 18.84

5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing cross-sections, but a rehash with added material, Oct. 25 2014
Length:: 1:24 Mins

There have been quite a few books released on Star Wars vehicles already, namely:

Incredible Cross-sections of Star Wars Episode I
Incredible Cross-sections of Star Wars Episode II
Incredible Cross-sections of Star Wars Episode III
Incredible Cross-sections of Star Wars Episode IV, V & VI
Star Wars Complete Cross-Sections: The Spacecraft and Vehicles of the Entire Star Wars Saga

Now, we have another new book, with most of the content rehashed though.

Compared to the previous compilation the Star Wars Complete Cross-sections which is 152 pages, also from DK, this hardcover is 208 pages. The extra pages come in the form of related film stills and commentary. Some film stills and additional commentary are also added to the cross-section pages.

The expanded edition comes with 4 new cross sections: Luke Skywalker's Landspeeder, the Medical Frigate, Home One and the Scout Speeder Bike.

The book itself is smaller in size to the first few books. It's not much an issue because the details can still be seen but you lose the effect of viewing those amazing artworks at even larger sizes.

The illustrations from Hans Jenssen and Richard Chasemore are amazingly detailed. It's quite a feat to imagine all those engines and wires running beneath the spaceships and whatever vehicles or walkers. When I look at Star Wars vehicles, part of me think of them as movie props, but these guys really make everything look so believable.

Even if you already have the Complete Cross-Sections, I think as a fanatic Star Wars fan, you would probably want to get this book just because of those four new cross-sections. I know that I-can't-help-myself-I-have-to-have-everything feeling when it comes to collecting.

5 stars if you're seeing the content for the first time.
3 stars if you already have the previous compilation book.

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

The Art Of Film Magic: 20 Years Of Weta
The Art Of Film Magic: 20 Years Of Weta
by Weta
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 76.49
13 used & new from CDN$ 76.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing collection from an amazing company, Oct. 23 2014
Length:: 5:56 Mins

I was thrilled when this collection arrived. It looks and feels amazing. It is amazing.

This is a huge two-volume slipcased set. It's quite heavy so if you're buying from Amazon, there might be an additional weight surcharge depending on the shipping location and speed. For overseas buyers, I recommend checking out the book at Book Depository because their prices are inclusive of shipping and the overall price may be slightly cheaper.

The slipcase is gorgeous and stunning. It holds two hardcovers within, namely Weta Workshop: Celebrating 20 Years of Creativity and Weta Digital: 20 Years of Imagination on Screen, for a total of 464 pages. Weta today is made up of Weta Workshop and Weta Digital, and hence the books are split as such.

The books detail the history of Weta and all the work they have done for over two decades in chronological order. It's filled with insightful writeup that's bound to delight movie fans, especially those who like reading behind-the-scenes materials.

There are many little bits of interesting information, like where their name Weta came from, the puppets they made for theatre, props for advertising, the sleep-deprived nights spent traveling from sets to sets. Those were the early days for Weta Workshop. They were already quite good and then came the big break that is The Lord of The Rings that made them even more prominent as a special effects company.

Other then films, they have also created a lot of non-film related projects, such as TV programs like Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess, shows for children, high-end collectibles, published artbooks and even put up public sculptures. All those are in the books, complete with commentary talking about their other ventures and challenges.

The pictures included comprise behind-the-scenes photos, graphics on how they create digital effects, film stills and more. You'll see photos of armour, weapons, miniatures, creatures and prosthetic make up. There are also pictures looking at how they do motion capture, editing, blending live backgrounds with computer graphics, rotoscoping, compositing and many more. It's an insightful look at film production from the perspective of Weta.

You'll read about stuff like how they manage battle scenes in LOTR, create skin textures for the Na'vis in Avatar, use digi-doubles in films such as the digital Captain America that jumped out of the jet in Avengers, and many more. All the films that they have worked on are given a decent amount of writeup. It's very satisfying to read through all the information.

Authors Luke Hawker and Clare Burgess have both worked at Weta Workshop and Digital respectively for more than a decade. They have done a terrific job with the books.

The Art of Film Magic: 20 Years of Weta is an wonderful collection of stories and images from a very well respected high calibre company in the movie industry.

This is one of my favourite books from 2014.

Highly recommended to movie fans, digital artists and those who love movie companion books.

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

Digital Painting Techniques: Volume 6
Digital Painting Techniques: Volume 6
by Carlos Cabrera
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 38.21
29 used & new from CDN$ 35.34

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great resource on digital painting, Oct. 22 2014
Length:: 2:59 Mins

The Digital Painting Techniques series has been a tremendously helpful resource ever since it was released in 2009.

With the sixth volume, I felt there's an increased emphasis on the fundamental of art, especially for the first four chapters. That's great because the fundamentals and thinking help to strengthen ideas instead of just relying on technical prowess.

As usual, the book is filled with tutorials from top and experienced artists around the world. In the first chapter on concept art, Visual FX artist Alp Allen Altiner gives you the perspective of what it's like working in the digital art industry, and concept artist Markus Lovadina shows and explains how he creates concept art using thumbnails, creating character style sheets and speed painting.

The second chapter deals with the creation of custom brushes. Third chapter is on speed painting, again the focus is on using basic art fundamentals like lighting, silhouette together with digital painting to come up with a successful concept. The next chapter looks at lighting and atmosphere at different time of the day under different conditions.

The rest of the chapters are more subject matter-based covering characters, fantasy scenes and environments, sci-fi characters and landscapes. The last instructional chapters has three artists, namely Donglu Yu, Geoffrey Ernault and Markus Lovadina who walk you through the whole process of creating a particular piece of concept art from start to finish.

It's always interesting to see someone else's process. There are lots to learn in terms of techniques and the thinking behind, to see how and understand the approach different artists take to tackle their projects.

This is yet another insightful and inspiring addition to the Digital Painting Techniques series. Highly recommended for digital artists.

Here are the list of chapters and tutorials in the book:

Introduction to Concept Art
- The digital art industry
- Building thumbnails
- Working up style sheets
- Speed painting

Creating Custom Brushes
- Water effects
- Skin, hair and fabric
- Industrial elements

Speed Painting Techniques
- Use silhouettes to build composition
- Effective lighting and atmosphere
- Reaching a rendered concept

Lighting and Atmosphere
- Midday sun
- Dusk/dawn
- Night time with natural light
- Night time with artificial light

Characters - Mood
- Paint a portrait with attitude
- Depict a dark, arrogant queen
- Create a visual narrative

Characters - Stylized
- Craft a distorted portrait
- Illustrate exaggerated features
- Master the art of caricature creation

Fantasy - Battles
- Learn to paint a beastly encounter
- Portray a heavy-duty battle scene
- Illustrate an epic fantasy scene

Fantasy - Enviroments
- Tips for creating a fantasy settlement
- Render concept art with photo textures
- Paint atmospheric lighting schemes

Build a Sci-fi World
- Character
- Age character
- Creature
- Rural landscape
- Old architecture
- Organic architecture

Master Projects
- Throne room - a cinematic mood painting
- Depict a sci-fi battle aftermath
- Design new world concepts

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

Digital Mayhem 3D Landscape Techniques: Where Inspiration, Techniques and Digital Art Meet
Digital Mayhem 3D Landscape Techniques: Where Inspiration, Techniques and Digital Art Meet
by Duncan Evans
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 35.82
29 used & new from CDN$ 35.82

3.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag, Oct. 22 2014
Length:: 2:02 Mins

Digital Mayhem 3D Landscape Techniques is a book for digital artists interested in creating 3d landscapes and environment. It's a mixed bag as far as I'm concerned.

The book's divided into three sections.

The first section talks about the previz considerations, basically stuff like composition, camera lens, lighting, art direction etc.

The second section forms the bulk of the book. There are 13 chapters each dedicated to a specific type of environment, e.g. mountains, seascapes, industrial, etc. The chapters would showcase several artworks from artists with included quotes and information like what software was used, rendering time, etc. The chapters then end with a step-by-step tutorial that looks at the process of creating a particular environment.

Just in case you're interested to find out the 3D software used in the tutorials for the chapters, they are:

Mountains - Vue 10 Infinite
Seascapes - 3ds Max, Zbrush
Rivers and Lakes - Vue 10.5 Infinite
Water features - Vue 11 Complete, Daz Studio 4.5
Desert Scenes - Maya
Woodlands - Vue 11 Infinite
Architecture Visualisation - 3ds Max
Characters in landscape - 3ds Max
Urban Landscapes - Maya
Weather and seasons - 3ds Max
Post-industrial - Lightwave3D
Sci-fi - 3ds Max, Vue
Fantasy - Studio Max, Lightwave, Zbrush
As for the quality of work showcased, there are some good works that look really natural as well as those that feel very CG. The tutorials are quite insightful though with helpful tips, but that would apply more if you're also using the same software.

The last section is on post production. You'll learn stuff like adding things in post, using filters and other effects. The more essential information are already handled in the tutorials.

Books that feature too many software always run the risk of alienating those using other softwares, and I think that's the case here. I use Maya and don't particularly care about the tutorials using Vue, and as you can see from the list above there are only two tutorials for Maya.

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

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