Friday, March 13, 2020

The Art of Onward Book Review

pixar The Art of Onward Book Review

If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times— I LOVE the Pixar "Art of" books from Chronicle Books Publishing! I seriously look forward to these releases every year with each new Pixar film. Lucky for all of us fans, we get two this year in the span of just a couple months (since Soul is just around the corner). Today I'll be giving you my full review and exclusive peek inside The Art of Onward! I'll tell you right now, this thing is stunning. 

First of all, if you're by chance not familiar with this series, these books (which, for Pixar, began in 2001 with The Art of Monsters Inc.) are essentially the definitive source for all officially released Pixar concept art and "making of" content (storyboards, colors scripts, lighting studies, character/environment layouts, pencil sketches, digital renderings, research photographs, deleted scenes/concepts, gags and so much more— as well as a sprinkling of quotes, stories and insights from the creators); an amazing look into the creative process and development from the team of artists at Pixar!

Note: There are also "Art of" books for films from other studios as well, including Lucasfilm, Disney Animation, Dreamworks and more.

pixar The Art of Onward Book Review

The front and back covers feature a taste of the vibrant art you'll find within these pages. Really gorgeous stuff. That art on the back with the pink/blue starry sky though...just WOW! I've only seen the film once, but I don't think I remember a moment like that. That would have been incredible to see on screen. I enjoy seeing unused concepts like this, but it also bums me out a little sometimes to see great moments or hilarious gags that could have been.

pixar The Art of Onward Book Review

As usual, remove the slipcover to reveal the sturdy hardcover book itself and, in this case, an embossed Onward  "Q" (seen on Barley's shirt and Wilden's hat; I imagine it stands for quest as it's similar to the "Quests of Yore" Q). Loving the deep royal blue this time around. 

pixar The Art of Onward Book Review

Now we'll open things up to give you an exclusive peek at some of the opening pages! How clever that the endpapers are the pattern of Wilden Lightfoot's signature purple striped socks? What a fun detail!

pixar The Art of Onward Book Reviewpixar The Art of Onward Book Review
pixar The Art of Onward Book Review

There is no foreword this time, but the introduction was written by the director of the film, Dan Scanlon, who shares the inspiration behind this deeply personal film about loss, brotherhood and the journey of self-discovery. He even shares some Scanlon family photos of him and his brother Bill when they were little and them with their father before he passed.

The rest of the book is written by Drew Taylor and edited by Molly Jones & Jenny Moussa Spring. The whole team did a wonderful job here. You really get a sense of all the love that was put into this.

pixar The Art of Onward Book Review

Every "Art of" book is organized a little differently. I really like how this book is broken down! Check out the full contents below.

Throughout this book, there's just the right amount of text (it doesn't get overwhelming like some previous releases, but not too minimal like others) and hundreds of pieces of art to sink your teeth into. You certainly get your money's worth.

pixar The Art of Onward Book Review

Something totally new to this "Art of" series is this "Internal Screenings Progression" chart showing how all the main characters, locations and motivations changed and evolved over the many years of production! "Creating a story for a Pixar film is a lot like going on a quest...this progression chart is an attempt to explain our journey for this film. It represents all the milestones of Onward's story path", says story supervisor Kelsey Mann. This is absolutely fascinating to me! It's one of my favorite aspects of the book, hands down. Throughout the book, many of the art pieces have numbers/colors near them that correspond with this chart to help you understand where in the process/timeline a particular concept was from.

pixar The Art of Onward Book Review

Continuing on, below is a peek at some of the other many, many pages of colorful art you'll discover inside! I'm not wanting to show a lot here (I don't want to to give anything away that might spoil the film if you by chance haven't seen it yet), but here's at least a little sampling of what you can expect.

pixar The Art of Onward Book Review
p. 18 Matt Nolte, digital
pixar The Art of Onward Book Review
P. 94 Garrett Taylor, digital
pixar The Art of Onward Book Review
p. 128 Garrett Taylor, digital
pixar The Art of Onward Book Review
p. 46 Peter Chan, graphite

The book closes out with some acknowledgments (special thanks) by the producer of the film, Kori Rae.

pixar The Art of Onward Book Review

To be honest, when I first saw the designs for Onward back with the first teaser trailer (or even before that), I wasn't totally sold on the style. Something felt a bit different for me compared to Pixar's other features. However, now that I've been around it for a while now and having seen the film, I've come to really enjoy the look of it all. This book has given me even a stronger appreciation for it to the point where I'd consider myself a huge fan of the art direction! I cannot wait for more viewings of the film so I can take in this rich, beautiful world time and time again. I'm sure I'll be noticing new details for years to come.

If you're looking to get into this industry (or perhaps you already are), this is a great learning tool; for everyone else (film/Pixar/animation fans like me), it's just a feast for the eyes. I've always loved behind the scenes content, whether books or DVD special features, so I really connect with this series. Like the film itself, there are so many details here in this book that you really could look through and study it for hours (and I'm sure I will). If you're interested in adding this to your collection, I recommend picking it up at Barnes & Noble or on Amazon using the direct link below.

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And there you go! That's my review, which isn't even scratching the surface of what you can expect inside. Per usual, this is a really beautiful tribute to the incredibly talented artists who worked so hard at making the film what it is today, yet who too often go unnoticed. Do you have a favorite Pixar artist whose work you look forward to seeing?  Let me know all your thoughts on this book and any questions you might have down in the comments.

A huge thank you to Chronicle Books for sending this copy my way! 

Size: 11.4" x 9.4"
Pages: 175
Retail Price: $40 (though it's always on sale for less, usually around $26)
Original Release Date: March 3rd, 2020
My Rating: 9/10

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