About the books

I try to give a little information about the Tools I Use to create Argon Zark!, but the most essential tool is information itself. Most of what I know about computer graphics and the Internet came out books like these, my own investigation of what's out there on the Web and a lot of experimentation.

About the links

I've taken these books I recommend off of the Tools page, placed them here on their own page and created links to Amazon's listings that will allow you to purchase them directly. Or you can simply go in and read Amazon's descriptions and reviews of the books if you want further information. I've also given enough information that you can go to your local independent bookseller, if you prefer, and purchase the books through them.

If you do buy any of these books from by clicking on the links I've provided, I'll get a percentage of the sale, which helps support the Argon Zark! site.

The search box at the bottom of the page has the same result. So does simply entering the Amazon site through this link to by way of Argon Zark!

Write me if you have any questions.

Books that feature Argon Zark! techniques and artwork
Argon Zark! by Charley Parker
ArcLight Publishing   $6.95   ISBN 0-9660-5320-6
OK, how can I list books that include Argon Zark! art and techniques without the main one? The "How does he do that anyway?" chapter describes the creation of a "typical" Argon Zark page (page 41) from sketching the "pencils" in Painter, rendering a 3-D background in Bryce, applying some fun filters with Kai's Power Tools and compositing the whole glorious mess in Photoshop. And of course at $6.95 it's less than 1/7th the cost of most of the others and it comes complete with the first whole Argon Zark! adventure! Plus, sales of the book help keep this Web site going.
Toon Art: The Graphic Art of Digital Cartooning by Steven Withrow
Watson-Guptill   $29.95   ISBN 0823053784
An overview of the current state of digital cartooning, it showcases many of the top digital cartoonists and comics artists working today, including a two page spread on Argon Zark!, as well as a brief overview of some of my techniques in the "Pixel-based Painting" section and a quote on the future of digital comics. The book also includes tips and techniques, although it is more of a showcase than a how-to. A beautiful book.
How to Draw and Sell Digital Cartoons by Leo Hartas
Barron's   $21.95   ISBN 0-7641-2662-8

This is an excellent look at the multi-faceted concerns of those interested in digital cartoons and comics, from inspiration to drawing, page layout, computer techniques, character design, coloring and publishing, both on the web and in print.

It's wide-ranging enough to touch on almost all aspects of the creation of digital comics, but focused enough to deal with specific techniques.

A fascinating and highly useful book that's also chock-full of beautiful digital art by many of the leading digital cartoonists and comics artists.

Argon Zark!, and art from the strip are highlighted on pages 6, 17, 60 and 142.

The titles below are out-of-date in terms of the software version they are for. However, the Zark techniques are still good if you're interested.
Painter 5 Studio Secrets by Adele Droblas Greenberg and Seth Greenberg
IDG Books   $49.99   ISBN 0-7645-4038-6
Like most of the books in IDG's Studio Secrets series, it's filled with great techniques and stunning artwork. Argon Zark! is featured extensively with several pages and multiple images describing techniques for two different Zark pages. The book features Zark stuff on pages 106-108 and 130-134.
Photoshop and Illustrator Synergy Studio Secrets By Jennifer Alspach
IDG Books   $49.99   ISBN 0-7645-3134-4
Another in the IDG Studio Secrets series, this one delves into the use of Photoshop in conjunction with Illustrator and other applications. In my case it's Painter, Kai's Power Tools and Bryce. Argon Zark! art and techniques featured on pages 223-229.
Official Kai's Power Tools Studio Secrets By Ted Alspach and Steven Frank
IDG Books   $44.99   ISBN 0-7645-4002-5
Also in the IDG Studio Secrets series, this book cracks open some of the essential coolness in KPT 3, Bryce, Vector Effects, FInal Effects, Convolver and Kai's Power Goo. Argon Zark! is featured on pages 141-143.
Designing Interactive Digital Media By Nicholas V. Iuppa, Nick Iuppa, Nicholas V. Luppa
Focal Press   $39.95   ISBN 0-2408-0287-X
This is actually serves as a textbook for just that: designing interactive digital media. The author covers the design of interactive instruction and entertainment from CD-ROM to the net. Although the book is in black & white, the accompanying CD-ROM is in glorious color. Argon Zark! is featured on page 149, and more extensively on the CD-ROM.
Web Site Graphics: Color, The Best Work from the Web by Jeff Carlson, Toby Malina & Glenn Fleishman
Rockport Publishers   $15.99   ISBN 1-56496-516-3
Showcases selected sites that utilize color to advantage. Features a page on the Zark site.
Painter 8 Wow! Book by Cher Threinen-Pendarvis
Peachpit Press $49.99
Beautifully produced and packed with excellent tips and tutorials. The Wow! series is consistently excellent.. They do a good job of laying out the basics in a concise way and then go on to specific projects that explore techniques in more detail.
The Photoshop 7 Wow! Book by Jack Davis
Peachpit Press   $44.95
Holding up the tradition of the Wow! books. Cool stuff arranged by project and a good overview of the basics. Lots of colorful illustrations of the techniques with step by step instructions.
Photoshop 7 Bible by Deke McClelland
IDG Books   $39.99
Good book on Photoshop. Largely in black and white with chunky color sections and a CD-ROM, this thick-as-a-phone-book monster is packed throughout with the real goods, Deke the geek knows his stuff. Also has a good usable index (never to be underestimated in a computer graphics manual) and a Godzilla-size ton 'O Photoshop knowhow.
Illustrator 10 for Windows and Macintosh by Elane Weinmann and Peter Lourekas
Peachpit Press   $24.99
Like most of the Visual Quickstart series, concise, informative, easy to reference and a great place to start. This volume seems to actually be one of the best in the VQ series, more detailed and very well written. An excellent reference.
The Illustrator 10 Wow! Book by Sharon Steuer
Peachpit Press   $49.99
The WOW! books have a reputation for combining clear step-by-step techniques with beautiful illustrations. This one is a perfect example. As with all WOW! books there is s section of concise introductions to the basics followed by more elaborate explanations in the form of individual examples that are broken down into steps.
Learning Web Design: A Beginners Guide to HTML, Graphics and Beyond by Jennifer Niederst
O'Reilly; $40
A good place to start for beginners. Gives you a solid foundation in the basics of how thw Web works, the web design process, HTML, preparing web graphics and more. Doesn't go into CSS very far, but that's a little more advanced anyway. If you want to get started, this is a good introduction. If you decide to go further, learn more about CSS (style sheets).
Web Design Essentials (Professional Studio Techniques) by Maria Guidice, Anita Denis
MacMillan   $40
Another good place to start for essential techniques. Focused on Adobe products (Photoshop, Illustrator, GoLive, Livemotion).
Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug
Que   $35
An invaluable guide to web site usability. I'm not a big fan of Jacob Nielson, et al, but Krug is right on the money. Don't design web sites without it!
Designing Web Graphics 3 by Lynda Weinman
New Riders   $55
Weinman has become the defacto expert on Web graphics. Here is her site, devoted to Web graphics info, and, of course, promoting her books.
HTML for the World Wide Web with XHTML and CSS, a Visual Quickstart Guide by Elizabeth Castro
Peachpit Press   $24.99
If you're just starting out with HTML, this is a good reference. I'm not a fan of the Dummies" series. I think they're poorly organized and badly designed. The Visual Quickstart Guides, however, are everything the Dummies books aren't: Concise, well-organized, well designed, immediately informative and just in depth enough to give you real functionality in the program. They're also a bargain at less than $30.
HTML & XHTML: The Definitive Guide, by Chuck Musciano, Bill Kenedy
O'Reilly   $39.95
Like the title says: a definitive reference for experienced developers. The Definitive Guide series are reference books, not tutorials.
GoLive & Dreamweaver
Adobe GoLive 6 for Macintosh and Windows, A Visual Quickstart Guide by Shelly Brisbin
Peachpit Press   $24.99
If you're just starting with GoLive, this is a great introduction. Much better than Adobe's own halfhearted documentation. If you're really serious about using GoLive, though, check out Real World GoLive 6 (below).
Real World Adobe GoLive 6 by Jeff Carlson & Glenn Fleishmann
Peachpit Press   $44.99
Absolutely the best book on GoLive, and one of the best third-party software books I've encountered on any program. Well thought out, informative, entertaining, and true to its name. Answers your questions about how to use the program in a real, practical way, and serves as a condensed introduction to HTML, forms, web graphics, CSS, dHTML and other web stuff in the process. The book has a web site that is informative in its own right. You can actually download the entire book in PDF form or access it in HTML for free on the site. The authors feel that once you find out how useful the book is, you'll want a print copy as well, and they're right. Not really as easy for the beginner as the Quickstart Guide, but this is the one you want if you're serious about building sites with GoLive. Highly recommended.
Dreamweaver MX: Design and Technique by Ethan Watrall
Sybex   $35.00
A really good book on Dreamweaver, suitable for beginners and intermediate users. Similar in format and scope to the "Savvy" series from Sybex (see Flash MX Savvy in the Flash section), it's an excellent blend of tutorials and reference.
Macromedia Dreamweaver MX: for Windows and Macintosh, A Visual Quickstart Guide by J. Tarin Towers
Peachpit Press   $24.99
I recommend Dreamweaver MX: Design and Technique (above), even for beginners. However, if what you want is a quick reference that allows you to look up standard techniques with a minimum of page turning, you can't beat the VQ formula.
CSS & dynamic HTML
See my listing for HTML for the World Wide Web with XHTML and CSS, a Visual Quickstart Guide by Elizabeth Castro (above).
DHTML and CSS for the World Wide Web, a Visual Quickstart Guide by Jason Cranford Teague
Peachpit Press   $24.99
An flawed but more in-depth introduction to CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and dHTML than the above.
CSS Pocket Reference, by Eric A. Meyer
O'Reilly   $9.95
A short introduction skims through the basics, but the real value here is a quick, easy way to look up the characteristics and syntax for individual CSS-1 elements. Skimpy on CSS-2, but there will probably be a new edition by the time CSS-2 is supported well enought by the browsers to make it usable. A good quick reference, but if you want an in-depth book go for...
Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Reference by Eric A. Meyer
O'Reilly   $34.95
When it comes to CSS, Eric A. Meyer is The Man. Unlike the other Definitive Guide series books, this is not only a reference book, it's an excellent how-to guide, good for advanced designers and also instructive for beginners.
Cascading Style Sheets Designing for the Web by Hakon Wium Lie & Bert Bos
Addison-Wesley Pub Co   $39.95
Another definitive source, nicely organized by one of the original creators of the CSS specification.
Dynamic HTML: The Definitive Reference by Danny Goodman
O'Reilly   $59.95
Dynamic HTML doesn't really exist as a thing in itself. It's actually a combination of HTML, JavaScript, CSS and CSS Positioning, so this book is a terrific reference for all of those things, a great all-in-one source book. This is a reference book, not a how-to book.
The Book of JavaScript: A Practical Guide to Interactive Web Pages by Dave Thau
No Starch Press   $29.95
Most of the JavaScript books I've encountered are written by engineers and seem to assume some previous programming or scripting knowledge on the part of the reader. I went crazy looking for a good JavaScript book that would explain it in terms someone with no programming experience could easily understand. This is absolutely the best I've found. He assumes you know nothing and quickly teaches you a lot. Good for beginning to intermediate. I still refer to it.
JavaScript: The Definitive Guide by David Flanagan
O'Reilly   $44.95
Excellent guide. Both a reference and how-to book that answers your questions about JavaScript.
JavaScript Bible by Danny Goodman
IDG Books   $49.99
When programmers recommended a JavaScript book to me, it was generally this one. Good for debugging section. Good index.

I'm certainly not an expert in PHP, but I've used these books to learn enough to create the shopping cart for the Argon Zark and Dinosaur Cartoons books.

PHP for the World Wide Web A Visual Quickstart Guide by Larry Ullman
Peachpit Press   $19.99
Like most of the Visual Quickstart guides, this is concise and informative. It's easy to look up individual procedures without wading through pages and pages of text.
PHP and MySQL Web Development by Luke Welling and Laura Thompson
SAMS   $49.99
You have to be willing to go through the tutorials, but if you do, you get a solid grounding in PHP and MySQL fundamentals.
Essential PHP for Web Professionals by Christopher Cosentino
Prentice Hall   $ 29.99
Short, tutorial based introduction to PHP. Good place to start.
Macromedia Flash MX for Windows and Macintosh, Visual Quickstart Guide
By Katherine Ulrich
$24.99 Peachpit Press
Level: Introductory
This is a good introduction and an excellent quick reference. It's easy to look up individual topics, which are arranged in short sections. The text is succinct, but detailed enough to be genuinely useful.
Flash MX Savvy (With CD-ROM)
By Ethan Watrall, Norbert Herber
$50.00 Sybex
Level: Introductory to intermediate
This is the best overall book I've seen on Flash MX. Unfortunately, it doesn't exist in a Flash 5 edition. I was tempted to class this as "introductory to advanced", except that some of the others make a better introduction and the Flash Bible still covers more detail.
Flash MX: Graphics, Animation & Interactivity (with CD-ROM)
By James L. Mohler
$41.95 Delmar Learning
Level: Introductory to intermediate
This book is well organized, well written and insightful in terms of quirks and nuances that can save you trouble. My only reservation is that the book is heavily dependent on the accompanying CD-ROM; without it many of the sections would not be very useful. More advanced than the Foundation book, this falls somewhere between that and the Flash 5 Bible. It's more project dependent than the Visual Quickstart book, but better organized than the Foundation and Bible books. If you just want a quick reference, use the Visual Quickstart Guide.
Flash MX Bible (with CD-ROM)
By Robert Reinhardt, Snow Dowd
$49.99 John Wiley & Sons
Level: Introductory to advanced
I wish this book was organized and written a little better, but it's probably the most in-depth resource I've found on Flash. It covers topics and details that the others don't. I class it as introductory because it does include good introductory sections, but this is really overkill as an introductory book. This is the book I'll use to look up difficult problems and unusual topics, but it's not as easy to use as some others.
New Masters of Flash by Yugo Nakamura and others
Friends of Ed   $59.99
Beautiful exposition of various projects by Flash gurus with step by step instructions on how they did it. Pretty cool.
Effective Web Animation by J. Scott Hamlin
Addison-Wesley Pub Co   $44.95
A good cross section of web animation techniques.
Cartoon Animation by Preston Blair
Walter Foster Pub   $24.95
Traditional cell animation techniques by a master. Don't be put off by the dated appearance of some of the drawings. This guy knows his stuff. He was responsible for the amazing "Dancing Hippos" sequence in Disney's Fantasia, among other things.
Comics and Sequential Art by Will Eisner
Will Eisner is one of the true geniuses of comic art. This is his "how to" book about comics as a medium of expression. Along with Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics and Eisner's Graphic Storytelling, it's the essential goods on what comics are all about. Brilliant.Anyone interested in doing comics or really knowing something about the medium would appreciate all of these books.
The height of Eisner's work, and one of the heights of comics art, was The Spirit, essentially an 8 page comic book distributed as a newspaper supplement in the 40's and 50's. Don't let yourself be put off by what may seem at first to be an "old fashioned" comics style, this is the real thing.
Graphic Storytelling by Will Eisner
Sort of an updated companion to Comics and Sequential Art, he focuses here on the #1 skill in doing effective comics. No, it's not drawing, or even writing. It's how words and images are employed together to tell a story, which is what comics (and film, for that matter) are really all about.
Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud
Understanding Comics is a fun, fascinating, and highly perceptive look at the nature of the medium, told in comics form. He deconstructs the essence of what comics are and how they work, but I think the book goes well beyond that into the relationship of words and pictures, our perception of time and the fascinating mental process of "closure". If you know someone who thinks that comics are by nature juvenile and silly, try lending them this one.
I find a strong relationship between the "words and pictures in sequence telling a story" aspect of comics and the "words and pictures linked together in paths conveying information" nature of the Web, so I recommend this book to anyone interested in the Web, even though it never even mentions computers.
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards
JP Tarcher   $15.95
I'm a firm proponent of the idea that drawing is a skill that can be learned, and not something magical limited only to those with "talent". I think I know what I'm talking about here because I think I have just enough "talent" to know what it is. I'll tell you though that I've had to work hard to develop my drawing skills. This book is for anyone who has doubts about their ability to draw, or who wants to sharpen their drawing skills. Look for an older copy in the library and check out the "before and after" drawings by people who have taken her classes. You'll be impressed. She goes right to the core of what makes "realistic" drawing happen: learning to actually see what's in front of you instead of what your brain wants you to think you see. If you're willing to follow her exercises and let go of your preconceptions, this course of study can work wonders. I can't recommend it highly enough. logo   enter keywords...