On the Disc
Introduction to Digital Art
Photoshop and Photoshop Elements
Blocking in Base Colors
Highlights an Details
Mecha (Giant Robot)
Monsters and Aliens
-Backgrounds and Accessories-
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Book Review by Rio
Don’t let the small page count fool you, this book has a lot to offer and it’s a lot more versatile than another book I reviewed. Before I get into why it’s more versatile, let me go over what this book offers. First, there’s a good number of pages – 36 of them to be exact – dedicated to teaching how to use and manipulate the images, color them digitally in various CGing styles, and so on.
The whole book is in color which is always a plus, imo and if it matters to you, the book is also hardcover and is about the size of a small picture book. The front of the book has a cutout showing the CD with all the images inside in a clear, circular, plastic sleeve. Pretty neat looking but I don’t know how it’ll fare during the long run with constant use.
This book also has a list of artist contributors at the back of the book but does not specify who did what artwork. It’ll become tough crediting the right artist without the proper information and although it says the author is Haydon Scott-Baron, he did not draw all of the images.
The remainder of the book features the 20 types of characters you can make from aliens, teens/adults, monsters, mechas, chibis, and children. There are generally four pages dedicated to each type showing a sample of the characters you can make. One neat thing about that is they show which layers was used to make that particular character. A very handy detail if you like the combination shown and wish to ape it.
There are also four alternative sets that are drawn differently from the majority of the characters. Three of them are drawn quite nicely but the last set looks horrendous. It looks like a grade school student drew it. A very talented gradeschooler, I’d say, but in comparison to everything else in the book, it just doesn’t measure up. Of course, if you ever need unpolished artwork, this set can work for you!
With that being said, there are some other extras: 6 backgrounds and 2 types of accessory sets. The backgrounds depict a city street, schoolyard, volcano, hangar, village, and a waterfront. The two accessory sets feature boys and girls accessories. Both are pretty neat additions giving you the ability to create a complete scene and change the characters looks a bit more.
One point about this book that may turn you off is that most of the characters presented look like they were in 500 Manga Characters. I haven’t gone through all images in both books to make sure but generally, I see details, faces, and clothes in Manga Clip Art that I’m pretty positive I saw in the aforementioned book.
A bright aspect of this book though is the versatility I mentioned earlier. This book actually has PSDs! With layers and everything! All the character types within this book have their own PSD file found within the accompanying CD. To use it, you basically will “turn on” or “turn off” the layer you want to see/use by pressing the eye icon in the layers window. It’s basically one big paper doll file! You can flip the layers, skew them, add another layer from the accessories file, put in a background – heck you can put multiple characters together if your computer can handle the big PSD files!
One caveat is that you have to have a computer that can handle the PSD files. The lowest file size for a character type is 2.14 MB with the largest around 15 MB. Opening these files on an old computer or one with low memory will take it’s toll. There’s also a matter of having the correct program to open the files. There’s a free tryout of Photoshop Elements included within the CD but if you’re poor, you can use GIMP. I don’t know if it’s been corrected, but I’d like to point out that I’ve used GIMP before and saved a PSD file. I later reopened that PSD file and found that the multiple layers weren’t kept intact. So try it out before you save any major work using GIMP.
Overall, this a great book and clip art set to have if you want some drawing references, artwork to practice your CGing skills, or if you’re set on making your own manga or anime but do not have the ability to match your vision. It’s basically one big paper doll except in digital format. Another neat thing about this is that you may use the images for any commercial project you wish. Some things pointed out in the license: can use on media, commercial use okay, cannot bundle in a set, cannot use materials for illegal purposes, and so on. If you want to reassure yourself, you can check out the Manga Clip Art license here.