The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Step inside the Lucasfilm art departments for the creation of fantastical worlds, unforgettable characters, and unimaginable creatures. The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens will take you there, from the earliest gathering of artists and production designers at Lucasfilm headquarters in San Francisco to the fever pitch of production at Pinewood Studios to the conclusion...

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Title:The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Author:Phil Szostak
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens Reviews

  • Lauren

    Looking through the concept art and sketches for The Force Awakens is nearly as enjoyable as watching the film itself! The book is chronological, with early designs and mock-ups beginning in January 2013 - just a few months after the sale of LucasFilm to Disney, and Kathleen Kennedy's public announcement about the new films in late 2012.

    As you flip the pages - the large glossy folio pages! - you see the evolution of the scenes, the setting, the props, and the characters. Sketches of characters

    Looking through the concept art and sketches for The Force Awakens is nearly as enjoyable as watching the film itself! The book is chronological, with early designs and mock-ups beginning in January 2013 - just a few months after the sale of LucasFilm to Disney, and Kathleen Kennedy's public announcement about the new films in late 2012.

    As you flip the pages - the large glossy folio pages! - you see the evolution of the scenes, the setting, the props, and the characters. Sketches of characters that you recognize from the movie sometimes do not have names yet, or are in a different setting. Sketches of Rey were often entitled "Kira", and it isn't clear when the writers officially pronounced her as Rey. The same goes for races, and genders - FN-2187/Finn was originally sketched as a white male, while Snoke, the supreme villain was, for a short stint, was imagined as female.

    These little tidbits are plentiful - perhaps my favorite piece from the book is a photo of the Post-It Note that J.J. Abrams drew of BB-8, giving it to the professional artists to "run with".

    The art begins to gel, and as the story develops with the writers and the actors are cast, the setting, the details, and the characters' actual faces and bodies become vivid and very close to what you see in the final production.

    The only downside - minor - is that I would have liked a little more commentary from the artists about their process and how they arrived at a final.

  • Jessamyn Leigh

    I will never be over Star Wars art/behind-the-scenes books. So beautiful and interesting and inspiring.

    This included a lot of notes about the timeline of making the movie and yikes I can't believe how quickly they made this movie. So many things seem to have been changed at the very last minute. I really wish they would've taken a little more time, there were a lot of ideas in this book that would've been better with a little more polish. You can also see where sadly a lot of good early ideas g

    I will never be over Star Wars art/behind-the-scenes books. So beautiful and interesting and inspiring.

    This included a lot of notes about the timeline of making the movie and yikes I can't believe how quickly they made this movie. So many things seem to have been changed at the very last minute. I really wish they would've taken a little more time, there were a lot of ideas in this book that would've been better with a little more polish. You can also see where sadly a lot of good early ideas got changed into things I didn't like in the movie. (I will cry forever that Han Solo didn't wear that glorious duster for example.) Also Rick, whoever you are, get over the making everything red geez.

    It's also interesting (and pretty frustrating, I want the BTS on EVERYTHING) that this and the Visual Dictionary are completely spoiler-free even though they came out simultaneously or after the movie.

  • Bookdragon Sean

    I don’t think I can quite express how awesome this book is. Just look at it.

    This isn’t just an awesome book that displays fantastic artwork; it’s that and so, so, much more. It feels like a journey. The book begins with the very early stages of development:

    It depicts these wonderful early stages of concept art, and shows how these original ideas developed into an entire movie that rocked my world when I saw it in the cinema:

    I love this image just above.

    See how Han Solo has the ligh

    I don’t think I can quite express how awesome this book is. Just look at it.

    This isn’t just an awesome book that displays fantastic artwork; it’s that and so, so, much more. It feels like a journey. The book begins with the very early stages of development:

    It depicts these wonderful early stages of concept art, and shows how these original ideas developed into an entire movie that rocked my world when I saw it in the cinema:

    I love this image just above.

    See how Han Solo has the light at his back; he comes from the light whereas Ren has come from the darkness. He has a chance to walk again with his farther, and with the light side of the force. He has but to accept Solo’s offer and forgiveness, and he will be a Jedi once more. The light is in his face, he knows what that decision will mean, and he knows how to react. I love the symbolism here.

    It’s wonderful to see how these ideas were refined and finalised. A lot of things were rejected too. An appearance of a metamorphosed force spirit of a twisted Vader/Anakin was planned to appear. But, this was rejected in the very early stages of development and, I can only presume, replaced with the use of Vader’s ruined helmet. This was quite cool to see these changes. There were a few instances like this, and part of me can’t help but wonder if they may use, or rework, some of these elements in the later movies.

    ^^^ So cool!

    I think I’m just in love with the whole new generation of Star Wars at the moment. I know we’ve only had one movie so far, but at the moment it was enough to get me really excited about the entire trilogy. I hope the rest delivers as much as the first film. It was just so damn good. I mean it had a few flaws, but these were far outweighed by its positive aspects. It had the necessary degrees of pathos, hope and despair. It just worked so well, and this book depicts the creative process behind it. It’s really quit impressive to look at. I’m really pleased with it:

    If you loved the new movie as much as I did, then this is really worth getting.

  • ✿ cassandra ✿

    I'm crying on the inside because of that BEAUTIFUL drawing of Kylo Ren and Han Solo on the bridge, facing each other. All the art in this book was amazing, and I loved every moment of it. I thought it was really nice seeing all the concept art build up to all the 'canon' art

    shown in TFA.

    Hmmm, it was so weird seeing Rey being called Kira... KIRA!

  • Rusty

    More art books – how am I supposed to review something like this? Let’s see, does it contain art? Check.

    Do I like said art? Check.

    So, the only thing I can complain about is the length of the book, I guess. In this case, it’s nice and long. So that’s no issue. Basically, this is going to get a good review.

    If I had a complaint, it would be that I’m sure there is enough material to have put out several “Art of the Force Awakens” books. So I kind of wish there were a series of these. I mean, are t

    More art books – how am I supposed to review something like this? Let’s see, does it contain art? Check.

    Do I like said art? Check.

    So, the only thing I can complain about is the length of the book, I guess. In this case, it’s nice and long. So that’s no issue. Basically, this is going to get a good review.

    If I had a complaint, it would be that I’m sure there is enough material to have put out several “Art of the Force Awakens” books. So I kind of wish there were a series of these. I mean, are they holding on to some of this stuff for future movies? Won’t those have their own artwork?

    Whatever, I noticed that with some of the Marvel “Art of” books. I just realized that I don’t think I’ve reviewed all of those. Hmm… I might have to go back and do that. I guess, I don’t know. It would be mostly just a few paragraphs of me saying, ‘how do I rate an art book?’ again.

    Something that occurred to me as I was reading/looking at this book that struck me as odd – like any good art book, there is a hefty amount of words that accompany the pictures. You know, to give them context and stuff.

    So, in this case, once they announced that Lucasfilm had been purchased by Disney the powers that be hired some concept artists and told them to get to work on a new Star Wars film.

    So, that’s what they did. No script, no outline, no treatment, nothing. Just a single instruction to make it post Return of the Jedi.

    And if there is anything I learned reading this, it’s that artists might not be the best at stories that make sense, at least to me.

    For example, one caption explains an image of a dark Jedi powering up by eating force power from the sun, or something.

    One of the uneasy things I feel about any spec fiction thing is my suspension of disbelief. I can generally accept more in a novel than I can in a movie, probably because you can read something on the page that states that so-and-so is so badass that she beat up a room full of heavily armed murderous soldiers before they could even raise their weapons. That’s fine.

    But on screen, where they try to show that sort of stuff, in order for that to work (usually) the armed soldiers have to be incompetent for our heroine to win. I’ll watch and be like, ‘he could have shot her there, and he could have shot her there, and the guy in the corner could have stabbed her then… what’s wrong with these people? Quit standing around waiting to be punched!’

    Stupid show. I quit.

    What was I talking about? Oh yeah, so an artist comes up with the idea of an evil Jedi that eats force power from the sun, or whatever, and paints and admittedly awesome image of that.

    But I’m thinking, that’s a pretty dumb idea. Really. Please don’t go with that.

    Of course, I can’t be sure, but it’s not too far from the Starkiller base from the new movie. You know, a planet that sucks the power of a star into some chamber and then shoots planet destroying thingys into space. A concept which really stretches my ability to mentally justify in some sort of Science-fictional manner. I mean, I really have to do some mental gymnastics to come up with some crazy scenario in which this might make sense.

    Be that as it may, the artists had a huge influence on the movie, and came up with many of the ideas that shaped the story into what it eventually became. I don’t know. That may be normal, but then again, it seems backwards to me. I’d think the story would have come first, then the art.

    Anyway, I’m glad it was done the way it was. The book is awesome, and I’m glad I picked it up.

  • Yolanda Sfetsos

    My daughter borrowed this from the library and I just

    to check it out.

    OMG. This is such a gorgeous book! Seriously, the artwork is SO pretty. The pages are glossy and the double spreads even feel nice. I also enjoyed seeing how the characters and concepts for

    were developed.

    I think every

    fan should check this out! It's a lovely, fast read. :)

  • Mark

    Lucasfilm have long known how to produce good art books and, thankfully, this is absolutely no different. Taking the story from the very start of the process in 2012, Szostak follows the team of Visualists working under Rick Carter - and, later, Darren Gilford, though it’s not made clear why it was necessary to bring him in - as they come up with concepts for sequences, even before the scriptwriter and director are on board. Seeing the story - and images - evolve organically is fascinating and t

    Lucasfilm have long known how to produce good art books and, thankfully, this is absolutely no different. Taking the story from the very start of the process in 2012, Szostak follows the team of Visualists working under Rick Carter - and, later, Darren Gilford, though it’s not made clear why it was necessary to bring him in - as they come up with concepts for sequences, even before the scriptwriter and director are on board. Seeing the story - and images - evolve organically is fascinating and the artwork is exemplary. Helping the book, for me, is a production diary that starts around the time of pre-production, a few paragraphs for every month, following the process up to post and giving out little details that help build a bigger picture.

    But the art is the real star here and the beautifully reproduced images - from a varied team including Doug Chiang, Ryan Church and Eric Tiemens (who all worked on the prequels), Christian Alzmann, Chris Bonura, Andree Wallin and more - are gorgeous. Of the hundreds of pieces on display, my favourites include “The Sunset”, Chiang’s wonderful riff on “Apocalypse Now”, Andree Wallin’s “AT-AT Idea”, Kevin Jenkins’ “Rally Site Troops View”, “Spotlight” by Kevin Jenkins (which presents the reasoning why concept art is so important as this immediately shows you the moment when Han and Ren confront one another which might not work so well with words) and “Rey Emerges” by Yanick Dusseault, which shows the scale superbly.

    I read a little while back that George Lucas was disappointed at how retro some of the film looked and whilst I enjoyed seeing little things in the film - the heads-up display in the Falcon, the Brutalist aspects of the Empire - I do understand what he means and the book confirms it. Ralph McQuarrie’s work, both used and unused, was re-examined by the Visualists and pieces were cherry-picked for the new film. Admittedly, when I read this, all I could think was “the lucky devils!” for gaining access to the fabled Lucasfilm archives.

    My one gripe would be the way that Szostak and (especially) Carter see themselves - the writer mentions Kathleen Kennedy (the producer) “reaching out” to him, rather than calling him and asking for a meeting. Carter goes further in the pretension stakes (I’d like to believe he’s being ironic about his own abilities but I really don’t think he is) and contrasts badly with the way Ralph McQuarrie and Joe Johnston have talked about themselves over the years plus you wouldn’t need to argue very hard that their contribution to the Star Wars universe - and, by extension, pop culture - is far greater than Carter will ever manage.

    That niggle aside (easily done, just skip the Foreword), this is an excellent companion to a superb film and one I would highly recommend.

  • Elevetha

    The art was fantastic, and it was fascinating to see how much the film changed from its concept to the finished product. So much so that I am baffled as to how they not only pulled a whole film out of their jumbled mess of ideas but that it was so good and coherent because WOW. Some of their ideas were perhaps interesting, but didn't really mesh with, well, anything. Of course, there were a few things I would have liked to see in the movie that they didn't include, alas. But overall, color me im

    The art was fantastic, and it was fascinating to see how much the film changed from its concept to the finished product. So much so that I am baffled as to how they not only pulled a whole film out of their jumbled mess of ideas but that it was so good and coherent because WOW. Some of their ideas were perhaps interesting, but didn't really mesh with, well, anything. Of course, there were a few things I would have liked to see in the movie that they didn't include, alas. But overall, color me impressed.

  • Anthony Parisi

    "We came up with some new ideas, but JJ kept on going back to the original trilogy--"

    "We came up with some new ideas, but JJ kept on going back to the original trilogy--"

    "We came up with some new ideas, but JJ kept on going back to the original trilogy--"

    "We came up with some new ideas, but JJ kept on going back to the original trilogy--"

    "We came up with some new ideas, but JJ kept on going back to the original trilogy--"

    "We came up with some new ideas, but JJ kept on going back to the original

    "We came up with some new ideas, but JJ kept on going back to the original trilogy--"

    "We came up with some new ideas, but JJ kept on going back to the original trilogy--"

    "We came up with some new ideas, but JJ kept on going back to the original trilogy--"

    "We came up with some new ideas, but JJ kept on going back to the original trilogy--"

    "We came up with some new ideas, but JJ kept on going back to the original trilogy--"

    "We came up with some new ideas, but JJ kept on going back to the original trilogy--"

    "We came up with some new ideas, but JJ kept on going back to the original trilogy--"

    "We came up with some new ideas, but JJ kept on going back to the original trilogy--"

    "We came up with some new ideas, but JJ kept on going back to the original trilogy--"

    So many of my favorite conceptual artists absolutely wasted here.

    This is an actual quote:

    "Early on, Rick said, 'Desert, forest, snow: That's where we'll start. I think if we go with those three planets, that will create a Star Wars feel--"

    *Anthony throws himself down a reactor shaft*

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