Hollywood churns out the finest talent in visual arts and it’s the largest entertainment center anywhere in the world. Because of this you’ll often find a lot of talent in movie art books featuring concept art, vis dev art, and custom sets/props.
I’ve put together this huge list of the best movie art books featuring the best that cinema art can offer. Some of these books are more recent while others date back a few years, but they all feature incredible concept pieces and inspiring behind-the-scenes resources.
I’m focusing more on live action films in this list, but you can find more animated films in my collection of Disney artbooks and Pixar artbooks which are both animation-oriented.
This book is pretty sizable with 256 pages full of production art, matte paintings, and concept designs for costumes/weapons. A lot of visuals on the screen are designed in 2D first so the product designers pour over thousands of concept art pieces.
Inside you’ll also find a bunch of raw sketches for character designs and rough storyboards for action sequences. It’s pretty much the ultimate inspiration guide for any Star Wars aficionados.
And you’ll find a bunch of interviews with production team members from every part of the creative process.
If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about the film industry then this book is gorgeous resource covering one of the most popular movie franchises of all time.
The Art of Pirates of the Caribbean
The Pirates trilogy has become a staple of American culture and a beautiful look into a bygone era when pirates roamed the seas. The Art of Pirates of the Caribbean offers a deeper look into the creation of all these movies and how they became blockbuster hits.
Storyboards, sketches, paintings, character designs, costume ideas, pretty much everything you could ever want is in this book. It does cover all of the first 3 movies and it’s a pretty large book measuring over a foot wide.
Print quality is fantastic so you’ll be able to make out every little detail of the concept paintings. This is great for concept artists who want to study other artwork and use that as a springboard to evaluate work quality.
My one minor gripe with this book: it feels too short!
Most art books average 140-160 pages so this is definitely a “typical” sized art book. However since it contains art from all three movies I would’ve liked to see it a bit larger.
Still an amazing look into this film trilogy for any fans of Captain Jack Sparrow.
Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History
I’m not sure how Back to the Future artwork got dug up from the archives but it looks like there’s a ton of it in this 220-page art book.
Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History really lives up to the title. It has walkthroughs of the sets along with concept designs of the DeLorean. Plus there’s a bunch of cast and staff tips scattered throughout these pages making this a time capsule into history.
The book was first published in 2015 which is quite a while after the original movies came out. But the artwork is still in amazing shape and this book is sure to please anyone who loves these films.
All of the rare storyboards and illustrated sketches alone are worth the price tag, let alone the awesome photos and interviews detailing how the movies were made.
The LEGO Batman Movie Art Book
Every great CGI/animated movie has a ton of concept art. In fact, these movies usually have so much that most of it can’t fit into a typical art book!
I’ll give credit to this one because it really does have a lot of great work. The LEGO Batman Movie Art Book comes with 200 pages of character sketches, storyboards, background paintings, prop designs, basically everything.
It’s an exceptionally balanced book so it gives you a little bit of everything from the production side of the movie. It feels a bit lacking in the writing department without as much behind-the-scenes stuff as you find in other books.
Still there are some sections on “the making of” which are cool to read. And this is predominantly an art book so in that area it delivers.
It’s technically a DreamWorks title so this should go in my DreamWorks artbook list. But I also think it’s one of the coolest new movie art books in recent years and it certainly offers a deeper look into the world of film concept art.
The coolest feature of this book isn’t actually the art, but the interviews. You’ll find exclusive interviews with people from every department: storyboard artists, vis dev artists, animators, modelers, director Tom McGrath and even one of the writers Michael McCullers.
If you love this movie then you’ll definitely love the art book.
But even if you’ve never seen this movie you can still learn a lot by reading through the interviews and picking up tips/tricks from pros in the entertainment industry.
Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Visual History
Here’s another older movie that broke out of the archives into a gorgeous art book. Over 224 pages you’ll find hundreds of production photographs and never-before-seen concept pieces.
Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Visual History follows the film’s history along with it’s popularity as a cult classic(or just a classic?). There’s a large section dedicated to Ghostbusters II and the art/production of that film as well.
Even cooler is the breakdown of many Ghostbusters spin-offs including the animated Ghostbusters cartoon. This book features storyboards, sketches, and animation cels back when traditional animation reigned supreme.
Later chapters share photos of rare merchandise from the Ghostbusters series and the overall fandom.
This book goes far beyond a simple art resource and offers a true visual/photographic history of the entire Ghostbusters series. A must-own for any collector and film lover.
The Art of Ghost in the Shell
Scarlett Johansson starred in this live-action remake of the sci-fi/futuristic anime series. The Ghost in the Shell fandom has its roots in 1990s Japan and quickly became a hit in America during the early 2000s.
The Art of Ghost in the Shell follows this unique adventure taking Ghost in the Shell from an overseas manga/anime into a full-blown live action movie. This book has tons of artwork from all costumes, weapons, vehicles, and of course the scenery designs.
A lot of CGI was necessary for this movie and it’s pretty clear with just one look at the artwork how much effort went into production.
Print quality is fantastic and the book is pretty large measuring just over 13″ tall. There’s a lot of text and plenty of cast/crew interviews to keep you busy beyond just the pictures.
I do wish this had even more CGI/concept art because it does feel lacking in a few areas, but overall this is such a cool book and well worth grabbing if you’re a fan of the original anime.
Inside you’ll find a ton of production art including storyboards, background art, creature designs, vehicle sketches, and a ton of rough conceptual art. This book also works as a guide through the story of the movie with interviews from cast & crew.
And while there are a ton of sketches and concept pieces, there are also tons of photos and snapshots of the film. These photos may not be so interesting to concept artists but they might be cool to flip through for fans of the movie.
I would mostly recommend this book for two groups of people.
First is, obviously, anyone who’s a huge fan of the Alien movies. And second is any sci-fi lovers who want to peek into a handful of concept sketches for this incredibly detailed film.
The Art of Kong: Skull Island
Creating a movie is no easy task and this goes double for monster movies with large CGI/VFX budgets. The Art of Kong: Skull Island is a huge 176-page book with a ton of visual art.
There’s a lot of traditional work in here from storyboarding to matte painting, background painting, and character designs. But you’ll also find cool 3D renders of characters including our friendly ape(gorilla?).
Each section covers a different topic in the film and you’ll find a lot of split pages with screens from the film intermixed with concept art of that scene. This offers a really cool look into the film’s design and how it was planned from start to finish.
Anyone looking to get into the film industry should check out this book. It offers a gorgeous look into the Kong movie and the production art needed for these types of films.
It’s a massive book with 300+ pages on pretty much everything. Storyboards and pre-production work covers a bunch of raw sketches and character designs. But you’ll also find production stills from the film and 3D/CGI designs used during filming.
Exclusive interviews span the gamut of the entire crew from writers, directors, visual development artists, and even the art/creative directors.
Some of the background paintings seem incredibly realistic and this is due in part to the stellar print quality. This book is something you’d be proud to have lying on your coffee table.
I do admit this book comes with a lot more photographs over concept pieces, maybe because there simply weren’t many concept pieces to display. But the storyboards included in this book are phenomenal and definitely grab your attention.
And the photos aren’t just movie stills. There are tons of photos that show off the set, the crew, and sculpted props using during filming.
Even aside from the somewhat lacking concept art(there is still plenty!) this book is well worth nabbing if you’re a fan of the movie.
The Art of Oz The Great and Powerful
The Art of Oz The Great and Powerful is another somewhat older book with its pulse on the industry. This book is massive and offers a ton of concept art, character designs, and never-before-seen sketches from pre-production.
Throughout this book you’ll get a little tour of the production and how the film was made. You get to see a little bit of each department including all the art departments both 2D and 3D.
Because of this structure you might call this a “making of” book moreso than a typical art book. Though it does have plenty of concept art and character designs to grab your attention. And you can still learn a lot about the production by reading through these chapters.
If you have any interest in the film industry this book is a fun read. Certainly not perfect for everyone but definitely worthwhile if you liked Oz or want to learn more about the production side of cinema.
Godzilla – The Art of Destruction
Here’s another monster movie art book that really gets into the heart of film design. Godzilla – The Art of Destruction comes from Warner Bros with a ton of amazing pieces from their art department.
You’ll find pre-production sketches, illustrations, character designs, storyboards, background paintings, and all sorts of concept art from many scenes in the film.
Each chapter also includes interviews with various cast and crew members who share their thoughts about working on the film. There’s just as much text as there is imagery so you’ll have plenty to consume with this book.
There are tons of unique visuals including textures/renders from 3D modelers and paintings of the beats in the story.
Easily one of the coolest art books in recent years and in my opinion a must-have for sci-fi/monster film lovers.
The Complete Making of Indiana Jones
Everyone knows about the classic Indiana Jones films since they’ve been around for decades. These are beloved treasures in the action genre and film buffs will love this art book covering all four films of Indy’s adventures.
The Complete Making of Indiana Jones spans 300 pages with artwork and behind-the-scenes info from every film. This book includes a ton of exclusive interviews Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, and the masterminds behind this whole series Steven Spielberg & George Lucas.
You won’t find these interviews anywhere else and they offer some real insight into the filming process.
But even better are the hundreds of storyboards, concept paintings, character illustrations, and design schematics used for each film during production.
This book offers a tremendous in-depth look into one of America’s most treasured film series. Definitely a great purchase for Indy fans the world over.
Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic
While the original Pinocchio film was released back in the 1940s it is still considered a classic in Disney’s library. And just a few years ago the studio published Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic.
This massive 350-page art book celebrates the film’s 75th anniversary with a complete history of the film. You’ll get to see tons of rare photographs from those days along with rare concept sketches and illustrations from Disney animators.
Pinocchio was created during what was dubbed the “golden years” of animation. This book not only offers a glimpse into a classic movie, but also a time period when animation was finding itself and becoming a mainstream filmmaking technique.
Many of the 300+ illustrations & photographs have never been released outside this book so they’re a unique look into the mind of Walt Disney and his animation studio.
The Art of Captain Underpants The First Epic Movie
One other animated feature I can’t ignore is the Captain Underpants Movie. The original books were pretty zany and this movie is just as incredible.
It’s fairly sizable with 160 pages and a few chapters split into different segments of the film’s production.
I do feel like this book could be longer but this is just me wanting more. It is very detailed with tons of rare production art, not to mention behind-the-scenes interviews and segments with the crew. What more could I really ask for?
If you loved the original books or just saw the movie and want to learn how it was made then you’ll enjoy flipping through this art book.
This is one of the cheaper books on my list so it’s a nice investment for anyone on a budget. Film buffs may want to collect this as a piece of history and to dig into the production side of movies.
But the biggest issue in this book is the lack of artwork especially considering the title.
It has a lot of stills from the movie and lots of snippets from the screenplay. But artists don’t buy books for much else beyond the concept art.
Fans of World War Z will love all the special features but for anyone else I’d skip this one.
Spider-Man: Homecoming Art Book
The newest movie featuring Peter Parker is back with its own art book to boot. Spider-Man: Homecoming Art Book curates all the best film production art into one massive collection.
Over 240 pages you’ll find rare concept art like sketches, illustrations, character designs, storyboards, and so much more. The fullpage paintings are also glorious and you’ll see a lot of side-by-side comparisons with film stills and the initial production designs.
Naturally there’s also a bunch of commentary and interviews with the crew of Marvel Studios discussing the minor details of the film.
True fans won’t miss the film and I’d say this book is a staple to go along with your movie ticket.
The Movie Art of Syd Mead: Visual Futurist
Technically this is not a specific movie artbook, however it does span a bunch of movies and TV shows celebrating the work of famous concept artist Syd Mead.
Aspiring sci-fi concept artists will find inspiration overflowing from all 256 pages. This guide is a massive resource gallery of Syd’s work including the ideas behind his designs and how they came about.
Anyone hoping to get into film concept art should check out this book. It does not focus on one specific movie but you get to see the amazing quality and range of Syd Mead’s abilities.
It’s a decently sized book with 240 pages and a good mix of real photographs along with artwork. The visual design process for this film was incredible and it shines through with every illustration, storyboard, and painting.
Also the print quality is incredible and the book comes in a sturdy slip case. You can really study the artwork and get a clear idea of what was involved in this production.
From costumes to backgrounds, characters to creatures, weapons to vehicles, this book has it all.
But no matter what type of movies you’re into I guarantee there’s something in this list for you.
And if you’re looking for other concept art books take a peek at our artbooks archive page full of film, cartoon, and video game art books from all eras.