‘The Art of X’ – A Book Genre Review

I don’t know about you, but I like to get a peek behind the scenes on how my geekdom is made. I find the act and process of creating the movies and characters we as toy photographers tend to love absolutely fascinating. That is why I am thankful I stumbled across a wonderful genre of books that concentrates on the art of the movies I adore.

They also make excellent gifts for that geek in your life.

These books all have different names, but they normally have “The Art of” in the title: The Art of Marvel, The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian (Season One), The Road to Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame – The Art of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, etc. (just to name a few—there is one for every Marvel movie, Star Wars movie/series, and many other series besides that). All of these books take a deep dive behind the scenes to how those movies were made. Specifically, the concept art that was created along the way.

As you are likely aware, movies are not made in a vacuum. Before a single moment of footage is shot, a small army of artists spend months, sometimes years, creating the look and feel of the movie. They end up producing a lot of concept art, character studies and pre-visualization of how effects, and even whole scenes, will look like. These “Art of” books showcase all that work.

I find they are a great way to relax and get inspiration for my toy photography from the artists who made the movies featuring the characters who make up the majority of my toy box.

Behind the scenes of behind the scenes

The contents are best shown than talked about. These are some examples of the pages inside The Art of Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker (all images borrowed from the official Amazon listing):

The Art Of Starwars; Rise of Skywalker inside look.
The Art Of Starwars; Rise of Skywalker inside look.
The Art Of Starwars; Rise of Skywalker inside look.

As you can see, the books are chock-full of concept art that was used to help design the look and feel of the movie. (Not everyone liked the plot of The Rise of Skywalker, but it is very hard to argue that, visually, it is not a visual masterpiece).

Some books are heavier on concept art, and others show more of the evolving character design. All of them describe thought processes from the artists’ own mouths (well, keyboards) about the motivations and ideas put into their work. Most of the books I’ve seen so far are about 100 pages in length, and have beautiful images from back to front.

Some are even collectors items

I was both pleased to see that some of these books have become collectors items. The Art of Marvel series of books tend to sell for $30–$40 USD when they are released. However the book for Thor: Ragnarok is selling new for $300 USD. The Doctor Strange book, Marvel’s Doctor Strange – The Art of the Movie, is going for an impressive $500 USD. That is an order of magnitude increase in price. Criminy! Though having looked at the Doctor Strange book (due to the price, it’s the only one in my collection that I bought the eBook—$17.99 is a much easier hit to take to my wallet), its not hard to see why. The concept art for that movie is nothing short of stunning.

Conclusion

If you are seeking a gift for that geek in your life and are not sure what to get them, or if you are looking for a way to unplug but still immerse yourself into the worlds we all know and love, any or all of these books would be a great addition to your library.

For anyone who wants a book of screenshots from the finished movie, these books are not for you. There are no screenshots to be found in any of these books, at least that I’ve seen. However, if you want to see how those scenes were brought to life, these are the books for you.

Happy reading!

[dave]

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2 Comments

  1. Janan

    Thanks for this article highlighting this genre as I absolutely love reading them. I’ve read The Force Awakens and Rogue One “Art Of” books recently and learnt in it that Star Wars actually started the trend of this genre!

    I especially enjoy the concept art of the characters. It sometimes makes me wanna be a customiser just to realise those designs in action figure form. I often find myself taking shots of pages on my phone and making a mental note to revisit them for inspiration.

    Also, great tip on them being Christmas gifts Dave!

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