Book Review: d’artiste: Fashion Design

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In stock and available for order since the turn of the New Year, d’artiste: Fashion Design is the latest art book from Ballistic Publishing and the illustrious tenth volume in the publisher’s “Digital Artists Master Class” series.

A suitable companion to the previous d’artiste installment, Character Design, Fashion Design is chock full of insight from three industry experts as well as in-depth tutorials that offer invaluable tips and techniques aspiring artists can employ when it comes time to play digital dress-up with their inked characters.

Alessia Zambonin, Annie Stegg and Lois van Baarle pour their digital fashion design knowledge onto 192 glossy pages of informative eye candy, Lois van Baarle’s eye-catching “Bubblegum” illustration bringing a fruity pop to the book’s front cover. Combined, the three artists’ work has been seen on comic book covers, in video games and RPG / card games, and in various other forms of media and entertainment.

The book is divided into three main sections, each dedicated to one of the contributing artists. Brief biographical data opens each section, affording the individual artists the opportunity to showcase some of their favorite personal illustrations. From there, each digital fashionista presents a couple Photoshop tutorials highlighting different aspects of outfitting a drawn character model, such as rendering fabrics and creating makeup and accessories.

The three contributors have very different styles and approaches to character fashion, so every page has something unique for readers to visually digest. As seen in the aforementioned cover shot, Lois van Baarle’s works are more colorful and bubbly, almost surreal in nature, while Annie Stegg’s pieces draw from folklore and mythology and incorporate prominent themes of nature. Alessia Zambonin’s characters display more of what you’d expect to see fantasy role-playing adventurers and comic book stars wearing. She also seems to like drawing and accessorizing vampires. I particularly like her paintings “A Taste of Rust” and “Dagny,” two beautiful and somewhat gloomy female portraits showing off intricately detailed 1800s era dress design. Both can be seen in the digital flip book sampler embedded at the bottom of the page.

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Following the tutorial lessons, each artist has also chosen favorite pieces of artwork from other designers to spotlight in what are called Invited Artist Galleries, providing more insight into the types of themes and fashion styles that inspire them while also giving readers 42 pages of nothing but stunning imagery to gawk at.

Now I’m no fashion expert, nor was I blessed with the artistic gene I so wish that I was. (Before becoming a video game reviewer/blogger/journalist, I initially wanted to get into the industry on the design side. Unfortunately I just wasn’t born with an artist’s touch or creative vision, and have never been able to learn the craft.) But strictly as an admirer of art, particularly when it comes to character designs and video game concepts, I thoroughly enjoyed the light read and have since found myself repeatedly thumbing back through the pages, never tiring of the diverse array of characters and costumes Ballistic managed to compile. d’artiste: Fashion Design is like a bound, laptop fashion show, with lessons in tailoring clothes on the side.

However, per usual, admittance to this novelized fashion show doesn’t come cheap. d’artiste: Fashion Design is currently on sale in two editions: a standard softcover version inside a heavy-duty slipcase cover for $75 and a $170 black leather bound Limited Edition (only 200 were printed) with silver embossing for an extra touch of class. (The first 100 customers also get a free poster print.) They’re pricey and clearly aimed at a very particular audience with plenty of disposable income to spare, but between the gorgeous artwork and the seductively high quality presentation, you totally get what you pay for. So if you have a passion for character and fashion design or are a serious art collector, this beauty deserves a prime spot on your coffee table or library bookshelf.

Review disclosure: A copy of the slip cased d’artiste: Fashion Design book was provided to VGBlogger.com by Ballistic Publishing.

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About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!