“Art of Books” in Animation

A recent development in the machine that is movie marketing has been to sell “Art of” books. This is a good thing, yes? For years, if an animated move came out, the closest one could get to seeing some static art was to either get a hold of the onesheet or buy the childrens picture book. I still have my Aladdin one sitting on a bookshelf back in Ireland.

I’m not sure where the trend began, but I do know that Pixar are the first company I remember releasing them. Of course, they have released some movies over the years with some terrific design and style. It’s only fitting that we see how things came together.

It would appear that the trend has been predominant in CGI movies, which isn’t at all surprising as that has been the dominant genre of animated movies over the last 10 years or so. I think that some of the art used to produce these films is even better than what eventually ended up on the screen!

The quality of “Art of” books can vary wildly. Case in point, the one I have for Spirited Away. It’s not so much an “art of” book as it is background to the entire movie. Over the course of 180 pages or so, one can see how the design for each scene in the movie came together. And to top it all off, you get the entire script at the end!

In contrast, “The Art of The Incredibles” is an altogether different affair. Not only do we get the backgrounds to the main characters in detail, lots of sketches, plenty of fantastic stuff by Lou Romano and a very nice foreward by brad Bird himself, there is also the entire colour script!

The flip side can be disastrous, for example the one accompanying Coraline. The movie itself is spectacular, but it would seem that money was skimped on the book. Not only are the artists not properly credited, the pictures themselves are horribly pixelated. Not something an “Art of” book should be like.

In my opinion, these books are indeed worth the paper they’re printed on. If you really like to see the artwork behind a movie, they are excellent value for money. I once held an actual sheet of paper that was used as part of the colour model for the scene where Mr Incredible jumps over the waterfall. Sadly, I did not have the necessary $5,000 in my wallet at the time.

Some are more worth it than others, that’s why it is important to look at a physical copy before you buy. Don’t rely on the preview images on Amazon.com. They only tell part of the story. Some websites, such as Parkablogs.com, have excellent reviews with plenty of photos from the actual books along with a written review and are well worth a visit.

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