Close Up: The Metal Gear Solid 4 Master Art Works Book

Metal Gear Solid 4 Master Art Works Book

Every once in a while Metal Gear Solid’s concept art gets published in high quality art books. Aside from featuring beautiful art, these books can also give an insight into the production process of the games. Metal Gear Solid 4 received such a compilation as well, called ‘Metal Gear Solid 4 Master Art Works’, and was published by SoftBank Creative.

This near 200-page paperback contains artwork created for Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, and was released in Japan in 2009.

A while ago we got our hands on this item: an artbook with all kinds of artwork drawn by Yoji Shinkawa for Metal Gear Solid 4. It is called the ‘Master Artworks’ Book, and for a reason, because Shinkawa’s work is always awesome, and this book showcases that very fact.

The cover of the book.

The logo is made of shiny, semi-transparent material on top of the cover.

It contains press material, renders and arts used in the game, concept arts of characters and environments and in interview with Shinkawa. It is fun to see the designs that some characters went through before arriving to their final look, and some characters that haven’t made it into the game at all. We’ll talk about and include a photo from each section.

The book has just over 190 pages, and consists of 9 sections:

artworks: illustrations and posters: this section covers, as the name implies, the promotional material created for the game. Posters, renders, cover arts, etc. Many of them are printed as full page spreads.

modeling and design (characters): On every double page spread features a character ranging from line sketches to full colored computer renders. More important characters have more pages. What is especially interesting are the drawings of details in the character design, such as the exploded of Snake’s SolidEye.

Yoji Shinkawa image art: This section contains of stunning charcoal drawings in classic Shinkawa style. Fun fact: on one of these drawings EVA can be seen sitting on a Suzuki motorcycle, while in the final game, she’s riding a Triumph.

memories & image boards: Here you can see artwork that was used in the game, for example during the explanations of Big Boss and EVA. There are also some pictures of the storyboard, with a screen of the end result underneath it.

An art of Big Boss and Solidus(?).

Storyboard and end result.

modeling and design (mechanics): In these pages you get another display of the staff’s amazing talent. In addition to Shinkawa’s impressionistic sketches, here you can see very detailed environments and machines, drawn with utmost precision and finesse, perspectively perfect, almost like a technical drawing or a blueprint. Some of these drawings, like the Metal Gear models, are supposedly drawn by Takayuki Yanase, but it’s unclear to me which ones are and which aren’t. In any case, they look amazing.

A detailed drawing of the rail gun on Outer Haven.

concept design works: This a fun section. Here you can see the process of the creation of the characters in the game, with some having undergone many chances before arriving at the final design, such as Sunny.

Some of Sunny’s many designs.

conversation: This is a dialogue between Yoji Shinkawa and Takayuki Yanase (also responsible for mechanic design and concept), which we sadly cannot read because it’s in Japanese.

interviews: Here is an interview of Chihoko Uchiyama (character designer and 2D artist for MGS4, who has also worked on MGS3 and Zone of the Enders) and Huke (responsible for the manual comic). Like the previous section, we can’t read it because it’s in Japanese.

credits: It’s just that, a page of credits.

To conclude, this is a great book for a Metal Gear fan, who is interested in seeing the creation process of Metal Gear Solid 4. They don’t come cheap, but you get what you pay for. Our only complaint about it, is that it is in Japanese, but that’s logical because it’s meant for the Japanese market. It’s great to be able to see high quality reproductions of the artworks, as well as designs and concept arts you have never seen before, and getting an inside look at the creation process through them.

Metal Gear Solid 4 Master Art Works

Published in Japan, by SoftBank Creative


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