Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Art of How To Train Your Dragon 2: A Review

The Art of How To Train Your Dragon 2
Written by: Linda Sunshine
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: New Market Press
Language: English
May 2014
Genre: Non Fiction/Art

Here is a look behind the frozen fjords and ice caves of Berk at the making of the sequel to a beloved animated classic. This full-color, lavishly illustrated book features more than 650 paintings, drawings, sketches, models, film stills, lighting studies, color keys, story boards, and photographs. Along with quotes from all the principal filmmakers there is also an introduction by the writer/director Dean DeBlois and a foreword by Gerard Butler, the voice of Stoick.

In this brilliantly conceived sequel, we are on a journey of exploration to new lands, four-winged dragons, long-lost love, vicious and powerful enemies, and ginormous Bewilderbeasts.

How does a movie of such imagination and magnitude come into creation? Well, you begin with an incredibly talented team of artists, writers, engineers, animators, modelers, and tech wizards and you let their creativity soar. The result is a stunning, original vision—bigger, better, and fiercer than ever—of an earth-shattering, fire-breathing sequel to the legendary story of Vikings and dragons in the frozen north.


I love art books, especially art books for films that I absolutely love (my favorite is the one from Mirrormask). I loved the original How to Train Your Dragon and the sequel looked equally amazing. Hiccup and his friends from Berk are five years older. Berk has become a dragon rider haven and the new character, city, and dragon designs reflect that. It’s a beautiful little film. So of course I was excited to get this copy of the Art book to review by Linda Sunshine.

Based on the books by Cressida Cowell, How to Train Your Dragon is chock full of dragons and their riders. They are absolutely beautiful and the drawings of main character designer Nicolas Marlet reflect that. Of course Artist Zhaoping Wei provides the more finished look to the characters.

Now I love Art of Books because I love being able to thoroughly look and drool over things I may have only seen on screen for just a short time but took so much time and imagination. Now I get to take my own time and peruse to my heart’s content. Animation in particular has so many talented people working on everything from landscapes to lighting to costumes.

The book is divided into sections with quotes from those involved with the film. There are details about Hiccup’s gadgets, a very in-depth look at some of the costumes (hello Cosplayers out there), the different dragon designs, the environment and the props. I loved reading about Berk with all of the new additions that it make it as happy for the dragons of Berk as it does the Vikings.

Things I loved: You know I love the dragons of course and I cannot help it if Toothless is my favorite. Just look at him. He is adorable. There are some great new designs this time around. Some massive, some wee and cute. There are elemental dragons and ones with very distinct personalities. I will say that there is less about the dragons you met from the first film and just a smidge on Toothless compared to the new dragon designs. I am okay with this as the new beasties are impressive. There is also some insight on how they created such a variety of dragons.

This book also uses DreamWorks Animation AR which is a free app that allows you to point your phone at certain pages that will either play a clip from the film or the storyboards. There are only a few instances of this feature and a cute little feature I suppose (I just wish there had been more).

Things I didn’t love so much: There weren’t a lot of downsides to this book. Sure the font could always be bigger or I could get more art of my favorite scenes and characters, but that is just nitpicking. I was happy to receive it, loved the film, and will look quite nicely with the other art books I have. That’s about it.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. A great addition if you loved the film. Not only does it give an amazing behind the scenes look at how the film was brought to life and all of the hard work and effort that went into its creation, but it’s just gorgeous to look at.

Part of: Stand alone

Also Recommended: Some of my favorite movie art books that I would recommend are Mirrormask: The Illustrated Script by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, Moulin Rouge Art Book by Baz Luhrmann, and the Serenity Visual Companion by Joss Whedon.

3.75 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

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