The Art of How to Train Your Dragon 2

We check out this ex­cel­lent, in­ter­ac­tive book about the much-an­tic­i­pated DreamWorks se­quel

ImagineFX - - Reviews - Au­thor Linda Sun­shine Pub­lisher Ti­tan Books Price £25 Web www.ti­tan­ Avail­able Now

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.

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