As with every “art of” book, after flipping through the pages and reading more about the creative process behind the film associated with the book, I gain a greater appreciation for movie. This definitely was the case with The Art of DreamWorks The Croods by Titan Books. Going into the movie, I had low expectations, but left with high praise. Upon reading this book, my praise grew even higher.
The format of this book is different than recent others we’ve seen such as The Art of DreamWorks The Rise of the Guardians or The Art and Making of Hotel Transylvania. Whereas those focused mostly on the character designs and less on the backgrounds and other elements, this book devotes about 25% to the different characters design evolutions and the rest to the settings, scenes, and “making of”.
I really liked this because I wasn’t flooded with character designs. Specific designs were selected and used to see the different iterations of the character. I thought it was funny that Eep’s body shape basically stayed the same since the beginning–more built like a man with large shoulders and a bit more meat on her. (Speaking of, I thought it was interesting that these early humans were built, beefy and muscular. I imagine as scavengers, they would have a hard time staying nourished, but apparently not).
The character concept art that stood out to me was that of the director Chris Sanders and head of character animation James Baxter. Sanders in particular has such a fluid style–it’s beautiful. Although all the concept artists are beyond impressive. DreamWorks definitely has its hands on an incredible group of artists that it’s no wonder its films as of late have looked so good.
The next section, entitled “An Evolving World”, features page after page of the world of The Croods, from the now extinct wildlife to exotic locations and fauna. The flow follows the basic plot of the film, starting with the boring desert cave to the lush green jungle. There are many landscape and background painting that take up large parts of the page (or two) and I loved it. These paintings are so beautiful and detailed, you can’t help but squint your eyes and take a deeper look.
The last section breaks down the “Anatomy of A Scene” while detailing the making of sequence 2975 (known as “Grug Crosses the Divide”). A great explanatory paragraph, written by Noela Hueso is followed by pages detailing the nine-step process of creating a scene from start to finish.
Overall, this is a beautiful companion piece to a great film. I was really impressed with the film’s final output and am certainly not surprised based exploring at the behind-the-scenes work that went on. While The Art of DreamWorks The Croods is a great read, it is packed with so many outstanding, vibrant visuals that you could be satisfied just by looking at those alone.
I would recommend any animation fan to buy The Art of DreamWorks The Croods solely because it’s a filled with visually stunning pieces of art. Everything else, is just icing on the cake.
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