Here's the artbook for director Jorge R Gutierrez's 3D animated film The Book of Life. Gutierrez was born in Mexico City and raised in Tijuana, and in this 192-page hardcover artbook, you'll see that the inspiration for this film comes from his hometown and the rich history of Mexico.
Highlights of the book are the designs for the characters and environment.
As far as character designs go, The Book of Life definitely has some of the weirdest and quirkiest designs compared to other 3D animated movies. Their costumes are heavily decorated and lushly coloured. For example, the goddess La Muerte wears a huge red hat with burning candles on top and little skulls hanging around the rim, and the bottom of her red dress is also covered with burning candles.
Many characters are actually puppets with exposed joints. Main character Manolo has stars, hearts and skulls plastered all over his boxy costume. Skeleton versions of the characters look great with fanciful skull designs just like how some tribes like to create artworks out of skulls. Even the bull Toro Muerto has its horns intricately carved with symbols.
The artworks are very much inspired by Mexican folk art. Gutierrez gets his inspiration from lucha libre, mustaches, street taco stands, bullfighting posters, Spanish comics, spaghetti Westerns, etc. The result is a very colourful and visual world.
The environment art for the Land of the Living, Remembered and Forgotten have influences from ancient civilisation such as Aztec, Mayan and Olmec. It's interesting to see the artists use those influences and design them for an animated film. If I don't know anything about the film, I would have thought the civilisation in the film celebrates colour.
There are lots of details to look out for. In the Land of the Living, there are several buildings with shapes inspired by Mayan temples. Tombstones are lavishly decorated with ornaments and offerings. Houses in the town are top heavy just like the characters to make them feel more macho. There are commentary throughout that talks about the designs.
The Art of The Book of Life is a wonderful, vibrant and quirky artbook. Highly recommended.
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