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About the Book
PUBLISHER: Taschen
by Julius Wiedemann

Publishers Quote: The first book in our groundbreaking new series on digital culture focuses on beauty and cutting-edge computer-generated female characters. Whereas most books on digital creation concentrate on technique and include detailed "how-tos," Digital Beauties is all about exploring the artistic achievements of today's best designers without a lot of complicated technical jargon.

Editions:
English/French/German: 3-8228-1628-0 (December 2001)
Japanese: 4-88783-084-X (December 2001)
List Prices:
USD 40.00
GBP 20.00
EUR 32.00
JPY 4500.00

DIGITAL BEAUTIES
 

DIGITAL BEAUTIES
BOOK REVIEW


INTRODUCTION


Digital Beauties is a thick book. I mean big-old-wedge-of-paper type of thick book. It has a thick glossy cardboard cover (flexi cover I believe the official term is these days). The book has nearly 600 pages containing the work of around 100 digital artists. The content of these images is primarily studies of digitally created women. Although the book cover states that there are 2D and 3D CG characters I found that almost all images are 3D with a few 2D thrown in for good measure. Many of the artists in the book use 2D applications to do post-production (i.e.. After rendering in a 3D package) in applications like Photoshop.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

I have to say that on more than one occasion I have been heard to say `wouldn't it be nice if one day someone put all these images from renderosity into a book it would sell a million`. Well, Taschen got someone to do it, or at least something very similar.

The book gives each artist a page of narrative and splits that into three languages. English, French and German. The top of this biography type page gives email/website information, country of origin, copyright information and a list of the software used in the creation of the images.



Digital Beauties
Author(s): Wiedemann, Julius
Flexi-cover, 196 x 249 mm
This is then followed by 3-6 full colour images by artist. This, I have to say, is done in a very professional way with very high quality (high DPI) images.
WHAT SOFTWARE HAS BEEN USED

I was pleased to see the diversity of applications used in this book covering a range software that can be found free on cover disks to some of the most expensive on the market.

I found examples of the following applications and plugins:

Pencil Sketches, inked then scanned.
Curios Labs Poser,
Corel Bryce,
Adobe Photoshop,
JASC Paintshop Pro,
Procreate Painter (Corel)
Robert McNeels Rhino 3D,
Newtek's Lightwave 3D,
Strata 3D,
Rhino 3D
Expression Tools SHADE R4,
3DStudio Max,
Mental Ray,
Combustion,
Inferno,
Henry,
Alias Wavefront Maya,
Right Hemisphere's DeepPaint 3D.

I found Digital Beauties a good example of the principal that all artists can become computer users but not all computer users can become artists.There are numerous examples of images created with Poser and Bryce that are simply stunning and also images that clearly have been edited out. Interesting there are Maya images that look badly textured, poorly modeled and, again, not fit to be in print. Of course there are also the ultra realistic Maya images that match Final Fantasy quality. In fact, a couple of the featured artists actually work on FF!.

One piece of software that may be fairly new to US and UK readers is ET SHADE (now in release 5). This 3D software had been around for over ten years in Japan thanks to 'Expression Tools'. A lot of the Japanese artist featured in the book use it as their primary application and this has lead to a great number of the images in the book being Manga style (Big eyes, child like bodies etc.).


WHO IS IN IT?


I spotted this publication on the shelves of a book shop and the first thing I did was check the names of the artists that had contributed. Having read that Steven Stahlberg, Daryl Mandryk, Will Kramer and Rene Morel were all included I bought it without further a do.

If you aren't familiar with the work of these people take a look at the links provided and this will give you a good idea of the quality of digital imagery contained in this book.

However, as mentioned, there are over 100 artists in the book and each artist gets only a limited amount of space. One big disappointment is that some of the work chosen for the book doesn't come anywhere near that of the aforementioned artists. In fact, I would have to say that some of the work should never even have been considered for publication.

WHY DO IT? WHY NO MEN?

Why only female images? Surely if this book is attempting to promote computer generated humans they should should have considered male and female character studies?

Well, we all know that some computer magazines put images of pretty young girls on their cover simply because their target audience is more prone to buy the offering. I don't know much about Taschen or the author but this book does border on pornographic at times. There are a few images in the book that are not only poor in design, composition and texturing but are also examples of blatant porn. I'm not on an anti porn crusade here but naked poser female figures in unrealistic poses shouldn't make it into print in my opinion. There is enough of that on the www as it is and it only gives credence to the argument that the 3DCG world is populated by adolescent perverts with little artistic talent.

Now, to my mind, the readers would have been better served if the editors had removed the worse 20% of these images and picked a few more images/artists that promote both male/female, adult and child studies and not so many nudes. and of course there is always the fact that if the studies were male and showed their genitals it wouldn't have made it into print anyway. I would have to wonder what sort of comments female CG artist would pass on this book?


CONCLUSIONS
In summary, if you want to see some of the best examples of near-real CG women and you don't mind a bit of soft porn then buy it. For me it was worth it to be able to see some of my favorite artists in print. The nudity doesn't bother me personally but I found it difficult reading browsing through the book with my eight year old son hanging around asking what exactly I was reading!

I liked the artists mini biographies but as I was presented with the same text in three languages I feel 66% of the books narrative is a waste for me.

The book doesn't help the cause of the people who are trying to raise the profile of applications like Poser and Bryce as it shows as many bad examples as good ones.

Buy it for the good bits and ignore the bad!

Reviewed by: Glen Southern

You can buy this book online for about $40.00 at Amazon.com

Taken from TASCHEN
Almost real. Building women out of bits and bytes The first book in our groundbreaking new series on digital culture focuses on beauty and cutting-edge computer-generated female characters. Whereas most books on digital creation concentrate on technique and include detailed "how-tos," Digital Beauties is all about exploring the artistic achievements of today's best designers without a lot of complicated technical jargon.
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