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    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    St. Louis, MO

    BOOK REVIEW: Ballistic Publishing d'artiste: Character Design

    Amazing new art book featuring work by some of the industry's best...

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    Ballistic Publishing continues to impress with an amazing assortment of illustration and instruction books, including the impressive The Art of God of War III, which we recently reviewed here.

    Now, Ballistic has published d'artiste: Character Design, a new master-class tutorial book which not only provides a wide variety of artwork for fans to drool over, but also a number of impressive in-depth tutorials on how to design breathtaking characters and modify them to fit your and/or a client's needs.

    Filled to the brim with beautiful renditions of amazing sci-fi, fantasy and video game character designs, this impressive book includes three unique sections for three very unique artists: a showcase of the artist's work, a tutorial by the artist, and then an "invited artist gallery" featuring artwork by some of the featured artist's favorites. Throughout these sections, a number of styles and types of artwork is featured, everything from photo-realistic and manga-inspired designs to cartoony charactitures and more.

    For budding artists, the most impressive of these sections will be the tutorials, which include design advise from all three artists. Each provides tips, techniques, and guidance from concept to full creation of a new, unique character and modifications of original artwork (below).

    Tutorial image by Anne Pagoda

    Tutorial image by Anne Pagoda

    The first featured artist is Anne Pogoda, an Art Academy lecturer for Digital Illustration, who shows readers how to create character variations and how to rescue characters that aren't working. This is obviously an important aspect when the modification of a character design is required by a client to fulfill a specific need. Variants to two specific designs can be found above and below. Above, the first is a more fantasy-based visage while the lower, a more sci-fi based portrait. Below, the first is an original concept, the second a more detailed and developed character with environment and the third a combination of the first two in a fully realized character design.

    Tutorial image by Anne Pagoda

    Tutorial image by Anne Pagoda

    Tutorial image by Anne Pagoda

    Pagoda does an outstanding job of explaining her process as well as explaining the reasoning behind her decision-making. Everything from "Reusing Textures" and "Making the Background Interesting" to "Setting the Focal Point" and "Adding Personality to the Background" is explained in-depth with small thumbnail images taken from the larger final product to ensure understanding of the concepts and ideas. Overall, Pagoda's work will help inspired budding concept artists (and specifically female fantasy artists).

    One of Pagoda's invited artist's pieces is below.

    Yakuza Girl by Michal Lisowski, POLAND (Photoshop)

    Following Pagoda's tutorial, concept artist Kekai Kotaki, whose work graces the cover of the book, shows readers how he personally creates three different styles of characters for ArenaNet's ‘Guild Wars’ RPG: a wild character, a heroic character and an evil character (below).

    Tutorial image by Kekai Kotaki

    Tutorial image by Kekai Kotaki

    Tutorial image by Kekai Kotaki

    During the creation of these three characters, Kotaki explains his technique, including blocking the character, adding detail, using color balance and texture, and checking anatomy. Kotaki also discusses such details as designing armor, adding colors, defining shapes and backgrounds and adjusting contrast amongst other tips. These three characters each show the differences in stance, mood, style and design these three types of characters need in order to be unique.

    One of Kotaki's personal works as well as one of his invited artist's pieces is below.

    Charr Flame Lord by Kekai Kotaki (Photoshop)
    ‘Guild Wars 2’ © 2011 ArenaNet

    Arctic Heavy by Adrian Majkrzak, CCP North America, USA (Photoshop)

    The last artist featured in d'artiste: Character Design is Gonzalo Ordoñez, who has created fantasy and manga-inspired character designs and work for trading card franchises like ‘World of Warcraft’ and ‘Legend of the Five Rings’. Here, Ordoñez brings to life two unique characters which could fit into any manga fan's fantasy: a Devil-Killing Angel (below) and a Warrior and Wolf.

    Tutorial image by Gonzalo Ordoñez

    Ordoñez gives advice on how to use shadow and reflections, blood splatter, and ways to show movement within the artwork. While some readers may not appreciate manga-inspired artwork, there's no denying the amazing talent Ordoñez has in bringing to life an incredible piece of fantasy artwork.

    One of Ordoñez's invited artist's pieces is below.

    Wrong but sexy! by David Smit, THE NETHERLANDS (Photoshop)

    Overall, d'artiste: Character Design is an incredible book for not only aspiring artists looking for professional advice, but also fans of incredible fantasy artwork. The book includes an engaging and impressive layout which focuses on not only the featured artists and their work, but also their favorite types of artwork and pieces, d'artiste: Character Design is an awesome new addition to the Ballistic Publishing library and a worthy inclusion for art fan's own personal libraries as well.

    d'artiste: Character Design is available in a special limited edition version for $170.00 or a slipcase version for $75.00. Look for this and other awesome Ballistic Publishing art books wherever fine books are sold or check

    - Jess C. Horsley

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    "Until next time...have FUN with your figures!!"

    Jess C. Horsley

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