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Parka (Singapore)
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Art Before Breakfast: A Zillion Ways to be More Creative No Matter How Busy You Are
Art Before Breakfast: A Zillion Ways to be More Creative No Matter How Busy You Are
by Danny Gregory
Edition: Flexibound
Price: CDN$ 20.21
36 used & new from CDN$ 12.36

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gets your pens and pencils moving, Feb. 23 2015
Length:: 1:34 Mins

I like Danny Gregory's books on sketching. They are always lively and inspiring. I've every single one of them since his first book on drawing, The Creative License. In some ways, Art Before Breakfast feels like a sequel to that.

Art Before Breakfast is a book on drawing with lots of ideas on what you can draw, a few techniques you can try out and suggestions on where you can find time to sneak in a drawing or two on your sketchbook. The tone is enthusiastic and motivating. The example drawings are accessible and fun. Nothing too daunting and the challenge is to move your pen.

This is also a book on the virtues of drawing and Danny Gregory has included many of his personal thoughts on drawing that are bound to inspire.

This book works great as one you can pick up from time to time, flip to a random page to read and recharge your creative cells, and to find something to draw. I like the tips on random techniques, such as mixing media, and there are different ways on how you can approach your drawings, using reference, creating themes, silencing your inner critic and more.

Those who already know the basics of drawing, observational drawing, will get most out of the book. There are some introductory drawing lessons though, such as contour drawing, spotting negative space and using measurements. I feel that if you're a beginner who knows nothing about drawing, those introductory lessons may or may not be enough for you because they are rather brief. So if you're looking for a book to learn how to draw, this is not the appropriate book. This is a what-to-draw book.

Just like other books by Danny Gregory, I enjoy this book and would like to recommend it to anyone looking for inspiration and motivation to draw.

By the way, there's no such thing as having enough books on inspiration. Check out the following books too:

Playing with Sketches
Freehand: Sketching Tips and Tricks Drawn from Art
Just Draw It!
Keys to Drawing with Imagination
Sketch!: The Non-Artist's Guide to Inspiration, Technique, and Drawing Daily Life

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

The Art of Home
The Art of Home
by Ramin Zahed
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 46.45
29 used & new from CDN$ 39.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Nice art companion for the film, Feb. 22 2015
This review is from: The Art of Home (Hardcover)
Length:: 2:21 Mins

Here's the beautiful artbook for DreamWorks Animation's Home.

This is a large 168-page hardcover artbook actually has two publishers, namely Insight Editions and Titan Books. The page count is listed wrongly on some websites as 156 pages.

The book collects the character designs, environment art, storyboards and commentary.

There actually aren't a lot of character designs, relatively speaking when compared to other sections. Well for the aliens we only have the cute plush-toy lookalike Oh and Captain Smek. And rest are main of up Tip, her mum and Pig the cat. The human designs are alright, and nowadays they all look pretty much the same in 3D animated movies, especially female characters. The more interesting ones are the aliens of course.

The other designs are for the Boov alien motherships and their smaller bubble spaceships, the red flying car, and many other miscellaneous graphics and symbols.

Emil Mitev's expansive digital scene paintings are the highlight of the book. The highly detailed wonderfully realised landscapes are just awesome to look at. There are several locations in the movie, such as the main city, Paris, China, etc, and it's really cool to see how they are adapted in the movie. I always like checking out animation architecture styles.

At the time of this writing, the film is not out yet so be aware that the book has lots of spoilers.

Overall, it's a nice companion artbook to the film.

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

Street Fighter: World Warrior Encyclopedia Hardcover
Street Fighter: World Warrior Encyclopedia Hardcover
by Matt Moylan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 35.21
34 used & new from CDN$ 34.38

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great guide to knowing your Street Fighters, Feb. 17 2015
Length:: 1:30 Mins

As a fan of Street Fighter games and art, I really enjoyed going through this book learning about all the characters. There are lots of interesting information on each character, such as their origins, allies, enemies, fighting styles, things they like or dislike, and the games they appear in.

In terms of the level of depth, it's not as detailed as what you'll get from wikia pages of course. Each character in the book is presented with a one page profile and a full-page illustration on the other. The beautiful artworks would be one of the main highlights for the book. It's also more convenient to have all the characters compiled neatly (alphabetically) in one book.

In addition to the main fighting characters, the side characters are also included, but with only face cuts and shorter profiles. Nevertheless, it's still quite interesting to see how inter-related the relationships are between the different characters in the Street Fighter universe.

Recommended to Street Fighter fans.

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

Fables Covers: The Art of James Jean (New Edition)
Fables Covers: The Art of James Jean (New Edition)
by James Jean
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 37.47
41 used & new from CDN$ 34.21

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic artbook, Feb. 16 2015
Length:: 2:24 Mins

So here's the 2015 new edition of Fables Covers: The Art of James Jean that was originally published in 2008.

So what's the difference?

The first edition had cover art for the 75 single issues up to the point of Fables: War and Pieces which was released in 2008. In this new edition, the new cover artworks includes the The Dark Age (6 covers), Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall (1 cover), Jack of Fables (11 covers).

Other than that, you also have a new cover art for the book itself which is actually two separate pieces of paintings. Bill WIllingham's interview with James Jean is still at the back, as well as the several photos of James Jean's studio. And the book's still a hardcover.

In short, this new edition gives you 50 more pages of artworks. So you get 256 pages in total. Some places have the total number of pages listed wrongly.

The artworks from James Jean are absolutely beautiful. There's this fine art quality from him that I really love, as compared to other comic covers that feature very stylized comic characters. Going through the covers, you'll notice that James Jean works with a variety of media to create the covers. There are the rough sketches and finalised cover art. While some have the Fables title built into the art, others are clean without the titles, barcodes or any words.

Winning six consecutive Eisner Awards from 2004 to 2009 is a testimony to just how good he is.

Interestingly, this book is also available in Kindle format for almost the same price.

Is it worth the money to get this new edition? Well, if you don't have the earlier book then it's a must-buy. If you have the earlier book, then it feels like spending money yet again to buy the additional pages. I always have this love-hate thing with new expanded edition books.

As a standalone artbook, it's highly recommended.

One of 2015's best artbooks that's for sure.

Daily Painting: Paint Small and Often To Become a More Creative, Productive, and Successful Artist
Daily Painting: Paint Small and Often To Become a More Creative, Productive, and Successful Artist
by Carol Marine
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 20.23
38 used & new from CDN$ 16.09

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, motivating and filled with tips, Jan. 30 2015
Length:: 1:39 Mins

Inspiration works in strange ways. One artist inspires another, who inspire others.

In Daily Painting, author and artist Carol Marine talks about how she was inspired by Duane Keiser who's another daily painter. So since 2006, Marine has been painting daily, and selling her work online.

Marine talks about her experience on painting daily, where she finds inspiration and subjects to draw, techniques involved and how you can sell your paintings online. It's very inspiring and insightful. It certainly gives me the if-she-can-do-it-so-can-I feeling.

Actually the book covers more technical topics. Here are the contents.

1. How daily painting changed my life (and can change yours too!)
2. My materials
3. Subject matters
4. Value
5. Color mixing
6. Drawing and proportion
7. Composition
8. Staying fresh and loose with oil
9. Fighting artist's block
10. How to photograph and edit small paintings
11. Tips for better online sales

I really like the idea of painting small. Somethings the size of a blank canvas can be intimidating. It's difficult for a small painting to match a big one in terms of impact, but it's likely to sell better because it's more affordable. All these info are mentioned in the book. It also includes a chapter on subject matter that talks about the kind of subjects that work well on a small canvas.

Marine uses oil as her main medium. However her tips and techniques can often apply to other media as well except for things specific to oil, such as wiping a canvas and starting over again.

Throughout the book, there are many other artists being featured with examples of their paintings, sometimes with interviews, such as in the latter chapter on dealing with artist block. All paintings featured look beautiful and inspiring.

The best part about the book is it shows you the possibility of selling your work online. It's a model that works for Marine and other painters. I've went ahead and check out the listing of other artists and her paintings on eBay and some other websites and can see people buying at the listed price. It's great to see other artists make a living using this method and it's something that anyone can get into. It's certainly very motivating.

This is a great book for all artists. Highly recommended.

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

Big Eyes: The Film, The Art
Big Eyes: The Film, The Art
by Leah Gallo
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 26.75
35 used & new from CDN$ 22.59

4.0 out of 5 stars The Making of Big Eyes, The Art of Margaret Keane, Jan. 29 2015
Length:: 2:12 Mins

Big Eyes: The Film, The Art is actually a making-of book rather than a full fledged artbook.

It's a large hardcover with 192 pages and 109 are devoted to talking about the production of the film. This is a film eleven years in the making before it was finally picked up and directed by Tim Burton. The original masterminds of the film are writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski. And the main star, Margaret Keane.

I didn't know what to expect when I bought the book. Big eyes. Isn't that from Japanese anime and manga show? Margaret Keane's paintings are different, more haunting, at least to me.

I finished reading the book in one sitting. The writeup is intriguing, covering how the story was first conceived, the repeated failures to get funding to finally landing Tim Burton, production stories and how the life of Margaret Keane was adapted for screen. Ultimately, it's the story about Margaret Keane vs Walter Keane that really got my attention. There's just so much dynamics and politics going on in their relationship. Who would know that behind the paintings of big-eyed characters, there would be such a complicated story.

Lots of behind-the-scenes photographs are included. They nothing too out of the ordinary though, certainly not those you would use in film magazines.

The remaining pages feature a selection of over 40 paintings by Margaret Keane. These are mostly from 1959 to 1963, with two from the 80s, one in 2011 and one in 1956 where the big eye effect is not as obvious yet. They are not arranged in chronological order though for some reason. And there's no mention whether if these are the paintings used in the film although I think they are because I saw a few in the photographs.

It's a nice companion for the movie. Treat it as a making-of book and you won't be disappointed. There aren't many pieces of Keane's art to make this a complete collection so the book feels neither here nor there in that sense.

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

The Legend of Korra: The Art of the Animated Series Book Three: Change
The Legend of Korra: The Art of the Animated Series Book Three: Change
by Konietzko Dimartino
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 35.09
29 used & new from CDN$ 30.83

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic artbook for the fans, Jan. 27 2015
Length:: 1:59 Mins

Once again, I'm blown away (no pun intended) by the production value of not just the animation but also the art and direction. All the Avatar companion artbooks have been fabulous, from the original series with Aang, to Book 1 and Book 2 of Korra.

The presentation of this artbook is similar to the earlier two books with the artworks still arranged in chronological order.

The book's filled with lots of character designs, just like the animation is populated with people. There are the main characters, the villains especially and the plenty of town people. Occasionally there are the Studio Ghibli inspired spirits and other creature designs.

There are quite a few storyboard sequences included. Some are the comedic scenes while most of them are action fight scenes. You may have seen some animated line art sequence of Korra online, well, one of them is in the book showing Korra doing a whirlwind kick. The art is amazing in simplicity and clarity. I just love the anime style art.

Also included are the many beautiful environment paintings and layout sketches.

The Avatar world is rich in detail and stories and once again the creators Bryan Konietzko, Michael Dante DiMartino and director Joaquim Dos Santos have provided insightful commentary that delve more into the characters and interesting story arcs.

This is a fantastic artbook. Highly recommended to fans who can't get enough of the animation.

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

Inkworks: Darren Quach Sketchbook Vol. 01
Inkworks: Darren Quach Sketchbook Vol. 01
by Darren Quach
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 16.45
28 used & new from CDN$ 15.91

5.0 out of 5 stars Cool mecha sketchbook, Jan. 26 2015
Length:: 0:57 Mins

Darren Quach is a concept designer good at mechanical stuff. Actually if you check out his blog, you'll see that he's great at environment art too.

Inkworks is a 128-page hardcover, about landscape A5 size. It collects the mecha designs that Darren Quach sketches in his actual sketchbooks. So this book is designed like a sketchbook itself. All the sketches have been nicely cleaned up to remove the impressions of drawings from the opposite page picked up while scanning. I know that because there's a 18 minute Youtube video showing his original sketchbooks.

There are lots of wonderful mecha sketches included of all shapes and sizes. The style is drawn loose but the shapes and silhouettes are clear. One thing I like is there aren't any of those those Gundam or Transformer type mechas. Quach's designs are less blocky and more organic, although there are still a lot of mechanical parts involved. The mechas also look grounded with a good sense of weight and balance. There's a good mix between piloted and auto piloted ones. There are also a handful of sketches of other vehicles and spaceships.

Also included in the book are several QR codes that you can scan to bring up a video showing the drawing process. The same videos are also on the publisher Design Studio Press website. There are six and each 10 minutes long.

It's a good book for those who want to gain insight into what concept art can be when it's developing, evolving.

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

The Art of Total War
The Art of Total War
by Martin Robinson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 28.84
29 used & new from CDN$ 28.84

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice artbook for the fans, Jan. 25 2015
This review is from: The Art of Total War (Hardcover)
Length:: 2:00 Mins

The Art of Total War is the companion artbook to the Total War series of games released over the years.

Also included are artworks for the upcoming games such as Total War: Attila which is scheduled for a February 2015 release, and Total War: Arena that is still in the testing phase. Those titles have considerably less pages devoted.

For Total War fans who have been following the series since 2000, this artbook will be a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

The full list of games included as arranged on the contents page are

Shogun (2000)
Shogun 2 (2011)
Medieval (2002)
Medieval 2 (2006)
Empire (2009)
Napoleon (2010)
Rome (2004)
Rome II (2013)
Attila (2015)
Total War Battles: Kingdom
Total War Battles: Shogun (2012)
Total War: Arena

The artworks consist concept art for the characters, locations, buildings and several battles scenes and miscellaneous stuff like maps, ships. The style is a mixture of computer generated art, painted works and 3D renders. For what I see, a big portion are computer generated art. Quality is generally good, but it gets progressively better with the newer games. The early games clearly have the low polygon characters.

The more unusual artworks would be those Japanese woodblock art-inspired ones used in Shogun 2. Those are the illustrative style as compared to the more realistic style that the game is trying to portray. The Total War Battles series also have their own style that's different from the main series, especially for Total War Battles: Shogun. Some of the more beautiful scene paintings were used as loading screens.

The highlight of the book besides the art would be the commentary that talks about how the games have evolved under developer The Creative Assembly over the years. It's interesting to read about the history of game development and how battle mechanics, gameplay and art are all woven into one. Since the games are based on history, there's also some writeup on the historic accuracy of the games and the compromises made.

As there are so many games featured, it's not possible to cover each in detail. Only selected pieces of artworks from each title are featured. I do feel that more could be included.

Overall, it's a good artbook for fans of the Total War series.

4 out of 5 stars.

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

Street View
Street View
by Pascal Rabaté
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 33.99
32 used & new from CDN$ 23.83

4.0 out of 5 stars A play unfolds in this book literally and figuratively, Jan. 16 2015
This review is from: Street View (Hardcover)
Length:: 1:48 Mins

Street View by Pascal Rabate is a comic book that presents a theatric play. The presentation however is unlike typical comic books with panels and dialogue. Street View only has one set, the facade of European style buildings. In the buildings and on the streets are the characters going about with their daily routine.

What's interesting is the play with time. You get to see what happens on the street and characters as time passes from morning to the evening and nighttime. Ten scenes happen from the morning and ten at night. You can follow the activity in each apartment, or follow what a character is doing. There are mundane moments like a lady who watches TV all day, and more cheeky moments between couples. I shall not mention too many as spoilers but the fun is to discover them yourself.

It's also like a game of spotting the difference. I find myself going back and forth to see what has changed during each timing, sometimes to understand the story, or to see the relationships characters have with one another.

One unusual thing about the book is its physical presentation. It's a hardcover book with accordion pages. You can flip through the scenes easily, or stretch out all the ten scenes and look at them all at the time same. It has a nice cover art that shows the back of the buildings, as if it's a real set, with actors getting in position before acting.

Overall, it's an interesting comic worth checking out.

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