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Parka (Singapore)
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The Art of the Croods
The Art of the Croods
by Noela Hueso
Edition: Hardcover
9 used & new from CDN$ 64.73

5.0 out of 5 stars A luscious visual treat, Oct. 9 2014
This review is from: The Art of the Croods (Hardcover)
Length:: 1:26 Mins

The Art of the Croods is one of my top favourite artbooks for this year.

Every page is a luscious display of gorgeous art. There are plenty of fun and wonderful character designs and sketches. The environment art are filled with inviting colours covering exotic locations. You know that heightened sense of awareness you get when you're traveling overseas? I feel a bit like that just from looking at the background art. It's a beautiful colourful world.

Creature designs are real fun and you get to see the many different ways of creating cute. There are a lot of cross species mix and match which somehow reminds me of creatures from Avatar The Last Airbender but the style here is much different. And there are the flora designs of all the places in the movie. There are a lot of details to take in.

Chris Sander's on board as director but you won't see much of his art. However, you'll see art from Carter Goodrich, Dominique Louis, Shane Prigmore, Christophe Lautrette and many other talented artists. The art director is Paul Duncan. The art team is amazing.

This book is a treat to the visual senses.

Highly recommended.

Do not miss out on this.

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

Art Of Tomb Raider
Art Of Tomb Raider
by Square Enix
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 25.08
9 used & new from CDN$ 25.08

5.0 out of 5 stars The place where it all began for Lara, Oct. 9 2014
This review is from: Art Of Tomb Raider (Paperback)
Length:: 1:26 Mins

This book is thicker than I expected. I know it's 272 pages from the description but it's really quick thick with the heavy paper stock.

Tomb Raider. Ah. I've always wanted to have a Tomb Raider artbook. Love the environments. This book is filled with wonderful concept art of the characters and environments. Surprising, or maybe not, about 80 percent of the book are on the environments.

Looking at the environment art, it reminded me instantly of Uncharted 2's artbook, except here it's much darker to suit the mood of the game. The colours are muted, the world is harsh, bleak, and the sun doesn't shine through much. There are art for the forests, villages, worn down buildings, monasteries and a bit on ship Endurance.

The art is great. You get a good sense of this exotic, mysterious and weather battered island. It really makes you wonder who lived there.

It's a wonderful companion artbook to the game. Highly recommended.

If you like this type of art, definitely check out The Art of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves also.

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

UDON's Art of Capcom: Complete Edition
UDON's Art of Capcom: Complete Edition
by Udon
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 52.63
17 used & new from CDN$ 52.63

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Udon's biggest artbook ever, Oct. 9 2014
Length:: 3:06 Mins

UDON's Art of Capcom: Complete Edition is quite an artbook to behold. This is the largest artbook ever from Udon at 600 pages. Very impressive indeed.

The first thing to note is this is actually the compilation of two earlier artbooks from Udon, namely Udon's Art of Capcom (304 pages) released in 2007 and UDON's Art of Capcom 2 (284 pages) released in 2010. So if you have those two artbooks, you're going to see mostly duplicated artworks, and hence it's not going to be worth buying it again. If you don't have those two artbooks, then this is a great collection to get into Capcom art.

Unlike most of Udon's artbooks, this is a hardcover edition. The cover art is beautiful. Binding is great for a book this thick. The book looks and feels great overall. However, I feel that the paper is slightly thinner but not really a major issue. The reproduction quality is still top notch with good colours and sharpness.

The content in the book are arranged by the games, namely Street Fighter (342 pages), Darkstalkers (64 pages), Rival Schools (22 pages), World of Capcom (48 pages) and other game projects (119 pages). The edge of the pages are colour coded to these five sections.

The last section on other game projects is actually also based on the main games such as Street Fighter, Darkstalkers etc. The main difference is here the artworks aren't splash art pages but miscellaneous art like game sprites, ending cut scenes, environment art for the stages, comic panels based off the games, and other stuff.

So what's new?

Well, the new artworks are the ones created after 2010 when UDON's Art of Capcom 2 came out. It can be difficult to spot the new ones because artworks in the books are credited with the artist names and purpose but the year is usually left out. But from the few I know are new, they are the box art for Marvel vs Capcom 3 Collector's Edition, cover art for the hardcover limited editions artbooks, Marvel vs Capcom 2 promo art and storyboards, and a handful of others.

All in all, this is an amazing artbook. The art is fantastic and it's definitely value for money. Highly recommended.

If you're shipping this book out of USA, watch out for the additional weight surcharge just before you confirm your purchase. For overseas buyers, you might want to compare prices with your local bookstore and consider getting it locally, or get it from Book Depository where the shipping cost is included in the price.

Beyond the Page
Beyond the Page
by Quentin Blake
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 23.31
23 used & new from CDN$ 23.31

5.0 out of 5 stars Quentin Blake's work after year 2000, Oct. 7 2014
This review is from: Beyond the Page (Hardcover)
Length:: 1:21 Mins

Before this book, there was another one called Words and Pictures which collected Quentin Blake's illustrations from the previous fifty years. That book was published in 2001.

This new book Beyond the Page looks at his work from year 2000 onwards. As the title subtly suggests, it features work that does not just appear in on the page.

While Quentin Blake continues to illustrate books, he also has many projects and many bring his work to places such as galleries, museums, hospitals and other public spaces. That's the focus of this book. He writes in first account of the stories behind these projects.

It's interesting to read and see the other side of him. Many of the illustrations included have his distinctive style, but there are also many drawings that you won't see, especially in children books. There are sketches, work he did for reading campaigns, and even nude drawings, for hospitals.

Since the book focuses on work from 2000 onwards, there's mention of his earlier works only when he has to provide new art for updated editions of books, such as those for Roald Dahl.

So if you want to find out what Quentin Blake has been up to the last ten years, get this book.

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

Fringe: September's Notebook
Fringe: September's Notebook
by Tara Bennett
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 39.19
27 used & new from CDN$ 4.14

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent companion to Fringe, Oct. 7 2014
Length:: 1:26 Mins

This is an incredible book for all fans of Fringe. I'm one, and I'm thrilled by it.

It's put together and presented in beautiful scrapbook style. Included are insets, removable items, posters. The book edges have navigation tabs coming out like those you case files you normally see on TV. Full marks for presentation.

In terms of content, this book is packed with an amazing amount of information and pictures.

The book covers in detail both the universes and the other timeline. You have Walter's history, stories about Peter's illness that leads to the crossing of the universe, Cortexiphan Trails, Massive Dynamic and their secret projects, Fringe division and all their agents and the cases they have worked on. That's just for the original universe.

In the later sections of the book, it looks at all the differences between the universes and timelines. So you have Walter(nate) and all the Fringe doubles from the alternate universe.

There's a lot to read. It's a good recap as the events are presented in more linear and hence clearer. You'll also get some insight because September's observations can be found in little blue notes all over the book. These are stuff you don't get from just watching the show, and there are many other nuggets of information.

The pictures are great, and there are loads of them. There are the strange symbols from the opening credits, photos of the past Observers caught on camera, characters, news articles, graphics from the other universe, props, the time machine, gory pictures from cases, and more!

It's a pretty comprehensive companion to the show.

Highly recommended.

All Fringe fans should have this book.

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

The Art of Oz The Great and Powerful
The Art of Oz The Great and Powerful
by Grant Curtis
Edition: Paperback
19 used & new from CDN$ 33.79

4.0 out of 5 stars More like a visual companion than artbook, Oct. 7 2014
Length:: 1:25 Mins

The Art of Oz The Great and Powerful is more of a visual companion to the movie rather than an artbook. As an artbook, it falls short but as a visual companion it's wonderful.

The selected artworks included are mainly the concept art for the environment, basically the forests, China land and castles. There aren't a lot of artwork so it's disappointing, but of those included they are beautiful. I was expecting more artwork since the backdrop for the film is mainly computer generated. Surely there would be a lot more artworks to reference from. The magical land of Oz is also a highlight so the book feels lacking when it comes to showing how it's actually created.

Other pictures in the book are the indoor photos of the set, actors and behind the scenes.

The writeup is from Grant Curtis who has produced Sam Raimi's last six project. He also wrote The Spider-man Chronicles which is a book I like very much for the incredibly detailed production diary.

The Oz book covers in detail the production process, stuff like building the sets, integrating with computer graphics, creating the costumes, and more. They would talk about their references, such as getting inspiration for trees from the old Disney animated movies. Another interesting part is on how they manage to bring the China girl to life using a mixture of old school puppetry and computer graphics.

My other quibble is the book's spine. It doesn't seem strong enough for this 256-page paperback. Mine is showing signs of creasing on the spine.

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

Takehito Harada Art Works
Takehito Harada Art Works
by Takehito Harada
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 26.30
25 used & new from CDN$ 26.30

5.0 out of 5 stars Filled with colourful characters, Oct. 7 2014
Length:: 1:06 Mins

This 208-page artbook features Takehito Harada's artworks from Disgaea, Prinny 1 & 2, Makai Kingdom and Phantom Brave. Almost all the art you'll see are character art from those video game titles.

If you're a fan of Disgaea or Takehito Harada, you may know or have the earlier artbook called DISGAEArt!!! Disgaea Official Illustration Collection, also translated and published by Udon. So yes, there are some duplicated Disgaea art in this book which has half of it dedicated to Disgaea. But there are some new Disgaea art too.

The multitude of characters is amazing. The pages are filled with pretty huge splash art of Takehito Harada's Japanese style of characters with their candy-like colours.

Many of the artworks have step-by-step images of the drawing process, from the sketches to colouring stage, showing how a complicated scene of characters are put together, slowly. The rather short commentary appear at the back of the book.

It's a terrific artbook. If you already have the Disgaea artbook, it might still worth a buy.

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

Growlanser Art Works
Growlanser Art Works
by Satoshi Urushihara
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 26.30
17 used & new from CDN$ 26.30

5.0 out of 5 stars For Growlanser fans,, Oct. 7 2014
This review is from: Growlanser Art Works (Paperback)
Length:: 0:51 Mins

Growlanser is a Japanese RPG game that I know not of. It appears that there are six titles in the series for the Playstation and Portable. This 176-page artbook collects the art for all the titles.

The character designs from Satoshi Urushihara is as stylized as it can get with the sparkly eyes, shiny hair and elaborate costume designs. The characters are mainly alone on the page although there are a few splash art pages. You can see a level of finesse that goes into the character designs.

While there's design commentary on every page, it's lacking the character profiles. There are quite a lot of characters. There's an interview behind with Satoshi Urushihara, producer Shinjiro Takada, writer Yo Hazuki and designer Akira Odagaki.

This isn't the usual style of art that I go for but I suppose that they have their fans, after all, there are six game titles already out. The original Japanese edition of this book has very favorable reviews.

If you like the style of art, then you'll like this book.

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

Atelier: Artworks of Arland
Atelier: Artworks of Arland
by Gust
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 29.78
26 used & new from CDN$ 29.78

5.0 out of 5 stars For the fans, Oct. 7 2014
Length:: 1:03 Mins

Here's another Atelier series artbook translated by Udon. The original Japanese edition was published in 2011. The Japanese edition has pretty favorable reviews. Udon also did a great job with the English edition.

The book's is a paperback with 256 thick pages. Binding seems good enough for a book this thick.

Arland is a sub-series of the Atelier series. This book features the three game titles Atelier Rorona: The Alchemists of Arland, Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland and Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland

Those three are the 11th to 13 game titles with the Atelier series -- already?!

Mel Kishida is the character designer for these three games. The pages are fill with full page illustrations, character designs, storyboards of cut scenes, pin-ups and sketches. These are Japanese style characters with strong shoujo influence. There are lots of female characters with their fancy dresses and generous use of pastel colours. The illustrations are beautiful with details. The costume designs are rendered really nice.

There's not much text except for the short notes beside sketches.

If you like the games and art, this is the book to get.

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

An Illustrated Journey: Inspiration From the Private Art Journals of Traveling Artists, Illustrators and Designers
An Illustrated Journey: Inspiration From the Private Art Journals of Traveling Artists, Illustrators and Designers
by Danny Gregory
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.29
37 used & new from CDN$ 7.12

5.0 out of 5 stars Sketches have the charm, Oct. 7 2014
Length:: 1:25 Mins

An Illustrated Journey is a delightful collection of travel sketches from 40 contributors all over the world. They draw on location, they record their thoughts, and they share their stories in this book. The presentation style is similar to Danny Gregory's previous book An Illustrated Life, a book that I still refer to regularly.

This book is somewhat similar to The Art of Urban Sketching. The sketches are all done on location. In this book however, the focus is on the contributors themselves and their thoughts on places and sketching while traveling. The writeup is longer with more depth and you really get to feel their love for sketching.

I really enjoy looking at the beautiful sketches and reading the scribbled notes on the pages. Sketches have the charm and personalities that can't be found from photographs. I guess that's why I love sketchbooks so much.

This is an inspiring sketchbook for travel and art lovers. It's definitely one of my favourite books for 2013.

Highly recommended.

The artists featured are:
Ken Avidor
Roberta Avidor
Chris Buchholz
Suzanne Cabrera
Lisa Cheney-Jorgensen
Fabio Consoli
Jean-Christophe Defline
Benedetta Dossi
Bob Fisher
Enrique Flores
Will Freeborn
Carol Gillott
Virginia Hein
Miguel "Freekhand" Herranz
Hannah Hinchman
Kathrin Jebsen-Marwedel
Nina Johansson
Cathy Johnson
Andrea Joseph
Tommy Kane
Stephane Kardos
Amanda Kavanagh
Ch'ng Kiah Kiean
Kirk Kolby
Olivier Kugler
Lapin
Veronica Lawlor
Don Low
Prashant Miranda
Steven B. Reddy
Melaine Reim
Lucinda Rogers
Felix Scheinberger
Pete Scully
Richard Sheppard
Suhita Shirodkar
Ian Sidaway
Liz Steel
Roz Stendahl
Brenda Swenson
Asnee Tasnaruangrong
Earnest Ward
Bryce Wymer

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I wanted to recommend a few more travel related sketchbooks but realize that there are too many. So instead, I'll post a link to the list on my blog in the comments section below.

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