Speaking of Comic-Con, I'm once again devastated that I can't afford to go. So I'll torment myself by reviewing what I'm missing. Not going to surf the shopping reports just yet. I think I'll cry.
Yoshitaka Amano was there! I have a huge stack of his art books, even the rare Japanese limited editions. Not sure if he was doing signings for books people brought with them, but man, I would've tried.
Looks like that figure is finally coming out.
I have mixed feelings about the chosen color scheme compared to the prototype's grey, but it still looks fabulous. Must have! (Possibly before I even get FFXIII...)
"A sand mandala is ritualistically destroyed once it has been completed and its accompanying ceremonies and viewing are finished to symbolize the Buddhist doctrinal belief in the transitory nature of material life."
Not particularly inclined to destroy artwork for any reason, I'm very glad that modern photography has made it possible to record this art even after its creators have erased it.
Yay, pretty sand art!
O, the joy of sharp shiny steel! Check out this deliciously functional Oniyuri blade from Cheness that's custom-designed for Bujinkan specs. Not only is it made of high-quality steel, but it's sneaky too, with a blade shorter than its sheath suggests -- meaning that it can clear the sheath faster than standard-length blades.
After sharpening, this blade can seemingly cut almost anything.
While researching ancient Egyptian pharaoh stuff (really, when am I not doing this?), I came across a collection of illustrations from The History of Costume, which was printed from 1861 to 1880. The photorealistic and brilliant images give a great impression of various styles of clothing.
Here's a few samples:
I came across a site called Aniboom that, instead of hosting anime as I expected, seems to host samples of animated works from creators around the world. Take a look. It's good for a bit of entertainment at any time.
Recommended: "Sebastian's Voodoo"
Description: A voodoo doll must find the courage to save his friends from being pinned to death.
So I happened across an utterly fascinating discussion about padparadscha sapphires (which also led to the discovery that sapphires are essentially the same stones as rubies; they're just called different things according to their color), pink as a shade of red, and the debate over how to describe shades of red in gemstones.
Here's a description of a padparadscha sapphire:
The article's author, Richard W. Hughes, shows entertaining wit and a hint of sarcasm while instructing the reader to do something I found very refreshing and practical: Use your eyes, not its place on a hue/saturation scale, to determine a gemstone's worth.
Padparadscha sapphire is a special variety of gem corundum, featuring a delicate color that is a mixture of pink and orange – a marriage between ruby and yellow sapphire. The question of just what qualifies for the princely kiss of “padparadscha” is a matter of hot debate, even among experts.
Today, padparadscha is narrowly defined by Western gemologists as a Sri Lankan sapphire of delicate pinkish orange color. But the original use of the term was somewhat different. Padparadscha is derived from the Sanskrit/Singhalesepadmaraga, a color akin to the lotus flower (Nelumbo Nucifera ‘Speciosa’). Most lotus blossoms are far more pink than orange, and in ancient times, padmaraga was described as a subvariety of ruby (cf. the Hindu Garuda Purana). Today, some define the gem's color as a blend of lotus and sunset.
Ours is a strictly visual medium. Unfortunately, when it comes to questions like ruby vs. pink sapphire, or padparadscha vs. lesser branches of the corundum family tree, we behave as though we are all graduates of the Braille Academy of the Visual Arts. Too often, we feel for the dots on the lab cert, rather than looking with our own eyes to see if it is beautiful.
Seems obvious, doesn't it? Liking pretty gems because they're pretty, not because a chart says they're worthy of being called pretty? Yay for the practical application of gemstone appreciation!Here's an example of a padparadscha sapphire, described as having "the delicate pinkish orange color that resembles the color of a lotus flower":
Gotta see if I can find beads in that brilliant sunset shade for my earrings.
Here's an example of an uncut padparadscha sapphire:
Here's the example of a padparadscha sapphire from Wikipedia, which, although gorgeous, seems too orange to me; it's lacking the pink tint that I expected from the descriptions of the stone:
Here's a sketch of a moogle mechanic:
And here's one of his original works:
Go check out the rest!
Update: More art from Grin's artists Martin Bergquist and Tony Holmsten is available.
Update: And more "Fortress" concept stuff from Bjorn Albihn.
Update 27 January 2010: I'm saddened to report that Lily has closed her web site, meaning that there's no longer any easy-access site with her pictures. If you find out she's opened a new site, please share. I'll be tracking the Lily fan club at DeviantArt full of hope...
Here's Lily's farewell image:
Man, I would love to see the Naruto anime done with Lily-style art. Even just an OVA or two. If I wasn't already into the Naruto story and accustomed to the wildly variable quality of the animation, I'd give up in disgust after comparing the potential of Lily's work to the reality of Naruto filler.
And I'd definitely be much more inclined to watch One Piece if the characters were done in Lily's graceful style rather than their current goofy forms. (Yes, I know they're drawn that way on purpose. That's irrelevant to this commentary.)
I especially love how Lily captures an instance of movement or a particular gesture or a fleeting expression.
shares used to share some of the images on her web site at https://members3.jcom.home.ne.jp/c.lily, but sadly there's never the full collection there. Check it out once in a while to see what's new.
Meantime, here's some sample images to compare and enjoy!
And some of my favorites are the ones exploring the unseen moments of Itachi and Sasuke just being brothers:
So I managed to acquire the fabulously embroidered shirt shown below from Rebel Spirit, and I adore it. It's got all kinds of spiffy gratuitous decoration like metallic print, velvet, little Xs stitched in odd places around the collar and hem, and bronze grommets.
And now I'm totally drooling to discover that there's a jacket with the same magnificent phoenix embroidered on it. All that detail adds up though: The jacket is retailing for over $300. Sigh.
Came across a link to an amazing gallery of advertising and art posters. You can change the zoom in the gallery just using your mouse wheel, very handy indeed.
My favorite, from Yapae Studio, is shown below. Near as I can tell, it's punctures through paper or heavy cloth, but it looks like pearls. Fabulous!
Ultimania guides are complex tomes stuff with information about a game's characters, story, art, game play, maps, statistics, and creator commentary. They're also exclusively in Japanese. I've got a few of my own for the pretty pictures and maps, but that's only a quarter of the vast amount of data available.
In honor of Final Fantasy VII's 10th Anniversary, Square-Enix published the "Final Fantasy VII 10th Anniversary Ultimania" in September of 2007. This 207 page book was given a limited release, with only 77,777 copies printed which were included in the Final Fantasy VII 10th Anniversary Potion bundle. This guidebook acted as a reference and compendium of plot information from the entire Compilation of FFVII, for fans who wanted a collection of all the information of FFVII in one source.
It's a shiny new toy for both my inner gaming geek and my inner word geek. Oh, and did I mention that I freakin' adore limited-edition game releases? If I'd known about this when it was released, I would so own this right now.
The artist was impossible to find for 25+ years, and there was no way to get prints of the art. I've been hoarding my long-out-of-print copies of the paperbacks for years just so I'd always have it. (More recent editions have been downgraded to ugly, stubby covers by Rowena, who, while talented, is not nearly as skilled as Whelan and lacks Littman's clean lines. There's always something a little off about the perspective and proportions of her subjects.)
But now Littman has an online gallery. Check out the gorgeous designs, patterns, lines, and colors.
And maybe one day soon I'll have an armful of brilliant fire lizard tattoos to show off.
Damn, that man is good. While I haven't yet found a high-quality, high-res, comprehensive online gallery of his stuff, check out some of the free online beauty:
Zippo has made some shiny new lighters in brass featuring maneki neko, the Japanese beckoning cats I love and collect. But I can't get one easily: they're not sold here in the U.S. They're only sold in Japan, like lots of other cool types. Carbon fiber! Totoro! Brass gears! Skulls! Little green tadpoles & frogs!
I adore clockwork things where I can see the gears. Dale Mathis makes some shiny gear-y masterpieces. I have no place to put an office desk (if that's even human-sized in real life), but damn, it's pretty.
I Can Read Movies proposes old-school pulp paperbacks based on contemporary movies. Delightful whimsy in art style, typography, and graphical representations of memes.
His creatures are influenced by all sorts of mythologies, and part of the fun is learning more about their origins.
For example, I first learned about the Japanese nue through DDS. I had a happy little geeky thrill years later watching Bleach, when I learned that Renji's zanpakuto, Zabimaru, is also a nue. Kazuma's looks very different, of course, but it's still fun to have that mental web established.
There's lots more at the Megaten wiki's demonic compendium.
I was doing some visual research, and I ended up with a bunch of scans of Kaneko's art. Below are some of my favorites from this batch of research.
About the print versions: I have most of Kazuma's art books, but they're both expensive and out of print because they were only published in small numbers. I need Works III and the Pandaemonium Characters artbook (the purple one). If you ever spot them cheap (under $30) at a used-book store, grab 'em for me! And if Works IV is released on the same 2-year timeline as I-III, it should come out next year. Keep your eyes peeled for news.
Now, on to the pretty!
Are listed here. And I don't really want any of them except the little wind-up alligator, which I'm sure some sick friend of mine would make if I whined enough. Well, and maybe the steampunk faun. But I don't like how it's looking at me.
Yay, teh interwebz!
That horse model I mentioned earlier, which was being shown at the Square Enix booth at Comic-Con, is a model of an Odin summons. The writer says it's from Final Fantasy XII, but I'm wondering if it's actually from FFXIII, which hasn't been released yet.
Oh, wait, someone else confirms that it's FFXIII.
Can't wait to see it painted.
And holy crap, look at the painted Shiva model!
Check out this shot from last's night preview night at Comic-Con. (More pics at Cinematical.)
There's a full display of Dr. Grodbort's Infallible Aether Oscillators, a series of limited edition weapon replicas from inspired by Victorian design and steampunk.
These are higher quality than nearly all of my current weapons, and it shows.
Given that they're doing tiny limited-production runs of 500 and the starting price for each one is nearly $700, though, I don't suppose I'll be lucky enough to own any of 'em anytime soon.
I still want 'em. All. Now.
Aside from the fact that Takashi Miike has made 2 Crows Zero movies so far, which instantly gives Crows X Worst a (more) cool reputation, there's a shitload of really, really cool figures for the Crows gangs.
Check out the overview on Anime News Network. The fall and folds of the clothes! The postures! The hair!