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Lift Off by Scott Robertson

1/07/2010. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy Lift Off in the USA - or Buy Lift Off in the UK

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pub: Titan Books/Design Studio Press. 144 page illustrated softcover. Price: 24.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84856-668-0.

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The lengthy sub-title for this book is 'Air Vehicle Sketches & Renderings From The Drawthrough Collection', so perhaps having it called 'Life Off' makes a lot of sense. Scott Robertson is a computer artist who also teaches his techniques both in computer and on paper. With this book he focuses on anything that can fly from aircraft to spaceships and focuses on making it look convincing rather than a need to apply any knowledge of aerodynamics. Although saying that, there are several illustrations that also shows some understanding of standard aeroplanes and helicopters.

If you're buying this book solely because you want to look at artwork then I'm not entirely convinced this is for you. If you're interested in some tuition to develop your artistic skills, especially using computer graphics then you might learn something. Robertson does explain more by example than just telling you how so this isn't for beginners. A lot of his work starts off with using a sketch pad to design first before scanning into your computer to paint it. I note he uses three different software packages so although there is no bias towards any particular one, it does tend to indicate no particular one has all things for all pictures.

One thing I did like was his idea of is trying to draw a design left-handed or if you're left-handed, right-handed, because it forces you to think before every line and avoiding any set muscle knowledge in developing shapes. There are many designs showing what he does that way to show how they develop although I think it might be a little dispiriting to some neo-artists because it might influence what they come out with looking like Robertson's work.

What is equally puzzling is to many references and pictures from 'Concept Designs 1', a book out of print and looking at the Titan advance catalogue, has moved on to 'Concept Designs 2' Surely, if the book is that important then its due for a reprint as well?

There is a section devoted to design for computer games and the problems that need to be resolved. With the other chapters, there is also a sharp reminder that flying vehicles don't just fly but have to land and how to deal with that, too.

I suspect the 'Concept Designs' books deal with the broader issues and this book and 'Start Your Engines', dealing with land vehicles, goes into finer detail on these subjects. From an artistic POV, even I'm pondering on the benefits of buying a graphics tablet (not one that you swallow, I should hasten to add) and I'm someone who normally paints with a brush, so some of Robertson's enthusiasm is rubbing off. If you feel your enthusiasm is lagging, then books of this nature are a must.

GF Willmetts

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