Fred Gambino’s lat­est, and more!

Could jour­ney­man artist Fred Gambino be the next big Hol­ly­wood direc­tor? He cer­tainly sets out his stall in this book…

ImagineFX - - Reviews -

There’s an ar­gu­ment that to­mor­row’s di­rec­tors won’t have at­tended film school. In­stead, they’ll be dig­i­tal artists versed in Pho­to­shop and Maya. Godzilla’s direc­tor Gareth Ed­wards is a per­fect ex­am­ple, and judg­ing by Dark Shep­herd, Fred Gambino could well fol­low his foot­steps into block­buster megas­tar­dom.

The ti­tle refers to Fred’s con­cept for a sci-fi ac­tion movie, the screen­play and art­work of which make up the first half of this book. The story be­gins with a new­born baby found on a de­cay­ing alien space­ship, be­fore turn­ing into a se­ries of beau­ti­ful vi­su­als in­volv­ing a feisty hero­ine and a large robot. The tale shines a light on his skills as an artist, and de­liv­er­ing an ap­pro­pri­ately cin­e­matic sense of scale and mys­tery.

Fred’s also at­tempted to turn the story into a comic book, and he’s cer­tainly mas­tered the vis­ual styles as­so­ci­ated with the big-screen and small graphic novel. There are some nice break­downs of his artis­tic process: he uses MODO for pos­ing, and then Pho­to­shop for adding fin­ish­ing touches. He prefers to use hu­man mod­els over CG ones be­cause of the dan­gers of en­ter­ing the un­canny val­ley, although in some im­ages the dif­fer­ence be­tween the pho­tographed face and the CG body can be jar­ring.

The rest of the book com­prises Fred’s work for ma­jor Hol­ly­wood stu­dios, ad­ver­tis­ing agen­cies and video game com­pa­nies. These in­clude Project X (a LEGO telly se­ries), Es­cape from Planet Earth, and un­used art for Star Wars Vi­sions, a book com­mis­sioned by Ge­orge Lu­cas, to which Fred con­trib­uted a wild ver­sion of the Air Whales from Episode II: At­tack of the Clones. They’re stun­ning im­ages that de­liver a mus­cu­lar sense of power and drama while draw­ing from the beauty of na­ture, and ap­par­ently even Ge­orge was im­pressed.

In some ways it would be all the more com­pelling if Dark Shep­herd was never made, although Fred would prob­a­bly dis­agree with this. We’ve of­ten seen com­pelling art books for var­i­ous films (Ely­sium and Prometheus spring to mind) only to be dis­ap­pointed by the fi­nal movie. With Dark Shep­herd we’ve got an awe­some col­lec­tion of im­ages, and an amaz­ing film that will for­ever dwell in the reader’s imag­i­na­tion.

This is one of Fred’s 20-minute speed­paints, cre­ated dur­ing his time as prin­ci­pal artist at a video game com­pany.

Fred’s six-year stint pro­duc­ing cover art for the Bat­tletech books was where he cut his dig­i­tal teeth.

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