Monday, November 30, 2009

The Fantasy Art of Computer Games #153 - Baldur's Gate II

The Fantasy Art of the Baldur's Gate Games Main Page

The Fantasy Art of the Infinity Engine Games

bg2 Xzar

bg2 Xan

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Fantasy Art of Computer Games #146 - Heroes of Might and Magic V

For more artwork from Heroes of Might and Magic V,
visit The Fantasy Art of Computer Games.

story 1 Academy 1

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Book Review - Exotique 5 by Ballistic Publishing

Hi Everyone!

Some of you may know I started this blog only about a year ago. It's just past the one year mark now, and as we head toward the New Year, I've been again re-thinking the direction of this blog as well as my online presence in general. This after a year of sourcing artwork for both my website and this blog and various shifts in perspective regarding art online, and art in general.
Exotique 5 cover
So it's really rather interesting timing for me that Ballistic Publishing has sent me a copy of Exotique 5 for review.

Obviously, there's a lot of art out there. Even after you filter out what you think is crap (and then, it's maybe only what you think is crap), there's still a lot of there. And by a lot, your concept may be "thousands" , and you would still be off by orders of magnitude. Just have a look at such art-stumbler profiles on StumbleUpon such as Renamski, BoyOfBow, Justjada, boo12998, SkylaRaine, Cheryl1109...
Even if you want to narrow things down to "good fantasy art", there is a glut of artwork to deaden the senses.

Once you have seen enough, it'll start to blur into same-ness. You know you've reached this point when you start to think "I've seen that before, or something very much like that". And you will. Not just for one or two pieces, but for every piece.
(That said some few artists will have an interesting enough twist to really stand out because their niche isn't (yet) popular. For example, "Gay art", like everything else with homosexual undertones, hasn't really hit the mainstream yet, so artists like David Kawena and Flondo can still be counted to have a niche while almost everyone else is doing a lot of the same thing just as, at a certain level, "all writing is re-writing": Rehashing the same ideas and plots but dressed differently. Jaded eyes need something really different--and if you do nothing but leaf through Exotique 5 idly, I promise it'll be worth your while to have a glance at pages 138 and 139.)

I think part of this blasé attitude comes from two things. First, art is "consumed" by merely looking it, and looking doesn't take a lot of time, so you can end up consuming a lot of art in a very short time. If you've ever had your favourite dessert one too many times, you'll know the feeling.

Second, with so much quality out there now, the difference between the top performers (of whatever style of art you happen to like) starts to narrow. Unless you are very anal about what you like and look for, some variance is merely stylistic difference, and you start to release your criteria for what we like and simply go with feeling (there's nothing wrong with that, of course -- art quality is an individual and subjective experience). When that happens, suddenly there's so much excellent art out there.
Too much.

Which leads to certain things. For example: Art, being visually consumed, becomes devalued all out of proportion compared to the time and skill it takes to produce it. And for the most part, consumers don't really care. You can see this from how often art is presented online without attributing the artist. On StumbleUpon, for example, very often Stumblers will favorite a picture, entirely out of context from the artist's website.

Also, the devaluation of art into dime-a-dozen status (unless you want to hold a decent copy in your hand, anyway--then it costs a heck of a lot more than a dime) means art blogs like mine really don't do artists any good whatsoever. Have you bought anything lately? That's one of the reasons I've mostly shifted to game art -- merely looking at the artwork won't give you the actual experience of playing the game, so in a way, nothing has been given away by showcasing game art.
(The remaining sourced art and artist spotlights already drafted will eventually be published, but I'm probably going to stop at some point, and focus on artists only in conjunction with something else, like the career artists in Character Modelling 3, which I recently reviewed here and mentioned on Examiner).

Exotique 5 limited editor cover
By now, I'd be surprised if you weren't thinking, "hey, doesn't this blog post say 'Book Review'?" Well, after that long preamble, here it comes: What does Exotique 5 offer in a over-saturated fantasy art environment? What can any art book possibly offer?

It's a book. And ultimately, this is the advantage and attraction. Sure, you can find tons of art online, but this you can hold in your hand. No need to haul out your computer. It's probably more for your coffee table, though, and because of that, I would have preferred a hard cover and a binding style that's more conducive to staying open when it's laid on the table (the Special Edition would probably fit the bill, but there'd be no way I'd expose it to boorish guests who might use it as a coaster).

The book contains a mix of artistic styles and subjects, so much so that if you like one narrow subject or a fairly narrow style of art, you might find yourself glossing over a lot of it. At the same time, it means there's a good chance of there being something for everyone, and hopefully there's more stuff that's liked (or at least not disliked) than stuff that's disappointing.

If you're more open to experiences, however, then the seeming chaos of the art mix is actually to your advantage. There are very small clumps of similar subjects, but from one such to the next, the artistic style or art subject often dramatically changes. When this happens, your eyes readjust and something in your mind or perspective is shaken out of complacency, and you are given the opportunity to look at the next pieces of artwork with more alertness and reception.

Don't get hung up by it being a collection of digital art. The range of styles suggest all sorts of art mediums. It's probably easier to just think of it as a collection of great art. What a mere art book and digital art still lacks, however, are any subtleties that may be achieved by actual dimension and texture (like impasto). And don't expect to understand what's particularly good about any one piece. It may be touted as "the world's most beautiful CG characters", but even there's still just no pleasing everybody.

So should you buy it? I'm not into collecting things myself, so my perspective will probably be a little different from the mainstream. I know, for example, friends who "love books" and have libraries of hundreds of books. Which they probably have read. Once. Then shelved. Forever.
My advice would be to buy it to share. No matter how beautiful the artwork, you'll probably get bored of it after a while, and then shelve it so long that the next one would have come out before you look at it again. As something to share, art, being consumed visually, talks to everyone and in that way a book like this is accessible to anyone of all cultures. (Some parts of it have nudity, however. Now that I've said that, all the underage readers of this blog are probably going to run out looking for it in their local bookstore...)
As a book to entertain guests while they idle around your home eating your cake and drinking your coffee, the wide range of artwork is a safer bet than an art book with a narrower focus.

At the time of writing this blog, Exotique 5 was on the verge of launching, but not quite. You can, however, preview their previous editions online with their book previewer. While you're there, their Exposé series is also definitely worth a look. If you're new to the series and want to collect, they offer up to 20% off.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Fantasy Art of Computer Games #142 - Enlightenus


Muscular Marvin, the Grizzly General

Jenny the Life Artist

A reclusive author has asked for your help! Travel to the mysterious world of Enlightenus and use your detective skills to track down Edgar Lee`s missing novels! Explore an entirely different maze full of perplexing puzzles and intricate locks, as you collect each chapter of the missing books. This unique Hidden Object Adventure game challenges you to solve each riddle in order to escape the land of Enlightenus!


Monday, November 16, 2009

The Fantasy Art of Computer Games #141 - Heroes of Might and Magic V

For more artwork from Heroes of Might and Magic V,
visit The Fantasy Art of Computer Games.

story 1 Academy 2

sepia Academy

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Fantasy Art of Giovanni Nakpil

Giovanni Nakpil grew up in the Philippines being greatly influenced by sci-fi, horror and anime. He moved to Canada with his family in his teens and studied Computer Graphics at Seneca College where he began his interest in all things CG. Giovanni currently works for Industrial Light & Magic as a digital artist, creating creatures for films such as Pirates of the Caribbean 2, War of the Worlds and The Spiderwick Chronicles. His most recent work can be seen in Star Trek in which he was the creature model supervisor.

CobraFish - Giovanni Nakpil

The Giant - Giovanni Nakpil


Giovanni Nakpil shares his skills and insights about sculpting in d'artiste Character Modelling 3 "... by conceiving a creature in clay, and then taking it through the process of modeling the forms, refining the topology, to the final steps of rendering and presentation."

For anyone particularly interested in the nitty-gritty of 3D modelling, Ballistic Publishing has an interesting offer for the first 500 customers: "Ballistic Publishing are pushing the educational possibilities for 3D artists even further with d'artiste Character Modelling 3 by making two of the featured tutorial characters available as downloadable high-resolution models. What better way to understand the 3D modeling process than by looking closely at the final meshes of these renowned character modelers? The first 500 customers who pre-order d’artiste Character Modeling 3 slipcase edition and all Limited Edition customers will receive a download link allowing them to start exploring the models in the book. The featured models are Giovanni Nakpil’s quadruped creature, and Cesar Dacol Jr’s Pond Guardian creature."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Fantasy Art of Computer Games #137 - Heroes of Might and Magic V

For more artwork from Heroes of Might and Magic V,
visit The Fantasy Art of Computer Games.

scroll H5 Academy

Mosaic - Academy

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