Book Review: The Art of Big Hero 6

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Beautiful artbook for Disney's Big Hero 6

I find this to be an interesting artbook particularly because of the environment designs. About half the book is dedicated to the environment designs which includes the city San Fransokyo, Hiro's house, the cafe, San Fransokyo Institute of Technology, Fred's mansion and the portal.

The San Fransokyo is like a character by itself with its blend of architecture and aesthetics from west and east. It's fun to see how the artists create a populated city inspired by San Francisco and Tokyo.

Cited by art director Scott Watanabe, there are also influences from anime films such as Tekkonkinkreet, Ghost in the Shell and Akira. Indeed when I look at some of the environment sketches, they remind me of sketches from the Tekkon Kinkreet anime artbook. The vibe is certainly present.

Looking at the city's environment concept art, you'll be able to spot Japanese elements such as the tapered rooftops, Koinobori (carp-shaped wind socks), a Golden Gate Bridge lookalike with Torii design elements, signboards with Japanese typography, wooden curved bridges, cherry-blossom trees, etc. There are also major characteristic San Francisco elements such as the roads with very recognisable cable cars, sloping hills, Victorian-style houses, etc.

There's an emphasis on function and a sense of feeling lived-in for the environments, so buildings aren't just designed to look cool. For example, city streets or Hiro's rooms are made to look a bit more messy or wonky.

The second half of the book features the character designs for the heroes, villains and side characters. Again, there's noticeable Japanese influence in the designs. Early designs for Hiro shows off costumes that look like ninjas or even Patlabor. There are more pages for Baymax because he's has a big role. Go Go's hero suit reminded me of Tron and some Japanese toy/game/anime that I can't remember. The characters in their non-hero forms are pretty standard and do not stand out, but their hero costumes look quite good.

Finally the last part of the book talks briefly about the cinematography used, such as lighting, the new Disney Hyperion renderer and colour script.

There's a good amount of text included in the form of introductions for each environment and character, and quotes from the staff talking about the designs. It's a book solely on the designs, with nothing being mentioned about the movie's plot.

Overall a nice film companion.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

The Art of Big Hero 6 is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP | CN) and Book Depository

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