Studio Ghilbi art books take you on a different reading experience than most animation art books. You’re going to see less development and concept art and more final designs and screenshots. That being said, these book are just as interesting, especially when it comes The Art of Princess Mononoke, the art book for Miyazaki’s cinematic masterpiece.
The Art of Princess Mononoke chronologically follows the story of Princess Mononoke scene by scene. So if a character is introduced in that scene, we will get some art regarding the development of that character. You’ll be surprised to see more background paintings than character sketches. Also, over half of the book includes final cells and screenshots of the film, which is something rare in other art books. With this book, you don’t need to even watch the movie because it takes you through the movie on near frame-by-frame level.
The sketches and other art in the book is presented in a very uniform art style with much being directly from Miyazaki himself. Since Japan is more of a collective culture that the US, it makes sense that the styles of the individual artists are not highlighted, but rather the final cumulative effort.
One thing I’m always impressed with Studio Ghibli art book is the inclusion of obscure items. For example, In The Art of The Wind Rises we got the full English script. In The Art of Princess Mononoke we get poems written by Miyazaki about each character, which he then gave to the composer to help him develop the score. We also get the ‘Hayao Miyazaki Layout Collection’, which includes pages and pages of each storyboard directly from the hand of Miyazaki himself. Lastly, we get a production diary, which is a day-by-day breakdown of what happened during the entire production of the film.
There is a chapter that is unusual for a Studio Ghibli art book called ‘CG: All About Digital Imaging’. Since Princess Mononoke was the studio’s first film to use CGI on a grand scale, there were a lot of new techniques that they had to use and explore from texturing and mapping to morphing and digital ink and paint. We get an in-depth interview with the artists who worked on the technology piece, which was
If you are looking for a character and concept-driven art book, then this might not be your style; however, if you are interested in breaking down the creation of one of Miyazaki’s greatest works, then The Art of Princess Mononoke is right up your alley.