Among the things that Illumination Entertainment does differently from other major animation studios is they don’t produce art-of/making-of books for each of their films.
From a business perspective, it makes sense. Most art-of books don’t make their money back, have limited reach, and add unnecessary costs to a film’s marketing budget. But they do have intangible benefits, like boosting morale among studio employees and helping build stronger relationships with the studio’s most passionate fans. I might agree that it doesn’t make sense to create an art-of book for every film, but perhaps Illumination could publish an anniversary art-of book at some point. Their tenth film is coming up in 2019, while 2020 will mark ten years since the release of their first film. Both of those dates seem like ideal milestones.
Until that happens, here’s a little secret: a number of Illumination artists share their work online, including Illumination’s key production/character designer Eric Guillon. His elegant and appealing designs are, in our estimation, a major reason for why the studio’s films have been so successful. Guillon recently did an art dump for Secret Life of Pets on his blog, and promises another one for Sing. Here’s a few of the pieces:
Of course, after the characters are designed as drawings, they need to be translated into 3D models. Frédérick Alves-Cunha was a 3D sculptor on both Pets and Sing, and he’s been posting some of his Zbrush conceptual turn-arounds on his Tumblr. It’s interesting to look at these Sing models and compare them to the final designs used in production:
Another artist who worked on both films is Louis Thomas, who contributed both character and design concepts. He is credited on both films as a “general designer” and he’s been posting lots of work from both films on his Instagram mixed in with illustrations and paintings from other projects. Here’s just a few of his contributions to The Secret Life of Pets:
Guillaume Fesquet, another artist credited with “general design” on Sing, has posted only a few pieces of work from the film on Tumblr, including the gem below. Hopefully he’ll share more of his artwork soon.
Robin Joseph, a designer on Pets, has also shown some work on Instagram:
These artists represent just a small fraction of the people who contributed to the final look of these films. If you know of other artists who are sharing artwork from Illumination projects, share in the comments.
UPDATE: Adding to the list of artists, Ludo Gavillet has posted a large selection of his color keys from The Secret Life of Pets on his blog: