This is part two in a series about my top 10 favorite concept art books (in no particular order).
I know that this series is getting more expensive with every click, but nonetheless, I encourage you to read on…
The Art of Pixar: The Complete Color Scripts:
The Art Of Pixar: The Complete Color Scripts has plenty of the funky, playful Pixar concept art we all expect, but it is unlike any concept art book ever published.
This thick volume features a comprehensive collection of color scripts by the legendary Pixar art directors.
I think most of us had no idea what a color script was before The Art Of A Bug’s Life was published in 1998.
In fact, I don’t think color scripting was even a common practice at other studios until the Pixar books made it popular. I know the concept of “beat boards” goes all the way back to the beginning of feature animation, but I’m pretty sure color scripts are a relatively recent phenomenon.
My point is that in this book is far more than page after page of prettiness. It is the visual anthropology of one of the most influential studios in the history of filmmaking.
One Pixar book to rule them all, One Pixar book to find them, One Pixar book to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them!
The Art of Monsters, Inc.:
I considered including only the color scripts book but failing to acknowledge The Art of Monsters, Inc. would be like forgetting my own name…
I could talk for hours about how the movie changed my life, but since we don’t have time for that right now, I’ll just say this:
I told a story in a recent podcast episode about how I used to set an open concept art book on either side of my computer monitor as I created digital paintings for my portfolio. I would glance back and forth, comparing my own work to the quality I observed in the books.
About a year later, I got my first visual development gig at Disney.
This book was one of the two. (The Star Wars book in my previous post was the other.)
This book taught me to relax and be myself.
This book taught me that concept art is boundless playtime.
…and yet it is still a craft.
The Art of How to Train Your Dragon:
I saved the Kung Fu Pandas for my list of top 10 character design books.
…and The Art Of How To Train Your Dragon would belong on that list as well.
But the epic environments and high-res but never-over-rendered Character VisDev paintings justify it’s place on this list.
Even after concept art books had become an expected part of feature animation marketing, this one raised the bar for the entire industry.
The Nine Old Men & The Art of Animation:
The work of Disney’s Nine Old Men should hang right next to John Singer Sargent‘s in the gallery of the greatest American artists.
Taxonomically speaking, this book might not belong on this list but I added it anyway because awesome.
The Nine Old Men & The Art Of Animation is mostly about the history of the grandfathers of Disney Animation but it’s also full of masterful animation drawings.
This is essential study, considering the current scarcity of strong draftsmanship.
Here are a couple of fun links related to these animation legends:
Read the pulse-pounding, edge-of-your-seat thriller that is the story of how I came to own this rare book.
Check out the Nine Old Men-themed giveaway I’m promoting on my character design resource page!
The Disney Archives Series: Design:
The Disney Archives Book Series really is the next-best-thing.
The Design edition leads you through the entire history of Disney animation visual development. It even includes excerpts from abandoned projects.
The Bambi concepts alone are worth the cover price.
In the post that covered the first half of my top 10 list, blog readers filled the comments section with their own recommendations. (And my Amazon Wish List lengthened accordingly.)
One thing I noticed is that the same, few, recent books were mentioned over and over.
While the concept art of recent years is mind-blowing, you’re compromising your own creative potential if you never look further back than the past decade.
The Disney Archives might be an ideal place to start.
Infuse your digital paintings with classical quality when you join The Magic Box!
Do You Like Lists?
For years, my subscribers have been asking me to share my top 10 concept art books and for years, I’ve been avoiding it.
…because it’s an overwhelming, intimidating and basically impossible.
That said, I already started new top 10 lists for books on character design, storytelling, animation layout & backgrounds, color styling, creature design and more!
If you did like this list, what topic would you like me to cover next?