The Art of Ratatouille | Art Book Review
One of the things that I really like about the Art of Ratatouille is that it gives you insight into not only the obvious creative decisions that were made while shooting the movie, but also sheds light on even the smallest details. Like creative decisions that may seem trivial, but are actually essential to good story telling.
An example of this would be how Brad Bird discusses the fact that because the movie revolved around a four-legged creature (Remy) trying to fit into the two-legged world of humans, they would have to provide distinction between Remy and the other rats. They decided to have him walk on two legs while all of the other rats in the movie scampered around on all fours, a subtle detail that would subconsciously make Remy’s character more relatable to the viewers … at least the human ones anyway.
The Art of Ratatouille really gives you an in depth look, into the creative process for character development in this movie. It’s cool to see the hand sculpted clay models being used as reference by the digital artists. That type of hand crafted work is normally reserved for art of books dedicated to stop motion animated films like Box Trolls.
As cool as the clay models are, when it comes to character development, nothing even comes close to Carter Goodrich’s pencil sketches. His sketches are reason enough to own this book.
The task of putting human expressions on animals without making them appear too human is something many artists struggle with. Matte Nolte gives a master class in this book on not only how to do it, but on how to do it well.
This book is a definite must for fans of Dominique Louis. His use of colour and the way he lights his paintings is absolutely incredible. You will find pages and pages of his paint overs scattered throughout this entire book. If it’s inspiration for visual development that you are looking for, then look no further. Some of my personal favorites are the paintings he did of the scene when Remy is surrounded by the cakes. The color palettes and the way he lit those scenes was absolutely phenomenal.
It’s All About the Lighting
You’ll notice that I keep bringing up lighting throughout this review. And that’s because one of the things that I really love about this movie is the lighting contrast that is pretty much present throughout this entire film. Because rats tend to live in the shadows, the movie is littered with scenes that are engulfed by that cool blue ambient light … which is always contrasted by a much warmer yellowish key light. It just gives you that feeling of sitting by a warm fire on a cold winters’ night. So even though you are dealing with very cold environments, the movie still has a very warm feel to it.
If you are like me and are a fan of storyboards, then you’re going to love the Art of Ratatouille. Something that I like to do when reading an art of book is to compare the storyboards with the final rendered animation. It’s always interesting to see just how closely animators and directors will stick to the original vision for the movie.
And finally, as you will see in the last few pages of this book, the Art of Ratatouille really stresses the importance of logo development when it comes to creating the type face for your projects. Whether it’s for a movie poster, DVD case or book cover, it’s important to take your time and try as many different iterations of your title as possible. Although growing up as kids we are told not to judge a book by its cover, the truth is we all do it. The cover art is the most important drawing in the book and therefore deserves the most attention. You have only a few seconds to catch someone’s eye in the book store, on the Amazon page or in the movie theater lobby, so use those seconds wisely.
As far as my favorite animated movies go, Ratatouille definitely holds a spot in the top 10, which is why it’s no surprise that the art of book also holds a spot in my personal reference library.
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