Ballistic Publishing's The Art of Gears of War 3 in Review

August 27, 2012 12:03 am

Tags: Ballistic Publishing, Book reviews, Concept Art, Game Development, Games

The Art of Gears of War 3 is a digital art book by Ballistic Publishing, part of the “The Art of the Game” video game art book series. The book provides a “behind the scenes” look at almost every visual aspect of the game.

The book is divided into two parts: the first part consists of concept art, and the second part on production art. The concept art section is exactly that, a collection of concept art used for the game, while the second part showcases renders (using both high resolution and low resolution models) and in-game captures of the different elements. They both cover characters, monsters, weapons, vehicles and environments.


To me, the coolest part of The Art of Gears of War 3 is the concept art section. I am not a concept designer, but as a storyteller I know how important it is to nail down the idea behind a character, an environment, objects, and such. The book is not just an art showcase, so they include some information about the pieces you are looking at. For example, they explain how the enemies' "machines" are not really machines, but organic creatures with mechanical elements, and how this is portrayed in the designs.

I think concept art alone would have been more than enough to fill the entire book, and they could have gone through the different iterations of some elements until they show the final product. However, the amount of information is surely massive and a single book would not be enough).


The second section of the book showcases different forms of digital art. This section is more comparable to other publications by Ballistic Publishing, such as Exposé, where you only get descriptions of the images, unless there’s something specific to explain (for example, mentioning that a specific digital sculpture was then used to create a collector’s edition figurine).

As anyone would expect, The Art of Gears of War 3 offers the same quality as all other Ballistic Publishing books, with nicely printed pages and a solid bonding. The overall image quality is great and shows all the little details on every piece. On the other hand, there’s only so much you can do when the source material comes from a game running on a fixed resolution, and video game screenshots are by no means suitable for printing.


There are some images (not many, however) that show the “staircase effect” found in games with full screen anti alias turned off. Some other images show the same aliasing because they were stretched to fit an entire page. When you consider that the game may have been running at 1080p, which is roughly 3 times smaller than the optimal printing resolution (ignoring some other aspects I’m not entirely familiar with, like dpi, color space and such), it is not surprising some images suffered these problems. As I said, only a handful of the images have these problems, so they will not take away much from the overall experience.


It’s unfortunate they couldn’t fit more content in the book. However, it’s already heavy enough, so maybe it was for the best. The big question is what if you are not a Gears of War fan (personally, I haven’t played any of them). Sometimes I was left wondering what they were talking about, and also there’s the fact they sometimes jump straight to GOW3 concepts and ideas assuming you already know what they are talking about (why else would you have the book, if you’re not familiar with GOW?). This can make some notes a little hard to understand, but if you ignore that and focus on understanding the design choices, it can be a very good read.

If you are a GOW fan who likes to collect game-related items, you should really get this book. If you are into digital art, concept art or game development in one way or another, it can give you a very good understanding on the ideas behind one of the best selling games of this generation.

For more information about The Art of Gears of War 3, please visit Ballistic Publishing, and be sure to look at their Book Previewer to get a good look at the content before purchase.

All supporting images are copyright and used with permission from Ballistic Publishing.
All content and images cannot be copied, printed, or reproduced in any manner without written permission.

Sergio Aris Rosa [nemirc], is Sr. Staff Writer for the Renderosity Front Page News. Sergio discusses on computer graphics software, animation techniques, and technology. He also hosts interviews with professionals in the animation and cinematography fields. You can follow him on Twitter, and if you want to see what he's up to you can visit his blog.




August 27, 2012

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