The Art of Epic is yet another fantastic film companion piece. The book is colorful, filled with art, and educating about the process in designing and creating an animated film.
One of my favorite part of these art-of books are seeing the movie or characters that could have been. Rejected designs and concept art. While it prides itself in being a history of the visual development of the film, the book hardly lives up to that. It’s contains little rejected or unused concept art and instead highlights only the designs that were ultimately used in the film.
For example, Professor Bomba seems to have only one design. Yes, there is one series of drawing that shows him with different nose variations, but that’s about it. It would have been nice to see the different variations in the character that were not used in the final film. At one point, was he fat? Short? Blonde? I guess we’ll never know.
Instead of cramming as much as as possible onto each page, this book takes the opposite approach: filling the pages with large beautiful sketches, designs and art. Instead of squinting at the pages, you get to sit back and enjoy all the intricate colors and details. This layout allows for less content; however, it is still visually fulfilling.
Most art books begin by showcasing all the characters, then move into highlighting the scenery and sets, and then some grand finale at the end. This book’s layout is a little different in that it follows the film’s story chronologically. Characters who are introduced in the beginning (like Professor Bomba and Mary Katherine) are shown in the beginning of the book. Likewise, scenes from the beginning are placed in the beginning of the book. It is a little odd, it actually makes it fun to follow along if you were watching the movie. I would like to have this book in hand as I’m watching the Blu-ray because I know the experience would be fantastic.
Interestingly, my favorites parts were not the character designs, but rather the scene and set designs. The lucious, evocative paintings make me want to enter this world and explore it. My particular favorite artists Greg Couch (I could pour over his work for hours), Mike Lee, and Michael Knapp.
This book is mainly a telling of the film’s visual development before animation. There is very little when it comes to the animation, lighting, shading and rendering. There is one short page about “color and light”, which I found absolutely fascinating. I would have loved to see more pages like that in the book.
Honestly, The Art of Epic wasn’t my favorite art-of book. It seemed a bit monochromatic and lacked the depth of other recent books. While I enjoyed scanning its pages and reading the wonderfully written pages, I don’t think this book will be one that I come back to on a frequent basis.
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Check out more photos of the book below: