Art books can sometimes be an overlooked genre. You might think ‘well I’m not an artist, what do I gain from it’? But art books are a great way to dive deeper into your favorite video game or film. It’s a chance to get a closer look not only at the characters and settings; but also can offer a glimpse into the team’s creative process. Though not all Art Books are created equal.
Some end up sharing more screenshots than actual art. Others can be infuriatingly tiny – in both physical size and number of pages. But if you find an art book that is both loaded with art and commentary from the artists and developers themselves, congratulations! You just found a real life ‘Gem’!
Thanks to Activision/ Blizzard, I was able to get an advance copy of the upcoming Art of Spyro: Reignited Trilogy art book; and it is without a doubt the most stunning art book I have ever seen. (And as an aspiring illustrator, I’ve seen and owned a LOT of art books). But what exactly is in this book? How many pages is it? What can you expect? Let’s take a closer look before its July 21st release date.
From the moment we started to see concept art from Spyro: Reignited Trilogy a few years ago, I had been hoping for a book like this. Even if it was just a small one, I just wanted a chance to see how the characters and settings of the original game were loving recreated and updated by the Toys for Bob team. And when the game released with Art Galleries as an unlockable, my hopes grew because it felt like this was a company that was truly proud of their artists and wanted to show off their work. Fast forward a year or so, and I can genuinely say this book was worth the wait.
At a staggering 288 pages and 11.5 by 10 inches, this is one hefty art book! There are massive double page spreads with commentary from Josh Nadelberg, one of the Art Directors, as well as commentary from the incredible artists themselves (including but not limited to: Nicholas Kole, Devon Cady-Lee, Nicola Saviori and many more!) sprinkled throughout the book. There’s even a section that explores the philosophy/ mindset the team had when approaching this remake.
As for the art side, this book covers all three games. So it makes sense that this book would be so massive. The art is divided up into 5 major sections. The first two detail Spyro’s evolution as well as art of the main characters/ villains you’ll face in the game. The next section is 50 pages of nothing but Dragons, which could have been its own book. So much love and personality was put into our crystalized friends, that seeing a whole section devoted to them just makes sense. And if you’re looking for a specific one, don’t worry. The dragons go in order of homeworld.
The next section details all the Friends and Foes you’ll find through the series. Whether level enemies, world NPCs or the general fodder you flame to get a butterfly, it’s all here! Though there’s numerous earlier designs of these creatures – and the previously mentioned dragons as well – scattered throughout the book’s commentary. So you’ll want to hunt for little hidden gems. The book then concludes with its understandably biggest section, ‘The World of Spyro’ which shows environmental art of every single level and world Spyro explores.
Though as an artist myself, the section that means the most to me is the Acknowledgements page. Often times, an art book only cites the person who compiled the work. Here, there is an entire section dedicated to noting each and every artist on the project as well as which artworks they specifically worked on.
In the end, this book is a pure celebration of Spyro the Dragon and the dream team of creators that helped bring him back. This is everything an art book should be and I hope to see other companies follow this lead.
The Art of Spyro: Reignite Trilogy releases everywhere July 21st and is available for Pre-Order on Barnes&Noble and Amazon.
~ Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go look through this book for the 10th time in a 12 hour period. (And start hoping that Toys for Bob’s next project, Crash Bandicoot 4, gets the same Art Book treatment) *crosses fingers*