The Art Of My Father’s Dragon by Ramin Zahed (book review).
Please bear in mind that I’m reviewing the book ‘The Art Of My Father’s Dragon’ without seeing the film or even looked at the plot. Nothing unusual in that. If anything, it might actually help as I’m looking at the art not whethersomething was used or not in the film.
This book details in its opening chapter how the production staff are drawn together in design to bring the feel of the film in its design and matching to the character voices. It was interesting to note how things like clothes designs were simplified, like the number of stripes on a shirt and dragon, were reduced to make it easier for the animators. Don’t forget, because the characters were also moving, there had to be some allowances for how said stripes would also move accordingly. Also bear in mind, the production was hit by Covid resulting in a lot of reorganisation along the way.
My first reaction from flicking through the book at the art was the lack of seeing pencil work in motion as its all replaced by colour. The pencilwork is there but not in as many pages, just that it was chosen to fill in the lines. The detail underneath is actually still there. I do wonder about kids who want to draw their favourite characters and how they deal with this process. Some of the pictures here might help.
The rest of the book is split into characters and locations, so don’t buy this book expecting to see the plot. All I really got was the division between urban and jungle. Actually, its mostly jungle and a lot of attention is given to the sentient animals. If you’re ever thinking of making a career in animation then you must be flexible with your ideas and capable of drawing anything, especially animal types from a variety of angles and expressive emotions. It’s only noted with Alan Cumming, but it does appear most vocal performances were done over a video link than at the studio because of covid.
By far the biggest section is devoted to the locations. The human habitats are principally Dust Town and New York, with a lot of films and books used for inspiration for mood. The Wild Island has a lot of habitats, mostly geared to various animal species. I suspect in the film, a lot of these will work subliminally with your sprogs. In a few places here, the scale of the characters to the surroundings shows these are large areas.
‘Anatomy Of A Scene: The Crocodile River Crossing’ is an analysis of how the various parts of the location and the key characters Elmer and Boris the dragon have to cross the river.
I should point out that we have seen a lot of these various artists work in other animated films in ‘Art Of-’ books from Abrams, although the final product is more colour and shape than any of these. Considering the scale of the island, detail might have been lost had they stuck with delineating in pencil or ink lines.
There are a lot of lessons here, especially for those of you who have aspirations in animation. If you can understand how to get mood into an illustration let alone animation then you’ve learnt something important.
(pub: Abrams, 2023. 224 page oblong hardback. Price: £35.00 (US), $45.00 (US), $57.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-4197-6700-5)
check out website: www.abramsbooks.com