Book Review: The Art of Brave
Yes, it’s another studio-authorized coffee-table art book about the making of a theatrical animated feature: Pixar’s Brave, to be released on June 22.
To quote from the publisher’s press release, “Brave is Pixar's thirteenth feature film, but it marks two big firsts for the award-winning animation studio. It's Pixar's first feature film driven by a female lead and its first set in an ancient historical period.” This book is written by Jenny Lerew, an animation director and story artist for Warner Bros, Amblimation, Turner, Disney, and DreamWorks Animation; most recently for DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon. The Preface is by John Lasseter, the chief creative officer of Pixar and of Disney, and the Foreword is by Brenda Chapman and Mark Andrews, two of Brave’s three co-Directors.
Yet if this is another studio-authorized coffee-table art book about the making of a theatrical animated feature, it differs noticeably from the books about The Incredibles, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar, Puss in Boots, Rango, Ratatouille, and so on. This is because Brave, the motion picture, differs so much from those others.
For one thing, this is about the art of Brave. There is more emphasis on the character designs, the background paintings, storyboards, the visual effects, etc., as the artistic creations of their artists rather than as the components of a feature film. For another, it is about the setting: primordial Scotland. More than the other movies, Brave focuses upon its locale. Art related to the story and the characters hardly comes into the book before page 63; the earlier pages are devoted to landscapes of the Scottish highlands, environmental concept drawings, cloud and snow patterns, Celtic graphics for clothing and carvings, and so on. There are more photographs than in other animation-art books of ancient Standing Stones, the lichen on a tree branch and the thick moss on stone walls, weathered castle walls, the artists in the highlands standing in moss up past their ankles, to show how accurate the artistic creations are.
At the same time that The Art of Brave presents these individually, the book shows how Pixar blends them all together seamlessly into this feature. Black-&-white storyboards and unpainted clay and urethane sculpts of the characters, at a minimum or absent altogether in other art books, are here to show how they flow together and move the story along.