Thursday, September 6

The Art of Brave: Book Review

I received The Art of Brave as a birthday gift last month and though I don’t usually take the time to sit down and read the art of books (normally I just flip through them and look at the pictures every once in a while for a little hit of inspiration when I need one), I thought I’d actually take some time and read through this one especially since it was written by Jenny Lerew of The Blackwing Diaries, a blog I’ve followed since college.

The book starts off with some of the very first sketches of Merida and some travel photos from a group of artists and directors that went to Scotland to do visual research for the setting of the film. The photos from Scotland are a nice addition because the reader is able to see what the artists were focusing on in their research, it’s something that we don’t usually get to see in the art of Pixar books.
What became immediately apparent to me as I read through the book was the incredible artistry of Steve Pilcher. The lion share of the drawings in the book are by Pilcher (including the front and back cover art) as well as some of the more breathtaking photos of Scotland, but what is really impressive in my opinion is the myriad styles he employs to render his drawings. Some are exacting pencil sketches with lots of tonal cross-hatching, some are very textural digital paintings, some are clean digital scenes with flat colors, and they all look like they are done by totally different, masterful artists. Not many artists can do this.

The book also includes pages upon pages of storyboards that unfortunately are difficult to see because they are printed so small and a little hard to follow because there is no accompanying text to go along with them. Still, it’s nice to spend some time with the storyboards, looking from one frame to the next and remembering the scene from the movie.

In the book, Lerew mentions that there was originally a lot of planning for the film to take place in a snowy climate, an idea that was eventually scrapped in favor of the lush green environment seen in the finished film. There was never an explanation stated as to why that decision was made, though I think it was the right one. I would have liked to hear more about things like that, early plans and ideas that were cut out or reshaped, I would have liked to read more about the winding road to getting to the finished story. But I guess that’s why it’s called The Art of Brave and not The Making of Brave.

On the whole, it’s a great art of book and I’m looking forward to pulling it off the shelf from time to time for the occasional jolt of inspiration.

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