The penguins of Madagascar are back! After being the most beloved characters in three Madagascar movies, their own Nickelodeon TV series, several animated shorts, video games and now also their own animated feature The Penguins of Madagascar, it’s about time for them to get their very own art book.
Usually after I finish reading a new art book, I have at least one or two complaints about the book. But when I finished reading The Art of Penguins of Madagascar, I couldn’t think of anything I really disliked about the book. The book was really good, perhaps even the best animation art book released this year.
This art book is completely different from most other art books released this year. The book is split into three main sections, one about the penguins, one about the North Wind and one about the villainous octopus Dave. Each section basically goes through the main scenes in the movie featuring those particular characters.
Chapter 1: The Elitist of the Elite
The first section in the book is called The Elitest of the Elite and it focuses on the penguins themselves. Each main section is divided in a few mini chapters that each focus on a character or a particular scene in the movie. Since the penguins were previously designed for the Madagascar movies, this section of the book mainly focuses on the main sequences in the movie like the Antarctica opening sequence and the big chasing scene in Venice. Each mini chapter gives you a really in depth look into the making and designing of that particular scene in which you really get to see the development of these scenes and locations.
Other great additions to this first section of the book are a full color script of the movie, a Making of a Sequence chapter and a very in-depth look at all the different scenes in the movie. One thing I always look forward to in DreamWorks art books is the chapter about the progress of making an animated feature, the The Making of Sequence 500: Venice Chase chapter takes you through the different steps of making the Venice chase sequence in which the penguins get chased by Dave’s henchman. The book goes through all the different steps from visual development to the final frame you see on the big screen and gives a really in depth look at all different stages which was incredibly interesting to read.
Chapter 2: Spy Masters
The second chapter of the book called Spy Masters focuses on the characters from The North Wind, an elite undercover interspecies that protects other animals in need of help. This chapter dives into basically everything that has to do with The North Wind. In this chapter we don’t really get to see any specific sequence from the movie but rather development of the characters, locations, props and vehicles from the North Wind.
Something I really liked about this section of the book is that it almost didn’t feature any finalized designs, most of the character pages featured art from very early on in the production of the movie that doesn’t look anything like the finalized versions of the characters. Another great addition to this section of the book is a chapter about characters that didn’t make it into the final film. I loved reading this chapter because I love this kind of behind-the-scenes information that you only get in a book like this. It was fascinating reading about the different character ideas and story lines they had originally planned for the penguins and these cute characters.
Chapter 3: The Villain
The final chapter of the book called The Villain dives into the villain of the film, octopus Dave. The section dives into all the character, locations and some sequences from the movie that are associated with Dave and gives a extended look at all the different variations of designs. I loved seeing all the different variations of character and set designs but another fun addition to this section are some pages dedicated to Dave’s back story in which they showcase storyboards and color keys from a sequence in the film in which they tell his back story.
Last but not least the book has a small section about not featured locations in the film. The pages, similar to the Not Featured Characters chapter, give a look at art from an abandoned theme park and Hong Kong, two locations that originally were going to be part of the film’s story but ultimately got cut. I loved seeing art from these cut locations and it was really interesting to read more about why they ultimately cut it and what their original purpose in the story was.
DreamWorks’ The Art of Penguins of Madagascar by Barbara Robertson is one of the best (if not the best) animation art books released this year. It has everything I want and expect from an art book and I really don’t have any major complaints about the book. The book gives a great inside look at the making of the movie and there’s is no doubt possible that this book is a must have for any animation fan. It’s my personal favorite art book of this year and I’m sure that many of you art book lovers will agree with me.