The Art of Ice Age

Cold ca se This deep dive into the frozen world of Blue Sky’s fran­chise un­earths artis­tic in­sights and stun­ning sketches aplenty

ImagineFX - - Re­views - Au­thor Tara Ben­nett Publisher Ti­tan Books Price £30 Web www.ti­tan­ Avail­able Now

The art of… film books we see tend to be a mixed bunch. Some fea­ture a lot of art, but few words. Oth­ers cover the maker’s ap­proach to the film, but pre­cious lit­tle in­for­ma­tion about the artis­tic process. Some, in­clud­ing The Art of The Jun­gle Book (re­viewed last is­sue) don’t even men­tion the names of the artists.

The Ice Age fran­chise is aimed at young chil­dren and pre-teens, so we weren’t ex­pect­ing a lot of deep in­sights from this vol­ume. How wrong we were. The mo­ment you hold the book in your hands, you sense some­thing’s dif­fer­ent. For a start, it’s huge and heavy, sig­ni­fy­ing both its high page count (304) and de­cent pa­per qual­ity. And each one of those pages is packed with con­tent and anal­y­sis.

Au­thor Tara Ben­net has penned over 25 movie and TV com­pan­ion books, and clearly knows how to craft a nar­ra­tive. But you also sense that Blue Sky, the stu­dio be­hind the films, along with Rio, Epic and The Peanuts Movie, has fallen over it­self to help out here. Be­cause this fas­ci­nat­ing read tells you ev­ery­thing you wanted to know in great de­tail – and more be­sides.

Cov­er­ing the first four Ice Age films, along with the short films and a pre­view of the fifth, Col­li­sion Course, there’s gor­geous art­work galore on show, in­clud­ing sketches, dig­i­tal paint­ings and art cre­ated us­ing tra­di­tional me­dia. The text is clev­erly in­ter­wo­ven among these visu­als, re­sult­ing in a mo­men­tous amount of work and words to co-ex­ist with­out one ever over­pow­er­ing the other.

We learn how Blue Sky got started and how each film got made. We’re in­tro­duced to the main themes, story arcs and char­ac­ters; how the films evolved through pro­duc­tion, where rewrites oc­curred and where the jokes came from. And as you’d ex­pect, there’s a mass of de­tail about how the art was cre­ated, from Peter de Sève’s “scat­ter­shot” ap­proach to his pre­lim­i­nary sketches of Manny, Diego and Sid, to how art direc­tor Tom Car­done’s ap­proached “pre­sent­ing the en­vi­ron­men­tal threat as an­other char­ac­ter.” There are also plenty of pre­lim­i­nary sketches, show­ing such de­tails as the dif­fer­ent ex­pres­sions on the face of T-Rex Boy (from ‘Smile: Pushed Teeth’ to ‘Closed Smile: Ex­treme’), as well as sto­ry­boards on show. We also see tech­ni­cal ex­pla­na­tions of the CG el­e­ments, such as how the fur on the an­i­mals was made to move more like hair.

This is a rare ex­am­ple of an art of… book we’d rec­om­mend even if you have no par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est in the film it­self.

Colour keys for the fast-talk­ing Sid the sloth, as painted by Greg Couch.

Scrat, the sabre-tooth squir­rel, will go to any lengths to keep hold of his prize pos­ses­sion: an acorn.

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