Thursday 7 February 2013

The Art of Wreck-It Ralph Review - A Wreck-Tacular Art Book

I actually received Chronicle Books' latest accompanying Art of book when Wreck-It Ralph was released Stateside in November, but I thought it would probably prove useful to have something left to hype myself up for the film's inevitable UK release. And it has. So, with Disney's Wreck-It Ralph finally hitting UK cinemas tomorrow, I'm very happy to present a review of its wonderful, vibrant and quintessentially cartoony companion, The Art of Wreck-It Ralph.

Bill Schwabb

These books are always fun to read and to admire - particularly the latter, and that's where quite a few Art of books fall down, taking attention away from the actual art; The Art of Wreck-It Ralph has no such problem. Director Rich Moore brought across some of his very cartoony comrades from The Simpsons to mesh with the existing art team at Disney, and this collection of styles is evident in the broad range of sketches, tableaus and artwork on display in this great Art of book.

Daniel Arriaga, Bill Schwabb and Jin Kimm

The best pure Art of book of 2012 was The Art of Rise of the Guardians: it struck a perfect balance between interesting and capable writing, and keeping what's there reasonably concise, thus keeping the focus on its magnificent artwork. The artwork here isn't quite as fantastic as that in the Guardians book, but it's pretty damn close. Just as The Art of Rise of the Guardians offered a magnificent range of styles, colours and worlds, so too does The Art of Wreck-It Ralph - and indeed the two broadly different films are rather similar in that respect.

Helen Chen

Helen Chen

The book is well sectioned, covering the character sketches and development - complete with introductions to the characters and some behind-the-scenes information - as well as artwork of the many environments for each of the film's worlds: Fix-It Felix Jr., Game Central Station, Hero's Duty, Sugar Rush and the in-between sections in Litwak's Arcade.

Cory Loftis

Ryan Lang

The Fix-It Felix section is really good and boasts some hilarious character designs, as well as great artwork. The Game Central Station one features a lot of intelligent architectural thought to strike the right balance between making it believably the inside of a power strip and mirroring Grand Central in New York - again, leading to a lot of great art. Hero's Duty was the section of the film that I've remained unsold on, it kind of struck me as just a generic, gloomy FPS world - which to some extent it purposefully is - but this book gave me a great appreciation of how much effort went into every single pixel of it, and it too boasts some breathtaking artwork. It's the Sugar Rush section that's the most impressive though, both in terms of the actual artwork (some of the best of 2012) and some actual photos of a crew effort to create a real-life candy model world - although it does unfortunately make me very hungry. The Litwak's section, which also includes other fleetingly-visited locales, is also very strong.

Josie Trinidad

Colour Script: Mike Gabriel, Helen Chen, Jim Finn, Lorelay Bove,
Ryan Lang, Dan Cooper, Cory Loftis, Ian Gooding

I particularly admired the artwork of Ryan Lang, Cory Loftis, Helen Chen, Bill Schwabb and Lorelay Bove - although there are a great many artists whose work you can admire. One particular note of praise - a similar one to with The Art of Rise of the Guardians and The Art of Brave - is its extensive inclusion of storyboards; it's such a beautiful and quintessentially animation-y medium and it's always a pleasure to see them in these books. One thing the Ralph book has over the Guardians one is that it includes colour scripts too - colour scripts are near enough my favourite things to see in these books, they're beautiful, but more often than not they're left out, so it's nice to see one in here.

Ryan Lang (Design), Jim Finn (Crowds/Blocking), Minh
Duong (Model) and Lance Summers (Look)

Ryan Lang

There's then a section of worlds and characters that didn't make it into the film (no Mario artwork though, I'm afraid). One such world is Extreme EZ Livin' 2, a planned hybrid of The Sims and GTA, which producer Clark Spencer describes as "Las Vegas, times ten", that never made it into the final film. One might think that the world was cut for being un-Disney, but, according to art director Mike Gabriel (director, Pocahontas) it was just because of the location of the game so late on in the movie, saying "It just became one game too many," adding "We had a moment of silence, the day we cut it from the film."

Helen Chen

That's another strong point with The Art of Wreck-It Ralph, the quantity of quotes from the crew of the film: Clark Spencer, Mike Gabriel, animation superviso Renato dos Anjos, head of story Jim Reardon and many of the film's visual development artists offer up frequent quotes for the book, which just lends itself to a more informed experience. It also touts a personal and impassioned preface and foreword by John Lasseter and director Rich Moore respectively, which hammers home how very proud everyone at Disney is of Ralph and how different it is for the studio.

Cory Loftis

Brittney Lee. Yep, that is real food.

The actual manuscript for the book was written by Disney Animation director of development Maggie Malone and Wreck-It Ralph co-writer (and Frozen co-director) Jennifer Lee. Both, obviously, have superlative knowledge of the production and likely know most of the artists featured in the book personally, so the book emits a sense of team-spirit and makes the film seem a very endearing one.

Jim Finn (Paintover/Lighting Key), Jon Krummel and John Acquino (Model)

The text is handled well - it leaves the focus purely on the art - but it can feel a little bit too sparse at times. I don't want to get into the territory of complaining about there being too little text here, but too much there, or whatever, but it just felt like The Art of Wreck-It Ralph had fewer interesting production stories to offer than you would expect. Nonetheless, it accomplished what it set out too, and delivered a whole host of magnificent artwork along the way. The Art of Wreck-It Ralph is a beautiful book, featuring a vast and varied variety of artwork from a talented team.



The Art of Wreck-It Ralph, by Jennifer Lee and Maggie Malone, Chronicle Books. [1st November 2012, £20.00 (UK); $40.00 (US)].

Note, all images and artwork used here are property of Chronicle Books, The Walt Disney Company and any other respective owners, and are used here for illustrative purposes only and in accordance with the fair use policy of copyright law.


  1. Isn't that Mario on the first Cory Loftis artwork ?

    I hope there was no major spoiler in the book (still didn't put my hands on it).

    1. I think that's the barman from Tapper's - according to the book anyway.

      I don't think there was - unlike The Art of Brave, which told me what happened in basically the entire film.

  2. Yeah, that may be the barman. He does look like Mario. Sorry, my eyes have been trained to catch easter eggs.