Monday, April 23, 2012

Cannabis Works

So yeah, here we have a nice one from Tatsuyuki Tanaka. He's got great style and a nice sprinkling of some surreal sorts of content. I think Mr. Tanaka is well known for his commercial work but Im sure hes better known for his Manga and Character designs (of which Im not totally familiar with besides whats in this book). But dont be fooled- his backgrounds are super compelling and what I really like in this book is his multiple thumbnails that are included for many of the illustrations. I dont know if these pass for thumbnails, just because theyre so tight, but they are super awesome!
He really thinks and tries lots of different stuff while coming up with his compositions. Really inspiring to see that thought process and super enjoyable looking at the illustrations themselves. Good stuff.

Cannabis Works
Tatsuyuki Tanaka
Style Co., Ltd Publishing (2003)
143 Pages (HC)
10.4 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Hyper Weapon 2009

These Hyper Weapon books go back quite sometime and are in one way or another produced by Legendary designer and modeler Makato Kobayashi- I think these magazines are little show cases of his work. Hyper Weapon 2009 focuses mainly on Space Battle Ship Yamato, its sequels and Battlestar Galactica. Lots of ship sketches and designs, not to mention gobs of kit-bashed models of those designs. Kobayashi has been around for many years and continues to be one of the most creative and unusual designers in the anime and manga industry. I would be hard pressed to present to you another person besides Kobayashi (Kow Yokoyama being the only other) that is as good as building his own models. Absolutely astounding work.
Couple pages of reference photos of the original Galactica model are in here as well.

Hyper Weapon 2009

Friday, April 20, 2012

A real nice, large, hard cover retrospective from the Spanish master. Pretty hard to compare photos to the actual paintings, as usual but this book does a better than average job color correcting each individual plate. This is a big, thick book with quite a bit of text. There is at least one painting on each spread, so not totally disappointing, but I wish there were more and that they were larger plates. 
BUT still, Sorolla is the man and there was no way I wasnt going to get this comprehensive over-view of his life and work.
Good lord. Its already out of print and super expensive. What the heck!

Joaquin Sorolla
Jose Luis Diez and Javier Baron Thaidigsmann
Thames & Hudson Publishers (Aug , 2009)
534 Pages (HC)
ISBN-10: 0500976937
ISBN-13 978-0500976937
12 x 9.7 x 1.7

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Holy Moly you guys. Kronoteko! Just about 150 pages of Syd Mead's color work up to the early 90s. This is the Sibling volume to Kronovecta that came in the Kronolog 2 Book + Laser Discs boxed set. Yes I said Laser disc. Syd Mead and his studio are brilliant designers, no doubt, but this book begins to highlight his technical expertise when it comes to Marker and Gouache rendering (as well as jaw dropping industrial and environmental design you always come to expect for this Legend. This book will blow you away. (also probably your bank account will be blown away- Kronolog was published over 20 years ago)).
Kronoteko begins with his early work in Transportation Design and moves through the groundbreaking Futurism work he produced for US Steel, well into Interior and Architectural designs and firmly into all the work he produced from some really memorable films- Bladerunner, Tron, Aliens, 2010 A Space Odyssey, to name just a few. Plenty paintings and value packed in here.
Hold on.
Good lord- I just looked and this book is well over $1000.00 on Amazon re-sellers-. Damn! Thats perhaps more than I could pay for this book. But its awesome. I dont know what to tell you guys. Unless youre a collector you will probably just have to settle for digital viewings. Im sure there are bunches out there. But shoot- only 1-2k, you will be able to flip it in the next few years for a profit easily. I say go for it!
Not that I would ever sell mine- kiiinda disappointed I wrote my name on the inside, because Im sure it will easily be worth well over 10k within the next 10 years.
Better return than a mutual fund or a 401k.

Syd Mead
141 pages HC
Bandai Ltd. Publishing
ISBN-10: 0929463056
ISBN-13: 978-0929463056
13.9 x 11 x 0.8 inches

Amazon resellers have used copies available from $1,190.00 to $2,183.33 bucks! OUCH!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Art of Herge Vol 2 1937-49

I always liked Tintin from the first day I saw it in the old, pre-earthquake Book Cafe at the top of the mall in Downtown Santa Cruz. They had all the Tinitins and Asterix's, but there is so much damn writing in those comic books that I never got that into them! I know- total Tintin poser- but Ill tell you what- all the big money shots that had airplanes, rocket ship, architecture and all this sophisticated stuff had me drooling and has had me drooling ever since. Herge was a master draftsman and you can find a lot of that stuff I was into all up in this book! There's plenty character stuff along with merchandise concepts and products. Herge was making Tinitin everything decades before Lucas successfully merchandised the hell out a property. This is a great book- perhaps just by a feather, the best of all three volumes... all three are pretty good, all in different ways.

I see theres a French version of each of these volumes that came out a number of years ago but those French pubications are over 400 pages a piece!! What the!? This one, just over 200 pages. What the heck are those other 200 pages filled with? Could be anything!

Well even in these half sized american versions theres lots of fun stuff to look at. Solid work.

The Art of Herge 1937-1949
Georges Remi
Last Gasp (March 1, 2010)
208 pages (HC)
ISBN-10: 0867197242
ISBN-13: 978-0867197242
11.6 x 8.8 x 0.8 inches

It'll cost you about 30 greenbacks on Amazon

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Todays sketches

mini molskine

Art of Kung Fu Panda 2

I heard some pretty funny stories from Dreamworks friends about all the challenges they had getting this Kung Fu Panda property started. Certainly not funny for those who were working themselves to death to get it off the ground, but funny for me, from the outside, on the typical chaos that these animated features suffer through during pre-production and well into production itself. Ive come to see it's pretty common across all companies- orchestrating an animated feature dances along a razors edge of madness- but hey- lookit- Kung Fu Panda 3, I think is on the boards and this definitely looks like the strongest of the Dreamworks properties. And who doesnt like kung fu and those lucious fictional Asian environments?
This book picks up pretty much where the KFP1 Art Book left off- a handful of additional characters build off our returning cast with the addition of Baby Po and his parents (didnt they just do this same thing with Marty and his parents in Madagascar 2? Is this gonna be the Dreamworks go to formula?).
Id say this book, a little thinner feeling than the first, is more environment heavy than its older sibling- some really great painting in here and a few shots of actual mixed media maquettes of sets and locations- very unusual and cool! But mostly the brilliant character work by Nic Marlett steals the show and eclipses everything else in here- and thats coming from a real serious fanatic of environmental art. Yup- his character design is that strong. This is a pretty good book, especially for fans of anthropomorphic characters, or for someone who likes to imagine a fantastical caricature of ancient China. I have Art of Kung Fu Panda 1 up on my shelf- not sure why I choose to talk about this one first but stay tuned for a review of that one too- soon, soon....

Art of Kung Fu Panda 2
Tracey Miller-Zarneke
Insight Editions
156 pages (HC)
ISBN-10: 1608870189
ISBN-13: 978-1608870189
10.4 x 11.4 x 0.9 inches

On Amazon for 27 Beans

Monday, April 16, 2012

Design on Film

I cant say enough about this book and have been pushing it on people for the past two years.

For those of you who grew up in the era where a movie set was an actual set, and a matte painting and actual painting- and not made up of 3D mesh and effects, or for anyone who loves set design, from a clever shot with a beautifully rendered matte- to a full on massive recreation of Cleopatras Egypt, with thousands of extras filling the scene- here's a book for you.
It's about Production Design and Art Direction from the very first days of film to todays mind boggeling-ly realistic fantasy realms of Avatar.
This book is PACKED full (over 380 pages) of Film stills and behind the scenes shots, as well as Production Design Drawings, Matte Paintings, Sets, and Miniature Mock Sets from the most memorable films of all time.
Pretty nice sized book and just a joy to flip through- the crispness of the shots themselves- just an amazing thing to behold. I never get bored of looking at this book and it has brought to my attention quite a few films that are well noted for incredible art direction and production design that I had never even heard of.
This is highly recommended for the environment designer or visual developer. You will freak out on this book. Check it!!

Design on Film
Cathy Whitlock
It Books (November 30, 2010)
400 pages (HC)
ISBN-10: 0060881224
ISBN-13: 978-0060881221
9.1 x 10.6 x 1.2 inches

Almost 50 duckets on Amazon

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Le Livre De La Jungle

Years ago while still in art school my pops got me the Pinnochio volume of Pierre Lambert's incredible Disney art of series. I believe there are three additional books besides Pinnochio. Mickey Mouse, Blanche Niege (Snow White), and the one Im featuring today; Le Livre De La Jungle (Jungle Book). This entire series is magnificent as far as books go. Printed on large format, ultra thick, ultra glossy paper, bound in a hard cover with matching slipcase (I dont think the American Pinnochio came with a slipcase, an already expensive book, the addition must have just been way too much for Americans to swallow). Bound within the beginning of the book, a printed cell over-layed on a printed background painting. I like to think this is an actual frame, but I really doubt it.
Somehow I scored this book for like $45 brand new on Amazon UK (Also- check out how they packed it- not only slipcased but snuggly wrapped within an additional card board case! (Pic below)) This is probably one of my best scores on an amazing book for cheap. Its probably over a hundred now- but if you love Disney art, or the Jungle Book, or like me- are crazy about amazing concept art of Jungle ruins, just drop the coin now and get it. You could sell it next year and make more than a few dollars! But I suspect due to how gorgeous it is on and off the shelp, that you will keep it and end up collecting the entire four book series.

I should note that I do NOT have the Mickey Mouse volume of this set. I heard that there can be trouble with the binding especially in that particular volume (a real pet peeve of mine- poor bindings in a book of this size- or any size for that matter).
So Im not saying dont buy it, but you should probably take a look before buying it. At the same time- I *think* my good friend Greg Knight found the Mickey Mouse for really cheap so do a little cost benefit analysis if you do see one- but be warned.

Coming soon the review of Pierre Lambert's Blanche Niege (Snow White)

Le Livre De La Jungle
Pierre Lambert
LA MARTINIERE; Hors collection edition (2009)
237 pages (HC+Slipcase)
15.8 x 14.2 x 2 inches

Available through amazon resellers at around 115 buckaroos

Such awesome additional packaging!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Art of Ralph McQuarrie

Here is a huge book that my good friend, super talented artist; Emmanuel Shiu gave to me as I left SF for NYC; "The Art of Ralph McQuarrie". Probably one of the most influential artists of my generation. I admit this book doesnt have everything, but theres still tons and tons of great work in there. His thumbnails are outstanding and this book is Massive!! Close to 400 pages!!!

Aside from all the excitement I have for this book as well as his legendary "Empire Strikes Back Portfolio" (this set absolutely blew me away and hung all around my bed) it's also with quite a bit of sorrow due to his recent passing earlier in the month. On a personal note, I always sensed a slight sadness in Ralph- being an artist at that level is really tough business, but he should definitely know of the infinite joy and awe he brought to me and millions of others, and really blazed the trail for an entire industry. Cheers Ralph!

Final Note- I see this is retailing for $800 on Amazon resellers but if youre motivated you can still find it new for $250, I cant see that lasting for much longer, so if youre a fan of his work, or a book collector this is a good one to get while you still can.

The Art of Ralph McQuarrie
Dreams & Visions Press
394 pages (HC+Slip case)
ISBN-10: 0979158001
ISBN-13: 978-0979158001

Friday, April 13, 2012

Disney Archive Series; Design

If I didnt like to spend money on books but I needed one, easy to find and affordable Visual Dev book from Disney- This is the one I would get. It has a little bit of everything from just about every Disney feature and short all the way up to "Tangled". Its a lot of art and nicely edited, pretty good size and not too much writing. Also, the printing looks great throughout! This archive series from Disney continues to impress me, and this DESIGN one is the best to date.

Walt Disney Animation Studios;
The Archive Series
287 Pages HC
Disney Editions

Not getting any cheaper $39 buckaroos on amazon

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Akira Animation Archives

Akira Animation Archives. Personally I think besides the comics themselves, this is the best of all Akira books. Character Sheets, Mechanical Model Sheets, Layouts, Storyboards, and quite a few Animation Boards, including both Character and Effect Animations. Pretty much a great all around book for animators, visual developers, layout artists, and people like me who love all those motorcycles, psionic battles, and general outrageousness of Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira.

194 pages SC
Available on Amazon JP 5,500 Yen

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

“Revolution in Fashion: 1715-1815”

There are so many good books out there. Here we have “Revolution in Fashion: 1715-1815” detailing a collection of elaborate-rococo-couture from the Kyoto Costume Institute. Highly detailed, nicely lit and styled photographs along with a handful of illustrations giving the reader an introduction to one of the most exciting moments ever for fashion and world history in general. Im not in any way a sewer or designer but one look at the detailing that went into a single coat cuff and you will find it hard not to agree that the amount of time, work, and craftsmanship is just as outrageous as the silhouettes themselves. Theres so much character in each outfit that this book and nice fashion books in general are a huge source of inspiration and reference for any character designer, concept artist or visual developer.
This book is from 1989, and from Japan so it could be quite costly, but keep your eye out for one or any other along these lines- and if youre really interested in seeing more of this stuff and for free, I can point you to this Pintrest board collection of La Beene who seems to have a knack for collecting such things. Heres her link-

Revolution in Fashion: 1715-1815
Jean Starobinski
Abbeville Pr (May 1990)
168 pages (HC)
Product Dimensions: 10 x 9.6 x 0.9 inches
ISBN-10: 1558590722
ISBN-13: 978-1558590724

Available from Amazon resellers from 125-250 smackers

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I AM PLASTIC TOO; The Next Generation of Designer Toys

Cheers to Paul Budnitz for following up his earlier collection of KidRobot jammers, with this 2nd volume collecting all the latest designer toys. These are both quite meaty books, with big full page photos of some great character design. A really nice addition to this volume that's not found in the first is a sprinkling of interviews here and there with a handful of the designers. A lot of these little interviews include pictures of the designer in their natural habitat- their STUDIO! Im a huge fan of seeing workspaces and CONSTANTLY fantasize about my own. Looking through these two books its apparent that there was definitely a designer toy explosion that occurred somewhere between 2006-2010 (whats that? The "ots"? The "late ots"?)
The jury is still out if that explosion continues today at the same pace- personally I cant imagine it not getting even bigger and look forward to Pauls eventual third book.
Its kinda hard for anyone not to find something they like in the world of these toys, and although Im not the biggest fan of quite a few of the most popular collectable lines, theres a whole lot in here that I really do like, and continue to draw inspiration from when considering color and character design. Good set for the shelf- get on it.

I AM PLASTIC TOO; The Next Generation of Designer Toys
Paul Budnitz
367pgs HC
Abrams Books
ISBN 10: 0-8109-5846-5

Available on Amazon. 32 bones

I AM PLASTIC; The Designer Toy Explosion

A nice, content heavy book from Kidrobot cataloging their lines of designer, collectible toys up to 2006. Broken down by Country of origin and then by artist. Barely any text in this book, pretty much entirely photos.

I AM PLASTIC; the designer toy explosion
Paul Budnitz
367pgs HC
Abrams Books
ISBN 10: 0-8109-5846-5

Amazon has it for 30 clams

Monday, April 09, 2012


If I had to give up all my books except one- this is the one I would keep.
Consisting mostly of black and white sketches and marker renderings and weighing in at a massive 328 pages in a 14 x 11 format this volume is absolutely packed to the gills with some of the most notable futuristic industrial design ever to have been produced.
Tron, Aliens, Blade Runner, Short Circuit, 2010 Space Odyssey, Star Trek The Motion Picture and numerous other projects realized and not fill these pages along with countless drafts and rough sketches of many of the designs. Minimal text. This book and the set it comes in (Kronolog) are far from cheap. There's quite a few Syd Mead books out there, but if youre a fan of his and/or work in the industry, you better just buy the Kronolog set before it's completely financially out of reach. Otherwise jump on the bandwagon and just buy the Kronovecta alone. i believe they reprinted it in the early 90s and there are some reasonably priced copies floating around out there but probably not for long!

Concept Designs of Syd Mead
328 pages SC
Bandai Ltd. Publishing

ISBN-10: 0929463064
ISBN-13: 978-0929463063