For all the enthusiasm with which Fred Gambino discusses his work in this new Art of book – a collection of sci-fi landscapes, giant robots and fantasy worlds – it sadly treads very familiar ground that offers little in the way of new or fresh design to really get excited about. Known as a cover artist and concept designer for animated films and video games, Gambino’s own unfinished project, Dark Shepherd is the prominent subject here, presented in script format with accompanying art.
While it’s consistently technically proficient, taking advantage of all the computer tools at the disposal of todays artists, I can’t help thinking that there’s an over-reliance on photo reference, CG models and Photoshop here, which robs the work a certain creative flair or unique identity, ultimately leaving it feeling a little flat. Also, like so many other examples of art and film that might have seemed cutting edge at the time, look awfully dated just years after they were created.
I would have enjoyed seeing his work on the films The Ant Bully and Jimmy Neutron, which are alluded to in the introduction, but sadly make no appearance. After Dark Shepherd the remaining pages are filled with more concept art for Star Wars and cover designs for Battletech, plus examples of album covers and advertising work, all with a distinctly CG feel that I find difficult to engage with. This, I am sure is due my own traditional tastes, and fans of CG sci-fi and fantasy art will no doubt enjoy.