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5.0 out of 5 stars It's a steal!, 25 Feb 2014
This review is from: The Art of Thief (Hardcover)
From the book and the Titan Books website:

The Art of Thief is the ultimate gallery of the world of Garrett, the master thief. Sketches, concept art, and behind-the-scenes commentary from the artists shine a light on the dark alleys and deadly foes Garrett faces every day. The City and its oppressed citizens are realised in stunning detail, from the secrets and lies lurking around every corner, to the halls and treasures of the Baron himself. Follow Garrett through the back doors of The City and into a world of amazing detail and surprising beauty.

Titan Books’ The Art of Thief will give fans and in-depth look at Square Enix’s enormously anticipated new game, featuring exclusive concept and development art, as well as detailed creator insights and commentary throughout. This book will showcase Garrett’s underworld in beautiful detail and truly show the art of the Master Thief.

An art book can be more than just a bunch of pages filled with pretty pictures. Done right, an art book can give you valuable insight into the thought processes that go into the design of something, be it a TV show, movie or – in this case – a computer game, and give the entire thing much more depth and personality.

Titan Books are well known for the quality of their ‘Art of ‘ books, and once again they haven’t failed to deliver.

I have spent the day immersed in the pages of this book. I’m a great admirer of the ‘steampunk’ genre, and of alternate histories that feel real but have a small twist that makes it just that little bit fantastical, such as the inclusion of magic or technologies far ahead that of reality. The world of Thief is one such creation, a pseudo-Victorian world of darkness, decay and weird things that I don’t remember seeing in the history books.

The world is at once recognisable and different, recognisable enough to be able to connect to the reality of it but just so far removed so that you can revel in the strangeness of it all.

This hardback edition, with a minimal uncrowded cover that’s probably the brightest part of the entire book, is quite hefty so you already feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.

The Art of Thief expresses these weird and wonderful differences only too well. After a forward from Nicolas Cantin, the game and art director of Thief, the book begins with chapter one and this is an overview of ‘Garrett’, the game’s protagonist. It’s an interesting design study, with plenty of images of him in various stances, designs for his sneaky hands (which you’ll no doubt see a lot of in the game), facial renditions, small storyboards of him in action and equipment. With plenty of unobtrusive notes there’s a lot to learn here and the designs and artwork, even though some of it is a little repetitive, is excellent.

The next chapter, ‘Characters’, gets much more meaty as we see the designs of plenty of people that populate the world of Thief. Personalities shine here through expressions and costumes and the design work is incredibly atmospheric; the designs for the Watch are particularly impressive.

Chapter 3, ‘Loots, puzzles and Props’ details the smaller things in the game, such as things that Garrett might be stealing, the trials and problems he might face getting to the things he wants to steal and the nasty surprises awaiting him should he steal it. There’s some amazing oil painting artwork and Victorian style flyers/posters here that look great

Finally, my favourite part of the book is Chapter 4, ‘The City’. This is where the book oozes atmosphere and the dark, grimy world of the game comes to life. The decaying Victorian-style architecture seems to be almost camouflaged against the dreary, grey rain-soaked sky and the locations, varied and expansive, look to be amazing places to game in. It makes me want to grab my controller and play the game right now, the illustrations just make me want to experience the locations. This chapter is rounded off with a glorious map of the City so you can get an idea of just how large the place is.

As much as this book makes me ache to play the game on my console, I’m also a tabletop roleplayer and I could use this book to run a very successful steampunk-style Victorian campaign with no problem. The art on show here can’t fail to inspire any kind of gamer.

This is an excellent book filled with some amazing artwork. Paul Davies writes clearly and doesn’t intrude on the images, and the insights he gives regarding the inspiration and thought that went into the designs is informative and interesting. Titan Books have once again produced another ‘Art of’ title that both looks great and reads great. This is a must for any fans of the game, the genre and art in general.

Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Piece of VG Art, 15 Mar 2014
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Art of Thief (Hardcover)
In the gaming industry perhaps there is no greater truth than “a picture is worth a thousand words.” It helps bring a flavour to the concept, it helps everyone get on the same page and it sparks not only an identity but also generates discussion on the various elements. This is one of the reasons that I love the Art of books from Titan.

The pieces within are not only breath-taking but allows the reader to see the development through from original concept to final process in glorious glossy images that really help bring not only the principle protagonist to life but also helps the reader get to grips with the world.

Within this title are studies of various elements from the principle character through to the practicality of his tools/weapons taking design changes throughout that helps bring it to life. Add to the mix a whole host of supporting cast members, each with their own individual look, multiple points of view alongside options of world points of view all round gives you something pretty unique.

Back this up with script that helps explaint he world in greater detail and all round I was a more than happy reader. Great stuff.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Concept art gold., 6 Mar 2014
This review is from: The Art of Thief (Hardcover)
My review kind of got away from me a little bit so I shall add this as a mini review for those who don't like long winded opinions of the over opinionated. Quite simply this book is brilliant. Exceptionally good art, a well made and presented book and a subject matter that is naturally fascinating to explore. If you're a fan of concept art books then treat yourself without any doubts that this is money well spent. There. If you want to know more then you'll just have to read the rest.

With 'The Art of Thief' Titan publishing has brought together all the elements of their best works to make their finest concept art book yet. Stylish, minimalist front cover? check. Succinct yet still remarkably informative text? Check. Clear demonstration of the iterative design process? To a decent extent, check. Oodles and oodles of gorgeous art that will have you flipping through the book time and again? Double check.

If you already own any of the Titan concept art books for games (Assassin's Creed 3&4, Titanfall and the Halo art books are titles I particularly highly recommend) then you will already be familiar with the format of the book. Just larger than A4, hardback and around 200 pages (191 in this case) and with every page full of top quality artwork. They are the masters of making concept art books and this time they have distilled all that experience to create a superlative offering.

But what about the art itself? As you would expect for a big ticket item such as Thief Eidos have not been stingy with the art department budget. The artwork is top tier material and a real beauty to behold. Obviously, given the nature of the game, it is predominantly dark and moody and the artist's ability to create a real feel for the world they've developed is spectacular. Indeed, you get a very clear feeling of just how much the city itself is a character. With misty Victorian-style streets and architecture, grim dockside warehouses and piers, depressing slums, vaulted ironwork structures, candlelit cathedrals, red brick sewers and disgustingly opulent mansions this is a living breathing world of decay, corruption and misery. And I love it. The art perfectly captures the mood and essence of the game. Being a stylised version of a Victorian setting there is also all of the gadgets and machinery which needed to be designed and I would describe this as Steampunk lite. Lots of brass, cogs and steam but without going fully down the road of Steampunk. It's more functional than stylish and that's completely appropriate given that The City doesn't foster frippery.

The chapter on characters is nice and comprehensive although I would have liked to see more traditional 2D work. The artists use CG a lot and it's not my favourite kind of work but they do it so well that I certainly don't object to it. Lot's of interesting faces and costumes on show, here, as well as items, weapons and devices. There is a good selection of the many different civilian faces you can expect to see as well as some truly fantastic work on the City Watch guards. There are also a couple of other factions at work in The City which I won't go into detail naming or describing, suffice to say that their look and design is equally impressive.

Garret gets a chapter all to himself and it has to be the most expansive exploration of a main character I've ever seen. There's costume details (right down to the different types of cloth and leather on different parts of his body), gadgets and weapons, a remarkable amount of close detail work showing specifics such as hands and eyes, detailed sketches of how Garret would move and operate things and a plethora of sketches showing all the different stances he would employ holding a variety of weapons. There's also nice colour work showing how non-lethal and lethal take-downs would work and, as though all of that weren't enough, just some stylish pictures of Garret for getting a feel of the character. Like I said, expansive.

There is also a chapter on 'Loot, Puzzles and Props' which needs no further explanation. A case of 'does what it says on the tin'. Although I will say that this is where the best of the fine detail work can be found. From personal items to specific objects which are found at certain locations. There is a nice stonework chess table and benches which I will have made for myself and placed in the garden just as soon as I win the lottery.

To round all of this off there are a number of other interesting pieces which can be found in the background of the game. Wanted posters, strange artwork which will be on the walls of the rich and mighty and which matches their character perfectly and embossed metal sign work, the really mundane stuff which is vital to make a place believable. Things like 'WAY OUT' signs and door plaques. That's how thoroughly this game has been visualised. There are also a couple of maps which are fun to look over.

In summary I have to say that I can't recommend this book highly enough. Sure it's a work of dark, grim pleasure but it is excellent work, perfectly presented and a real gem for concept art fans. Lovers of dystopian visions, Victorian inspired cityscapes and well realised settings would also recognise this as a title worthy of note.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 1 Oct 2014
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This review is from: The Art of Thief (Hardcover)
Excellent product and quick delivery.
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The Art of Thief
The Art of Thief by Paul Davies (Hardcover - 25 Feb 2014)
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