Disney has created a series of books known as the “Art Of” line, featuring incredible art from Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel, and everything in between.
The Walt Disney Company has produced some breath-taking movies over the years, but in both their live-action and animated worlds, the aesthetic of these cinematic universes is incredibly important. The creation of concept art and storyboards is, therefore, a crucial part of the production process.
In the past few years especially, Disney has focused on creating a series of books known as the Art Of line. Each new film (especially from their animation departments) receives a book dedicated to all of the intricate visual design that went into creating these projects. From Lucasfilm, Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and Marvel Studios, there’s a whole range of phenomenal books to explore.
Coco is maybe one of Disney’s most visually stunning films. Día De Los Muertos brings with it a lot of stark imagery. With a beautiful color palette of reds, oranges, and yellows, Coco really comes to life when its incredible Land of the Dead is being fleshed out further.
The book contains some wonderful images that set out what the final afterlife will look like and includes some brilliant designs for both the human characters of the film and the vibrant Alebrije. This book is both a celebration of the film itself and the culture that inspired it.
Moana was another project that allowed Disney artists to explore a completely different culture. With the film set around the islands of Oceania, the production team took a trip to the continent learning about the history of Samoa, Polynesia, and New Zealand amongst others.
From the flora that graces these tranquil landscapes to the tattoos that are so indented into their culture, The Art Of Moana demonstrates how these artists managed to take these rich cultures and produce a movie that is just as visually striking as it is emotionally moving. Plenty of ideas in this book will likely influence the Disney+ Moana spin-off.
Venezuela provided much of the inspiration for Pixar’s Up. Once again, a trip was in order so that the artists could really capture the one of a kind scenery that can be found there. Carl Fredricksen’s journey to Paradise Fall’s was certainly not an easy one to develop.
Yet, the production team persevered with their designs until the right look was found for the film. Of course, the highlight of the book is the beautiful imagery of the balloon-topped house flying across the South American landscapes; but the character designs in particular are remarkable.
Tangled is in many ways a return to tradition for Walt Disney Animation Studios, after all, it is a classic fairy tale being brought to life like the company’s movies of old. The movie that really re-launched the studio took audiences through emotional highs and lows.
As the company continued to develop a new approach to storytelling, they revisited well-known techniques that ultimately captured the essence of this fictional world. The Art Of Tangled goes into great detail over the mystical elements being put together, from the designs of small towns to the classic tower and of course it features memorable paintings of the lantern sequences.
6 The Mandalorian
Turning to Lucasfilm, it’s pretty obvious that the Star Wars Disney+ show was a massive, award winning success. The tone of the piece contains multiple elements from both Japanese cinema and the Western genre. The concept art goes a long way to showcase these influences.
The Mandalorian is well known for its cinematography, but its intricate design is really on full display in the Art Of book. Trying to design the characters and multiple new planets is one thing, yet it is far more difficult to define what the show will really be in just art. Much like Ralph McQuarrie in the past, the artists here manage to achieve the seemingly impossible.
5 Monsters, Inc.
Another Pixar classic, Monsters, Inc. is absolutely all about its characters. With Pixar still developing its voice, it was of course vital that this project be a success. The key laid in the duo of Mike and Sully and a believable world of monsters that was being created.
The Art Of Monsters, Inc. puts forward the multiple directions the creation of these monsters could go in. From the doorway sequence to the design of the scream floor, the book manages to touch upon all of the iconographies that have come from the classic film.
4 Avengers: Endgame
Avengers: Endgame was at one time the highest grossing movie of all time and the culmination of over a decade of storytelling. It’s a remarkable achievement from Marvel Studios, but the production would not have gone quite as smoothly if the visual elements weren’t already in place.
These heroes are absolute icons and while the artists had the comics to base some of their concepts on, this original script required some original ideas. The Art Of Avengers: Endgame brings out some of the alternative story ideas being put forward, as well as detailing the creation of these costumes and some of the most memorable frames of the film.
3 Frozen II
Frozen may have been a complete phenomenon, but the production of its sequel is perhaps a little more interesting. Disney rarely commissions huge follow ups like this, especially for their films that are based on pre-existing fables like The Snow Queen.
The success of the original cannot be denied, so the development of the sequel was perhaps even more challenging. Coming up with a brand new story in this existing world is a big ask. The art helped to set the tone of this latest film. The Art Of Frozen II is therefore very different, as it’s one of the only sequel Art Of books out there, demonstrating the progression in the franchise.
2 Jedi: Fallen Order
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is one of the few Disney Art Of books based on a video game. Considering this narrative is a canon story within the galaxy far far away though, the art within the book demonstrates the original concepts and influences from across the franchise.
With the daring lead Cal Kestis, the artists had to tread new ground in creating a new set of worlds (and a number of familiar ones) for the unique hero to explore. Combining Jedi mythology with the technology of the Star Wars brand, the team clearly had a lot of fun playing around in an era that saw lawlessness and the height of the Empire.
1 The Art Of The Golden Age
The Art Of Disney: The Golden Age is one of the most unique books they have ever produced. While Art Of books are often released coinciding with the debut of a new project, this look into the Disney archives is a retrospective of the films that paved the way.
Featuring artwork from some of Disney’s most world renowned talents, this is a must-have for any fan of the house of the Mouse. Within those pages is genuine cinematic history and it’s clear to see how these drawings could help inspire future generations.
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