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The entertainment industry is full of concept artists and vis dev artists working tirelessly on new movies and video games. Most of this artwork is used for production and never released to the public.
But the increasing sales of behind-the-scenes art books prove that fans really love to see this hidden production art. This leads to studios releasing these art books in droves for almost every major project.
And there are tons of cheaper books out there if you know where to look. This post has the most interesting and affordable art books that money can buy. Topics range from classic Disney animation all the way to modern day video games and TV series.
The Art and Making of Peanuts Animation
First released in 2012, this classic Peanuts art & animation book is a must have for collectors. It’s definitely a visual book that explores the rich history of Peanuts as a comic strip and American animated cartoon.
You’ll find art dating back to the 1960s all the way through to present day. This Peanuts art book goes behind the scenes of all 45 Peanuts animated features to give you an inside scoop that can’t be found anywhere else.
Not only does this include a rich tapestry of Peanuts history, but also hundreds of illustrations and concept art pieces never before shown to the public. For the price it’s easily the best compilation of Peanuts artwork in existence. But if you’re looking for something that covers details on the comic strip then check out The Art of Charles Schulz instead.
They Drew as They Pleased
Anyone familiar with Disney animation will know it’s the top of the heap. Disney’s attention to detail in art style and motion has set the bar for high-quality animation in both TV and film.
They Drew As They Pleased offers a rare look at classic Disney concept artists from the golden years of animation. You’ll find rare conceptual work for classic Disney films like Pinocchio, Peter Pan, and my personal favorite Alice in Wonderland.
The book was released in 2015 and spans just over two hundred pages. In the book’s title you’ll notice the term “hidden art” which is apt for this particular book.
You’ll find previously unpublished concept art from four classic Disney artists working during the 1930s and 1940s. This is also planned to be the first part of a series of books featuring Disney concept art from each decade.
Warner Bros. Animation Art
Everyone who grew up on classic Looney Tunes will remember the timeless works of Chuck Jones and Tex Avery among many other incredible animation directors. These cartoons still hold up today and prove that quality animation never goes out of style.
The Warner Bros. Animation Artbook was originally published in 1997 but still holds incredibly high reviews from buyers. It was written by animation historian Jerry Beck who covers the history of Warner Bros. animation.
Concept art is only some of the art you’ll find published in this book. You’ll also find original animation cels and photographs of the animators hard at work. Most of the cheaper prices are for used copies, but even brand new copies are very reasonable compared to modern art books.
The Art of Plants vs. Zombies
The PopCap game series Plants vs Zombies is beloved by its fanbase on desktop computers and smartphones around the world. After the popularity of many sequels to this game, the creators decided to release The Art of Plants vs. Zombies as a hardcover print book.
Inside you’ll find a brief history of the games with plenty of concept art to go around. This includes the original Plants vs. Zombies along with all the sequels.
One downside is that the book only contains 88 pages.
If you want it cheaper you can always download the digital version instead of the print copy. But either version is dirt cheap and well worth nabbing for any Plants vs. Zombies aficionado.
The Art of World of Warcraft
So many different WoW books have been published over the past few years and they’re not slowing down anytime soon. Although most of them can be rather pricey, you can get a sweet deal on The Art of World of Warcraft by BradyGames.
It was originally published in 2005 containing just over two hundred pages of artist sketches, concept paintings, and fully-rendered art for the game.
It includes rare artwork from all WoW races, monsters, weapons, environments and architectural designs. You’ll also get a few printed cinematics and storyboards to cap off this frugal compendium of classic WoW artwork.
The Art of Disney: The Golden Age
Here’s a rather small yet loveable collector’s item for anyone that appreciates Disney’s golden era of animation. Art of Disney: The Golden Age collects rare concept artwork and illustrations into a box of printed postcards from classic Disney movies.
This may not be your traditional art book. But it fits perfectly with other items in an art collector’s bookshelf. You get 100 different postcards ranging from the original Snow White in 1937 all the way up to the release of Dalmatians in 1961.
It’s not an expensive item by any means and the content you get is exquisite. You’ll get original sketches, animation cels, and painted concept art with a mix of fully-rendered items and rough idea sheets.
The Art of Titanfall
Titanfall’s release back in 2014 was accompanied by The Art of Titanfall including 190 pages of luxurious concept art and illustration work for the game.
You get an inside peek at every stage of the visual development process to see how Titanfall went from a simple idea to an award-winning video game series.
If you’ve never played Titanfall before then you might give it a shot if you own an Xbox or gaming PC. It’s a fun game and the artbook shows just how much effort went into this title.
The Art of Assassin’s Creed III
When the first Assassin’s Creed was released I knew this would be a hit. Years later we already have a quadrilogy and many associated art books to go along with it.
But if you’re looking for a bargain I’d recommend the Assassin’s Creed III artbook which seems to fluctuate the most in price points. You can grab a very cheap new copy without breaking the bank.
Broken Age is a video game created for multiple systems by Double Fine Productions in 2014. Two years later in 2016 the game publishers released a beautiful Broken Age art book with 120 pages of visual development concept works.
The game may not be well known by everyone, but its art style is unmistakably unique.
The Art of Broken Age can appeal to anyone who truly loves entertainment art, including people who don’t even play video games. It’s one of those art books that can appeal to all artists from concept artists to illustrators and comic creators.
The Art of Monsters University
Monsters, Inc. was first released in 2001 and gave Pixar a loveable set of characters to relive in Monsters University. A few years after the movie was released we got The Art of Monsters University, a 150+ page art book with every production piece you could ever imagine.
Inside these pages you’ll find concept art with sculpted characters for posing and modeling. You’ll also get storyboards and color scripts from the animation. Fans of the series will fall in love with this behind-the-scenes look at a Pixar classic.
And if you loved the original film check out The Art of Monster, Inc. It’s published by the same company and it follows with a similar price tag as the Monsters University art book.
Dragon Ball: The Complete Illustrations
When Dragon Ball Z first came to America it quickly became a cult classic, followed by rapid mainstream success. The Dragon Ball series has ballooned in popularity for its character art and unique style of storytelling.
Dragon Ball: The Complete Illustrations features the work of Akira Toriyama spanning multiple generations of the Dragon Ball anime. The book was first published in 2008 so its price has dropped a bit since first release.
But it still offers the same incredible quality of artwork and it’s a must-own for every anime fan.
Art Of Avatar: The Last Airbender
It seems like everyone fell head over heels for Avatar: The Last Airbender because of its unique art style, animation, and storytelling. It’s a one-of-a-kind cartoon which appeals to a wide audience of age groups.
The Avatar series artbook was first released in 2010 with over 180 color pages featuring art from every stage of the design process. This includes rough sketches, concept art, storyboards, and polished illustrations.
If you enjoyed Avatar then you’re sure to treasure this artbook and find plenty of inspiration within its pages.
My Little Pony: The Art of Equestria
The animated series of My Little Pony seems to breed divisiveness. But love it or hate it, MLP has captured the devotion of an audience and continues to run with over six seasons of the US cartoon.
The Art of Equestria is a hardcover print book first released in late 2015. It has over 200 pages of beautiful printed production art with an overwhelmingly positive series of reviews from fans. You’ll get lots of concept art and storyboard sheets along with stills and animation cels from the show.
Another alternative is MLP: Art is Magic! based on the comic series, although The Art of Equestria has a similar price point with more art and better quality page materials.
The Sky: The Art of Final Fantasy Book 3
Square-Enix has released dozens of art books for their incredible library of RPG titles. There are so many great ones to pick, but one of the cheapest choices is The Sky Book 3.
This book features artwork from Yoshitaka Amano, a renowned Japanese illustrator who’s been working in the entertainment industry since the 1960s.
The art isn’t all exceptionally detailed so it may not be the best inspiration for modern concept art. But it does provide a fun history of the Final Fantasy series to see how far concept art has evolved.
You may remember old books from your childhood with the golden-colored book spine. These are Disney Golden Books and they include a library of amazing stories over decades of publication.
Walt Disney oversaw a good portion of this process along with classic Disney artists who worked on these books. Now The Art of the Disney Golden Books curates the most incredible production art from these books into one compilation for diehard fans.
Inside this 160-page artbook you’ll find interviews and rare artwork from those who worked on the Disney Golden Books collection. It may not be directly related to animation, but it follows the illustration work of classic animators with gouache paintings and other traditional mediums.
Adventure Time: The Art of Ooo
Cartoon Network’s longest-running animated series now has its own artbook. The Art of Ooo is a beautiful collector’s piece for any true fan of the Adventure Time universe.
It has 352 pages full of colorful character & environment art paintings, as well as storyboards and character sketches.
You’ll also find brief interviews and commentary from the show’s production crew talking about the making of a classic animated series.
This is definitely one of the lengthiest art books on the market. It’s also one of the few art books released by Cartoon Network, and for the price it’s well worth picking up a copy.
The Art of Frozen
Disney’s Frozen took off into popularity almost overnight. It became a classic among younger and older viewers alike, so it’s natural that The Art of Frozen would also be selling so well.
Inside this 168-page artbook you’ll find rare storyboards, character sketches, concept art, color scripts, and even interviews from production artists on Frozen.
This one may cost a little more than other books in this article but if you’re a fan of Frozen then it’s worth the extra. Plus this is still cheaper than most other art books on the market.
Every year new art books are released for purchase and new movies/video games go into production. The entertainment industry isn’t slowing down and there will always be a stream of incredible artwork to show for it.
This collection of cheap artbooks should offer a diverse mix of interests and price points. But if you don’t see something here that you’re really looking for then try searching Google to see what you can find.