REVIEW: DARK SHEPHERD – THE ART OF FRED GAMBINO / AUTHOR: FRED GAMBINO / PUBLISHER: TITAN / RELEASE DATE: JULY 29TH
English artist Fred Gambino may have ditched acrylics and oils for 3D modelling, but as Dark Shepherd reveals, he’s gone from strength to strength as a concept-driven designer and storyteller. The presentation is high quality, if a little cramped, pleasing purists and offering an entry point for newcomers.
The forward from director John A. Davis (Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and The Ant Bully) paints Gambino as a friend and collaborator. The introduction, from Gambino himself, is a funny and enlightening prelude to the chronicle of the man’s relationship with digital art.
A good half of the book is dedicated to Gambino’s brainchild Dark Shepherd; it goes into some depth, offering pages of screenplay at a time. The best sections, though, are those which let the text take a back seat and have the images speak for themselves.
The collection spreads to encompass many different branches of Gambino’s career, frustratingly so. Instead of keeping the focus on the titular project and a few related ones, it tries to make sure every aspect, no matter how small, of his digital career gets a look-in. Yes, it’s all interesting enough, but more of his promo pieces for BioShock would have been a welcome replacement for the two-page section ‘Advertising and Commissions’ or the underwhelming ‘Star Wars Visuals’.
‘Introduction to the Graphic Novel’ is perhaps the most exciting section of the book, leaving the reader wanting more of the story. ‘Speed Paints and More’ is the most impressionist side of his work and may just be the most revealing.
Dark Shepard is a beautiful but bloated book, more a collage than a collection. It’s one more for 3D modellers and Photoshop hobbyists than your average sci-fi fan. That’s not to say they won’t enjoy it, but those looking just for art might want to give this one a miss. Still, pictures of space suits, ships, battle-tech, planets and even robo dragons go a long way.