The Art of the Iron Giant

Review: Finally, the film of a boy and his robot gets its own ‘art of’ book. We find out if this retrospective exercise was worth the wait.

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Our Verdict

It might have been a long time coming, but The Art of the Iron Giant was worth the wait. Not only is there a wealth of concept art that shows off how ideas were developed, there are also lots of valuable insights from the creators. We couldn't ask for more.

For

  • Wealth of concept art
  • Interviews from key team members
  • Detailed backgrounds and storyboards
  • Glimpse into rejected art

When it was released back in 1999, The Iron Giant didn’t exactly break box office records. But 17 years on, there’s still huge love for it. That’s partly because it was one of the last animated films of the hand-drawn era, and partly because it built on Ted Hughes’ short story so beautifully. So it’s high time it got the art book treatment.

This gorgeous 148-page, large-format hardback begins with a foreword by director Brad Bird, who explains how the making of the film involved a long period of creative exploration that included “a wonderful variety of visual approaches.” This was followed by a “hurried rush of artwork generated to quickly nail down a producible look.” A wide range of incredible art was created in both periods, and this book brings together the best of both approaches.

The Iron Giant hides in a workshop and contemplates a metal snack, in Victor Haboush’s concept art

Author Ramin Zahed keeps the text – which includes new interviews with Bird and other key members of the film’s creative team – short and to the point. This provides ample room for fascinating preparatory pencil sketches and evocative concept art by the likes of Victor Haboush and Dominique Louis. We also get to see detailed backgrounds and storyboards, as well as alternative images and plotlines ultimately rejected by the film-makers.

In all, this smorgasbord of an art book offers a fascinating insight into the creative process behind hand-drawn animation, and one of its best recent showcases.

This article was originally published in ImagineFX magazine issue 142. Buy it here.

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The Verdict

10

out of 10

The Art of the Iron Giant

It might have been a long time coming, but The Art of the Iron Giant was worth the wait. Not only is there a wealth of concept art that shows off how ideas were developed, there are also lots of valuable insights from the creators. We couldn't ask for more.