Book Review: The Art of How to Train Your Dragon

The Art of How to Train Your Dragon

I can't believe my eyes when I saw this book on the shelf at a local bookshop, two months earlier than its scheduled release date.

Flipped a few pages, and saw the unique style of Nicolas Marlet, flipped back to the cover and found that Tracy Miller-Zarneke is the author and the movie's from Dreamworks. Those three names instantly reminded me of quality art book The Art of Kung Fu Panda. I'm glad to say that this book is as good and fun. By the way, Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois are the famed directors here.

Inside the book are more than 350 development artwork, including early character designs, story sketches, and concept paintings. The books is divided into three parts, the dragons, vikings and the environment with stuff like props and houses. Discarded art and characters are also included, like Hiccup's mother - who can cook a mean dish with dragon meat. Accompanying the art are plenty of interesting quotes and commentary from the production staff.

Nicolas Marlet and Simon Otto seem to be the lead character designers responsible for the concept art of the dragons and vikings, although a good amount of designs are actually from Nicolas Marlet. There's a wide range of wackiness and creativity to the drawings. The character digital paintings are great and the colours are really beautiful, kudos to Zhaoping Wei.

The environment paintings from Pierre-Olivier Vincent, art director, are beautiful. This guy really knows how to draw scenic yet precarious backgrounds like sloping hilltops, snow-capped sea arches and Dragon island which is like an ice-cream cone with molten lava as topping. Not only that, his tranquil pieces are also spectacular, National Geographic-spectacular. He has created places you want to visit but probably not because one wrong step and you'll roll down the hill.

There are even a few illustrations from Dominique Louis, who did some pastel concept art for Pixar. His using digital pastels now and there's no difference from his traditional work, I'm glad to say. The fun and stylised houses, statues, weapons, boats and other props are from Kirsten Kawamura and Mel Zwyer.

It's a fantastic book showing the creative prowess of amazing artists. Highly recommended.


The Art of How to Train Your Dragon is available on Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP)

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WOW, this book looks great, I wasn't too sure on the movie from the trailers but the art is quite something! I'm looking forward to the film..


Hi Parka,

Sorry I forgot to put this in my earlier post, but on amazon UK they have two versions of 'The Art of How to Train your Dragon'

One by Tracey Miller-Zarneke and published by Titan Books
and another by Cressida Cowell and published by New Market press.

Do they have different content and which one would be better to get?



In reply to by Animator13 (not verified)

Mine's the Newmarket Press edition. Not sure if there are any differences in the content compared to Titan Books'. The price of the books are rather close.

From a local bookshop, Basheer. I can't believe it when I saw the book too.

Hey Parka my friend !

Can you please buy me a copy !

i can send you the payment by paypal ?

How much is it oh by the way i live in the USA

In reply to by chris penn (not verified)

@chris penn
I think the book should be out soon in US since it's already out in Asia -- Singapore that is.

If I were to buy it and sell to you, it's going to cost a lot for the shipping, not to mention the extra long delivery time.

if im in taiwan is it possible to get it now?


this book looks FANTASTIC!
i wonder how much fun they had drawing those vikings?

Wow, it has pictures in every page..
I'm not sure this would be available in Indonesia, but I'll manage to have it somehow!
Thanks for reviewing :)

Thanks Parka
Ordered It from Amazon and it shipped yesterday, now the wait begins!
I agree with Animator13 not sure on the film itself, I've heard it deviates from the book somewhat, but your review of the art sold me straight away.
The Dragons look amazing especially the Hideous Zippleback ?!?
Very cute.

Hello Mr Parka!

Thx for the review! The art looks amazing and I might buy it!

I just got to know you from a James Gurney book review on Amazon... and you are SIngaporean too. :D I am in living in Vancouver though, but will be back home by end of the year. I am holding off from buying so mucg stuff because I would have a problem transporting everything. ;) But thx for the review, hope to see more art book reviews soon!

Just recieved this book - it is amazing, so much art and it is spectacular!
If anyone has any reservations about buying the book - it's amazing so just buy and think later! =)

Bring on the art of Shrek 4 and the art of Megamind!


This book is amazing. The amount of sketches, designs and production notes makes it a real keeper. I love Nico Marlett's dragon and viking designs.

The film comes to the UK next week so I'll be off to the BFI Imax to see it in 3D. Can't wait!

the film was absolutely incredible. I laughed almost the whole way through and would recommend it entirely for all audiences. Some of the artwork was beautiful, especially the flight scenes.

I saw the film in £D and reccomend that you all do the same. Thanks for posting the book, i think it looks good to buy if you enjoyed the film as much as i did and want some inspiration for some of my own projects.

Many thanks


I can't remember exactly but it's a few dollars more than Amazon's price of $32.40 (inclusive of overseas shipping for my case).

Hi Parka, just discovered your blog! I nearly had a heart attack when I saw this review. I'm bookmarking you right away!

One question: how do you feel about people reblogging your reviews/images? For instance, say I wanted to buy this book and blog about it (with proper links and credit to you) do you think that would be OK? I thought I'd write in to ask permission. I couldn't find your email on this site to write privately.

In any case, thanks, I'm loving your site : )

I found your gmail (urgh I'm so blind) but thanks for following my question up! I will provide links and all! Thanks a Bunch :)

no more copys left only after two months I hope they will reprint, as collector I can´t forget it

I have to agree this art of book is amazing...! !

Beat's the art of kung fu panda, no question! =)


Hi Mr. Parka

WOW. this really IS something!! Great!!
I saw the film on 3D yesterday and already planning to watch it 1 more time!!!
Do you mind if I reblog your images on my page?
Of course with links of your blog and credit.
If you like, you can visit my blog and let me know whether you're happy about it or not. :D

Thanks million~!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

This book actually helped me open up....
this film is no doubt good . but the artwork is mindblowing....i use to hesitate to draw sketchy lines i use to try to make work. but after seeing nicholas marlet and the artist i actually managed to discover my style and now i feel even more free to draw.. Thanks to parka for sure...

Hello Parka, I haven't had a chance to read the book, but I was able to watched the movie. It's fantastic, amazingly beautiful. I love Hiccup and I named my dog Fury. LOL how silly of me, I love night fury. Thank you for featuring this one.

Well Parka, I got the movie, How To Train Your Dragon on Blu-Ray and DVD combo pack at Walmart, and I'm getting this book, which is The Art of How To Train Your Dragon, and it'll be on my doorstep in a few days from now, since I have ordered it through

And personally, Parka, How To Train Your Dragon (2010), being one of Dreamworks' better CGI flicks is one of my top three favorite movies of all time, together with James Cameron's 2009 3-D science fiction fantasy epic, AVATAR, as well as the 1999 hour-long Dexter's Laboratory made-for-TV-special-cum-movie, Ego Trip (the one that pits Dexter, with Dexter, and Dexter, and Dexter, against Mandark, with Mandark, and Mandark, and Mandark., before Dexter, Mandark, and their respective future selves are defeated as the one who saved the future by Dexter's annoying, hyperactive sister, Dee Dee).

I love How To Train Your Dragon, Parka, besides Dexter's Laboratory and James Cameron's AVATAR.

to bad it's out of print
the occasions prices are insane
it looks really good

hi parka, it looks like it's on sale on
or am i dreaming? ^^

wwouaah i just received it, with "the art of kung fu panda". they are both great , nicolas marlet's artwork is just amazing.

well, looks like it's back in stock on bookdepository!!!! too bad i already bought it ( not the same price :( ), but it's not back in stock on amazon yet (maybe it won't), so if you're interested in this book, you should hurry !!!

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