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Parka (Singapore)
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The Art of Halo 5: Guardians
The Art of Halo 5: Guardians
by Microsoft
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 44.55
20 used & new from CDN$ 38.04

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loaded with wonderful art, Oct. 27 2015
Length:: 2:27 Mins

The Art of Halo 5 is an awesome sci-fi game artbook. It's as good as, if not slightly better than, Awakening: The Art of Halo 4 which is the artbook for the previous game.

Nicolas Bouvier, aka Sparth, is the art director for Halo 5. No wonder the art direction and style looks so familiar. If you've seen Sparth's artbooks, you'll recognise the strong use of black as composition elements to frame scenes, and the subtle but colourful gradations in environment art.

Highlight of the book to me are the amazing environment art, mostly by Sparth, Shae Shatz, John Liberto and Darren Bacon. The designed locations look breathtaking. The vastness, space, sci-fi-ness (if there's such a word) are well captured. To top it up, many of those pieces are printed across the spread which gives it an immersive feeling. I can imagine these as huge paintings that can be framed and mounted onto walls. They look real good.

Rest of the book comprise of designs for the characters and weapons. Character designs are more of an evolution because we have already see Master Chief countless time. It's just an update. There are the enemies, which aren't a lot, relatively speaking in terms of coverage in this book.

Another thing to look out for would be the designers' commentary which are insightful and explains the rationale behind each design. As I'm writing this review, the game is not out yet, so I've to warn you that there are lots of spoilers within as the book covers a lot of ground.

It's a fantastic video game artbook. It's hardcover with 208 pages.

Highly recommended to Halo fans and those who love sci-fi art and environments.


The Art of Pan
The Art of Pan
by Christopher Grove
Edition: Hardcover
31 used & new from CDN$ 25.00

4.0 out of 5 stars The Art and Making of Pan, Oct. 27 2015
This review is from: The Art of Pan (Hardcover)
Length:: 2:03 Mins

While I had planned to watch the movie Pan, I decided against it when most reviews quite unfavourable. If you have not watched the movie, this book doesn't give away much in terms of storyline, except the part where they tell you that Hook's going to be the badass pirate Blackbeard in the future.

The Art of Pan is the film's visual companion with a mixture of art and production stories. It actually has quite a lot to read on the filming process, written in a style you normally associate with film magazines.

The book features a good amount of artworks and behind-the-scenes photography. However, the artworks are a mixed bag for me. The scene paintings are a hit and miss. Some are good but most are photo-based artworks with art thrown on top to take advantage of the textures or background provided by the photo. Photo-bashing can be fantastic if done right, such as those you see in The Art of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. In this book, sometimes the scenes don't feel right because of the inconsistent lighting. There are some nice pieces, sure, especially the pencil character sketches (too few anyway).

Set designs are nice, especially for the tribes and their huts. So are the wonderful costume designs. I like the section on the village as the designs there look much better.

Overall, as I've said, it's a mixed bag but slightly more towards the positive side. It's not a must-buy but it's worth checking out or flipping through if you can do so.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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


The Art of Illustrated Maps: A Complete Guide to Creative Mapmaking's History, Process and Inspiration
The Art of Illustrated Maps: A Complete Guide to Creative Mapmaking's History, Process and Inspiration
by John Roman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 33.65
29 used & new from CDN$ 21.41

5.0 out of 5 stars A detail resource on illustrated mapmaking, Oct. 27 2015
Length:: 2:18 Mins

The Art of Illustrated Maps provides a very detailed look into the history of illustrated mapmaking from almost 2,000 years ago to present day. It talks about the significance maps have over the years, the importance, especially during the war, and the evolution afterwards.

The book also talks about prominent geographers and cartographers from the past, and how maps were actually created back then, the process and the challenges of making them accurate. Many of the olden days maps which you will see in the book are focused more on the aesthetic side while the modern illustrated maps are still focused on that but with an emphasis on accuracy. Author and map designer John Roman has provided an extensive writeup into mapmaking that even includes talking about the design elements, such as using the golden mean, symbols and colours.

Roman has also included a section that talks about his own process to illustrating maps. The section has many examples of his own maps commissioned by others, sketches, and captions.

The last section of the book features contemporary map illustrations from other artists. In this section you get to see artists using their own interpretation and style to create maps their own way. There are lots of fun maps to look at.

Overall, it's a great book for those who want to learn about the history and process of illustrated map making.

Another related book that I would recommend is A Map of the World: The World According to Illustrators and Storyteller.

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


Assassin's Creed: The Complete Visual History
Assassin's Creed: The Complete Visual History
by Matthew Miller
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 51.98
21 used & new from CDN$ 41.43

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic artbook and visual companion for the games, Oct. 26 2015
Length:: 3:06 Mins

I'm a fan of the art and design of the Assassin's Creed game series. It has always drawn me in with the stunningly beautiful environment art, setting and historical context. The idea to allow someone, us as gamers, to go back in time to visit iconic places in history is genius, even if the environments are not totally accurate.

Assassin's Creed: The Complete Visual History is a huge 320-page hardcover that covers the art and design aspect of the game. It includes all the main Assassin's Creed games up to Assassin's Creed Syndicate.

Here's the list of contents:

The Middle Ages
The Renaissance
The American Revolution
The Seven Years' War - Part 1
The Golden Age of Piracy
The Seven Years' War - Part 2
The French Revolution
The Industrial Revolution
Chronicles
The World Before
Beyond Games

I did not buy any of the Assassin's Creed Encyclopedia (currently in its third edition) so I can't tell if there are going to be any overlaps. But I've many of the Assassin's Creed artbooks, for the first, third, IV: Black Flag and Unity. There's definitely duplication of artworks used in this book, in fact quite a lot, which is perhaps not unexpected. There are also many pieces of new art as well, especially since it covers the Assassin's Creed Syndicate which by the way also has its own dedicated artbook.

The artworks are awesome, even if you have seen them before. The book is huge and for many pieces of environment art that are printed full page, it feels immersive, as if you're standing there yourself. The background and environment art is what I like most about the game. Other artworks included would be the characters just to accompany the lengthy commentary that runs throughout the book.

For fans who want to learn more about the art and design, there's plenty to read. About one third of the book is text. The insightful commentary talks about the historic context and how the characters, environments and stories are created around that. There's one chapter devoted to the First Civilisation and how it's the overarching element all the games.

There's also one chapter on the side games, the Chronicle DLC series. It includes content for China, India, Russia. And lastly there's a chapter for the other merchandise and marketing materials, such as the cover art for the games, toys and other collectibles. Strangely, the other artbooks and the Encyclopedias are not mentioned. Novels are briefly mentioned in one line. I'm sure there are many more merchandise that are not included, such as the limited edition game releases and their goodies. I would love to see those.

By the way, there appears to be two publishers for this book. Mine's from Insight Editions. The other publisher is Titan Books who has somehow listed the book has having 264 pages which I'm pretty sure is not correct. This is not the first time it has happened.

Overall, this is a fantastic artbook and visual companion for the games.

Highly recommended to all fans of the game and art.

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


Hand Drawn Halifax: Portraits of the city's buildings, landmarks, neighbourhoods and residents
Hand Drawn Halifax: Portraits of the city's buildings, landmarks, neighbourhoods and residents
by Emma FitzGerald
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 24.95
4 used & new from CDN$ 24.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely sketchbook, Oct. 25 2015
Length:: 1:32 Mins

Halifax is the capital of Nova Scotia, Maritime province in Canada. That's where the author and artist Emma Fitzgerald now lives.

Hand Drawn Halifax is a charming sketchbook that captures the sights and scenes, buildings and everyday life of the city. The sketches are lively, loose and childlike in a way that they actually reminded me of Quentin Blake's style. These are sketches drawn on location with the colours added digitally later on.

Each place or building featured is accompanied by a short history or the author's interaction with people she meets while drawing. She talks about the architecture, such as the Halifax Central Library that's designed to look like a stack of books, discovers a church that houses a concert at night, or talks about people dressing for prom, pitching a tent they bought online and other things she sees on the streets.

Showing the places through sketches and observations has a nice personal touch. I enjoy reading and finding out about the neighbourhood and people.

It's a lovely sketchbook. 128 pages, hardcover.

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


Letter Art: 35 stylish letters to make and give
Letter Art: 35 stylish letters to make and give
by Clare Youngs
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 36.95
37 used & new from CDN$ 3.68

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book with wonderful handicraft ideas, Oct. 16 2015
Length:: 1:29 Mins

Letter Art is a beautiful book on making your own typography handicraft. These handicrafts, as shown by the many examples, look absolutely terrific when used to decorate room interiors. It really gives a contemporary look and feel to the space.

The author Clare Youngs is from UK and she's a designer/maker working with paper and fabric. On her websites are projects relating to design and crafts.

This book has lots of wonderful examples. The easier ones are those you can just create with paper. However, expect lots of precision cutting. The end results look lovely and are almost always worth the effort. Other tutorials will have you paint over fabric, rocks, or even use cement to create your own letters. And you don't have to spend too much to create all these handicrafts.

At the back of the book are some templates for the letters used. You'll need to have access to a photocopier in order to print them out at larger sizes if you really want to follow the scale models in the book.

Overall, it's a nice book with beautiful ideas.

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


An Animator's Gallery: Eric Goldberg Draws the Disney Characters
An Animator's Gallery: Eric Goldberg Draws the Disney Characters
by David A. Bossert
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 25.08
25 used & new from CDN$ 25.08

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disney character in Eric Goldberg wonderful pen and ink style, Sept. 24 2015
Length:: 2:07 Mins

This book is a nice tribute to Eric Goldberg, a legendary artist and animator from Disney. He's probably best known for animating the genie in Aladdin.

This is not exactly a portfolio-kind of artbook. Eric Goldberg has created more work that the artworks featured here.

This book is actually a collection of caricature drawings of Disney characters that are to be displayed at the Shanghai Disney Resort. These drawings are framed and hung in the main corridor of Roy E. Disney Animation Building in Burbank, California, before they make their way to the new resort.

Each artwork is of a character drawn in smooth lines and striking black and white. I love the use of black and white, and how Eric Goldberg brings life to these characters with strong poses and silhouettes, no doubt the same techniques he has used for creating animation. Each page is dedicated to just one or two characters. This is a huge artbook and the artworks are printed pretty large, and look to me as if they are printed at the actual size of the original art.

The familiar characters you will see are Mickey and the gang, Snow White, Peter Pan, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Simba, Cruella de Vil and other iconic characters. There are also characters from the recent Disney and Pixar films, such as Wreck It Ralph, Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Frozen, Wall-E, Big Hero 6, Cars and many more, and a handful from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

The book does talk about Eric Goldberg and his career as an animator at Disney. There's lots of behind-the-scenes stories to read. Of course, since the artworks are created for the Shanghai Disney Resort, part of the text talks about that project. There's also mention of his inspiration Al Hirschfeld a few times.

It's a nice book to get if you're into Disney character art drawn in pen and ink style.

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


Masters of FX: Behind the Scenes with Geniuses of Visual and Special Effects
Masters of FX: Behind the Scenes with Geniuses of Visual and Special Effects
by Ian Failes
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 44.07
19 used & new from CDN$ 44.07

5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful book on the magic and masters of FX, Sept. 23 2015
Length:: 1:48 Mins

This book should have been part of the FilmCraft series of books that were published by Focal Press and ILEX. The presentation style is similar and that series is just lacking a book on visual effects.

Masters of FX is a book on that goes behind the scenes to show you how visual and special effects are made. This is done through interviews with 16 top VFX practitioners in the film industry.

The contributors include

John Bruno
Chris Corbould
Richard Edlund
Scott Farrar
Paul Franklin
Karen Goulekas
Ian Hunter
John Knoll
Robert Legato
Joe Letteri
Dennis Muren
John Rosengrant
Phil Tippett
Douglas Trumbull
Bill Westenhofer
Edson Williams

I've not heard of all these people but the movies they have helped made are films like Ghostbusters, Star Wars, Inception, Minority Report, Lord of the Rings, Life of Pi, Planet of the Apes reboots, Jurassic Park, Captain America and other classics and big budget blockbusters.

It's fascinating and interesting to read about how visual effects were created for the old movies like Ghostbusters, Terminator and the recent ones such as Interstellar or Avatar. Each of the VFX supervisors would talk about selected sequences that are from the films, e.g. the folding Paris blocks in Inception, and explain the technology involved. Even after reading the explanation, it's still quite awe-inspiring to learn about how those effects are actually created. Those people working in the VFX department are amazing.

Many of the supervisors have worked on the same films so there are sections where the films are mentioned a couple of times throughout the book.

This is an illuminating book that provides insight into how VFX are created and used in films. It's like magicians explaining their magic tricks.

(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 Four: Balance
The Legend of Korra: The Art of the Animated Series - Book Four: Balance
by Michael Dante DiMartino
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 35.09
39 used & new from CDN$ 25.41

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Packed with great art just like the earlier artbooks, Sept. 17 2015
Length:: 2:08 Mins

Just like the earlier artbooks for the series, this is another a wonderful companion. Going through the book brings back nice memories of watching the animation. Korra's story arc may have its ups and downs but this book presents an overview from the production point of view.

The large hardcover is similar in format to the other Korra artbooks. It has 184 pages. Some places have listed it incorrectly as having only 120 pages. This book is much thicker than that.

Publisher Dark Horse has once again done a fantastic job at filling the book with plenty of concept and production art.

The artworks are sorted by the episodes of the show. There are character designs, background art, concept sketches, storyboards and miscellaneous art from guest arts. Many characters have taken new roles and evolved with a change of look. And it's great to see Toph again (who contributed the funniest moments in the show). The painted background art often come with pencil sketches as well.

There's insightful commentary by Bryan Konietzko, Michael Dante DiMartino and Joaquim Dos Santos. They talk about the design, story and character development. For that, you get a deeper understanding and appreciation for how the animation was made.

All the good things from earlier artbooks apply to this book as well. Needless to say, this is a fantastic book that all fans should get.

Highly recommended.

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


The Art of Hotel Transylvania 2
The Art of Hotel Transylvania 2
by Brett Rector
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 37.63
23 used & new from CDN$ 36.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and beautiful artbook, Sept. 17 2015
Length:: 2:12 Mins

This is a delightful artbook for the sequel to Hotel Transylvania. The first artbook is also great.

There are actually two publishers for this book. One is Cameron + Company and the other is Titan Books. They are selling in USA and UK, Europe respectively. Prices differ slightly.

The book I have is published by Cameron + Company. It's a 160-page hardcover without any dust jacket. The cover has some texture, like those watercolour coldpress paper texture, which is very nice.

Since most of the concept art for the characters have already appeared in the first artbook, the character designs focus on changes to selected characters, and of course the new characters such as Denisovich aka Dennis, Vlad and Johnny's family, and a handful of other new monsters. The designs look fantastic. Characters are funny looking, cute at the same time even though they may be monsters. Overall, I like the shape designs of the monsters. Ideas for the monsters are sometimes really quite funny, such as Bluetooth which is really a monster that look like a blue-coloured tooth.

Rest of the artworks are of story scenes, environment art and storyboards. Layout of the book really plays up the pictures at big sizes. The environment artworks are wonderful. I like the designs of the castles and the different rooms. Lighting and mood are well captured. The storyboards included are funny gag sequences in the movie.

There are lots to read about the production process and character and story development. You'll find out how they create Dennis' head full of curly hair, how they handle family dynamics between humans and monsters, many visual and funny ideas that went into the movie.

The book's really packed and the art is great. Fantastic artbook!

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


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