*What's inside, Thematic material reviewed
*Secrets of capturing Disney-esque animation revealed
*Who's this book for?
If the old adage, "Never judge a book by its cover," holds true, then Elemental Magic certainly reinforces this notion. If there's any concern, it's that the wonders of this book may be passed up because of this nondescript cover layout. I also feel the author could have come up with a more intriguing sub-title.
When I first opened this soft cover, rectangular book, and I thought "OMG!" Inside, this book looks like an illustrator's private sketch book. Hundreds of beautifully hand-drawn, colored sketches: some segregated from the text, others used as a background (watermarked) with the text overlaid.
Next to each illustration is a brief, but thorough explanation of the process. And, the key to understanding this message is summed up in one word: energy.
Joseph Gilland, the author, is a 30-year animator and has worked on some of the biggest animation features over the past 20+ years including Mulan, Lilo & Stitch, Tarzan, Pocohantas and a few others. Some of the sketches that became film cells are reproduced with his notes below the art!
The book is outline with two (2) brief chapters before he introduces the philosophy of animation: The Preface and The History of Classical Animation. The remainder of the book gives step by step analysis not of how to sketch a flame or construct an iceberg, for instance, but of the techniques of how to get in touch with what he refers to as the "energy of the elements." How does one capture the essence of a burning flame? Shattered glass? A wisp of smoke or the pixie dust floating through gust of wind? There is a way to see it, Gilland explains, and it is connecting to the unique movement ("energy") of that natural (i.e., fire, water, rocks, lava, smoke, flame, glass, frost, liquids, etc.) element.
I've been a fine artist and an illustrator for more than 30 years and more recently a graphic artist. Over the years, I've collected many books by celebrated artist, but this is the first by a Western artist that stresses the spiritual dimension of the subject in order to identify with its characteristics. His words and explanations are quite refreshing. I found myself thinking, "How come I hadn't figure that out!"
Okay... who's this book for?
All fine artists.
Any digital artist who may be interested in motion capture or Flash-based software.
A children's book author.
Those who love to collect coffee-table books.
Those who love the art of classic Disney animation.
I LOVE THIS BOOK! I LOVE THIS BOOK! I LOVE THIS BOOK!
Again, if I may offer one slight bit of constructive criticism and that is: Change the cover design! It would be a shame if people, particularly, fine- and digital artists walked by this book without knowing the priceless text inside.