The Art of How to Train Your Dragon 2
We check out this excellent, interactive book about the much-anticipated DreamWorks sequel
DreamWorks’ 2010 animated feature How to Train Your Dragon was unusual in that it was touching, funny and beautiful – and it wasn’t made by Pixar. It raked in almost $500 million at the box office and became DreamWorks’ most successful film outside the Shrek franchise. The film’s success has inevitably led to a sequel, which Titan’s art-of book documents in style.
This rich and detailed tome kicks off with a description of the week-long trip that the filmmakers made to Norway to draw inspiration for the Scandinavian setting and locales. What’s noteworthy here is that, despite Nordic settings being very popular thanks to Game of Thrones, Vikings and Skyrim, How to Train Your Dragon has created a world with its own visual language that doesn’t encroach on our existing understanding of fantasy northern lands.
The characters have also aged five years (characters aging is a rarity in kids’ films) since the first instalment. CGI technology has also progressed significantly during this time, which means the figure models had to be rebuilt from scratch. “If you compare Hiccup from the first movie to the sequel, you can see how his design got much more detailed in terms of his facial structure, his neck, and his outfit,” says Simon Otto, head of character animation. All of the main characters receive at least a page or two detailing their redesign, and there are some wonderful pieces of concept art.
Of course, it wouldn’t be complete without the dragons themselves, which are uniquely amphibian-like rather than taking their design cues from the more traditional lizards. They range from the impossibly cute babies to the ferocious Bewilderbeast, which expels enormous plumes of blue-green ice. “There’s a complex scattering of light in a piece of ice and replicating that into something believable, achievable and affordable for our movie was really difficult,” says Mike Necci, the film’s environments digital supervisor.
This is an exemplary tome, too. While most Making Of books tend to focus on the visual side and omit allimportant text, here there are plenty of quotes, as well as artist credits for each and every image. There’s even a nifty app available for smartphones with which you can scan certain images and see a clip from the film as if it were there on the page – something that makes a good book even better.
The main artistic challenge for depicting the Nest of Dragons was to somehow create a humid environment in an ice world.
Hiccup wields his home-made Dragon Blade – an expandable sword with the ability to generate fire.