Wednesday , May 22 2024
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Book Review: Digital Art Masters: Volume 4 By The 3D Total Team

Digital Art Masters is the fourth in a series of books that highlight the thought processes of some of the most talented individuals in the world of graphics design and graphics arts, borne from the realization that missing from the market was the sharing of the creation techniques behind some of the most innovative graphics imagery being used today.

These books are collaborations from the Computer Graphics (CG) industry in which there were over 1100 art submissions condensed down into the 50 best. According to the authors, they could have made this book five times the size and not lost any quality of content. This book is 288 pages in length and breaks out into 50 chapters. Needless to say, I will not be breaking this down into chapters, but rather highlight the layout as well as some of my favorite works of art.

Digital Art Masters is 10.9 x 8.5 in size so it provides for good resolution for all of the images in the book. Each chapter begins with a topic image that is discussed within the following pages. Many of the images are two-page spreads and some are single-page. These are laid out on a dark gray/black background providing minimal distraction for viewing.

The dialog consists of three to six pages of text and additional image shots that are laid out on white background with black print. The additional images provide support for the narrative or staged or intermediate steps in creating the final rendering. At the end of the chapters are listed in a light gray background additional works from the artist's portfolio.

Each entry in Digital Art Masters begins with the name of the piece, the name and picture of the artist (well mostly), and a listing of the software the authors used to create the work of art. It usually includes one or more of the following: Photoshop, 3d Studio Max, ZBrush, Vue, Blender, Softimage XSI, Mental Ray, , V-Ray, LightWave 3D, BodyPaint, Cinema 4D, Bryce, Painter, as well as other products.

Next you get an introduction to the artist and their work. This highlights the initial idea behind the creation. Then the 3D Total Team will begin to delve into how the work was created. Sometimes it is through the sketch and composition and sometimes it through the concept of the work. The rest of the text is a discussion on the creative process and workflow. Finally, there is a conclusion where the artist brings it all back together with some final thoughts on their work.

I would agree with those who put this book together that all of the images are very well deserving of being included in this book. Of course I have my favorites and of those, my top five would have to include the following.

"The Village" by Andrée Wallin is a winter scene of a war torn street. It is interesting because he begins the project using a sepia toned photo of what looks like a German street from the 1940s. From there he uses a matte painting concept to sketch around and transform the photo into a matte painting with dramatic changes. This was all done in Photoshop.

"Lonely Driver" by Andrei Kashkin which is a rendering of a 1970 Dodge Challenger car parked in front of 1980s-style gas station in a thunderstorm. You have this view of the long road behind, the rainy weather, the cracked blacktop highway falling away in the distance. This was done using Max, V-Ray, Vue, and Photoshop.

"Portrait of Keith Richards" by Jelmer Boskma. This first started out as an attempt to create an image of Richards in his role as Captain Teague from Pirates of the Caribbean, but during the process, Boskma decided to capture the man himself. He did an amazing job using Softimage, ZBrush, and Photoshop.

"Beach Mecha" by Leonid Kozienko is a painting that is done in Photoshop and Painter that shows a girl standing, looking out over a beach with blue-green water and sail boats in the distance. In the farther distance is a large clean looking cityscape under bright blue skies and puffy clouds. Behind the girl and dominating the foreground is this old rusting humanoid robot from a long ago war. It really tells a story.

"Kids" by Michal Kwolek was first created for a contest in Poland. The idea was to show a married couple whose television had malfunctioned and had found other ways of entertaining themselves; by having babies. The image is wonderfully done in a colorful 3D cartoon style (think Jimmy Neutron). The attention to detail is just amazing. It was created using Max, V-Ray, Photoshop, and Unfold3D.

Keep in mind that Digital Art Masters is a concept book, not a step-by-step tutorial style. That is you will learn how working artists think, what they go through in creating their designs, and loosely how they work and perhaps to some degree, how their minds work.

You will not go from step 1 to step 2 to step 3 and so on. You will not learn anything about the individual programs that the team uses to create this art other than what the products are capable of doing for them.

What you will learn is the origin of these ideas, how they start, how the ideas jell, and how they get on paper. Then in the end you will see how the artist felt about the work, were there things that they would do over again, and in general, some closing thoughts.

I found Digital Art Masters: Volume 4 to be totally entertaining and a joy to read. I really like the format and the way the book flows. It is one of those kind of books that you can go to when you are looking for inspiration and refreshing viewpoints. If you are an artist, especially one who works in the computer generated realm, then I very highly recommend this book.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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