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Here’s an assortment of various art-related books, which you may find useful in your work.
Picking up books for artists is a tough task. I guess it’s easier to pick up guns for a hitman. There’s just so much personal in these choices, too much of your own taste. Nevertheless, 80.lv is here for artists, so we made a couple of wide guesses and picked up some very nice books, which will hopefully inspire you to do more great art. This list is not final, we’ll add more books as we go along. If you want to help, please add your picks in the comments. We’d love to add them and hear what you think. This post is inspired by the post in Najim Filali‘s Facebook feed.
Books by Simon Stålenhag
Simon Stålenhag is a real artistic legend. His images of Swedish landscapes blended with strange machines and robots made him a real star in the international art community. So far his works weren’t really featured much in games, but there’s a new table-top project coming from a small team of enthusiasts, which is fully based on his lovely images. Anyway, right now there are only two books of his available, but they are worth every dime.
Tales from the Loop ($34) is a collection of original pieces, which made Simon so famous. You’ll join children in from small towns in Sweden, Nevada and Siberi on their journey to meet abandoned robots, vehicles, and machinery. Plus there are dinosaurs and other creatures you can meet in these paintings. For 30+ bucks it’s an amazing deal.
Things from the Flood ($32) was released last year. It is a continuation of the Tales From The Loop. Once again you meet Nordic children, who face strange machines and weird creatures from other dimensions. This time the focus of the story is the 90s – the decade of great change in Scandinavia. These are tales of the trials of youth, of schoolyard hazings, of first kisses, of finding yourself and there’s also a strange flood coming to town with horrible beings arising from the water.
If you still have doubts about these books, know that Rogelio Olguin actually gave them away as presents at Gnomon. That means something!
The Art of Journey
Thatgamecompany is one of the most respected game developers of all time and Journey is arguable the best game from this studio. It’s a wonderful brief experience, which fills you with gratitude that God invented video games. After the release of Journey, the team published ab art book about this game – Art of Journey ($256). It’s actually written by Journey Art Director, Matt Nava, who was the main artist on this project. Matt later founded his own studio and released a powerful underwater experience ABZU.
It’s a very insightful book if you want to understand how the style of the game is being born. It shows various stylistic influences, narrative devices and game design goals. The book depicts the thoughtful evolution of the Journey game’s landscapes, cut-scenes, and the mysterious traveler.
Make sure to check out this review, if you want to get a more in depth look. It is super expensive now, and you can only find the editions on sale from private owners. Still worth it, though.
Sparth is a well-known and very enigmatic figure in the game art community. His real name is Nicolas Bouvier and for quite some time he shaped the looks of some of the most acclaimed AAA-games. He worked on the development of Alone in the dark 4 (2001), Cold Fear (2005), Prince of Persia – Warrior Within (2004), Rage from IDsoftware, Assassin’s Creed and an number of games in the Halo series. He’s done a lot.
Structura: The Art of Sparth ($15) is probably one of the most popular books of his. It’s a collection of his personal artwork, which includes a bunch of amazing 2d concepts. He’s got a very interesting take on form and color, which makes his artistic experiments incredibly interesting to watch. Every artist, should have at least one book by Sparth. It’s not super expensive and it’s a joy to look through. If you really like his work, you can purchase two more Structura artbooks, which feature even more amazing art.
We actually avoid having anime-inspired art on 80.lv, however for Koji Morimoto you’ve got to make an exception. Morimoto-san is actually a very good animator. He worked on the animation of Akira, directed an awesome short Beyond for The Animatrix, did a crazy project Mind Game.
His album is a very interesting way of getting into the head of the notorious director. It shows how he depicts the scenes, how he build characters and organizes the elements in the shot. Most of his images are incredible detailed, showing hundreds of small elements on the page.
There’s no English version of this book, so you have to rely on the current Japanese editions available through Amazon ($42). Or try your luck at eBay.
Here’s a little review of the book with some of the images.
You may be familiar with Cannabis Works. It’s a collection of awesome images from renowned artist and director Tanaka Tatsuyuki, who’s also working on storyboard, character design, art setting and various other aspects of the production. He worked on Akira, Batman: Gotham Knight and a fantastic short Tojin Kit. He’s best known for his collaborations with Gainax Studio and Studio 4C.
Cannabis Works is a very good overview of the artist’s style, featuring hundreds of fantastic images of robots, punks, violence and weird and twisted indescribable beings. If you are looking for unusual art, this is definitely a good way to start ($35). Plus the price is pretty affordable.
You can also grab the second volume of this amazing album. Here’s a little review. It’s an incredible pack of various little images, packed with details. You’ll find sketches, 2d manga art, finished painted scenes. It’s some of the best modern manga art, you can buy for money, so we highly recommend it. Plus you can now snatch it for $27.
This is a result of the Kickstarted project, which was organized by Anthony Jones (robotpencil). Anthony worked in the industry for 5 years as a concept artist, contributing to films, games and even toys. The list of his clients goes on an on: Sony, Blizzard Entertainment, Paramount, Western Costumes, Applibot, Wizards of the Coast, and Hasbro. As he puts it in his Kickstarter pitch, he’s mostly known for depicting ‘weird people wearing weird things’. For his fans he created a complete narrative, that sort of connected all these drawings together, creating a haunting world of the Afterlife.
This is how he came up with the sultry and fearless sisters of Haliled, the scheming Crimson and Sapphire Sages, and the mighty brothers of Jisais. For character artists this project creates an incredible interest, showing some fantastic details and beautiful garments.
Heaven’s Hell art book in paperback can be purchased for just $12. It’s a great and inspirational confutable book.
CD Projekt RED is well known as one of the most creative and technically advanced studios in the games industry. This company also shelters some of the best world builders in the industry. The World of the Witcher ($27) is an absolutely essential book for all writers, who want to build their own virtual places.
This hefty volume contains detailed description of the world, locations, secrets and enemies you face in the game. It’s not just an art book, but a more detailed look on the way the game and its various elements. And, of course, it has some amazing concept art from the talented artists at CD Projekt RED.
If you ever wanted an introduction into the world of Andrzej Sapkowski, this is definitely worth a shot.
This is a big one. Last game Hideo Kojima made for Konami and probably the last game in the series from the acclaimed master. It’s a very deep, complex and incredibly interesting project, which was developed for a very long time. The Art of Metal Gear Solid V ($26) is bigger than just a simple art book, it takes us on a journey, showing how the game progresses and moved into the final stage.
It’s an amazing treat for any game developer, showing the designs for the characters, environment and props. Kojima even showed the way he and his team worked on textures, concepts, 3d models. As you might have expected from Kojima, half of the book is just character designs.
It has very little text, but it doesn’t really matter since the real goodness is in those amazing illustrations. This is a beautiful present for any fan or game artist, with a passion for military style.
For a long time Degenesis was only available in German, but now you can finally purchase an English copy. Degenesis is not actually an art book, it’s a set of rules, maps and other information about the fictional primal punk world.
Degenesis is created by Christian Gunther and Marco Djurdjevic. Marco is actually a very good illustrator, who worked for Marvel for quite some time. For example, he did the redesign for X-Men and a bunch of other work. In Degenesis he created his own decaying world, which has some incredible concept art and world design.
This is obviously not all. It’s just a start. If you’re looking for more in-depth look at modern game art books, don’t miss Parka Blogs. There’s a ton of great art book reviews there.