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Tag Archive: concept art


  

DC Entertainment and Marvel Studios offered superhero genre fans live-action adaptations of some of the comic book world’s best-loved superheroes last year.  The concept artwork behind each of DC’s Justice League and Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok are the subject of two new books for fans wanting to dig deeper into the development of these films: Justice League: The Art of the Film, by Abbie Bernstein, and The Art of Thor: Ragnarok, by Eleni Roussos.  Both share the feature of being primarily photographic essays, visual guides illustrating the phases of characters and environments leading to the final art design used in the films.  So both will make good souvenir or coffee table books in addition to showcasing the artists’ visions for film aficionados and comic book fans.

Justice League: The Art of the Film is a 206-page, full-color, hardcover book similar to last year’s Wonder Woman: The Art and Making of the Film.  This volume gives much attention to the variety of costumes created for the film, particularly the looks of the new characters to the film series, Aquaman, The Flash, and Cyborg.  Cyborg’s cybernetics were added in post-production via CGI.  This is not so much a behind-the-scenes, detailed account with interviews about the production as we’ve seen in other volumes, but it does include statements from each of the key actors and production members peppered throughout the photographs  The layout of pages and overall design is stylized keeping with the themes of the story.

An excerpt from Justice League: The Art of the Film.

Well-designed with gorgeous concept art, The Art of Thor: Ragnarok is a hefty 320 pages in a slipcase holder, featuring classic Jack Kirby art on the book cover inside the dust jacket.  Kirby’s designs can be found as inspiration throughout the film, and are reflected in the concept art and design work, particularly that found in the fantastical world of Sakaar.  Each of the key characters you’d expect get plenty of coverage.  Readers will find hundreds of images of Mayes C. Rubeo’s costume designs for Thor, Hulk, Hela, Loki, Odin, Skurge, and the Grandmaster, as well as supporting characters.  The fiery Surtur has a surprisingly thorough section, showing the various stages that resulted in the finished look seen in the film.

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moon base concept art idr

While some approaches in the “Art of” or “Making of” category of film books provides explanatory text describing the moviemaking process, others are primarily photo essays.  Both approaches have their merits.  Titan Books has offered a mix of the approach with its Elysium: The Art of the Film, reviewed here, while Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the Art of the Film, reviewed here, was a more visual snapshot of the filmmaker’s journey.  Although it has less explanatory material and more in-world story background, the new book The Art & Making of Independence Day: Resurgence is most like Planet of the Apes: The Art of the Films, reviewed here.

Like the Planet of the Apes work, The Art & Making of Independence Day: Resurgence covers a behind the scenes account of two films, here the original 1996 Independence Day and this year’s sequel.  The reader is reminded of the history of the key characters in the original film in the first third of the volume, which also provides a review of the movie’s key special effect scene–the alien destruction of the White House.  Not only providing movie stills, we get to see the relative size of the model used for the building and the process for the explosion.  This sets up a good introduction for the special effects for the next two sections of the book: the rebuilding of Earth after the first invasion, and then the return of the aliens that is the focus of the sequel.

art and making of idr

Titan’s usual quality hardcover design and thick full-color pages include in-universe accounts of the next generation of Earth’s defenders, followed by concept art and sketchwork, extensive coverage of space vehicles and fighter plane designs and futuristic weaponry.  Director Roland Emmerich provides a foreword introduction.

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TheArtOfSWTFA

Review by C.J. Bunce

Not just another visual guide to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a new art book from Abrams looks behind the creative process in making a major motion picture.  The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is unusual in that it doesn’t rely on film stills or the typical art design imagery you might find in a making-of movie work.  It is closer to The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Chronicles–Art & Design reviewed previously at borg.com here than say Star Trek: The Art of the Film, discussed here, in that it is an exhaustive account of the trials and discarded concepts that come along with creating a new story for an established franchise.

Also, like the Hobbit Chronicles book series, Lucasfilm chose to use one of its own to chronicle the pre-production of the film.  Author Phil Szostak, who has a long history with the art department at Lucasfilm, was embedded in the art department of The Force Awakens crew as a conceptual researcher and archivist from December 2012 through the end of the making of the film.

Luke or Finn

The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens provides many possible paths that might have been taken in creating the look and feel of Episode VII.  The most surprising may be that Rey and Finn were going to be called Kira and Sam for nearly the entire production process.  Many members of the press have used imagery from this book to assert that somehow scenes were deleted from the final cut or that the concepts and ideas in the book reflect the original plan, but that’s really not the case.  The ideas thrown around in the planning stages are the same types of ideas used in any production–some ideas are good and are used, others don’t make the cut for any number of reasons.  This is illustrated well in the pre-production for Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium, as seen in Elysium: The Art of the Film, reviewed here.  Many good ideas just get left behind for the needs of the plot and the timing of the film.

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Darth Vader, Stormtroopers, R2-D2 and C-3PO all would look differently if not for artist Ralph McQuarrie.  McQuarrie died this weekend at the age of 82 after a battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Fans of Star Wars knew McQuarrie by name, thanks to the great access Lucasfilm gave to fans over the years of the making of the original Star Wars trilogy.  Even before many had seen Star Wars for the first time back in 1977 they could flip through 21 prints by McQuarrie that inspired the sets and costumes for the original Star Wars in the Star Wars Portfolio compilation.  For many kids, this was their first access to science fiction fine art.

The images created by McQuarrie were not his alone.  George Lucas had created his ideas behind Star Wars over several years, but to get a pictorial representation of Lucas’s vision, he turned to McQuarrie.  “Ralph McQuarrie was the first person I hired to help me envision ‘Star Wars,'” Lucas said in a statement. “His genial contribution, in the form of unequaled production paintings, propelled and inspired all of the cast and crew of the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy…. When words could not convey my ideas, I could always point to one of Ralph’s fabulous illustrations and say, ‘Do it like this.'”

McQuarrie’s style for the original Star Wars trilogy was often Art Deco influenced, with his original vision of C-3PO very similar to the robot of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.

McQuarrie created images for many productions, many that would influence the final production and some that would not, including images for Star Trek and E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial.  In Raiders of the Lost Ark, McQuarrie created this biblical image to explain the power of the lost ark of the covenant that Indiana Jones used to show the feds what they were up against:

In this image, McQuarrie included an image of Mark Hamill for what would be the original Battlestar Galactica series, when Hamill was offered, and ultimately declined, a leading role as Commander Adama:

One of McQuarrie’s most reproduced images is of Yoda for an early Lucasfilm Christmas card:

McQuarrie had a cameo appearance in an ice planet Hoth scene in The Empire Strikes Back.  For the 30th anniversary of Star Wars Hasbro produced an action figure of McQuarrie as that character.  Over the years Hasbro did something else that was unprecedented: creating action figures of the Star Wars characters based on the original paintings of McQuarrie.

   

The original Star Wars Portfolio is difficult to find these days, but several books that have chronicled the original Star Wars trilogy contain these images, including The Illustrated Star Wars Universe, the rare The Art of Ralph McQuarrie, and many old Star Wars calendars.

There is no doubt McQuarrie left an indelible mark on the artistry of classic science fiction.

(All photos above Copyright Lucasfilm Ltd).

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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