Reviews

[REVIEW] Craft – The Art of Visual Storytelling!

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Do you love art books? Well, then you might also like Craft, a new online subscription service that should definitely intrigue you as an animation fan or student. Craft offers everything an art book has to offer and a ton more for a selection of different projects on a digital platform. Not only do you get concept art, you also get storyboards, scripts, rough animation tests and a ton more goodies to explore.

Once you open Craft, you have two options to start exploring all the work that is on the site, projects and crafts. With projects, you get an overview of all the different projects Craft has work from; this can be from films, graphic novels and other visual media. You can simply choose a project and get an overview of all the work that is available from that particular project. When you choose crafts, there is a list of different crafts to choose from, from art direction to animation to directing, and from there you get some basic information on the craft and different possibilities to explore it.

This division works great and it’s fantastic that you get the option. As a student, you might be looking for animation or concept art reference, so it’s convenient that you can simply go to that craft and explore everything of that craft from all the different projects that are on Craft. Have you just watched a movie or are you simply interested in learning and discovering more about one specific project? Then, it’s just great to jump right into that project without having to go through the different crafts to find something from that particular project.

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Once you’ve chosen a project and craft, you get a selection of work from that project and craft to explore. For images, it’s a photo album filled with different images depending on what craft you’re looking at. You can very easily go through them and look at them in high quality. You have the option to go through them image by image or as a slideshow; with each image you get the option to look at some information, which usually has a title, and the option to comment and start discussions or ask questions. It’s simple to use and it’s easy to go through the work to find something you might want to look at or use as reference.

It’s a fun addition that you can comment and have discussions on each piece with other members and it’s a great resource to share information. When commenting on each piece, you can ask questions that will actually be answered by the creators of the content. It’s a fun way to be directly involved and get direct answers from the artists who worked on everything. I wish the information section would have some more basic information, like the artist of each particular piece and perhaps some more additional info or fun facts. It would add just that little extra touch that would make it perfect.

For videos, it works pretty much the same, except instead of photos there are Vimeo videos. Once you’ve chosen a project, you get the option to choose between different scenes and sequences from that particular project. Once you’ve chosen one of those, you get a selection of videos that showcase the craft. There are pages filled with videos to explore, and everything is very high quality and nice to look at and study frame by frame. Most videos are only a few seconds long, which is fine, but I wish there would be an easier way to go from video to video. It would be a great addition if you could open a video and when it’s done immediately go to the next one, similarly to how it works with pictures. Once again, some info on the artist(s) and maybe some more information and fun facts would’ve a great extra touch.

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Craft also has its own online store that is available to everyone, members and non-members. In the store, you can buy 3D models, prints and digital files from the projects that are Craft. Everything is very high quality, affordable and it features beautiful art from projects like Song of the Sea. For only a few dollars, you can buy Photoshop and TV Paint files that show off the process of painting a background or animating a shot. There is also huge assortment of beautiful prints that would look great in anyone’s home and soon 3D models will be made available as well.

Craft is very new and is still evolving and adding new content. Currently there are already over 50,000 files, including animation, concept art and storyboards, available. Very soon work from The Magic Piano, Loving Vincent, Boy and the World, among other projects, will be added. Cartoon Saloon’s Song of the Sea and Secret of Kells will get content updates and expect more stuff, from bigger and smaller creators, in the near future on Craft as well. The projects that are currently on Craft are already top notch and this could only improve in the future.

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Craft is a fun new alternative to exploring the making and designing of different visual media. The site is very easy to use and the service is very affordable, the available content is wonderful and the assortment can only grow in the future to become an even better resource of art. If you are an animation or art student, I highly recommend subscribing to Craft (or talk about it with your school/college). It’s an amazing resource for reference and a fantastic learning source that you won’t get anywhere else in this capacity. If you are simply an animation fan who enjoys going behind the scenes or who usually enjoys art books, I think Craft is definitely worth checking out as it will give you pretty much everything, and plenty more, that an art book offers you but in a new, different, and fun way. There are a few little things that could be added or tweaked a bit but overall Craft is fantastic service and definitely something worth checking out.

stars-4,5

Subscribe to Craft:

Craft is at the moment in beta. So, they offer an Early Bird plan for $6/month for the first 1000 users. More content and projects will be added along the way to the already available library of over 50,000 files. You can check out this pricing plan to see which memberships are at the moment available and which membership fits your interest best.

Edited by: Kajsa Rain Forden

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About Max

Max is an animation addict from The Netherlands. His favorite animated movies are Beauty and the Beast and Ratatouille, and he is a big fan of everything Disney, Pixar or DreamWorks related. He loves reading and collecting art books and one day he hopes to work for a major animation studio. Follow his art blog: http://maxdenhartog.tumblr.com