It’s on in the Amazon with Blue Sky Studios’ Rio 2, a sequel to its 2011 hit film Rio. Unfortunately, the studios didn’t release an art book for Rio featuring character designs, concept art and more back in 2011, but luckily Blue Sky realized that an art book for Rio 2 was the perfect opportunity to bring in the art from the first film. To the delight of animation fans, Rio and Rio 2 in The Art of Rio: Featuring Carnival of Art From Rio and Rio 2 gives us the best of both films, allowing us to explore the colorful world of the Rio films in one big book.
The Art of Rio is separated in two main chapters: Characters and Locations. Usually I don’t like it when an art book features only characters and location art, but since this book has the same amount of pages as other art books and features concept art for two movies I didn’t really mind.
All the main characters from the two Rio movies got some pages in the Characters section. Something that really bothered me in The Art of Epic was that most of the character pages featured only the final art of the characters just in different hair styles or poses. I was worried that this book would follow that pattern as well, but thankfully Blue Sky made a more diverse selection of art. Yes, there’s still quite a bit final character designs (perhaps even too many), but it sometimes depends on which character you’re on as some has more than others.
Since this book has only two main sections, it’s apparent that Blue Sky tried to jam pack the character pages with a lot of variety. Most of the character pages not only have early character designs, final designs and different poses, but also color keys, movie stills, character maquettes and much more. This cornucopia of different art made reading the book even more fun and interesting. Unfortunately, the variety of art was clumped together instead of spaced out: one character page was filled with mostly final designs, another one was mostly sculptures, while another one had a bit of everything.
Another great addition to the character pages were some pages about the birds, feathers and other animals. This allowed us to get a lot of pages devoted to the background characters. The feather study pages were very interesting because, even though we may not think about it while watching the films, feathers were really important to these character and universe. Seeing the unique challenges that the artists and filmmakers faced during design and production was a great added bonus.
The second chapter in the book is called Locations and mainly focuses on the two films locations and architecture. Since the films are called “Rio”, there was a lot of focus focus on the locations and buildings of Rio de Janeiro and the Amazon, but the book also dives into the smaller locations like Moose Lake Village, which we only encounter in the films for a few short minutes.
This chapter showcases a lot of different art styles from very detailed pencil drawings by Peter Chan to rather simple color keys by Mike Lee. From the smallest details to the big, bright and detailed drawings that will blow your mind, the variety in art styles took the book to the next level. Even set pieces like trams and cars were highlighted, adding more spice to the overall book.
Here we also see a lot of concept art for early versions of Rio. Seeing “the film that could have been” is one of the main reasons I buy these art books, so I’m glad this included. Also there were a few pages dedicated to graphics in the movies, for example posters on walls in the background. Just an extra tidbit that was a wonderful addition to the book.
Overall The Art of Rio: Featuring a Carnival of Art From Rio and Rio 2 is a wonderful art book that takes you deep in the world of Blue Sky’s Rio and Rio 2. Titan Books included a robust amount of art, instead of the standard stuff you see in some books. At times, it would have been nice to see even more early character designs, but overall I really can’t complain. The Art of Rio is a wealth of information and a must have for any fan of the colorful and wild Rio films.
The Art of Rio: Featuring a Carnival of Art From Rio and Rio 2 by Tara Bennett
Special thanks to Titan Books who provided a review copy of the book.