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The Art of Destiny - A Book Report - 4 (Destiny)

by Leviathan, Kansas City, Monday, March 09, 2015, 18:17 (2384 days ago) @ Leviathan

Continued from Post 3

Breaking Stuff to Look Tough

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If we could but befriend the Cabal, their armory would be a fun-tastic asset.

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Early Cabal weapon sketches.

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The Sword of Crota. Or is that Swords? I'm starting to think Crota was a sword-enthusiast...

Some wide layouts give you a look at the Exotics. It's great seeing them side by side; their unique quirks really pop out.

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How long do I have to wait for Last Word?

The Exotic weapons usually stand out from their standard nephews and enemy cousins by using more -and more vibrant- colors... Besides the intimidating silhouettes of course.

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Although weapons are really the last big section in the book, there's a few pages dedicated throughout to the user interface and graphic design, which, in my opinion, is the best UI ever crafted by Bungie in both style and function. There's some game-needs that are still be being addressed in patches of course, but I continue to be impressed by it, especially after playing a different game.

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Faction logos.

A concept for the Director reveals a lot about some of the early ideas Bungie was playing with for Destiny. This might be the most tantalizing image in the book actually!

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There's a few pages at the end dedicated to storyboards and the cinematics they birthed, but it's very scant. I would have loved to have seen a much more in-depth account of the storyboards, like the storyboard booklet included with the Halo 3 Legendary Edition.

Perhaps Bungie felt bad about the non-existent manual included with the game, as the credits are presented at the end of the book in their entirety, in the same style as the credits roll seen at Bungie.Net.

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One name stuck out in particular. I don't know why... just seemed like he might be a great bear of a guy.


In Conclusion

Production quality

This is the highest quality book that's been put out with Bungie's name on it. It's still very much in the vein of the Art of Halo 3, with comparable shape and layout style, but it is a bit meatier and the images are far more defined (the printing patterns that are present here in some of my photos can not be discerned with the naked eye). Just lifting the book from a table and touching it will let you know pretty instantly it's a top-notch printing. No text was hard to read like in the Art of Halo 3. The binding is secure. Bungie should definitely keep using the publisher, Insight Editions.

Layout & Text

Most of the finished concepts in the book are given entire pages or whole spreads with early sketches and variations getting a smaller focus. There's a lot of white space and no spreads are cluttered in the slightest. In fact, it recreates the vibe of walking through a modern gallery, especially with the minimal notations accompanying the work.

While I appreciate this idea of letting the art speak for itself, and it is definitely allowed to in this format, I would still love to see even more text and insights from the artists. Not every reader is as interested, I'm sure, but I'd say most Bungie fans take their interests pretty seriously and they probably make up a large portion of the buyers of this book. I'd love more in-depth discussions of the threads of ideas running through the work, picking apart challenges, and pointing out which piece led to another. There is some of that, but its use is skeletal instead of a constant running companion.

I consume a lot of "Art Of" books. My standards of comparison are currently the books Weta has been putting out by themselves in recent years. The layouts can sometimes get a little thick, but they fill their books with so many images and interesting commentary that you really have to re-read them a few times to download it all into your brain. I've included an example below to show what I'm referring to. I'd love if Bungie's next art book leaned more this direction and away from the minimalist style, simply because I'm insatiable for their work and process.

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Another trick the Weta books employ that all "Art Of" books should adopt is the artist and department initials on every piece, with a guide in the back of the book expanding on them. It's a far easier way to find and retain the different authors instead of flipping back and forth to the index and finding the right page number.

Also, since 90% of the text in the Weta books are commentary by the actual artists featured on the page, you attain a closer relationship with the craftsmen and their approaches, and thus the project as a whole.

The Actual Work

The art direction of Destiny is my favorite aspect of the game. The art of Halo, in the hands of McLees, Wang, Lehto, Hannaford, Smith, and many others, changed the way I draw and gave me a universe to practice in, from the margins of my notes to full canvases. So it was a treat to watch the concept art of a new chapter in Bungie's life roll out the gates in 2013 and then experience the finished game where those concepts came to life in 2014.

Sometimes it felt like they were reading my mind - grabbing handfuls of ideas and styles from my other interests and then using them to forge a new creation even more appealing to me. To see Bungie be inspired by our own Solar System as opposed to an unreachable galaxy was a great turn. To see them take cues from many different eras of science fiction, especially the more optimistic golden age, was even more exciting. And the fact that they did all this while maintaining their focus on restrained compositions and powerful colors found back in Halo (as opposed to the grit and overexposure that runs rampant in games and film today) has been most inspiring. The style and nature of the Destiny universe is a sandbox worth playing in for some time!

This book makes me excited to make art, it makes me excited to play the game, and it gives me a close look at skilled artwork that I can hopefully pull some lessons from.

To sum up: go get it, damnit.

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