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Parka (Singapore)
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Magic Color Flair: The World of Mary Blair
Magic Color Flair: The World of Mary Blair
by Mary Blair
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 20.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Mary Blair art, 24 July 2014
Length:: 1:51 Mins

When I bought this book, I was seriously confused by the other book The Art and Flair of Mary Blair: An Appreciation that was also coming out in the same month.

Magic Color Flair is actually the companion book to the exhibition of the same name that's held at The Walt Disney Family Museum from March 13 to September 7, 2014. This book is a 176-page hardcover.

The focus of this book is on the aesthetics of Mary Blair's art and design. The essay by John Canemaker reflects that, and if you have The Art and Flair of Mary Blair as well, you will find that there is quite an overlap of content. To get a fuller picture of Mary Blair's life, you have to get the other book.

Mary Blair's artworks are wonderfully produced in the book. They are printed huge, many are printed full page. They included artworks that she created for Disney and for her freelance jobs. You'll see art for Cinderella, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, "It's a Small World" exhibition and the Little Golden Books.

This is a fine artbook by itself. But if you just want to get one book, I would suggest getting The Art and Flair of Mary Blair: An Appreciation.

I feel that the selection of works is much better in the other book which are more striking and representative of Mary Blair, but that could be because I read that book first. There aren't much duplication in both books so you can still get both, but then there's this dissatisfaction of having to pay more money just to have a more complete collection.

4 out of 5 stars.


The Art and Flair of Mary Blair: An Appreciation
The Art and Flair of Mary Blair: An Appreciation
by John Canemaker
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 25.11

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful art!, 24 July 2014
Length:: 1:21 Mins

The Art and Flair of Mary Blair: An Appreciation was first published in 2003 and this is the updated edition. The only thing that's updated is actually the cover art. In essence, it's a reprint, a second edition.

This 128-page hardcover is published by Disney Editions and authored by the John Canemaker who has also written many other animation books.

Mary Blair was an American artist who used to work for Disney before she pursued her freelance career. She's an influential artist noted for her creativity and joyful colour palette. This book looks at her life and career and is sort of like a biography.

The book follows her life in chronological order starting from her training and even showed her watercolour works. Next would be the artworks she created for Disney and finally the work she produced while freelancing. Among the works, you'll probably find familiar works such as those from Cinderella, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland. She's also known for the "It's a Small World" exhibition at the 1964 New York World's Fair.

Mary Blair's work has a child-like quality to them. Her design sensibilities to colour and design are wonderful and can be seen in the artworks showcased in the book. Many of her works could have been printed bigger.

There are reviewers from the earlier edition complaining about the inaccuracy of colour reproduction and amount of content which is lacking, both the text and the number of artworks included. I've not seen Mary Blair's original works so I can't really comment on the colour reproduction. About the lacking content. At times I do feel like there's more to Mary Blair's life than what's included in the book as she's a very prolific artist. It's for certain that there are a lot of Mary Blair's artworks that are not included in the book, however they are included in another book.

This reprint was released in the same month as another Mary Blair book titled Magic Color Flair: The World of Mary Blair, a companion to similarly titled exhibition held at the Walt Disney Family Museum. The difference between the two books? Magic Color Flair focuses more on the design, the aesthetics of Mary Blair's work. Interestingly enough, that book features many of the artworks that are not included in the book. I'm quite surprised by the lack of duplicated artworks between the two books which is certainly less than 10 pieces. So if you want all of Mary Blair's work, you have to get both books.

The Art and Flair of Mary Blair is a fine book that I can recommend to Mary Blair fan and animation lovers. My main complaint would be that the writeup could be more in depth, and the second complain is you have to spend more money to get the other book just to see the artworks that are not included here.

4 out of 5 stars.


Graphic Ink: The DC Comics Art of Frank Quitely HC
Graphic Ink: The DC Comics Art of Frank Quitely HC
by Frank Quitely
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 20.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine comics anthology, 23 July 2014
Length:: 2:03 Mins

Graphic Ink is more of a comics anthology rather than an artbook.

It's a very thick book at 368 pages with hardcover. The reproduction is fantastic. I don't understand why Robin was chosen to show his crotch on the cover though as there are other good cover choices in the book. It bemused me when I first saw the cover.

The bulk is filled with comics that Frank Quitely has created since 1995. It starts with the lesser know titles and perhaps more underground comics, such as stories about aliens and Area 51, Salvador Dali and other peculiar stories. After that it's followed by more mainstream titles such as for Batman and The Sandman: Endless Nights.

Some of the splash pages and covers are for Flex Mentallo, Books of Magick, We3, All-star Superman, Batman and Robin and a handful of others.

It's a good collection for Frank Quitely fans who want to collect the older stories, or catch up with what they have missed.

The full list of stories included are:

The Physicist and the Flying Saucers
New Toys
A Visit With the Hanging Judge
Salvador Dali
The Heroic Revenge Fantasy
The Elephant Man
Romancing the Stone
The Cottingsley Fairy Photos
Your Special Day
Ma Barker
Immune
Pavel Navrotsky's Pig Pen
Nice Neighborhood
St. Polycarp: The Cult of Saints
Batman: Scottish Connection
Flexibility
Watching You
Glitterdammerung
Destiny
Batman Reborn Part One: Domino Effect
Batman Reborn Part Two: The Circus of Strange
Batman Reborn Part Three: Mommy Made of Nails
Time and the Batman: Today
Snapshot: Revelation!

There's not much text talking about the background of the work and even the afterword by Frank Quitely is just a one page essay which is too short for the amount of work shown in the book. This would be a letdown for those looking to learn more about him.

Overall for the price of the book, if you like Frank Quitely comics, it's quite worth the purchase.

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


The Illustrated History of 151 Videogames
The Illustrated History of 151 Videogames
by Simon Parkin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book on the evolution of video games, 20 July 2014
Length:: 1:58 Mins

This is a wonderful book that looks at the evolution of video games over the last few decades.

I can sense the nostalgia when reading about the games that I used to play, and the consoles that I owned. This book covers in chronological order, selected video games and the consoles that were released since the early 1970s. The first game in the book is Computer Space, something I've never heard of, and there are many other games I don't know of that are also in the book, and I think it's great.

As with books that talk about video games, and list them, the criteria for inclusion is not going to please everyone. I feel that the 151 video games included are quite well chosen. There are a few games which I thought should be in but are not, but it's not a big deal. Overall, there's a huge variety of games included which makes for an interesting read.

The text about the history of each game and console is informative. It's obvious they are properly researched and hence quite insightful. Author Simon Parkin has done a great job with the book.

The last game featured is from April 2012 so this book doesn't have anything on the PlayStation 4 and XBox One. Again, not a big deal, but it would be great if this book could be updated in the future.

Another thing I like about the book is, they included information on where you can play all the games, even the very old ones. They could be on the web, PSN, emulators or somewhere else, and all that is included in the book.

Highly recommended to all who are interested in video games.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 20, 2014 11:58 AM BST


The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Chronicles: Cloaks & Daggers
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Chronicles: Cloaks & Daggers
by Evangeline Lilly
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 23.85

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific companion. Focuses on the props., 18 July 2014
Length:: 2:53 Mins

This is the fourth Chronicles book in the Hobbits film series. Fans and readers who like the previous three books will find that this is produced with as much care and effort as the previous three. In other words, this book is extremely detailed and insightful.

This companion book focuses on the props and costumes to the first and second Hobbit films. It's a beautiful hardcover that's 256 pages thick.

Everything in the film has to be made. It's only going through this book that one can even begin to imagine how much work there is. This book really gives you a good idea of that scope. The company responsible is 3Foot7, and production designer is Dan Hennah.

It goes through each and every costumes, weapons and accessories used by the characters, whether they are dwarfs, orcs, elves or others. All pictures used are of high resolution.

The writer and art director for this book is Daniel Falconer, who's also a designer at Weta Workshop for more than 15 years. He has included extensive writeup and commentary from the staff, the sculptors, costume makers, dyers, prop-makers, armourers, jewellers, weavers, and other craftsmen. An immense and diverse set of skills is certainly on display. The prop designs are really detailed.

The staff talks not just about the design, but also how they actually make the props, such as the fabric, shoes, belts, jewellery, rings, etc. In many cases, they actually case the metal themselves. You'll read about the many hats of Gandalf, the coins in the Dragon's treasure hoard, furniture and ornaments that decorate the sets.

After reading the book, you'll probably watch the film again with new appreciation.

Highly recommended to fans of the film.

(See more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 20, 2014 12:01 PM BST


The Art and Making of Hercules
The Art and Making of Hercules
by Linda Sunshine
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 20.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice film companion, 18 July 2014
Length:: 1:59 Mins

The Art and Making of Hercules is a nice companion to the film and talks quite a bit on the film production with accompanying photos and concept art.

The 176-page hardcover is filled with plenty of photos from behind the scenes and location sets. Pictures are printed hug. It's quite cool to check out the details such as the costumes, props, makeup and sets.

The artworks are not as epic as I had expected. The concept art still look good but mostly for capturing the mood. You'll see character designs, weapons and environment art. The character art is so-so. I prefer fighting scenes of which there are not much. As for the environment, the story is based more on reality than myth so the designs of the buildings and architecture are more down to earth than of mythical proportions. The ones that I like more are from the Greek-inspired citadel and the dungeon, and that's about all which is not much

In terms of mixture, I would say it's 60-40 for photos and artworks.

I do enjoy reading about how they made the film, like building their sets, getting actors together, dealing with the weather, horses and other interesting stories. It provides fun insight as the director Brett Ratner emphasise shooting on location over using computer graphics. There are also profiles of the main characters, and writeup talking about the origins and different variations of Hercules from history. The story is actually included in the book so if you haven't watched the movie, you'll want to skip over those two pages.

Overall, I'll recommend this book to those who like the film or enjoy reading about film production.

(See more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 20, 2014 12:00 PM BST


Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of Planet of the Apes: The Art of the Films
Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of Planet of the Apes: The Art of the Films
by Matt Hurwitz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 16.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic artbook with lots of behind the scenes, 14 July 2014
Length:: 2:09 Mins

It's nice that there's an artbook for the two Planet of the Apes films. I was really thrilled and blown away by them, especially for Dawn.

This is a large format hardcover artbook with 176 pages. The cover has a nice fine grainy texture and the print of Cesar's face is actually glossy. I'm just amazed at how real Cesar looks, even though you know it's just computer graphics.

The content is split between the first and second films, more on the second one. Pictures are a mixture of photographs from behind the scenes, the sets and concept art. There is a lot to see and it provides a nice general idea of how the films were created. The accompanying commentary that talks about film production, covering the sets and scenes in the order as they appear in the films.

In terms of concept art, many pieces are of the environment, such as Gen Sys building, Will's home, primate shelter and San Francisco. The art is quite well done. Many I suspect are paintings over 3D models but they look great because of the details and lighting. There aren't much character designs except for a two page spread for the main apes with more screen time.

The set photographs are fantastic. It's fun to find out which sets are real and which are digital. There's just the right amount of photos of actors in their motion capture suits. I left the cinema wondering if director Matt Reeves had casted mutant apes because the acting is just unbelievable. You'll read quite a bit on the performance motion capture.

This is a fantastic artbook with a good mix of art, photos and writeup. I particularly enjoy the insight from commentary.

(See more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 20, 2014 11:59 AM BST


Digital Art Masters: Volume 9
Digital Art Masters: Volume 9
by 3DTotal Team
Edition: Paperback
Price: 29.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal, 10 July 2014
Length:: 2:04 Mins

Every year when a new volume for Digital Art Maters comes out, I would use the thesarus to find a word that's synonymous with awesome. Soon, I'll have to repeat the adjectives.

The 9th volume features another 50 artists and their amazing digital artworks complete with descriptions and screenshots. Altogether, there are over 600 beautiful images included in the five sections, namely Sci-Fi, Scenes, Fantasy, Characters and Cartoons.

If you've been collecting the previous volumes, you already know what to expect. If you're new, you might be inspired to get the earlier volumes after looking through this. The quality of the work featured is phenomenal, from the concept to the execution. You should definitely check out the websites of all the artists in th ebook.

There are 288 pages. For the first time, I found out that there's actually a hardcover available as well but it's only sold at 3DTotal's online shop. The paperback edition is available where artbooks are sold.

Great book. Highly recommended as usual.

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


Bloggers Boot Camp: Learning How to Build, Write, and Run a Successful Blog
Bloggers Boot Camp: Learning How to Build, Write, and Run a Successful Blog
by Charlie White
Edition: Paperback
Price: 12.91

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great guide and resource to blogging, 8 July 2014
This is a great resource for beginner and intermediate bloggers. I've been blogging for a few years and many of the advice dished out in the book are some of what I practice, and then there are also new tips I've never seen before.

The authors Charlie White and John Biggs definitely have the credentials to write this book. They have worked for Wired, Mashable, Gizmodo, TechCrunch and other companies. The experience they get are from the ground, from the front lines. Many live examples, so called war stories, are included.

This book is different from other blogging books because it has very actionable and technical tips. In a way, the instructions are actually training you to be a journalist, one that writes online. As a blogger, you're less constrained by the rules, but you still need journalistic skills to make sure that your writing is engaging enough for your readers. It teaches you how to source for stories, how to angle them, and even talk about things like commonly misused words.

This book is quite frank at stating what will and will not work. Your success is directly related to the degree at which you follow through all the instructions. The focus of the book is on creating quality content. One of the main tips is to write 1000 words each day. It's not easy, but it's good training, and the book has lots of ideas on what you can write to achieve the length and quality.

What's lacking is perhaps the part on monetizing your blog which is a rather short section that you will need to explore further on your own. The book does not promote quick get-rich tips, however it's one that will get you started on the right track and mindset.

Get the Kindle version if you can since the book is mainly text. The page layout with huge blocks of text aren't very inviting. But it's still an easy read because the tone of the authors is very conversational.

It's a great book that I'll read again just to have the advice sink in and break whatever bad habits I have.

This is one of the better books on blogging I've read, and I've read quite a few.

Highly recommended to beginner to intermediate bloggers.


The Unreal Game Engine: A Comprehensive Guide to Creating Playable Levels
The Unreal Game Engine: A Comprehensive Guide to Creating Playable Levels
by Andrew Finch
Edition: Paperback
Price: 29.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful resource for learning UDK, 2 July 2014
Length:: 2:25 Mins

Here's a helpful resource for those who want to venture into indie game development.

Andrew Finch is an experienced environment artist who has worked on eight game titles and counting. He's very knowledgable and it shows in the book. In addition to the techniques shown, he also gives tips on how to create believable game environments.

The tutorials are based on the Unreal Development's Kit (UDK) that's used for indie game development.

This book is designed for 3D artists at an intermediate level. You'll definitely need some knowledge of the software so you can get familiar and up to speed quickly with the tutorials and know what's being shown. The software you'll need are UDK, Photoshop, 3ds Max.

The tutorials go through the process of creating playable levels and assets. You'll get to create environments, weapons and vehicles. It covers the different stages in the pipleine, namely modeling, texturing, setting up materials, lighting and post effects.

The tutorials are detailed. Just for the first example, you get to create an Italian courtyard, and you have to model the whole environment and props, texture and light the whole scene. That particular example is spread about eight chapters.

There are other examples, such as creating a handgun, submarine pen, bus, zombie town and they, too, are spread over several chapters with pictures and step-by-step instructions to follow along.

It's a useful resource for learning UDK.

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


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