Nov 15, 2013

Book Review: Mechanika creating the art of science fiction with Doug Chiang

BOOK REVIEW: Mechanika creating the art of science fiction with Doug Chiang

If you have seen the Star Wars prequels (no judgement zone) or War Of The Worlds (among a slew of other films), then you are already familiar with the concept design work of Doug Chiang. As a designer, Doug has a unique visual story telling ability to be able to display future tech in a way that is both evocatively nostalgic and original all at the same time.

Doug comes from the pre-digital era where some paper and a good set of Coptic markers were the main tools of the trade. While Doug often works digitally now, you can see many of his traditional sensibilities in this book.

Mechanika is a one stop shop for an aspiring or current Sci-Fi art creator.The book contains an overview on the aesthetics and mindset behind certain genre tropes as well as many step by step projects to walk you through the creation process.

I found the language and direction to be very accessible and in no time at all I was able to recreate one of Dougs mech like units based on his step by step teaching. While I am not creating anything very original by doing this, I believe that the take away is the process pieces that an artist would then turn around and apply to their next project.

The parts on the book that focused on traditional marker technique were interesting but I am not sure how applicable these would be for someone who wanted to be/or is a professional concept designer. With the pace that productions take today, I cannot imagine that someone would have the time or inclination to go this route vs. creating images completely digitally.

I also felt that Doug could have added in more talk around 3D software. As an artist myself, I know that many profession use 3D software as an important part of the concept design process and so I would have liked more material around this.

If you are a beginning fantasy artist or just interested in a Sci-Fi book with some truly original designs and maybe an insiders glimpse into the industry, then this book might be for you.