While most people are still arguing about whether they liked or disliked Pixar’s latest animated feature to hit theaters, The Good Dinosaur, there is no denying that the film was visually stunning and had some very unique designs. That is why I was very excited to get my hands on the art book for the film and learn more about how the visual look and style was created.
Since The Art of Inside Out really really disappointed me, I hoped The Art of The Good Dinosaur would be more similar to previous Pixar art books that I did enjoy. Unfortunately, I have to say that in that sense I was once again disappointed.
After John Lasseter’s foreword and director Peter Sohn’s introduction the book once again is one big catalogue full of art. There is no explanation or story of how the art was created besides listing the artists’ names. The Art of Inside Out had a similar problem, but since The Good Dinosaur was overall more simple and the biggest standout were the film’s visuals and world, for me personally it worked better in this book.
Again the space wasn’t always used as efficiently as it could have been used, but overall editors used their space more wisely than they did for Inside Out. There are occasions where pages easily could have been filled up with more art or text, but overall they used their space quite wisely and all the art is nicely proportioned.
Another problem this book has is that it has no real order. Most art books are divided in to chapters for characters, locations, scenes, etc., but this book was really all over the place. Because most of the scenes in the film take place in nature and there aren’t really any locations that need any further explanation, it was’t as big as a problem as not including any information on how, for example, they designed the headquarters in Inside Out. The book’s organization didn’t matter as much because it was just page after page of beautiful landscape paintings and fun character sketches that really didn’t need much further explanation. However, I feel the book would have been even more interesting if there was a little more order.
The book was laid out in chronological order, which made it more accessible, but it wasn’t like they really had different chapters or sections for the film’s acts or sequences. If the book had been divided in to different chapters focusing on characters, like Arlo’s family, or locations, it would have more development. If there was an entire chapter dedicated to these topics it would have shown their importance. However, in the current version, they simply left them out because they weren’t as important as other stuff.
If you’re a Pixar fan, you probably know this film had quite a troubled production. Two years ago they actually completely reimagined its original story. So, do we see any of the original story back in this book? Yes we do, actually. While there isn’t any special page or section dedicated to the film’s original production, there are quite a few drawings and paintings from the original version in this book. You simply have the notice them, since they are mixed in with art for the version we eventually got to see in the final movie.
While I feel The Good Dinosaur shouldn’t be compared to Inside Out, when reviewing this art book I feel it can be compared to the Inside Out art book. When reading art books I usually hope for a select group of things in a particular book. Both books disappointed me content-wise when compared to previous Pixar books, which is why I made these comparisons.
The Art of The Good Dinosaur is definitely a great book. It could have been a perfect book, however, if they decided to actually add some text and interview the artists who worked on the film or if they had divided the book in to several chapters and given it more order. Now the book kind of feels unfinished. The art in the book is fantastic though, and it really feels like they show us something from every aspect of designing this film. We see every scene, every character, and even more storyboards (I would have preferred full sequences like in previous Pixar art books, rather than stand-alone panels) and color keys. If you buy art books just for the art, or mainly for the art, you won’t be disappointed. The art in this book is splendid. If you’re going for a little more depth and an inside look at the making of The Good Dinosaur, then this is not the book you’re looking for.
Purchase: The Art of The Good Dinosaur
A special thanks to Chronicle Books, who provided review copies of The Art of The Good Dinosaur.
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes