The Art Of How To Train Your Dragon 2 by Linda Sunshine (book review).

Animation is an art form that begins and ends with the imagination.

– Linda Sunshine author of ‘The Art Of How To Train Your Dragon 2’.


With a forward by Gerard Butler, this glossy, behind the scenes peek at the art of ‘How To Train Your Dragon 2’ comes in at a healthy 160 pages with over 600 illustrations of concept art, film stills and sketches interspersed throughout with commentary from members of the production team.

Dragon2-6   Dragon2-5

In the introduction, director Dean Deblois enthuses about the second instalment of the animated adaptation of Cressida Cowell’s classic children’s story, ‘How To Train Your Dragon’. Deblois describes the art as ‘whimsical and gorgeous’ and producer Bonnie Arnold goes on to explain how the overall look of the film was, in part, inspired by an R&D trip to Norway. (Nice work if you can get it.)

Dragon2-4      Dragon2-2

The author, Linda Sunshine, has put together a slick and attractive teaser for the film and has ably curated a collectible artbook for devoted fans of the franchise. As well as offering a little insight into how the latest film has developed visually, we’re treated to directorial comments on the story development and a sneak previews of the main characters from the first film. Of particular interest are the younger characters, who have all been aged about five years. We also get a look at new characters including Hiccup’s mysterious mother, Valka, and the dastardly villain, Drago, and when it comes to the new dragons in town, it seems that size really does matter. It looks like Toothless is going to have his work cut out for him this time round.


The visual development team has changed from the first film, but the style of the original has been retained thanks to the guiding hand of Nico Marlet, the lead character designer, who has a host of other animated film credits to his name. I was a little disappointed to see that as the films draws further from the original source material, the characters are starting to look a little generic. It’s true, Hiccup lost his foot, but he’s looking a little bit dashing hero type rather than misfit underdog. Which is a shame, I think it’s lost something because of that shift. Also, Drago, the bad guy in this decidedly Norse/Scottish flavoured world, looks a little…eastern but with dreadlocks. I’m not sure what message that sends out, but I think maybe it’s time to step away from the stereotype. Having said that, the book is attractive and I’m sure it will appeal to fans of the film.

KT Davies


June 2014

(pub: Titan Books. 160 page illustrated oblong hardback. Price: £24.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78329-454-1)

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