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Parka (Singapore)
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Drawing & Painting Buildings
Drawing & Painting Buildings
by Richard Taylor
Edition: Paperback
24 used & new from CDN$ 14.93

4.0 out of 5 stars Useful guide, Dec 14 2011
Length:: 1:02 Mins

I bought this book to help with my outdoor sketches.

The book is roughly divided into three parts. The first talks about the materials. The examples featured mainly uses pencils, ink and watercolour. The second part looks at drawing small subjects like bricks, tiling, textures. The last part explores various building styles.

The coverage on perspective is very basic. There are the usual 1, 2 and 3 point perspective all covered in 6 pages. I was expecting more from a book on buildings. There aren't any tips on dealing with tricky perspective, like drawing buildings with vanishing points off the paper.

There are plenty of drawing tips accompanying the examples. Those are helpful and the techniques are easy to follow.

The downside of the book is it doesn't teach you how to observe proportions, and the examples are mostly on observational drawings. Those with basic drawing knowledge would gain more from this book.

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

Ar Tonelico Visual Book
Ar Tonelico Visual Book
by Hirokazu Hamamura
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 26.30
25 used & new from CDN$ 26.30

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For the Ar Tonelico fans, Dec 13 2011
Length:: 1:08 Mins

The Ar Tonelico Visual Book is the English edition of the Japanese one released in 2010. So Udon has been quite fast in bringing this Englished translated edition out.

It collects artwork from the three game series including Ar tonelico, Ar tonelico II and Ar tonelico Qoga. This is the first time I've heard of the game and seen its artwork. The content inside are arranged into three chapters for the splash art, character designs and the interview.

The art is beautiful. The character designs come with the character profiles. The designs are the finished versions so there aren't any concept sketches. There are plenty of characters and they are drawn in very typical Japanese style, in this case I think it's more towards the Shoujo manga style except with more elaborate fantasy costumes. There are also costume designs for the female characters at different levels.

The background artworks are great but many pieces are packed into a 2-page spread that appears before the chapters. So each piece is rather small.

The lengthy interview at the back is with producer Astunori Kawachi and director Akira Tsuchiya. They talk about the concept of the story, the game and the music.

The binding of the book looks alright, the glue not very flexible so I would recommend caution as with other paperback artbooks published by Udon.

Because of the style of the art, this book should appeal more to fans of the game.

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

Where They Create
Where They Create
by Alexandra Onderwater
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 31.19
27 used & new from CDN$ 31.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating and wonderful, Dec 6 2011
This review is from: Where They Create (Hardcover)
Length:: 1:21 Mins

I love looking at workspace of other artists, designers and creators. There's something intimate about people and their workspace.

Where They Create is a large 288-page hardcover book. On the cover is pasted a photo of a workspace, and each book would feature a different photo. The copy I have has a cat sleeping on a desk.

This is a wonderful book that invites us to these places, the offices, studios or even workshops. The idea of this book actually came from a blog by the same name. In this book, 32 studios are selected to be featured.

The pages are filled with beautiful photos taken by Paul Barbera. The photos together with the interviews are nicely laid out in a way to reflect the random nature of the workspace featured.

Each photo reveals the nature of the work that's being done, and the people working there. You can see what strange items that sit on shelves or pasted to walls, the furniture in the rooms, the kitchen, the people and the atmosphere of the workspace. Looking at them reminds me of those beautifully composed Ikea showroom photos, except here they are filled with life.

This is a captivating book. There's a sense of fascination when looking at the photos. Highly recommended.

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

Portraits of the Prairie: The Land that Inspired Willa Cather
Portraits of the Prairie: The Land that Inspired Willa Cather
by Richard Schilling
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 32.57
30 used & new from CDN$ 23.75

5.0 out of 5 stars Beauty in art and prose, Nov. 28 2011
Length:: 1:22 Mins

I found this book while looking for other books from Richard Shilling. I had reviewed his earlier watercolour instructional art book Watercolor Journeys: Create Your Own Travel Sketchbook which I like.

In Portraits of the Prairie, he goes to Webster County, Nebraska, where American novelist Willa Cather spent her childhood and found inspiration for her stories. Cather's elegant prose provides the starting point for Schilling to recreate what the writer might have seen. Schilling also provides short commentary on the places he visited, and sometimes on his watercolour paintings.

The art is gorgeous. The essence of the American prairie is wonderfully captured, together with the creeks, dusty roads, houses and buildings, the clouds and sky.

This is a beautiful book. The text and art work well together. Those familiar with Carther's stories will probably get more insight and appreciation.

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

Mélange [français-anglais] [nouvelle édition]
Mélange [français-anglais] [nouvelle édition]
by Dean Yeagle
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 42.31
28 used & new from CDN$ 35.45

5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for those into character designs and pin-up art, Nov. 19 2011
Length:: 1:05 Mins

It appears that there was an earlier edition of Melange before this. There's a "+32 pages" sticker pasted on the cover for this edition published by Akileos. The book's a 160-page hardcover.

Dean Yeagle is a cartoonist and character designer with background in animation. This book collects his diverse character designs, nude female figure drawings, pin-ups and his Playboy cartoons with some unused roughs.

The art and characters are beautiful. About half the book is on the character Mandy, a playful busty blonde - she's on the cover with her dog. Even the Playboy cartoons are amusing, and I can't say the same for other artists.

It's a great book for those into character designs and pin-up art.

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

Adventurous Watercolours
Adventurous Watercolours
by Jenny Wheatley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 21.39
22 used & new from CDN$ 9.84

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too adventurous?, Nov. 15 2011
Length:: 1:26 Mins

The watercolour art shown in the book isn't the usual watercolour style. If there's traditional and non-traditional style, she would belong to very non-traditional. Her style is more towards to the experimental side, especially her techniques.

Jenny Wheatley doesn't claim to be a purist. Her work in watercolour doesn't follow the conventional approach. She often combines watercolour with other media, like gouache or even collage. She even gives her style a name called mark-making which is unnecessary.

There really isn't any particular piece in the book that really catches my eye. Even if it grabs my attention, it's often for the wrong reasons. The collage with paper cutouts don't work well with watercolour. Her glazing has the effect of looking like crayons sometimes. She doesn't follow any particular colour theory when colouring so colours can be a bit chaotic at times. There are no white space in her paintings, not that it's a bad thing, but I'm saying that to emphasis the non-traditional nature of her work.

Much of her art are created on location and from reference, but with her style, they sort of lose the presence of the place.

Even if you want to try out more experimental watercolour techniques, I'll recommend that you should look at the pages before buying the book, or at least check out her website to get an idea of what to expect.

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

Zero: JM Ken Niimura Illustrations TP
Zero: JM Ken Niimura Illustrations TP
by J. M. Ken Nimura
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.05
28 used & new from CDN$ 8.24

5.0 out of 5 stars Charming illustrations, Nov. 14 2011
Length:: 0:49 Mins

ZERO is a 96-page paperback size art book that collects the beautiful illustrations of JM Ken Niimura. There are personal works as well as work for events, magazines and other publication. All from 2007-2009.

The book is published by Image Comics and they have given it some special but simple treatment. There are circular holes cut out from the front and back cover to review portions of art behind them.

Much of the illustrations featured are in manga style, with strong colours and dynamic poses. I like his use of colours which are predominantly red and green, and their close tints. He makes the colours work well against one another. Besides the manga style, there are also more cartoon-like drawings with more simple and loose strokes.

At the back of the book are some nude figure drawings of a slender lady with long hair. I love their poses. The compositions are particularly nice, and that can be said about the other pieces.

It's a charming art book. I wish there were more art but it's certainly worth the money.

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

Harry Potter Page To Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey
Harry Potter Page To Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey
by Bob McCabe
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 50.16
31 used & new from CDN$ 43.65

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully detailed, beautifully written, Nov. 13 2011
Length:: 2:34 Mins

This book exceeded all my expectations, and it certainly befits the Harry Potter film saga.

This is a large format 532-page hardcover. It's so huge and hefty so you can't really hold it for reading without resting it on something, like your lap. The cover is beautifully designed with an embossed title and a window looking at Hogwarts.

There are three parts to the book. The first is "The Making of Harry Potter" and covers the complete film making process of all the seven Harry Potter titles. The second is "The Art of Harry Potter" and that covers the characters, locations, creatures and artifacts. The third is the epilogue. It took me several days to finish reading.

I want to make special mention on the layout of the content which is beautiful and thoughtful. All the stunning photos and art are published at high resolution. On some pages, there are illustrations or patterns printed on a thin gloss that gives the page a slight shine as you flip over. The text is set on light cream coloured paper. There's an illustrated drop cap that starts every chapter, and every section in the chapter ends with a nice symbol. Even the choice of typography used is excellent.

The first part featuring the film production stories are a joy to read. It starts right at the beginning, from getting the copyright to make the films, to casting and filming right to the last day. There are lots of interesting details to read about, such as interactions between the actors and film crew, how the stage and props are made and the challenges and considerations of filming.

You read about how the children were like deers in the headlight on their first day of filming. There were extensive laughing, constant looking into the camera. As you read along towards the last film, you know how much they have grown as actors.

The writing is wonderful. The author Bob McBabely is a master at weaving the stories, controlling the flow and transition from one section to another. There's a part where Emma Watson admits to having a crush on Tom Felton and in the next sentence Tom Felton says,"Poor Emma. Of course I knew; it was obvious. But I never mentioned it.". There amount of research and interviews done must be incredible. Every film crew mentioned are given introductions and a thorough background on what they do.

The stories on set designs are really interesting. You can find out how sets are constructed, like Hogswarts and all the different rooms and secret locations. I thought the underwater scene in Goblet of Fire was totally CGI but it turned out that Daniel Radcliffe actually had to swim, while holding his breath, and act in a water tank. And of course, there are details on how that water tank was built, with heaters, bacteria-killing UV lights, and the little things that don't cross our minds.

The second part of the book is sort of like the encyclopaedic look at the characters, locations and artifacts. There are staff commentary on everything. You can look into the different classrooms of professors, read The Daily Prophet, check out The Weasleys' tent at the Quidditch World Cup, marvel at the different broomstick designs, etc. Amazing and detailed photos of the sets fill the pages.

There are concept art in the book as well, and they are great. There are designs for Dobby, dragons, props, environment art, etc. This is the only book where you can see them because there aren't any Harry Potter art books.

This book is highly recommended to fans of the Harry Potter films. It gives a new sense of appreciation for the film and the people who worked behind the scenes. It's something you'll want to make the magic last a bit longer.

- Compared to Harry Potter Film Wizardry -

Harry Potter Film Wizardry is like a condensed version of Page to Screen. Much of the content in terms of text and photos are duplicated. There are some information and photos that are not included in Page to Screen though. That book is designed like a scrapbook with little goodies -- booklets, stickers, maps, even Harry's letter of acceptance to Hogwarts, etc - attached to the pages. The layout is nice, magazine-like.

If you're just looking to get one book, then there's no doubt about choosing Harry Potter Page to Screen. If you're the true blue Harry Potter fan, then of course you'll want both books.

One Drawing A Day: A 6-Week Course Exploring Creativity with Illustration and Mixed Media
One Drawing A Day: A 6-Week Course Exploring Creativity with Illustration and Mixed Media
by Veronica Lawlor
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.67
45 used & new from CDN$ 14.34

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A creative and fun mixed media drawing course, Nov. 10 2011
Length:: 1:02 Mins

This is a book that grew out of the One Drawing a Day blog.

There are 42 interesting daily exercises aimed at giving you ideas on what to draw, and encourages encourage exploration and experimentation. Some involves drawing simple subjects around the house, some encourages you to draw outdoors, drawing the nature or people at a cafe.

The instructions are minimal but give you a good starting point to generate more ideas on things you can draw. The exercises require you to find a subject to draw, something you can see and use a reference, and not on conjuring ideas from imagination. The drawing style you can use are suggested by the exercises. We're not talking about realistic representational drawings but more on the loose and expressive.

It's important to note that this is a mixed media book. There are lessons that require different materials, like charcoal, watercolour, crayon, bamboo pen, etc. If you don't already have them, it might be difficult to follow along. A lesson that requires using watercolour can't really be substituted with other materials without losing the point of the lesson.

This is not a book for beginners with absolutely no idea on how to draw. You can be asked to draw portraits, and that requires observation skills that are taught not in the book. However, it's a fine book to pair with beginner drawing books.

The ending gallery features the work of artists from Studio 1482, which author Veronica Lawlor is part of. Other artists includes Despina Georgiadis, Eddie Peña, Dominick Santise, Kati Nawrocki, Greg Betza, Michele Bedigian and Margaret Hurst.

I'll recommend this book to those who want to keep their mind creative, and those who just want to have fun drawing.

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

The Art and Making of Star Wars: The Old Republic
The Art and Making of Star Wars: The Old Republic
by Frank Parisi
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 30.10
37 used & new from CDN$ 23.58

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Can feel sparse at times, just like being in space, Nov. 9 2011
Length:: 1:38 Mins

The book collects mainly character designs, environment art, and some spaceship designs. It's also a making-of book that explains at length on the production of a game with scope this big. I like reading insightful productions stories. The remaining text serve as commentary on the concept art.

The art is sci-fi art, of course, for the Star Wars universe. For the character designs, you can see some design clues that are distinctly Star Wars, such as armor and helmet. Sometimes they are also quite different. What you can see are the eight character classes with their few costumes and sometimes weapons. Creature and spaceship designs aren't a lot.

The main draw of the book would be the environment art for the different locations and planets. They are beautiful and gives a nice idea of the place, although I'm not sure if they are the actual place the game characters can run on.

The downside of the book is layout. There are pockets of space on pages which can really be used to pack more art. Text represents a substantial portion of the book, but is interesting to read so it's alright. As a MMORPG, I was expecting a lot more character designs, a whole lot more. There's a nice amount but somehow I don't feel like the universe is very populated. I'm comparing this to the other video game art book The Art and Making of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed which feels packed in every sense.

I've checked out the website for Star Wars: The Old Republic and there are lots of concept art there. Last time I check, it's over 160 pieces. There many on the website that's not even in the book. Maybe that's why the book can feel sparse at times. Some of the artwork in the book, especially the ones on spaceships are the more detailed pieces but they are printed too small. If you download the high resolution artwork from the website, they are several times bigger than the ones in the book!

This book is mixed bag. It's has good production stories but ruined by bad layout and seemingly incomplete selection of artwork.

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

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