Roar ma­te­rial Bring­ing a city built by an­i­mals to life is a chal­lenge, and this book shows how the Dis­ney artists did it

ImagineFX - - Contents - Au­thor Jes­sica Julius Pub­lisher Chronicle Books Price £25 Web www.chron­i­cle­ Avail­able Now

Zootropo­lis, Dis­ney’s 55th an­i­mated film, has been the sur­prise crit­i­cal hit of the year. Its story en­vi­sions a world en­tirely cre­ated and pop­u­lated by an­i­mals – and this book ex­am­ines the unique art chal­lenges that seem­ingly sim­ple idea presents. For ex­am­ple, how do you de­sign a world that’s ac­ces­si­ble to both a mouse, an ele­phant, and ev­ery other crea­ture in be­tween?

Writ­ten by Jes­sica Julius, with a pref­ace by John Las­seter and a fore­word by the film’s di­rec­tors, By­ron Howard and Rich Moore, this hard­back beau­ti­fully re­pro­duces both fi­nal and cut art from Zootropo­lis. And for fans, that might jus­tify the cover price alone.

But that’s only one half of the story. The smartly struc­tured chap­ters also take deep dives into the think­ing be­hind the look of the film: both its in­ven­tive char­ac­ters and as­ton­ish­ing, imag­i­na­tive en­vi­ron­ments.

It’s ev­i­dent that an im­mense amount of thought and re­search has gone into Zootopia’s ar­chi­tec­ture, and the book show­cases early sketches and con­cept art for the dif­fer­ent towns and cities within it, along with in­sights into its de­vel­op­ment. We learn that in an early it­er­a­tion of the film, for ex­am­ple, prey an­i­mals were dom­i­nant, so the mo­tifs in build­ing fo­cused on this, in­cor­po­rat­ing veg­etable pat­terns, leaf shapes and flower mu­rals into the de­sign of the buildings.

Each area is dis­cussed in de­tail, from Tun­dra Town, that’s made of snow and ice and in­cor­po­rates Rus­sian and Ital­ian in­flu­ences in its con­struc­tion, to the tiny mini-city of Lit­tle Ro­den­tia, where street­lights are made from a sin­gle Christ­mas light­bulb.

The Art of Zootopia is also packed with de­tail about char­ac­ter de­sign, with back sto­ries and in­sights for ma­jor and mi­nor char­ac­ters. We hear where lines were drawn be­tween re­al­ity and artis­tic li­cence. For ex­am­ple, in na­ture, otters are bulkier than weasels and look like they have one big mus­cle. But Mrs Ot­ter­ton needed to ap­pear frail enough to ask for help, so the artists gave her thin­ner wrists and neck. Broader is­sues are also dis­cussed. How does a herd of wilde­beest dis­mount from a train? Which an­i­mals can and can’t wear trousers? How can an ice cream shop cater for ele­phants?

In short, each of the 164 pages is full of amaz­ing art and fas­ci­nat­ing in­sights into the mak­ing of a land­mark an­i­ma­tion. Any­one in­ter­ested in char­ac­ter de­sign or world-build­ing should find this a riv­et­ing read.

Zootopia’s buildings were de­signed with an­i­mal shapes and pat­terns. It’s an an­i­mal world. Not an­i­mals liv­ing in a hu­man world.

Foxes’ thought pro­cesses over­lap with their ac­tions, some­thing artists tried to cap­ture with Nick Wilde.


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