“The Art of Pixar: The Complete Colorscripts and Select Art From 25 Years of Animation” is a bit of a departure from the art books that we are used to seeing from Pixar and Chronicle Books. In being a book celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the animation studio, there could have been a number of directions to take this book. Spotlighting the films’ colorscripts, horizontal pieces of artwork focused on setting the color and mood of the various scenes, was a fascinating choice. Often, the most detailed or abstract art gets the biggest push in art books such as these, but colorscripts are the perfect way to display the scope of these films.
With a focus on artwork, there is not an abundance of text contained within the pages of The Art of Pixar. John Lasseter writes the foreword, where he writes of the colorscripts’ importance. He is right when he notes that viewing the pieces begins to give us a view of the artists’ distinct styles. From Ralph Eggleston‘s usage of pastels to fill up the blue Finding Nemo world to Lou Romano‘s digital shapes in his Incredibles colorscript, these artists have unique ways of storytelling.
Writer Amid Amidi, co-founder of Cartoon Brew and writer of “The Art of Pixar Short Films,” gets a few pages to talk about the history of the colorscript. While it is a relatively new term (try typing out the word without it being auto-corrected to color script), colorscripts are not a Pixar invention. Disney artists sometimes created color conceptual sketches such as for certain musical sequences in Fantasia. However, before Pixar, no studio would create a color script for each of their films. When Eggleston put together a horizontal piece for Toy Story, with scenes flowing beautifully into one another, it blew away Lasseter and others at the studio. Amidi even shares a brief story of Eggleston happening upon Pixar co-founder Steve Jobs admiring the piece. It was without a doubt that the colorscript gave Lasseter a new way to look at the entire film, which set the stage for its usage with each new Pixar film.
Feature film or short, a colorscript is created to take the entire film and fit it into a group of panels that can be absorbed easily. All of Pixar’s 12 feature films, from Toy Story to Cars 2, are represented in the book. For Toy Story 2, we even get to see the colorscript that was crafted for the initial straight-to-DVD release, before it was decided that the franchise would return to theaters. On top of that, we are also gifted with the colorscripts for many of Pixar’s shorts, including La Luna, which has yet to see a wide-release (it’s coming with Brave in June of 2012). It is great to see the shorts recognized as well, considering Pixar’s history – the star of the Luxo, Jr. short can be seen stomping around the Pixar logo before the studio’s films.
Colorscripts only make up the first part of “The Art of Pixar.” The second portion consists of a collection of visual development artwork, which is what we have been used to seeing in previous Pixar art books. It is essentially a nice summary of the studio’s 12 feature films. The inclusion of the more detail-oriented visual development pieces gives us a comparison to the simple yet still emotive colorscripts. They have both been significant to the growth and development of Pixar as a studio, which is what makes this unique take on an art book all the more great to flip through.
The entire book is not all meant to be devoured in one setting – rather, the various colorscripts should be studied for their subtle and expressive abilities to tell a story. They may look simple, but that does not make them any less wondrous to look at.
The 300+ page “Art of Pixar” should be available in bookstores nationwide now for a suggested price of $50, though Amazon currently has it on sale for $31.50. Buy it!