The Art Of Fred Gambino: Dark Shepherd (book review).

Blimey, it’s hard to believe that it’s been thirteen years since I reviewed Fred Gambino’s first book, ‘Ground Zero’, but its long over-due that he had another art book out. Here, ‘The Art Of Fred Gambino: Dark Shepherd’ fulfils that need. He hasn’t been idle in all that time, working on design graphics for films and computer games and generally mixing with other creative people. He’s also moved into 3D and other digital graphics but you can’t mistake his work.


It was only when he was asked what pet project or story that he was working on that Gambino realised he hadn’t got one which got him pondering. ‘Dark Shepherd’ was the result, a partial script for a potential film with various paintings and designs to supplement it, worked on between other assignments. Although the film seems a long way off yet, the results of all that work can be seen in this book. It’s also a point lesson for all you creative folk out there, always have a project on the back-boiler that you can call your own. If nothing else, it’ll show you aren’t just work-for-hire and can let loose your own creativity. It might also be good for your portfolio.

Gambino4     Gambino1

Although the script isn’t complete, one thing that was obvious from the start was with only three characters, one of which was a robot, there’s certainly still room for development as I turned my editor’s eye over it. Getting advice from writers who might spot things that’s already been done might not be a bad idea neither. It might not work well as a live-action film, but with such a small cast, CGI film might be the answer. When you consider that Gambino did the design work for ‘The Ant Bully’, ‘Jimmy Neutron’ and ‘Gary 10’, it’s easy to understand that direction. For you gamers out there, he also did art for ‘Battletech’ adding a touch of Chris Foss to his designs. Samples from all are included here.

It was also interesting to read that Gambino makes his own cardboard miniatures prior to developing them as 3D graphic models. If you ever thought that doing art solely on computer would relegate such things, think again. It’s another skill that can come in handy. Like paintbrushes, the digital age offers a different form of painting and although, speaking from personal experience, it can take a while to make adjustments and equating what you know to what is on offer, having them on your CV as even a nodding acquaintance is no bad thing.

Gambino6     Gambino5

Trying to work out what makes Gambino’s art stand out is difficult because he can vary so much. Certainly his use of colour and vast landscapes serves him well. For interiors, I think the biggest lesson was in how to roll a circle for size. Equally, his use of transport and technology makes you think he stood there watching them roll or fly by. I thought some of his aliens looked a little 50s-ish but when they were being catered for kids in ‘Gary 10’, that’s hardly surprising.

Gambino has certainly been busy since his first book, with a hand in many pies and if you missed his first book then you certainly need to look at this one and admire his talent and see why he’s in so much demand.

GF Willmetts

July 2013

(pub: Titan Books. 159 page large hardback. Price: £24.99 (UK), $34.95 (US), $39.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-78116-843-1)

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