Imagine if one sketchbook had been passed down through the decades from one Disney artist to the next, with each one making a contribution before leaving it in the talented hands of another. That idea was the inspiration for The Art of Disney's Dragons. The drawings contained within this volume represent the entire range of dragon-themed development art from animators, live-action studio artists, and Imagineers. Inside find playful pencil studies of Mushu; color concepts on Figment (who was green before he became purple!); bold pencil layouts on Maleficent, and the latest character explorations of Elliot from the new Spring/Summer 2016 live-action film Pete's Dragon. Tom Bancroft, often recognized in Disney circles as being lead animator on Mushu the dragon in Mulan, writes the book's introductory essay.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.
The Art of Disney's Dragons is one of the most beautiful compilations of artwork I've ever seen. Disney nerd that I am I was most excited to review this one! Of course it presents its own challenge since it's basically a collection of artwork.
David Lowery, the director of the new live-action, Pete's Dragon, gives a nice foreword about dragons in general and the evolution of them in Disney. Followed by Tom Bancroft's introduction which goes into the process of creating sketches prior to the actual animating for new characters. Being dragon focused, naturally, Mushu is his star pupil in describing how he came to be the lovable, loud mouth dragon that he is. Tome was actually the supervising animator for Mushu in Mulan. He is also the one who composed this book by compiling different sketches from the plethora of Disney archives.
Next came the artwork itself and that was truly a magical sight. We see early sketches, as well as final images of Maleficent, Pete's Dragon, Madam Mim from The Sword in the Stone, Mushu, Queen Narissa from Enchanted, and even deleted sketches of a dragon that appeared in a daydream of Charlotte's, from The Princess and the Frog. There are a few other dragons from deleted movie scenes as well. Also included are sketches from Disney Parks featuring dragons, both real and never created ideas.
I found the index in the back helpful as well. There were some early pictures that I could not place in my overfilled Disney head and upon discovering the index that briefly details what the image is, I was better able to understand what I was seeing. I would recommend just enjoying the artwork for the first go around and then using the index as an added guide to understanding what you're seeing because it will involve the back and forth flipping indexes are known for. LOL!
Overall this was a truly magical book to enjoy! I really liked seeing early concept sketches of some of the dragons I met over the years. One in particular sketch reminded me of a very familiar Disney dog. This is truly a book no Disney or dragon lover should be without! All the artwork was simply stunning. It's definitely one to keep on the coffee table! Though said table can't be used to set coffee on to prevent spillage accidents of course! LOL!
Overall Rating 5/5 stars