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.

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

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