Ballistic Publishing has quickly gained the respect of the CG community. Their books cover a wide variety of topics, from general CG art, to matte painting, to modeling. In this article I will discuss a little about one of their newest books, "d'artiste Concept Art".
While the Exposé books come in two flavors: hard cover and soft cover (not mentioning the Collector's Edition), d'artiste comes as a soft cover slip-case edition. I consider this a good thing since a lot of people choose the soft cover over the hard cover (for a variety of reasons), and that slip-case protects your book from almost anything. I can't help to wonder why Ballistic didn't think of this earlier, since that would have kept our precious soft cover books protected.
AN601G Photoshop, Painter, ZBrush by Tomasz Jedruszek, POLAND
The idea behind the book is "concept art master classes". Unlike other digital art books, d'artiste focuses almost exclusively on four different 2D artists. They all have their own "profile" so you can know a little about them. Following the profile, comes the artist's gallery. What makes these galleries special is the fact that the artists briefly describe what the image is about. The galleries in this book are not "watch and turn the page," but rather a window to the artist's mind because they talk about what drove them to make the image and what the concept was that they were after.
That also applies to the "invited artists gallery". This also helps you to get a better idea of the artist's taste. I have to admit that was an interesting contrast, because right after seeing a full-page image of an APU from Matrix Revolutions I found myself watching a Burton-style drawing, and that contrast is what makes this book special. We have different categories in books such as Exposé, but once you see the titles you already know what to expect (character in repose, architecture, fantasy...) but on this book you don't know what the next page will show you since each artist has his own style and taste.
Besides all that, the artists also offer a selection of tutorials. If you are into 2D art, these tutorials might prove very useful, since the artists share some nice tips. I don't know if three tutorials per artist would be enough to consider this a "master class," however, the people who are more into 2D art would know better.
MATRIX REVOLUTIONS: APU BATTLES SENTINEL by George Hull
All concept artwork in this tutorial from "Matrix Revolutions" courtesy of Anarchos Productions Inc. All rights reserved.
In movies and games, the words "concept art" are related to images that display the ideas that will then be produced. For example, a concept art image for Half Life 2 may be used to show how something may look, or how a character could be created. This is often related to "quick works without much attention to detail," but that's not the case here. Some of the works found in the book are obviously meant to present ideas, like the images from Matrix Revolutions or Half Life 2, but some others are actual finished pieces (either personal or commercial works) and I wouldn't dare to put them in the "concept art" category because of the definition that I've just given (please note that's my personal point of view, and anybody can disagree with me). I am not saying that the content of the book should go somewhere else, but that maybe they could have just forgotten about the words "concept art" because the majority of the images are not just "conceptual".
Half-Life 2: Core engine by Viktor Antonov © Valve Corporation. Used with permission.
Should you get this book? If you are interested in 2D art, then you should definitely get this one. If you are a CG art fan, either 3D or 2D, and you've enjoned other books from Ballistic Publishing, you will enjoy this book as well. If, however, you are looking for a book that will help you learn from the masters and buy it instead of that new 2D painting Gnomon DVD, I don't know if the book will live up to your expectations. Just remember that even if the book is called "concept art", there is a lot more in it than "simple conceptual images".
d'artiste Concept Art from Ballistic Publishing: $55.00 (USD)
About Ballistic Publishing
Ballistic Publishing is the leading, award-winning, independent publisher of books for the digital arts industry. Dedicated to producing the highest quality publications celebrating the talents of digital artists worldwide, it is setting high standards in all areas of publishing from the quality of content, design and delivery to its responsiveness to the market. Ballistic Publishing shares a strong affiliation with the digital arts community through its sister organization The CGSociety (The Computer Graphics Society). Ballistic Publishing is based in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia, with offices in Melbourne (Victoria, Australia) and Tampa (Florida, USA).
All supporting images are copyright to their respective artists, and used with permission from Ballistic Publishing. All content and images cannot be copied, printed, or reproduced in any manner without written permission.
Animation Alley is a regular featured column with Renderosity Staff Columnist Sergio Rosa [nemirc]. Sergio discusses on computer graphics software, animation techniques, and technology. He also hosts interviews with professionals in the animation and cinematography fields.