the art of how to train your dragon
written by : tracey miller-zarneke
preface by : cressida cowell
pages [hardcover] 160
favorite part of the book : toothless concept art!
Featuring more than 350 pieces of development artwork that includes early character designs, story sketches, and concept paintings never before released by the studio, The Art of How to Train Your Dragon offers a stunning view of DreamWorks Animation’s film about an unlikely alliance between a young Viking and a deadly dragon, inspired by the original book by Cressida Cowell.
The Art of How to Train Your Dragon presents the insights of the filmmakers who crafted this high-flying cinematic adventure and takes the audience on a visual tour of the Viking and dragon worlds that is an enthralling – but far less treacherous – as one would experience living among fire-breathing creatures with a boisterous Viking tribe.
The reader will be intrigued by page after page of beautifully realized illustrations that show how this remarkable movie about the Viking world, “where only the strong can belong,” mixed with the dragon world with its “fiery furies,” was conceived in its full glory. There are also behind-the-scenes section on the bold cinematic techniques used in creating this strikingly original animated movie. With an exclusive preface by Cressida Crowell and forward by Craig Ferguson, How to Train Your Dragon will be a delight for all movie and animation lovers as well as dragon and Viking fans.
I absolutely love the art books that accompany most animated movies nowadays. They’re pretty expensive so I don’t own nearly as many as I’d like but whenever the stars align, and the pay is good, and the price is right, one falls into my hands. I’ve been waiting on this one for a while. It didn’t disappoint.
The Art of How to Train Your Dragon is slightly reminiscent of The Art of Rise of the Guardians, because each had a children’s/middle grade book series that existed before the film was conceived. And both films aren’t so much direct adaptations as vaguely related entities when compared to the original texts. I loved being able to see the steps that occurred between the original conception of the movie, focused more on the book, and the end result, which told its own story. Using the same basics characters, setting, and themes, but in a slightly aged-up and slightly scarier version of Hiccup’s world.
I loved it all.
I loved seeing concept art–concept art always fascinates me. To see these iterations of beloved characters and know that they could have looked like any one of those options if the design team had taken the film in a different direction. I loved the little fun facts, like Astrid’s braid trailing down her back rather than the side of her head because she kept turning and whacking other characters with it. I loved learning how they layered the settings, cheated with the lighting, threw in details they knew might not make it to the final version.
I can’t pretend to know everything about animation. I’m not an artist. But I know story. And it’s so interesting to see how all of these different components and concepts and ideas thread together into a cohesive and loved whole. Something people will watch and remember and then watch again.
I can’t recommend this book enough! It’s smart, it’s beautiful, and most importantly, it has dragons.