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[ART BOOK REVIEW] ‘The Art of Zootopia’

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Disney’s latest animated feature, Zootopia, is doing amazingly well at the box office. The film has captivated audiences around the globe with its fantastic story and incredible message, but mostly its amazing visuals. Zootopia probably has some of the best world-building in any film, both live-action and animation, and that world is filled with a large group of fascinating characters. The Art of Zootopia is the newest art book that dives into the making of Zootopia’s world and the characters that inhabit it.

The Art of Zootopia is divided into several chapters. The book starts with a preface by John Lasseter and a foreword by the films directors, Byron Howard and Rich Moore. The preface and foreword are a great summary and introduction to the beginning of Zootopia‘s development before you dive into the rest of the book. Here, you’ll be a getting a more in-depth look at the different parts of development. The book continues with an introduction. The introduction talks about the very early development of the film, starting with director Byron Howard’s first pitch. The introduction talks about his original pitch ideas and even showcases some concept art from those versions. From here, we get to read how the film’s screenwriter, co-directors, producer, production designer, art director of environments, and art director of characters were brought on.

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After this quite text-heavy introduction, we dive into the first main chapter of the book that’s all about the world of Zootopia and how it was designed by animals. This part of the book is very small and introduces us to how the artists at Disney went about designing this world that was supposed to be created by and for animals. How would architecture be different from our world? And how do they make this world accessible for both a mouse, elephant, and every other animal in between?

After this main introduction to the visual look of the world of Zootopia, we get our first introduction to how the characters were designed in ‘The Animals of Zootopia section. This section talks about the visual look of the characters in the film, and our main characters, Judy and Nick, get a few pages each where the book discusses how they were designed.

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The biggest part of the book is the section ‘Zootopia Habitats. This part of the book basically features all the other art of the locations, characters, and scenes in Zootopia. This section has a very in-depth look at all the different locations and characters in the film, but also a big chunk of the book is dedicated to characters and locations that aren’t as prominent in the film, like background characters and locations in the city we don’t really get to see that much of. This part of the book also features a ton of concept art of burrows, characters, and scenes that were eventually cut from the movie as they didn’t fit or make sense within the story changes that happen over the course of making an animated movie. This part of the book is fantastic, and I’m amazed by the selection of art that is in this part. I’m sure they could have filled multiple books with all the production art made for the film and still hadn’t gotten to the deleted characters and scenes, but they managed to make a great combination of everything in this one book and even though not all the characters get as much space as they would have (would they not have included those deleted locations and characters), it simply works very well this way. They do a great job showing all the different art made from the movie, not just finalized stuff that made it into the movie but also cut locations and characters and earlier variations of sets and characters that did make it into the final movie.

The final chapter of this book talks about some of the technical achievements of the movie. While this is a very brief part of the book, I really enjoyed just getting to read a little bit about how they did all the different climates in the different burrows or how they made the fur for each animal unique. It shouldn’t have been included to make this book as good as it is, but it definitely added to my love for this book.

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The Art of Zootopia is just another addition to the amazing collection of art books Disney Animation has been putting out for some of its recent films. The art in the book is of course beautifully made but also very unique and original. The book does a great job at really showing all the different parts of making this movie, from pitching to designing to some of the technical work, and they managed to include an amazing selection of art, which includes both finalized and cut work. The book feels simply complete, and after reading it, I was satisfied with the content in it. I didn’t think it missed anything, and if you yourself feel like diving even deeper into the world of Zootopia after reading this book, I’d recommend checking out some of the personal art blogs of the artists in this book as they have a ton more art from Zootopia online. Just like the movie, The Art of Zootopia is amazing and something you definitely can’t miss out on.

Purchase:

Amazon: US (The Art of Zootopia) | UK (The Art of Zootropolis)
Book Depository: US / UK

A special thanks to Chronicle Books, who provided review copies of the book.

Edited by: Kelly Conley

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