Dozens of incredible new movies and video games were released in 2016. Some of my favorites have been Disney’s newest Star Wars film, plus the Nemo sequel Finding Dory.
But there have been so many others that also got their own official art books.
I’ve compiled this huge list of the best artbooks released in 2016 to offer inspiration for artists & collectors. There’s probably at least one book in here that you didn’t know existed, and if anything catches your eye feel free to pick it up!
The Art of Finding Dory
Disney and Pixar put together a compelling sequel to the original 2003 film Finding Nemo. The new movie Finding Dory has everything you’d expect: action, adventure, humor, and beautiful graphics.
The Art of Finding Dory is a collector’s piece for the artistic side of the film’s production. You get 176 pages full of character designs including new friends like Bailey and Hank, plus other background fish you see throughout the film.
My favorite part of the book includes Pixar’s unique color scripts and storyboards. Whether you love behind-the-scenes content or want to study professional artwork to gauge quality, this book has everything you could possibly want.
If you’re a fan of the original Nemo film then you might even like the original Nemo artbook along with this new Finding Dory artbook.
The Art of the Iron Giant
Reruns of the Iron Giant movie used to air on Cartoon Network all the time. It’s one of the few kid’s movies I’ve seen dozens of times and I’m sure many 80s/90s babies can relate.
The Art of the Iron Giant was released in 2016 alongside a new remaster. The book pulls archive artwork from the old film almost two decades ago and matches this with the newest film’s artwork. This book is a celebration of the film’s critically acclaimed reception from fans and producers alike.
It was one of the first traditional films to include CG animation, and it did so brilliantly. The artwork includes never-before-seen resources like backgrounds, storyboards, character designs, and various pieces of concept art.
If you saw the remastered release and loved it then you’ll definitely want a copy of this book.
The Art of Kubo and the Two Strings
Dating back to ancient Japan we have this intriguing tale from LAIKA films. The Art of Kubo and the Two Strings takes a look at the movie’s production pipeline with rare concept art and rough character sketches.
This book has a fun mix of 2D art combined with 3D rendering and CG graphics. You’ll find storyboards, character sketches, background paintings, and color style designs mostly with raw colorscripts.
Many parts of the book even catalog specific scenes from the movie like battle sequences and the intro scene. You’ll see all the different background segments and how these pieces come together to make Kubo a modern success story.
The Art of Ice Age
The original Ice Age hit theaters in 2002 and the world has never been the same. In the following years the production studio Blue Sky Studios put out 4 follow-up movies centered on the Ice Age gang.
All of these movies are featured in The Art of Ice Age. This 240 page book celebrates the art of these films and shares the progress starting from 2002 all the way up to their newest movie Ice Age: Collision Course.
Most of the book features individual character designs and background paintings. But you also get previews into storyboards and 3D models for character rigging. Some of the artists even share their thoughts on the work and the final production of each film.
I sincerely love this book. It’s got to be in my top 3 picks out of all the 2016 artbooks.
When I heard that the Jungle Book was getting a reboot I was both appalled and intrigued. This new live action + CG animation concept was definitely a fun look back into the original 1967 film.
One thing that stood out immediately was the artistic style both in color and technique. The Art of The Jungle Book gets into greater detail with all aspects of the film including color choices, CG techniques, and the live action models used for rendering animals on the screen.
The book even comes with interviews of staff members sharing their stories working on the title. You’ll get insight from the directors, producers, artists, and actors who worked on the film.
One thing I didn’t like was all the film stills added into the book. However these don’t take up many pages and the concept art+interviews are pure gold.
The Art of Magic: The Gathering – Innistrad
Lots of MTG books get published every year and I have a tough time wading through the selection. And with so many others already available it can be tough knowing where to start.
The Art of Magic: The Gathering – Innistrad is a hardcover 224-page artbook beaming with sketches and full-page artwork from the card game. Most of the artwork comes with commentary from the artists and even includes tidbits about the game mechanics.
Many concept artists love the idea of contributing work to MTG so it’s worth studying this style if you want the compare your own quality of work.
The book is well worth the price and it’s a great addition to any artist’s bookshelf.
Batman v Superman: The Art of the Film
Dawn of Justice was heavily anticipated for months before the release. It has since captured the attention of superfans and tepid viewers alike, and this artbook is no different.
Batman v Superman: The Art of the Film goes deep into the film’s production to share early concept sketches for the scenery and environments like the Batcave. This also includes rough storyboards of action sequences before they were shot.
The book even has photos of the set and the live shooting stage. You can see the entire film process from initial concepts all the way through final production. Digital concepts were used to build everything from costumes to stage blueprints, and you get a sneak peek into all of it.
Plus the book comes with interviews from the crew and directorial staff talking about the production. Great book full of rare archival knowledge for true fans of the film.
Captain America Civil War: The Art of the Movie
Here’s another 2016 superhero movie that had everyone in awe at the production value. Captain America Civil War: The Art of the Movie is full of rare concept artwork for the characters, the environments, and the props like weapons & costumes.
Each section comes with some commentary on that piece of the production. Storyboards and costume designs were my two favorite parts. Some of the action sequences even take up full two-page spreads because they’re so large.
Scattered throughout the book are full interviews with the producers and directors who had their hands in every piece of the pie.
Really fun companion book to one of this year’s wildest action movies.
The Art of Loish
This is actually not a movie book yet I still believe it belongs here. The Art of Loish looks into Dutch artist Lois van Baarle sharing her early work and her growth as an artist.
The book spans 152 pages and it looks just like a typical concept art book. But it comes with such a variety of art from raw sketches to digital paintings and still life drawings. You’ll see the raw progress that Lois undertook to become the artist she is today.
Inside the book you get a few bonus items: a pack of playing cards and a custom bookmark. Both are fun novelty items but they’re nothing compared to the impeccable full color artwork of Lois van Baarle.
If you want a sneak preview of what’s in this book check out her Instagram @loisvb.
The Art of Rogue One
Lucasfilm worked hard organizing the art for this book in a way that offers a true inside peek into the film’s production. The Art of Rogue One looks back onto the first Star Wars Story movie with rare concept art and developer interviews.
You’ll get character designs, vehicle and weapon designs, plus environment paintings alongside movie stills. This includes a lot of matte paintings which are popular in the entertainment design business.
The artwork takes up a majority of the book’s 256 pages—very lengthy for a traditional movie “art of” book. However snippets from the crew are littered throughout giving the reader a true sense of the production pipeline.
The Art of the Angry Birds Movie
Nobody can deny the intense popularity of Angry Birds. The app seemed to swell out of nowhere and this quickly led to imitators, cute plushies, and a wildly successful animated movie.
The Art of the Angry Birds Movie shares artwork from the production with character paintings and 3D models for all the birds. You get to peer into Sony’s artistic process with storyboards, color scripts, character model sheets, environment paintings, and lots of other great stuff.
Whether you’re an aspiring 2D or 3D artist this book has plenty of artwork for both sides. And if you’re just a fan of Angry Birds with no artistic skill you’ll still love this book. It may even convert you into picking up a pencil!
I’m not even a huge fan of the addictive game or the spin-off movie, but this artbook is seriously awesome.
The Art of Deus Ex Universe
Gamers will be enthralled at the quality of this artbook. The Art of Deus Ex Universe takes you through artwork and CG graphics from Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.
The book is just under 200 pages long including well over 300 unique paintings, sketches, storyboards, and concept art pieces.
I actually found the commentary to be the most interesting part of the whole book. You’ll learn how each game was created, what the designers wanted to do, and how the concepts came to be. The sci-fi/cyberpunk design style is huge in both games and you get to read first-hand accounts of artists that worked on the games.
If you’re an aspiring concept artist looking towards the game industry I’d give this book two thumbs up. It does have lots of great artwork but it has even better writing and interviews from staff members.
The Art of Zootopia
This artbook offers a fun look into the wacky world of Zootopia. In 160 pages you get raw character sketches and fully rendered concept art for characters, environments, and fun props littered throughout this imaginary world.
The Art of Zootopia is a must-own book for Zootopia fans. But if you like the artistic style then this will appeal to you even more. Staff artists like David Goetz and co-director Bryon Howard share their opinions on the work and the progress from idea to final completion.
Each chapter breaks down individual environments so you can browse the book as if you’re touring Zootopia. The content organization is stellar and everyone from kids to adults could fall in love with this book.
The Little Prince: The Art of the Movie
The original director of Kung-Fu Panda Mark Osborne directed a 2015 film The Little Prince. It didn’t come from any of the major animation studios but it found an audience and gained notoriety in the animation world.
Now one year later The Little Prince: The Art of the Movie shares behind-the-scenes features from the making of this animation. The 160-page art book includes tons of concept art from character designs to rough sketches and storyboards.
You also get to read interviews and brief snippets with the artists and visual directors that worked on the film. Their insight is stunning and truly inspiring to anyone that loves the animation industry.
I also appreciate the nice split of 3D art and traditional art. Both are featured prominently throughout the book so you get the full process from initial idea to final rendering.
The Art of Moana
As far as visual styling goes, Moana blew me out of the water. It’s produced by Disney so it should come as no surprise that the animation quality is stellar.
But just skimming through The Art of Moana shows how much work went into all the production artwork.
This book offers a deeper look at the artwork of Oceania and the ocean worlds traveled throughout the film. I’m quite fond of the environment paintings but all the artwork in this book is simply mindblowing. This includes character designs, color scripts, and high quality storyboards.
Even if you’ve never seen the movie you can still appreciate the incredible artwork in this book. Perfect for aspiring animators and a fun treat for Disney fanatics.
The Art of ReCore
Microsoft Studios has been releasing a lot of great games in recent years. I never thought I’d enjoy a game book so much, but The Art of ReCore is truly phenomenal.
Note this is a thinner artbook with only 120 pages. But in those pages you get so much rare never-before-seen artwork from the game production pipeline. Naturally this includes character art and related concept art. But you also get storyboards and 3D modeling shots of the characters as they’re developed.
Best of all you can read commentary from the game’s creators on their entire process. They share tips for aspiring game designers and talk about what it takes to create a game from scratch.
This book goes beyond the artwork to examine the very core of ReCore looking into what makes this game so popular amongst gamers.
The Art of Independence Day: Resurgence
The new Independence Day movie is a great flick and it picks up right where the first movie left off.
I was surprised with how much artwork is crammed into this 176 page art book. You get artwork from both movies so you can compare how they were produced and how much the production quality has changed.
For this reason I’d recommend this book to any fans of the Independence Day series.
Even if you haven’t seen the new movie you can appreciate the quality of artwork & the exclusive interviews with cast members like the film’s director Roland Emmerich.
The Art of Metal Gear Solid V
MGS has been around for almost two decades with the very first game being released in 1998. Since then we’ve seen a handful of great sequels including the newest MGS5.
Just looking over The Art of Metal Gear Solid V you can tell how much effort the creative team put into this game’s overall design. You’ll get dozens of character designs including rough sketches, 2D paintings, and CG/3D renders. You also get lots of environment paintings and weapons art including some rejected concepts.
Game design is tricky and concept art for gaming is a tough business. But if you’re good you can find yourself working for huge projects like MGS. And the best way to get there is to compare your work against the work in this book.
I’d recommend this to MGS fans and aspiring concept artists who truly believe they belong in game design. This book will inspire you and educate you on how to do concept art right.
Marvel’s Doctor Strange: The Art of the Movie
As a fantasy/sci-fi film this one really takes the cake. Marvel isn’t always seen in the film industry but the recent rebirth of superhero stardom breeds an ever-growing fan base ready to be entertained.
I found the artwork to have a rather dark tone which seems to fit well in the movie’s style. Artists and staff members explain their process so you get to read about the production and appreciate some kick-ass artwork along the way.
20 Years of Tomb Raider
The first Tomb Raider seemed like the coolest game at the time of it’s release in 1996. This is back when Lara Croft had large triangular breasts and the game controls were a tad clunky.
In that time we’ve see the Tomb Raider franchise blow up with many more incredible games and a movie. 20 Years of Tomb Raider is more than just an artbook. It’s a celebration of a franchise that has permeated through pop culture to the point of no return.
Inside you’ll find a history of Tomb Raider, deeper info about the world and Lara herself, memorable characters from all the games, and details about each game in the series. This includes tons of rare concept art but also includes interviews from team members like artists, writers, and voice actors.
From video games to comic books and the even the silver screen, this is the ultimate book for Tomb Raider fans of all ages. It’s also the longest book in this list with 360 pages of artwork, interviews, and lots of other Croft-approved content.
The Art Of Big Trouble In Little China
This is one movie that didn’t get a new reboot but still got an art book release. The Art Of Big Trouble In Little China shares 144 pages of interviews, rare merchandise, and photos from the filming of the movie that first released over 30 years ago.
John Carpenter is well known in the entertainment industry for a prolific volume of work, the most popular being Halloween and Escape from New York.
His cult classic film Big Trouble in Little China is pushing thirty years old and still holds a strong reception among fans. This book offers a glimpse into the film’s production back in the ‘80s with a strong emphasis on behind-the-scenes commentary.
A fun book for anyone that loves the film, but not really a traditional art book like the rest in this list.
The Art of Battlefield 1
I rarely see great WWI games in the same way that WWII games flood the market. Thankfully EA’s newest title Battlefield 1 is quite a different story.
You’re thrust into the world of the early 20th century using what is now antiquated weaponry. The Art of Battlefield 1 shares the artistic process behind this game’s development including lots of concept art for props, weapons, and vehicles.
But there’s also plenty of artwork focusing on character designs and environments. The book includes lots of commentary from the creative team with their thoughts on the game’s development.
I’m thrilled to see such a great artbook coming from an EA title. It shows that American-made games and concept art can compete just as well as their Japanese counterparts.
The Art of Dishonored 2
The original Dishonored game won many awards and was crowned best game in the 2013 BAFTA ceremony. The anticipation for Dishonored 2 was no surprise, and it’s why I already knew The Art of Dishonored 2 would be an incredible artbook.
Each page highlights the most beautiful artwork from this production from characters to environments and props. You get to see the full production pipeline from initial sketches to 3D renders and everything inbetween.
This book also includes various commentaries from artists and Q&As from the game’s creators.
In 184 pages you can peer behind the curtain of Dishonored 2 and learn how the game was imagined, constructed, and finally published. An incredible purchase for any fans of the Dishonored series or modern gaming in general.
The Art of Gears of War 4
When the first Gears of War released it caught my attention for two reasons. First was the incredibly fun gameplay, and second was the song from Megadeth’s new album.
Since that release I’ve had faith in the GoW franchise and it hasn’t let me down. The Art of Gears of War 4 released shortly after the game sharing hundreds of unique concept art pieces.
The chapters divide content based on subject matter like characters, environments, weapons, vehicles, storyboards, and other related visual development work. You’ll see everything from rough sketches to digital paintings and final renders for the game.
Plus you can read personal commentaries from the game’s creators and creative staff members. Simply put, if you like the game then you’ll love the artbook.
Art of Atari
Lastly I wanna wrap up with a fairly unique artbook that looks back over the growth of an iconic industry legend. Atari was first founded in the early 1970s and has pushed gaming forward for well over 40 years.
The Art of Atari is a tremendous compendium of 352 pages bursting with rare concept art, game history, and creator commentary from anyone willing to contribute. This includes artists, designers, writers, and execs at Atari.
Artwork includes tons of rejected pieces so you get to compare what got accepted and how these concepts were built into each game. The book also includes rare stories of Atari’s greatest games, one of my favorites being the original Asteroids.
I absolutely recommend this book to anyone that loves gaming or wants to work in the gaming industry. Atari is a legend and this book is a cultural relic dedicated to how far the gaming industry has come since its inception.
I know this post is huge and I tried my best to keep the writing brief while compiling a full list of all the top art books from 2016. But it’s certainly possible that I missed something, and if so feel free to send a message letting me know.
I’d like to think there’s at least one book for everyone in this massive list of 2016 artbooks. I certainly hope you like this collection and I’ll be sure to publish another list for the best books in 2017.