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Best Sony Animation “Art Of” Movie Artbooks

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When people think of animated movies they don’t always think of Sony. This is because they never had a major animation studio until the release of Open Season in 2006.

In the 10+ years since that movie’s release there have been a lot of similar productions coming out of Sony Animation. The best part is many of these movies have their own accompanying artbooks to go along with the film.

Animators, concept artists, illustrators, and movie buffs alike will love these artbooks for their commentaries and rare production artwork. Whether you’re looking for artistic inspiration or just want to get a peek behind the curtain these artbooks are worth collecting and you’ll find one for almost every Sony animated featured.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

The name is weird enough to catch your attention and leave you wanting more. In 2009 Sony released Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs to American audiences. The reviews were generally positive and led to a beloved movie franchise.

Shortly after the film’s release we got The Art & Making of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. This rare production artbook is 180 pages long with a strong hardcover print binding.

In the traditional animated artbook style you get hundreds of unique pieces of concept art scattered throughout all of these pages. Character sketches, environments, visual development artwork, and storyboards are just some of the assets featured in this book.

It’s fair to say this may be one of the best animated film artbooks to ever come out of Sony’s studio. While the film itself may not interest everyone, this artbook has enough behind-the-scenes content to captivate anyone interested in the animation industry.

And if you haven’t been keeping up there’s now a sequel to the Cloudy with Meatballs movie. This sequel has its own artbook with just as much rare concept art.

Both of these are quality items but if you only get one then stick to the first Cloudy artbook. It’s a bit longer and has more content than the sequel.


Open Season

Sony’s very first animated film Open Season was the start of their entire animation wing. When this move was first released it was accompanied by an art book.

The Art of Open Season only comes in hardcover and features 160 pages of rare production art. This may not feel like a traditional coffee table book but it’s definitely a piece of animation history.

You get an inside peek at the movie’s production cast including art direction, storyboards, character designs, and visual FX used in post-production.

The actual structure of the book is very organized following each area of the park and animals. It reads almost like a story of the movie’s production from start to finish.

Even if you weren’t the biggest fan of Open Season I’d still recommend this book for the incredible artwork. However it’ll mostly be interesting to animators, illustrators, and aspiring vis dev artists. But game/entertainment concept artists may not find as much value in this book.


Surf’s Up

Surf’s Up: The Art and Making of a True Story is a production art book released alongside the 2007 animated film Surf’s Up.

This hardcover artbook includes 160 pages of rare production art just like you’d expect in any similar artbook. However it also includes a mini DVD featurette covering the making of the film. It also has a little booklet, some postcards, and other extra features scattered throughout the pages.

Everything in the book is layed out constructively with chapters for storyboards, character designs, environments, and 3D models. You can browse through this book for artistic inspiration and for enjoyment to learn more about the movie.

There isn’t a ton of commentary but it’s just enough to satiate any film fan’s appetite.


Hotel Transylvania

The 2012 comedy film Hotel Transylvania is one of Sony Animation’s most popular films. It’s directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, a Russian animator who created Dexter’s Laboratory and Samurai Jack.

The Art and Making of Hotel Transylvania offers a beautiful peek into the studio’s process of creating such a magical film. The book comes with 160 pages sporting well over 400 individual pieces of concept art.

You’ll get to peek at rare character sketches, storyboards, environments, color scripts and other assets from the animation process.

There are also lots of interviews and commentaries shared from directors and the animation crew. The artwork is both memorable and amusing. It’s truly a funny movie and the artwork matches well with the picture.

This film got a sequel in late 2015 and The Art of Hotel Transylvania 2 is just as good as the first one.

Between these two books I’d be torn which one to get. They both have incredible production art and they both complement each other nicely. I’d recommend getting both if you have the scratch!


Arthur Christmas

The nice thing about Sony’s artbooks is how they go beyond the artwork to get interviews, Q&As, and commentaries from the staff members. This gives readers a deeper look into each film and the production work that goes into making a movie.

The Art & Making of Arthur Christmas blends 300+ pieces of concept art with interviews and commentaries from the staff. All of this is crammed into a beautiful 160-page hardcover artbook.

One thing I don’t like about this book is the inclusion of stills from the film. There isn’t as much production artwork in this book as actual writing and commentary about the movie’s creation.

If you liked the Arthur Christmas movie this book is definitely worth grabbing.

But if you’re an artist looking for inspiration I’d look elsewhere. Granted this book certainly isn’t terrible. But with so many other “art of” artbooks that contain more interesting artwork, I couldn’t say this is worth the money unless you really loved the movie.


The Pirates! Band of Misfits

Although this art book is a little smaller at only 144 pages it’s still a great addition to the bookshelf for any aspiring animator. The Pirates! Band of Misfits artbook covers all the typical concept art you expect to find in a feature film.

This book has an even mix of studio photos and commentary along with real animation production artwork. You get to read neat little behind-the-scenes stories from the voice actors and artists who poured their hearts into this film.

All of the concept art is quite exhaustive covering characters, environments, props, and staging backgrounds. You also get photos of puppets and models used for the animation process.

Plus the writing in this book is actually funny! If you liked the movie you’ll be genuinely entertained with this artbook.


The Smurfs(kind of)

Sony Animation released a Smurfs movie in 2011 but never released an artbook along with it. I’m guessing there may have been issues with copyrights that didn’t allow content to be published.

However there are lots of great Smurfs books covering the history & concept art of the original Smurfs comic strip. Perhaps the best one is The World of Smurfs: A Celebration of Tiny Blue Proportions.

This covers the entire history of the Smurfs which started as a Belgian comic strip in 1958. It then delves into the history of the 1980s Hanna-Barbera cartoon series which is one of the longest running Hanna-Barbera series ever made.

Finally the later chapters of this book get into the 2011 Sony animated film The Smurfs.

This artbook delves into the characters and world, but doesn’t include a ton of artwork. It does have fun pop-ups and stickers which could make this a great gift for young ’uns.

One other book I’d recommend is The Smurfs Anthology #1. This isn’t really a behind-the-scenes book, but it is a collection of the original Smurfs comic strips with additional footnotes and commentaries.

Sony Animation doesn’t have the same sized library as the bigger studios like Disney Animation.

But with the movies they have released they’ve gone all-out with dense artbooks covering the production side and casting/writing side.

These artbooks are perfect for any aspiring animator or concept artist interested in the entertainment industry. You may not find something you like in this post but keep your eyes peeled for new Sony Animation films. They’ve been on a roll recently and I expect a ton of new artbooks in the near future.