To accompany the release of Disney Pixar’s 13th animated feature, Chronicle Books have released the next in their excellent series of behind the scenes titles, The Art of Brave. Written by Jenny Lerew (story artist on How To Train Your Dragon), readers are offered an in-depth look at a darker take on what could otherwise be a very familiar fairy tale theme created by the directorial team of Brenda Chapman (director, The Prince of Egypt ) and Mark Andrews (story artist, The Incredibles and Cars).
The book gathers a wealth of information from various members of the production crew, starting with the director and her inspiration which was drawn from her relationship with her daughter, and then moves onto character and design sketches from production designer Steve Pilcher, abandoned concepts, storyboard sequences, colour scripts and final digital renders. The character designs are always where the interest lies for me in these types of books; the illusion of life that the artists are able to inject in their characters never fails to impress. The films lead character, Merida is no exception, with a fiery spirit that matches her red hair, that is itself designed to play against a weathered Scottish countryside. Landscapes that were given considerable attention by the team responsible and said to push the technology to its limits.
A section of the book in which we are only teased with two spreads-worth of photos are The Sculpts. I’d loved to have read about how and why these are made and used to support the final animation. Otherwise the book satisfies on a very straightforward level, but for those looking for a more complex look into the animation process I can heartily recommend Setting the Scene by Fraser Maclean.
In all it’s a great companion piece to a film that looks to offer a mixture of dark, windswept mysticism with Hayao Miyazaki-esque fantasy (think Princess Mononoke). Let’s hope the movie lives up to the artwork.