Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Art of Pixar: The Complete Color Scripts

The Art of Pixar: The Complete Color Scripts and Select Art from 25 Years of Animation, is a lovely book to behold. Published by Chronicle Books, it spans every major motion picture by Pixar, and even some of their shorts, displaying their color scripts and a little concept art too. Each film section opens up saying which artist created the scripts, and what media they used. Afterwards, the artwork speaks for itself. Here we experience the true importance of color to deliver the feeling and atmosphere of an entire story without ever saying anything.

Toy Story before the characters were even finalized. But still, you can recognize the parts of the movie. 

In A Bug's Life, you can see each place is given a specific color palate. Making colors that are not part of that palate really stand out, like the bird.

Of all the color scripts in this book, I think that the ones that Lou Romano did for The Incredibles are my favorites. In these scripts, Romano really breaks down each scene into its basic colors, sometimes only using 3 or 4, yet we still understand exactly what is going on, and how we feel about it. These scripts really answer the hardest questions, determining which color should represent which space, how large a space it should take up, and how they will interact with each other. How simplistically sophisticated it is is truly breath taking. 

I love the color scripts of Up, they have such a charming character!

Some color scripts for a few of Pixar's shorts are in this book. 

I just really liked this guy.

Some concept art for the various Pixar movies. Most of the examples here were painted by Lou Romano.

Pros: Hard back, sturdily bound, great color quality and nice paper. It is thick with work, and no writing except for a small introduction. It is longer than tall, near a movie screen ratio. 

Cons: I've heard that this book contains only a little more work than is already located in other Pixar books dedicated to each movie. However, if you do not already possess a number of Pixar books, this publication is a wonderful collection

How To Buy: Amazon
If you buy the book using this link, it will help tell me which books you like me to review, and will assist me towards purchasing more

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Worldly Pleasures Earthly Delights

As of this post, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) is currently holding an exhibition displaying its best Japanese woodblock prints, of which they have quite a number of. Worldly Pleasures Earthly Delights is the catalogue associated with the exhibit titled Edo Pop: The Graphic Impact of Japanese Prints Having the good fortune to see the exhibit, I can attest that every one of the 160 prints on display, and quite a few more can be found within this lovingly bound book. 

Taking a moment, this book breaks what I generally consider my golden rule, 'an art book shouldn't have more words than pictures'. But let me say, in this instance, I am only too happy that it does!

Each page displays one print, or one series, and gives such information as the artist, the publisher, the title, the date, the censorship seal, the type of print, and the lifespan of the artist. But it also supplies interesting information poignant to that particular print. For example, if it is an actor print, it tells you how you can identify which actor it is, and which role they are playing in which play, how you can recognize which play it is, and then gives a brief synopsis of the play in question. For a calendar print, the information will tell you which month is represented based on which flower is in bloom on the kimono, or how the characters are interacting with their environment. 

An ideal cross between an art book and a coffee table book, the catalogue allows you to view it systematically, or stop and read at your leisure as an image catches your fancy.

Certainly one of the most beautiful things about Japanese prints have to be their ability to mix the bold with the delicate. The patterns are exquisite. Not displayed here (because you can only really observe it in person) but several of the prints took advantage of embossing to 'draw' white on white patterns. 

The catalogue has a large number of Harunobu's prints, but also a good variety of well known, and lesser known artists. A convenient timeline is provided at the beginning, showing the active dates and lifespan of each artist in the book. 

As censorship rules prevented ukiyo-e artists fro certain kinds of imagery, they quickly became clever in hiding the true meaning of their works in perverse subtlety. Works of this kind are particularly cheeky. 

Also inside are 11 of the 36 views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai, including his most famous one of all, The Wave. The series itself is recognized as one of Hokusai's more innovative works.

Provided are miniatures of ever single image in Hiroshige's 'Fifty-Three stations of the Tokaido Road' series published by Takenouchi Magohachi.

I have always been particularly fond of Hokusai's Bird and Flower compositions

Pros: Well bound, highly knowledgeable, a wonderful presentation of information. A large and sturdy book with thick paper, it is sure to last and will always be a delight.

Cons: As is the nature of prints, color is sometimes questionable guesswork. Having seen the exhibit, I can say some of the colors in the catalogue are not as delicate as those in the actual prints. Still, I believe the book is highly worth its investment.

How to Buy: Go through the MIA here

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Disney Archive Series: Layout & Background

The Walt Disney The Archive Series: Layout & Background is a large luxurious book that covers, as you might have guessed, the layouts and backgrounds of many of Disney's animated features. Opening with a small introduction by John Lasseter, the book documents work from the very first few Mickey Mouse films all the way to 2010's Tangled. Every major film has at least a couple pages, and there is also a good deal of work from lesser know pieces. In this book, we are finally able to stop and appreciate some of the more beautiful and well thought out backgrounds of the Disney Animation career. For, as John Lasseter writes, "The genius of these backgrounds is that they do all the work, ...showing us where all the action takes place and help us understand the unspoken rules affecting the characters' behavior... without ever calling attention to themselves or interrupting the flow of the story"

What is really interesting about this book is that it IS both layout and background. Often there are opposing pages where the left holds the 'layout, full of notes and remarks to the painter. Then on the right page there is the completed work, ready to be animated on top of. 

Sleeping Beauty, along with a few other backgrounds, gets a full, fold-out, three page spread! So very beautifully worth it

What is really wonderful is seeing all of these collected in one place. This way, it is easy to appreciate huge variety of different styles of background. While Disney characters may be accused of having a certain look, the same cannot be said of their sumptuously diverse backgrounds.

The opening image of Oliver and Company, recognizable New York City, with just the right amount of grit and texture. And the iconic twin towers. 

The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and you have to appreciate how much time must have been spent on such an intricate bit of background!

Pros: A large book with heavy binding, almost no writing, just pictures. It is very good at avoiding catching images in the center seam, and the paper is thick and glossy. This book is probably one of the sturdier I have. I recommend all of my books, but I have to say this one is very quickly becoming one of my very favorites. 

Cons: This is layout AND background. Therefore there is a little less of each. There are some animated features where there are backgrounds I wish I could see, but are not represented. But this is to be expected of such a huge compilation. A wonderful book!

How To Buy: Amazon

If you buy the book using this link, it will help tell me which books you like me to review, and will assist me towards purchasing more

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