Apple founder Steve Jobs purchased a graphics company from Lucasfilm in the 1980s and created the Pixar animation studio.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Pixar has released dozens of quality movies with many memorable characters. And with the growing popularity of art books these animated features also have associated books sharing rare production art. These books are perfect for aspiring animators and entertainment designers who want a slight peek behind the curtain to see how these films are made.
I recently did a roundup of the best Disney artbooks and in this post I’d like to share the best Pixar movie artbooks.
If you’re a fan of animation or entertainment art then you’re bound to find something you like in this collection.
Toy Story 3
The very first Toy Story came out in 1995 under executive producers Steve Jobs and Edwin Catmull. This is widely regarded as one of the best animated features in 3D.
Since ‘95 there have been multiple sequels with the most recent being Toy Story 3 released in 2010. It followed a hardcover Toy Story 3 artbook spanning 176 pages of glossy production art from the film.
The best thing about this art book is actually the written content you get alongside the pictures. You’ll find dozens of quotes from staff members and plenty of behind-the-scenes content presented by the author Charles Soloman.
However you’ll mostly be buying this book for the artwork, and let me say you won’t be disappointed. The Toy Story 3 artbook features color scripts, storyboards, character sketches, and model renders used for the animation process. It is the ultimate collection of Toy Story production art printed in very high quality.
Unfortunately there is no Toy Story 2 artbook that I can find. However there is an older Toy Story artbook covering the art & making of the very first Toy Story. It was re-released in 2009 with better quality print paper and a new hardcover design.
Any fan of Toy Story will absolutely adore both of these books. Animators will especially find them valuable for learning about the animation process with real pre-production assets.
This is perhaps the most well known Pixar movie of the early 2000s with vibrant characters, an emotional storyline, and those goofy-ass seagulls. The Art of Finding Nemo was published the same year as the movie in a hardcover format.
It comes with 160 pages of rare production art that was never released in any other book. Finding Nemo was a hit and it’s still a cherished animated feature to this day.
Finding Nemo had a lot of production art and this book doesn’t skimp on any of the details. You’ll find real character studies with sketches and concept art from all the major characters. There are also concept studies for backgrounds and color scripts.
I really love the color scripts in this book. You get to see how Pixar creates their stories both in writing and visuals.
Each section includes a caption or brief synopsis explaining the art direction. You’ll learn a lot about animation from the Finding Nemo art book and you’ll have a lot of pretty artwork to go with it.
There’s also a newer sequel called Finding Dory which has its own amazing artbook. The Finding Dory artbook is just as compelling and features many of the same artistic resources.
I would highly recommend grabbing both artbooks if you’re a fan of Pixar or a fan of animation in general.
Action and humor come together in The Incredibles to tell one of the wackiest stories you’ll ever see. The Art of The Incredibles tells you the story behind the story.
This art book features a number of different authors and quotes from artists who worked on the film. It’s the typical size of 160 pages filled with all the best production art.
The Incredibles features a lot of wacky characters and you get to see the concept process for all of them. The sketches in this artbook jump off the page with color and life. You’ll get a bunch of character concept sketches, storyboards, color studies, and other pre-production art.
The book’s binding is high quality just like all the other Chronicle Books publications for Pixar.
Since this is an art book it primarily covers the artistic direction and creative process of the movie’s visual development. If you want to see how the movie was made then grab the full DVD with extras. Many people agree that the DVD extras are superb and they give a much broader look into the creation of this film.
The release of Inside Out in 2015 was a pleasant surprise to many Pixar fans. It has a similar feeling to the movie “Up” which was also directed by Pete Docter.
The Art of Inside Out is a beautiful look into the artistic process of this captivating feature film. The book has a foreword written by Amy Poehler and a further introduction by Pete Docter.
Naturally you’ll also find a huge collection of production art including color scripts, storyboards, character sketches, collages, and visual development paintings.
Everything in this book focuses on the art. It’s the ultimate compendium for the artistic direction of Inside Out with brief commentary scattered throughout. The book comes in hardcover, paperback, or Kindle with 176 pages in total.
The first release of Monsters, Inc. was a huge success and it’s still a popular brand among kids today. That’s why The Art of Monsters, Inc. is a must-have artbook for Pixar fans.
This was a movie that stood out to audiences when it first released in 2001. It had memorable characters and loveable voice actors that drew you into the production. And this is one of the cheaper art books so it’s well worth checking out if you’re interested in animation/vis dev art.
I was a bit disappointed to see this Monsters, Inc. artbook only comes with 144 pages. But when actually browsing through the book it’s hard to even recognize that it’s shorter than others.
It doesn’t have any cheesy stills or screencaps from the movie. This book only has raw pre-production artwork crammed into every single page. There’s a very broad range of artistic mediums and styles portrayed in this book.
You get dozens of character drawings in pencil and digital format. You’ll also find concept art for all the major settings of Monstropolis found in the film.
And if you’re a big fan of the Monsters franchise you’ll also want to grab The Art of Monsters University. This was released as a sequel back in 2013 and has even more beautiful production artwork from the same cast of characters you know & love.
Cars & Cars 2
As a series the Cars franchise has done very well. The Art of Cars was first released in 2006 along with the movie. The book has a foreword from John Lasseter, one of the executive producers on Cars.
A few years later in 2011 Pixar released Cars 2. This also came with an artbook titled The Art of Cars 2.
Both of these artbooks have 160 glossy pages of rough production artwork. This art includes character sketches, storyboards, background paintings, and color scripts.
Note that Cars and Cars 2 have similar visual effects, but different environments and characters. These two art books cover a variety of styles and landscapes which really drive home the uniqueness of each movie.
I noticed that the 2nd artbook has a bigger focus on the environments and locations while the 1st artbook is more well-rounded across the board. However they’re both inspiring artbooks and worthy additions to any collector’s bookshelf.
Pixar hit a homerun with the robot-centric feature WALL-E. This film’s story has every emotion under the sun and it’s a memorable concept with a very unique art style.
So it’s no surprise that The Art of WALL.E is a stunning artbook. There’s so much rare concept art in this book that I’d recommend new artists/animators who don’t have any artbooks should start with this one.
The Wall-E artbook has rough storyboards, full-color pastels, character studies, color scripts, background art, plus rare sketches in both pencil & digital format. I wouldn’t have guessed this was the usual 160 pages because it feels like there’s enough content to double that amount!
Each chapter focuses on a different part of the art direction. There are small commentaries which discuss the positive aspects of each section to help readers understand the value of artistic assets like storyboards.
But whether you’re an aspiring artist or just a fan of the movie I would highly recommend this artbook.
Here’s another fairly recent Pixar film released back in 2015. This quirky movie asks the question “what would happen if the dinosaurs never went extinct?”
The Good Dinosaur is a movie truly made for all ages. This is especially true with the companion artbook titled The Art of the Good Dinosaur which was released at the same time as the movie.
If you’re looking for a peek behind the artistic production of Good Dinosaur then this book is for you. It comes in hardcover or Kindle edition with 168 pages. It’s also a lot cheaper than other comparable artbooks so it’s a fun gift for yourself or others if you’re on a budget.
Peter Sohn is a storyboard artist at Pixar and he gives the introduction to this book. Inside you’ll find character sketches, storyboards, maquette sculptures, color scripts and lots of environment concept art.
There isn’t any extra commentary in this book so it’s not the best purchase if you want to learn more about the production pipeline. But the artwork is still incredible and for the price it’s a very creative book to add to your resources list.
A Bug’s Life
Back in 1998 Toy Story was already selling well and making Pixar a household name. Then A Bug’s Life came out and brought even more attention to the Pixar studios.
You can find this book dirt cheap because it’s so old. It only comes with 128 pages but it has a ton of production artwork from the movie’s creative process. You also get lots of staff interviews with artists, writers, and producers who worked on the movie.
The artwork includes storyboards and character illustrations from the movie. It’s not as dense as other modern art books so you can’t expect the same amount of content. But it is the only Bug’s Life art book to ever hit the shelves with behind-the-scenes extras.
And there’s also word of a Bug’s Life 2 release coming very soon. This will likely be followed by A Bug’s Life 2 artbook which would be a perfect sibling to the original 1998 artbook.
Rats in a kitchen would be horrific in any other setting. But in Ratatouille it’s the perfect combination of humor and hijinks.
The film was first released in the summer of 2007 closely followed by The Art of Ratatouille. This book features an introduction by the film’s creator Brad Bird. It also has 160 pages filled with hundreds of unique pre-production art pieces.
You’ll find character sketches, storyboards, color scripts, character studies, and maquettes used for the animation process. The creators actually took a trip to Paris to do research for this movie. And based on the detailed art direction it’s clear how much work went into this picture.
The book has a healthy mix of traditional art and digital art spanning characters, props, and environments. This is the perfect book for artistic inspiration or coffee table decoration and should be a must-buy for any Pixar fanatic.
The 2012 release of Brave was a big step forward for Pixar. This was their first movie with a female lead and it was their first movie set against an ancient historical setting.
The Art of Brave is another traditional Pixar movie art book. In this style it comes in hardcover or Kindle edition with the usual 160 pages of mind-blowing concept art. Since this is Pixar’s very first period film there’s a lot of commentary scattered throughout the book.
Naturally you’ll find a ton of cool storyboards, sketches, color scripts, character studies, and other pre-production artwork. But you’ll also find a good chunk of environment concept paintings used to match the mood and tone of the period.
As far as commentary goes you’ll learn about everything related to the art direction. You won’t find much text covering the actual story development, but you will learn a lot about the animation process and Brave’s visual development strategy.
The Art of Up
It’s hard to think of a more touching and humane animated picture than Up. The name may be very simple but it’s one of the most heartwarming stories you’ll find in the Pixar animation library.
And just like all blockbuster animated movies, this one has a brilliant art collection in The Art of Up. The book comes in hardcover, paperback, or Kindle for digital readers.
This incredible art book contains 250+ pieces of rare concept art. You’ll find everything from storyboards to character models and color scripts along with production art for environments and movie props.
If you’re looking for extra content this book also comes with commentary from the artists and producers. This was meant to be Pixar’s most emotional film and I think this book really drives that point home.
You’ll take away a lot more than just artwork from this book. You’ll learn about storytelling and emotional cinematography. You’ll learn the deeper meanings behind the characters and the plot of this film. If you loved Up as a movie then this art book may be your #1 favorite.
Bonus: Pixar 25th Anniversary Artbook
I wanted to keep this post focused solely on movie art books, but I couldn’t pass up mentioning the incredible Pixar 25th Anniversary Book.
This artbook was created as a catalog of color scripts for all of their major movies. This book showcases color scripts dating back to 1995’s Toy Story all the way up to their 25th anniversary date.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a color script is like a storyboard fully rendered with colors to describe the mood and tone of each scene in the movie. You can learn more about these color scripts at this page.
I would only recommend this 25th anniversary book if you’re a big fan of Pixar, or if you want a huge compilation of color scripts for visual development inspiration.
Most of the other art books in this post come with a bunch of color scripts anyways. And while the 25th anniversary book does have a lot of color scripts, it’s by no means the “complete collection” as the title suggests.
But the Pixar 25th Anniversary book is a great way to get a bunch of color scripts for a bunch of different movies all at once. If you don’t want to buy all the movie artbooks individually then this 25th anniv color scripts book is a great keepsake to buy.
In truth you can’t go wrong with any of these art books. Pixar is known for its quality of production work and beautiful storytelling.
If you have any personal favorite Pixar movies I would recommend grabbing those artbooks first. If you’re just looking for animation ideas and concept art inspiration then grab whatever suits your fancy!
There’s a never ending mountain of artistic inspiration to be found in movie artbooks, and these Pixar books are just one part of the entertainment industry. If you’re looking for related artbooks you should browse our Artbooks archive for more ideas.