Books We Love

The Art of Up

By Tim Hauser

(Chronicle Books, $40)

A fantastic new Pixar movie deserves yet another collectible Art of book, and it’s good to report that animation veteran/author Tim Hauser and the team at Chronicle Books haven’t let us down. Hauser, who also penned the book about WALL’E last year, gets an insider’s perspective of working on the studio’s 10th big-screen project. Featuring over 250 pieces of production art from the movie, the book is a wonderful memento of what is seen by any observers as a risky, sophisticated venture for the studio. (After all, how many summer toons center on grumpy septagenarians, floating houses and sojourns to exotic South American locations?) As director Pete Docter writes in the book’s forward, ‘There were times when we thought to ourselves, ‘An old man in a floating house? With a Wilderness Explorer and a talking dog? What are we thinking?” As expected, there are insightful interviews with the movie’s artists and story team, led by the brilliant Ronnie del Carmen. There are plenty of insights about the creative process and that particular blend of magic, poetry and science we’ve all come to expect from the Emeryville studio. Seriously, no true fan of animation can avoid being awestruck by the wealth of artistic know-how, as seen in the sketches, drawings and digital creations by Docter, Greg Dykstra, Lou Romano, Daniel L’pez Mu’oz, Harley Jessup, Craig Foster, Pete Sohn, Ricky Nierva, Teddy Newton, Nat McLaughlin and Patrick McDonnell. One word of caution: Make sure you see the movie before you page through this collection as some images may spoil some of the movie’s charming story points.

Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes

By Walt Stanchfield

(Chronicle Books, $29.95 per volume)

American animator Walt Stanchfield (1919-2000) worked on every full-length Disney feature from 1949 through 1986. In the 1970s, he and director Eric Larson launched a training program of drawing classes and lectures for the crew at Disney. Among his students were then-rising stars such as Tim Burton, Brad Bird, John Musker, Glen Keane, Andreas Deja and John Lasseter. Another admiring student was longtime Disney producer Don Hahn (The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast) who has lovingly collected the master’s lecture notes and drawings in a beautiful two-volume effort. Hahn explains, ‘To me, Drawn to Life is one of the strongest primers on animation ever written. The material spares no detail on the craft of animation, but also digs deep into the artistic roots of animation. It is a publication that has been anticipated for many years by every artist and student that Walt ever came in contact with.’ Packed with helpful illustrations by Stanchfield and his top-notch students, this is truly one of the best animation publication events of the year. Not only should it be required reading for animation students, it would also make a great book to take along on your summer vacation.

Elemental Magic: The Art of Special Effects Animation

By Joseph Gilland

(Focal Press, $49.95)

Those who are lucky enough to have worked with animation veteran Joe Gilland know that he’s one of the most knowledgeable guys in the business when it comes to creating eye-popping hand-drawn and digital vfx. In the past couple of decades, his handiwork has been seen in features such as Lilo & Stitch, Mulan, Hercules, James and the Giant Peach and Brother Bear and TV series such as Bardel’s Silverwing and Chaotic. Luckily, he’s decided to share some of his wisdom with the rest of the world in a breezy book packed with easy-to-follow explanations and drawings on how to create effects such as fiery blazes, fairy dust, rippling water and magical transformations. Gilland also takes time to go back to the classic traditions of animation and explain how those techniques apply to digital works. The primer is a true labor of love, and its pages sparkle with smart observations, cool diagrams and priceless tips.

Wolverine: Inside the World of the Living Weapon

(DK Publishing, $24.99)

Gavin Hood’s cinematic take on the origins of everyone’s favorite lupine mutant hero, Wolverine, officially launched the summer movie season in May. By many standards, actor Hugh Jackman has become the true live-action embodiment of the brooding Marvel superhero. Thanks to the team at DK publishing, we have a definitive compendium of everything we need to know about this charismatic member of the Weapon X program. We can find out about his comic-book debut (a cameo in a Hulk comic in 1974), the development arc of his character, his partners in the X-Men team and the key aspects of his history in this handsomely illustrated DK Guide. Take in the movie, then feast on the 200 pages of glorious tidbits and trivia, mutant-style.