Art Books, Opinions, Reviews

Rotoscopers Roundtable: What’s Your Favorite Animation Art Book?

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Welcome to the Rotoscopers Roundtable, a feature in which the Rotoscopers crew takes one question and gives their answers. If you have a question you’d like us to answer, ask it in the comments below!

Question: What’s your favorite animation art book? What do you love about it?

Pablo Ruiz:

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It’s not even hard to answer this question! It’s ‘The Art of Tangled,’ no doubt. Not only is the art incredibly beautiful, but the text is fascinating. With this book, you learn so much about animation, Disney history, and how the amazing team behind ‘Tangled’ brought Walt Disney Animation into the 21st Century.

I just really really recommend it to everyone. You’ll learn about what Disney classics influenced the style of ‘Tangled,’ how the story team made a woman who had never left her tower a really proactive protagonist, how they managed to make Eugene so good-looking… It’s just an amazing book.

Also, in case you’re not convinced, this is the ‘Art of’ book for the movie with the Lantern Scene. I rest my case.

Check out Morgan and Chelsea’s video review here! Buy the book on Amazon and Book Depository.

MJ Edwards:

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This question was more difficult than I thought. I looked at my extensive bookshelf and ran my fingers across the colorful spines and stopped, almost unconsciously, at ‘The Art and Making of ParaNorman.’

This book is a gold mine for any stop-motion lover. There is everything from ink and digital paintings, 3D printing, physical set pieces, props, costumes, puppets and armatures, all accompanied by a description of how it is used in the film. Flicking through these pages reminded me instantly what this book did for me. It inspired me. The rough creative sketches made me want to pick up a pencil and the stunningly characterized maquettes made me want to reach for that clay. But it wasn’t just that. It talked about how these artists were misfits and outcasts who create something extraordinary because of it. It reminded me of fans of animation, like you and me, that can sometimes feel like this too. However, to quote Travis Knight from the preface, “Here’s to being weird!”

Buy the book on Amazon and Book Depository.

Rachel Wagner:

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My favorite art book is ‘The Song of the Sea Artbook.’ I loved the movie. I really bonded with it emotionally and found the story and animation to be stunning. I love the art book because it is filled to the brim with information about the folklore, mythology and locations that inspired the movie. It also has amazing artwork from sketch level to finished product from the film. A real must-have for lovers of the film.

Buy the book on Amazon.

Blake Taylor:

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One of my favorite things about the Disney theme parks is the way they offer a different medium of storytelling, whether that be as an extension of an existing animated property or an entirely new vision. ‘Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making More Magic Real‘ is a gorgeous coffee table book with incredible insight from what has to be the coolest place in the world to work, Imagineering.

From the artists who create these provocative, iconic, and fun park experiences, the reader gets a sense of the creative process with eye-opening text and beautiful concept art from parks all over the globe. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve re-read it or just flipped through it for fun.

This 2010 volume is a follow-up to a 1996 predecessor and focuses more on the past two decades of Imagineering’s resume. The best spread by far is a three-page piece that places transparent-paged concept art and blueprints for Cinderella Castle on top of a finished photograph of the building. I could stare at it for hours!

Buy the book on Amazon and Book Depository.

Max Den Hartog:

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I have quite a few art books, so choosing a favorite is difficult. ‘The Art of Tangled’ is the first art book I ever got, and definitely raised the bar high. And, while it’s in my top three, it’s not the winner. If I had to pick one, I’d probably be ‘The Art of Monsters University.’

Why? Well, first off, I love the film. So that already helps. Then, second, I think this book is the perfect art book content-wise. It has everything I want in an art book, from character sketches to set designs to color keys and this art book even has a very extensive variation of full storyboarded sequences. The art is beautiful to look at, the book is filled with amazing artists any animation fan should appreciate (Robert Kondo, Dice Tsutsumi, Daniela Strijleva, Chris Sasaki, and Shelly Wan, to only name a few), and, finally, it’s filled with great information that any animation fan will appreciate. So, that’s why ‘The Art of Monsters University’ is a can’t-miss in your art book collection.

Check out Morgan and Chelsea’s video review here! Buy the book on Amazon and Book Depository.

What about you? What’s your favorite animation art book? What do you love about it?

Edited by: Hannah Wilkes

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About AJ Howell

AJ's love of movies began when his mom took him to see The Lion King on a warm California day in 1994. He left the theater with his mind blown and with a strong desire to become a filmmaker. AJ's fascinated with films of all kinds, but animated films have always held a special place in his heart, particularly Disney animation, the work of Chuck Jones, and Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson's Peanuts specials. His favorite animated films include (but aren't limited to) Frozen, Beauty And The Beast, Surf's Up, The Bugs Bunny/RoadRunner Movie, and Toy Story 3. Along with films, AJ also loves pop and rock music, hiking, the beach, comic books, traveling, writing, acting, and baseball.