d'artiste—Digital Artists Master Class: Character Modeling, ISBN 1-921002-11-5
Reviewed by: Mario Georgiou, May 2006
Published by: Ballistic Publishing
MSRP: US$55.00 (soft cover slipcase edition), US$145.00 (limited edition)$69.95
For many fans of computer graphics (CG), the most enjoyable part of any CG art is seeing just how realistic a character the artist can create. Part of the enjoyment is being able to turn to friends and share the thrill of being entertained by the artifical reality. Part of the enjoyment is the appreciation of the talent and experience needed to create great CG. For anyone working in the world of CG art, achieving this level of reality is one of the hardest things to do.
Movies such as Final Fantasy, The Lord of the Rings and the latest crop of Star Wars movies have displayed a level of hyper-realism which has left many of us truly gobsmacked. I remember sitting in a theatre in Toronto watching Final Fantasy in digital and smiling to myself with a real respect for what this movie represented. It was a whole new level of sophistication in the creation of artificial characters and imagery.
Character Modeling is an impressive book. Like others in Ballistic Publishing's d'artiste Series it features the work of three artists who work in the industry. The book features Francisco A. Cortina, Steven Stahlberg and Pascal Blanché. These artists have created some amazing work over their careers and some of the renderings in this volume make you just sit back in awe of their ability to create realistic characters.
Each artist showcases his work in a gallery featuring some of the best pieces. Like the other titles in the d'artiste series the artist then presents a tutorial in which he very effectively demonstrates some of his working methods along with some insights into how to make your work more believable. Another gallery follows, showcasing the works of invited artists.
Francisco A. Cortina who is the first artist featured and is famous for his work on the movies Aeon Flux, the landmark Final Fantasy—The Spirits Within, and on The Final Flight of the Osiris in the Animatrix Movie. His gallery and tutorials showcase some of the better images in this book. I also thoroughly enjoyed the work showcased in his guest artists gallery, in particular the Knight of the Temple (which had an amazingly gritty quality), and one of an Asian child eating a tomato.
Steven Stalhberg is the second featured artist and although his work is far better than what I can create with the tools he uses, I found his characters looked a little too similar. All his females have a sameness to them which to a certain extent takes away from my appreciation of what he does as an artist. However his tutorial, Telling a story: One Last Time, is excellent. As with the earlier guest gallery, his featured artists are incredibly talented. The digital model of Monica Bellucci and the girl in Track Day are excellent examples indeed.
The final featured artist is Pascal Blanche who specializes in creating quasi-human and non-human beings that have an almost cartoonish but uncanny realistic quality. All his pieces have a unique powdery/dusty feel which adds a feeling of authenticity to his renderings. I'm a fan of his work. Blanche's tutorials cover the creation of some of his more unusual looking creatures and his selections for his guest gallery also reflect his unusual world view.
Cons: As I stated in my earlier review of d'artiste: Matte Painting, I felt it would have been good to see a few hands-on tutorials with a CD containing the associated files.
Pros: Well presented with excellent production values. The artists presented in this book are all top notch. d'artiste: Character Modeling is aimed at the artist who is interested in the art of creating realistic and believable characters. The titles in the d'artiste series are examples of how to produce books for the professional artist and collector of digital art. Ballistic Publishing has consistently produced books which hit the mark and set the standard for showing the state of the art in digital craftsmanship. If you are an artist who wants to learn about your craft, a fan of digital character creation, or just want to look at some amazing renderings of people, scenes and characters, both human and not so human, then this book is a must-have. Highly recommended.
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